By: Subin Shrestha
Tourism in Nepal started after the first successful ascent of Mount Everest on 29th May 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary. Before 1951 Nepal was closed for foreigners because of autocratic rule of Rana regime. After democracy came in 1955, foreigners were welcomed by Nepal Government by providing them tourist visa. Before, the visas were provided from India by East India Company under the supervision of British Government.
After the successful ascent of the highest peak in the world, Nepal started to be a new destination for foreigners. In 1956, under the supervision of French George Lebrec, National Planning Council on Tourism was set up and started to promote tourism. The same year National Tourist Development Board also came into existence. In 1958 Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation, presently known as Nepal Airlines Corporation started its operation as Nepal’s first aviation service provider. In 1959, Nepal also became a member of International Union of Official Travel Organization.
In late 1960’s and 1970’s hippies started to flow in Nepal. During those days Nepal was famous for hippies as marijuana and hashish were easily available. But in 1973 government banned on the selling of marijuana and hashish. It became a turning point in Tourism history of Nepal as after that time Nepal developed as a hot spot for adventure seekers and cultural tourists. In 1998, Nepal Tourism Board https://www.welcomenepal.com/ was established in the form of partnership between the Government of Nepal and private sector to promote Nepal as an attractive tourist destination. The same year, Nepal celebrated “Visit Nepal 98” to strengthen Nepal tourism. From 1999 tourism started to decline because of a decade long Maoist insurgency due to which negative message went viral all over the world. Other incidences like hijack of Indian Airlines fleet from TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) in 1999, Royal Massacre in 2001 and King Gyanendra taking over the power and suspending constitution, affected the Tourism industry negatively.
The historical Peace treaty agreement between Maoist and Government in 2006 was the biggest achievement as a positive message about Nepal was relayed to the international tourists. In 2011, Tourism Year was celebrated for the second time.
On 25th April 2015, the devastating earthquake with the Magnitude of 7.8 shook the nation. About 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and other nearby towns were either damaged or destroyed along with UNESO Heritage Sites. Thousands of people were homeless while the death toll reached approximately 8,000. Gorkha was the epicenter of the earthquake and it was felt throughout central and eastern part of Nepal as well as some parts in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and Bhutan.
Nepal Government immediately declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, and the entire Nepali army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police were mobilized for rescue and recovery work. Nepal also called on the international community for aid. Members of SAARC and several other countries like China, Taiwan, USA, UK etc. quickly responded by sending aid and rescue team. UN (United Nation) quickly established the “Nepal Earthquake 2015 Flash Appeal” fund, whose goal was to raise earthquake relief fund. NGO’s and INGO’s like International Red Cross Society, CARE International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Village International etc were also active for support. The toughest task was to supply relief materials due to landslides and continuous aftershocks. However, U.S Army, Nepal Army and Indian Army chopper were used for rescue operation and to supply relief materials.
Though Tourism Industry was badly affected as many historical places around the capital city were destructed and some trekking routes were closed, in mid-August new slogan “Nepal is safe” started circulating in international market for the promotion of the areas which were not affected by earthquake like Pokhara, Annapurna region, Lumbini and Chitwan. Now, Tourism has recovered from the effects of earthquake and Nepal is well on its way to better future.
FIGURE: TOURIST ARRIVAL IN NEPAL (2000-2015)
The morning of 09th November was different at Pame Lauruk, a small settlement 11 km northward from Pokhara lakeside. Excited skydivers were milling up in the dropzone, a wide grassland nearby the village. Crew were busy around preparing and briefing, jumpers were being all geared up and waiting with dreamy anticipation. Many of them were having their first ever jump – so things were being so intense for them. A whole lot of spectators were waiting for the moment to capture in their mobiles and cameras. The sky was exceptionally clear, the mountain was smiling its brightest smile and the hills around as lush as ever. It was quite a sight! At round 9 am, the jump started and added a real thrill to the already excited crowd. Well, to be honest, to jump off the chopper at the height of 11,000-13000 ft with the majestic views of Annapurna range at your backdrop and the sprawling valley of Pokhara along with serene Phewa lake below, is not just an adventure but a sublimity in itself! The first day, 27 lucky jumpers achieved that momentum!
This year’s Pokhara Skydive continued for three days till 11th November and a total of 65 jumpers from India, Nepal, Denmark, Australia and Netherlands achieved their dream of flying in the Himalaya. Among the happy jumpers, some were even able to make it to the record list of Pokhara Skydive. Aniket Jain (India), aged 16 and Rajinder Singh (India), aged 65, became the youngest and the oldest skydivers respectively to have done Pokhara Skydive. They have proved that age doesn’t really count when it comes to adventure! Jad Kamel became the first Lebanese to skydive in Pokhara. The whole three days passed with amazing chopper take offs, crazy freefalls, spectacular landings, overwhelming moments and a series of never ending excitement. The event concluded with great memories and hopes of welcoming more skydiving enthusiasts next year. Congratulations to all the dare devils who ticked the dream of “flying in the Himalaya” out of their bucket list!
[Pokhara Skydive https://www.nepalskydive.com/, is an annual skydiving adventure, organized by the pro team of Everest Skydive and Explore Himalaya, the only skydiving company in Nepal. Pokhara Skydive has officially started its commercial operation since 2014, after its first test operation in 2010. It has welcomed hundreds of skydivers round the world ever since. As the event is the blend of adventure and the exceptional beauty of Pokhara, every year Pokhara Skydive community is getting bigger and bigger!]
Take a look at the photo story of Pokhara Skydive:
Medhavi Davda, one of the attendees of International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference 2017 http://htmnepal.com/program/itbmc/, has recently posted her travel story on Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar Trek in her blog http://www.ravenouslegs.com/ . Though she was in Nepal solely for the conference, she could not resist the charm of Nepali Himalayas and instantly packed her bags and set off for Everest Base Camp, one of the most sought-after adventure trails in the world. Medhavi’s refreshing details take us to the very base of the mighty Everest and make us enjoy every corner and every stone of her journey including the overwhelming moment she had at the first sight of Everest. As Everest Base Camp Trek is always one of its kind, so is the story of her trek! Explore Himalaya is really delighted to be a part of her lifetime experience. To enjoy her journey in full detail, please visit http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/trek-to-everest-base-camp-and-kala-patthar
If you are next in the queue, you can also visit her next blog for detailed guidelines http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/handy-guide-and-tips-for-everest-base-camp-trek-in-nepal . You will never remain without thanking her!
This year’s Himalayan Travel Mart http://htmnepal.com/overview/ was a huge success in many ways. Apart from promoting Nepal as an elite adventure destination in global context, it also brought together a group of professional International Travel Bloggers, International Media and Travel Photographers who did not just share their expertise on Blogging and Media but also spread some words to the world about their travelling experience in Nepal. Swati Jain, a loved Travel blogger cum freelance Travel writer from India is one of them. She has recently published two articles titled Celebrating Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra of Nepal and Understanding the Evolution of Indra Jatra in Depth in her widely read travel blog Bouyant Feet https://buoyantfeet.com/
In her first article “Celebrating Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra of Nepal”, Swati Jain has taken us through her 4 day-experience of action packed Indra Jatra festival held at Kathmandu Durbar Square and its vicinity. As much as she is surprised by the festival itself and some perks of her unpreparedness, readers will also be equally amazed by the way she presented the energy and liveliness of the festival. Needless to say, the colorful images have added life to her sensuous details. In the meantime, she hasn’t missed the opportunity to give us some meaningful details about the festival, which is undoubtedly an added advantage as many readers still have some blurred ideas about the festival. Swati is actually bold enough to accept her prior ignorance!
“So if you are one those like me, who think that this prestigious festival is limited to the living goddess of Nepal and expects to read the same in this blog, hang on till I share its long history and significance. My myths were shattered.”
Finally, she has some wise tips that are sure to help you if you are the next one to enjoy this vibrant festival. For full story, https://buoyantfeet.com/2017/10/06/celebrating-indra-jatra-kumari-jatra-of-nepal/
2. Understanding the Evolution of Indra Jatra in Depth:
As promised in her earlier blog, Swati Jain has given a full detail on both Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra in this article. The festival is not enlisted as an off beat cultural interest in travelers’ bucket list and neither is the festival a virgin area for the writers. However, Swati stands out in this particular writing! She has traced the festival right from the myth making day and has brought down the cumulative history to the present day by associating the evolution with the major historical epochs of Nepal. Quite a feat! So, if you are a myth hunter, or want to have an in depth insight into the festival, or just interested in some unexplained facts about the festival, the article is a right answer for you. For full story,
If you want to enjoy the festival more intimately, you can also visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFNg-kwtS-g&t=3s
HAPPY READING and HAPPY WATCHING!!!
Sometime preparation is more exciting than the festival itself. Tihar, Nepali’s second biggest festival is probably one of them. The festival, that immediately follows Dashain, the biggest festival, is one of the highlights of autumn season in Nepal. Nepal’s autumn is normally not considered to be as colourful as the one in the west. To be honest, we don’t have the second spring with all those colourful maple leaves, mellow pumpkins and scary stories! However, autumn is not less exciting as we have Tihar, the festival of lights and flowers!
Preparation of Tihar is all about buying, buying and buying! So, as the days draw closer, you will come across an unmistakable crowd in almost every chowk of Kathmandu. The streets of main bazar get thronged with people from early morning. They get so full that if you can save yourself some space to behold the spectacle or can make it to the other end of the street without squeezing yourself, you are lucky!
As the festival is all about rituals, flowers, lights and delicacies, the shopping list goes really long. And equally long is the row of different stalls on the either side of the streets. The stalls are laden with flowers, jhilimili (electric lights, paper decoration etc), bhai masala (a concoction of nuts and dry fruits for brothers) and an exhausting array of ritual items. Every item is weaved with myths and is equally important. So people don’t miss any of them, which is why the shopping spree seems to be never ending. Evenings are really beautiful as the shops are lighted with all those colourful lights. If you are around New Road, you won’t want to miss the extravagant decoration of jewellery shops there.
So walking down the streets during Tihar can be a rewarding experience as it offers you not just the fun of a festival, but also the chance to witness a different dimension of Nepali culture! Just be a bit prepared for the impatient crowd and unruly traffic, and the fun is all yours!
Flowers are the foremost prerequisite for Tihar. The flowers used in the festival are exclusively sayapatri (marigold), godawari (chrysanthemum) and makhamali (globe amaranth). Sayapatri (literally hundred petalled), with its golden hue is the flower that matches the mellowness of the season. Sayapatri is used for both garlands and house decoration. Whereas, makhamali and godawari are used just for garlands only. It is believed that makhamali never gets withered. So, sisters offer makhamali garland to brothers on bhai tika, the fifth day of the festival, with a wish that their brothers would remain immortal like the flower.
Another thing people don’t miss in Tihar is lights. Lights are used for both ritualistic and decorative purpose. People light their houses with colorful lights from Laxmi Puja, the third day of the festival. People use diyo (a small clay lamp with a cotton wick), candles and electric lights that come in different shape and size.
One of the main delicacies of Tihar is bhai masala. It is the concoction of nuts (cashew nuts, almond, raisin, walnut etc) and dried fruits, offered by sisters to brothers on bhai tika. A stall or shop without bhai masala is a rare sight.
The shops and stalls are heaped with different ritual items ranging from walnut to seven colored tika. Some of the items that include the seemingly endless list are rato mato (red mato), amala (Indian Gooseberry), citrus fruits, coconut etc. Though it seems like a herculean task to know the name of all items at once, you would enjoy the neat arrangement displayed in all its glory!