Nepal : The Himalayan Paradise
The country's self acclaimed title of "Switzerland of Asia" doesn’t hold sway if you are looking for cheese, wine and skiing. But, for everything else, Nepal is better than Switzerland ( no offense to the nice Swiss people). It has the world's tallest mountains, a blend of culture that is unparalleled in the whole world, the bio geographical diversity that would get Darwin interested and people who are nothing but nice and let you into their lives with smiles.
After the political turmoil it went through during which it went from being a democratic kingdom to a republic ( that's right, they kicked the king out), the country is still finding its feet in terms of manufacturing and is heavily dependent on tourism for its GDP. That means, you are in luck. Tourists are treated well and with respect and are valued for the business they bring. That also means that there is a flourishing tourism business in the country which ensures that the facilities that you need are readily available, trails well marked and . It is definitely in the sprouting phases and is a long way off from being too touristy, which can be overbearing of course.
The main attraction of the country are definitely the Himalayan giants up north, but the country has so much more to offer than just mountain vistas and high altitude treks. In between the two cultural giants India and China, Nepal has quietly forged an identity of its own that is a pleasant mixture of the vibrant colors of India and serenity and peace of Tibet. You will notice the blend everywhere- in the faces of the people that live here, in the cuisine they eat, in the religious rituals they perform and even in the way they carry themselves. The geographical diversity is astounding - the lowest point of the country is 17 m from sea level and the highest point is- well the top of the world. The geographical diversity allows for amazing bio diversity as well and Nepal's government has made it a priority to work for conserving its biological riches. It actually just celebrated a year during which no animals were lost to illegal poaching- an achievement of course.
The country is also making strides in the field of adventure sports. White water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, canyoning are the more popular choices. The historic palaces and temples all around the country give an insight to the ancient culture of the country and gives tourists a glimpse of medieval art and architecture.
The Nepalese culture:
The Nepalese culture is a good blend that has just the right amount of vibrancy and chaos of Indian culture and the serenity of Tibetans. The culture is deeply influenced by Hinduism, the major religion in the country. Buddhism is a big part of the Nepalese way of life as well because of the fact that Buddha's birthplace is located in Nepal. Holi, the festival of colors is a major draw for tourists to get involved in. The bigger and better festivals like Dashain and Tihar might be of interest to those who want an insight into the Nepalese rituals. You might also enjoy the countless "jatras"- processions with religious significance that feature dances, chariots and a whole lot of people.