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:
(Picture Credit: Gantabya Nepal News)
Gantabya Nepal News organized an Award Ceremony on the occasion of its 4th Anniversary at Manang Hotel, Thamel, Kathmandu on Oct 17, 2017. The program, which was held in the presence of dignitaries including Nanda Kishor Pun, the Vice-President of Nepal and Jagdish Narshing K. C., the former Member of Parliament; honored Tourism Entrepreneur Suman Pandey with “Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award” for his thirty years long contribution to Nepali Tourism Industry.
During the program, Vice President Pun handed over the award to Mr. Pandey and congratulated him for his landmark success in Nepali Tourism. He asserted the need of dynamic personality like Mr. Pandey in the tourism field of Nepal, and emphasized on the importance of tourism industry and the need to utilize the benefits of nature and culture for the country’s development. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Pandey thanked the organizer and shared his experience of three decades in tourism sector. At the end, he also expressed his wish to handover the legacy of his experiences to the young tourism entrepreneurs of Nepal.
(Picture Credit: Gantabya Nepal News)
Jagdish Narshing K.C., the former MP; Nawaraj Dahal, National Coordinator of Nepal Tourism Entrepreneurs’ Association; and Shiva Adhikari, Nepal-based President of Destination Nepal were among the other speakers. Tourism entrepreneurs Lok Prasad Dahal, Anil Lama, Chiranjivi Bhatt, Rajendra Adhikari, Gita Gurung, Anneli Sophia Rieker; and social workers Ramhari Adhikari, Rajan Thapa and Motriram Dhakal were also honored on the same occasion.
(Picture Credit: Gantabya Nepal News)
[Suman Pandey as an active tourism entrepreneur has undertaken various leadership roles including President-Trekking Agent’s Association of Nepal, Chairman-PATA Nepal Chapter, Executive Member-Nepal Tourism Board, Executive Member-Nepal Tourism Year 2011, General Secretary-Airline Operator’s Association of Nepal and Founding President of Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure, CEO of Fish Tail Air and Director of Chhaya Center. He is also a receiver of numerous accolades including prestigious Suprasiddha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu (2004) and Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by American Biographical Institute (ABI) based in the United States in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2008.]
Monsoon season in Nepal brings joy and happiness for everyone. It is the main season for agriculture as well as the season of the festival in Nepal. A monsoon festival falls on different date every year.
During monsoon season, Seasonal tourism activities in Nepal are low in numbers and trekking in monsoon season is not favorable time. However, during monsoon season, Pilgrimage tourists are high in number; especially from India. They prefer to visit Muktinath and Mansarovarduring monsoon season as these places are rainy shadowed area. But from the cultural point of view; monsoon season is best time to observe Nepalese cultural way of Living, festivals, Monsoon cycle of agriculture and Lush green valley’s with seasonal crops.
Festivals fall on Monsoon
Enjoying throwing Hilo ”wet mud” during Ropai ” Paddy Plantation
15th Ashar (June) is celebrated as Paddy Plantation day “RopaiJatra” all around Nepal. “RopaiJatra“is a most awaiting and cheerful time for farmers. This day symbolizes the end of the rice planting period, a day when all farmers enjoy the end of the plantation of rice and wishes for good production. As an entertainment, they will sing a Nepalese folk songs and dance in rhythm on field while cultivating the crops mainand as lunch they will have homemade yogurt and beaten rice and drink a special kind of local drink called ‘Chyang’, which basically is made up of fermented rice.
On this day, especially Pokhara and Kathmandu (being a touristic area), different programs are being held targeting the foreigners, on the muddy flied to show Nepalese culture and traditional way of farming. This festival has been able to attracted many tourists though the festival is quite weird, yet fun. And the number of tourist wanting to participate on this festival is increasing. On this day especially for the foreigners, a travel and tour offices organizes a program/event for “Paddy Plantation” festival. This program is all about planting rice, playing around with mud, dancing in a traditional Nepalese folk song and not to forget to test traditional foods. Not only that, you can have an opportunity to communicate with Local Nepalese families which will help to learn about the Nepalese life style, culture and tradition.
Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima/ RachayaBandan:
This following year Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima festival falls on same day.The festival Nag Panchami,Picture of Nags is posted above the doors of Nepali households with the belief of keeping away the evil spirits.
Normally, the priest visit door to door carrying the poster of Nags, Dubo (Cynodondactylon. Priest paste the poster of Nag with the help of cow dung, post a coin and Dubo. People offer milk in the temples of Nag Pokharai (snake pond) Naxal /Kathmandu and NagDaha (Snake Lake) in Lalitpur.
Naag Poster, Doro and Rakhi”
According to the Puran”Ancient Scriptures”, the earth is lifted by Shesh Nag on his head with Lord Vishnu Sleeping on its coil inside the ocean. Shesh Nag, BasukiNag,KaliNag,AsthaNag,Padma Nag and Karkot Nag are the most powerful Nags in Hindu religion.
Ancient Scriptures also mentioned that without Nags, the rainfall will not be possible, that’s why people worship Nags for causing the rain fall.
Janai Purnima is the festival of the Holy Thread which is also falls on same day of NaagPanchami
On this day every Hindu/Buddhist tied a Yellow, red colorful cotton strings in wrist of right hand. Nepalese people call it Doro.Especially Brahmins and Chettri change theirJanai, once a year. White cotton string wears on his chest or tied around the wrist of his/ her hand. In every house this day, cooks mixed of every grain Quawati “and eat together with family members.
Similarly, this is also a day of Rachaya Banda, Rachya means to protect and Bandan means bond of togetherness. Where sister tie the rakhi on brother wrist, pray for the long life and success of her brother.Brother promise sister to protect from every harm and give gifts and sisters
Brahmin “Priest: tiding a sacred thread Sacred thread (Local Nepali Word “Janai”
Gaijatrais the festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. GaiJatra festival came in the tradition of the medieval period of Nepal, under the reign of the kings JayasthitiMalla.
According to traditions since time immemorial, every family who lost a family member during one year period must participate in a procession in the streets.Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and PatanNewar community follow this tradition. If a cow is unavailable then a young boy dressed as a cow is regarded as a fair substitute.
In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most respected among all pets. It is believed that the cow, venerated as a sacred animal by Hindus, will help the deceased parent’s journey to heaven.
Stick dance (Typical Newari word: Ghintangghisitwakin Bhaktapur
PATAN: KRISHNA MANDIR
Krishna Janmastami is one of the popular festivals in Hindu religion. It is a festival celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna. Krishna is believed as the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu and powerful. It is celebrated as victory of good over evil and their power.
All the devotees gather in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan other temples which is the symbol of Lord Sir Krishna.
Baby dress up like Krishana
Teej is also known by the HariTalikaTeej. It is biggest festival and celebrated by Nepali women all across the world. Every Married women,Child and Young girls wears red and green attire decorated with jewelries gather at a place where they enjoy singing and dancing. Songs normally have words that describe the holiness and divine power of Lord Shiva. The musical celebration goes till midnight. Meanwhile, men of the maternal family host feast for their married sisters and daughters offering them complete liberty to enjoy this particular day.
Foreigners Joining Dance with Local Nepalese Women in Teej Festival
After the feast, a 24-hour long fast begins. Teej, a traditional festival where women also express their pains through the lyrics of the songs they sing while dancing.
According to the Holy Purans say that “on this day the Himalaya’s Daughter Goddess Parbati had finally receive Lord Shiva after her long time of devotions towards him.From this day, Teej festival was celebrated.
Married women’s take fast for the long life of their husband, good health of their children. And young ladies take fast in desire to get their dream husband.
Rishipanchamiis the last day of Teej and women worship Sapta Rishi (seven saints). In Hindu religion, menstruation is taken as a symbol of impurity and women are not supposed to take part in religious performance during their periods. Hence, it is believed that Rishi Panchami is the occasion to wash off one’s impurity of the entire year
Indrajatrais the celebration of God Indra” the god of Rain, King of Heaven”. This festival begins each year from the day of BhadraDwadasi to Aswin Krishna Chaturdasi according to the lunar calendar, which falls during place to celebrate is in Kathmandu Durbar Square which is known as Basantapur Durbar.
Bhairav a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva
The Kumari (living goddess), departs the shelter of her temple in a palanquin and leads a parade through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.
According to myth, Indra’s mother Dagini wanted night-flowering coral jasmine “PARIJAT” tree in the gardens of heaven to perform some ritual and Indra disguised as human and came to Earth for the plant. While Indra was stealing the plant from a garden in Kathmandu Valley, the communities captured him. Unknown to the fact that the God of Rain was captured Kathmandu suffered extreme dryness; however, the capturers would not free Indra. Dagini came down to the earth in search of her son and discovered that the people of Kathmandu held him caged
Upon Dagini’s request, the people of Kathmandu agreed to free Indra. Pleased with the kindness of the people of Kathmandu, Dagini promised for the timely rainfall and good harvest. She also took all the people of Kathmandu who died that year to the heaven. Since then IndraJatra is observed enthusiastically in Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Chariot of living Goddess Kumari
“Enjoy the authentic traditional lifestyle in the world of pottery”.
Apart from all challenging trek and adventure in the natural world of Nepal, there is another beautiful “world of Culture & Traditions” that takes you deep into the traditional local lifestyle. That is pottery making culture in Bhaktapur. Pottery is the art of shaping the clay into various things.
A clear view of Pottery Square in Bhaktapur. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
Whenever we think about the pottery making, the first thing that comes in our mind might be a beautiful flower pot/vase made of clay (Gamala) or might be a piggy bank (Khuturke).
Flower Pots (Gamala) displayed for selling in Pottery Square. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
If anyone would like to get the experience of making the clay pots and the local traditional lifestyle in Bhaktapur, then spending around a week in the pottery square of Bhaktapur can fulfill one’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of local life. Pottery Square is a beautiful place in the south of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The settlement of a specific ethnic group of “Newar “ community called “Prajapati “can be seen here living together in unity and harmony. These people are hard working and artistic in nature that are not only dedicated in their work, but also are equally accountable for hospitable environment.
Pottery Making Process: The pottery making is a process and Yes, it is not a simple task as it seems. Being a kind of family business, all the family members have their own part of the role, working together in creating a finished pot. Firstly, the special clay “Black Clay”, supple in nature has to be brought from the field by digging out around 10-12 feet down the surface and need to be smoothened. After that, the old men, the experienced experts, craft the clay into spectacular shape/vessels, and women are in charge of looking after the pots kept for drying and coloring.
Pottery making in a traditional wooden wheel (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
Coloring process (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
The whole pottery square area is filled with these colorful pots during the sunny day. Younger men/women are often engaged in carrying heavy heaps of pots from one place of the square to the other.
Pots drying out on a Sunny day. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
The final process includes the firing of pots, which is one of another highlight of pottery making. All the prepared raw clay pots are placed along with straw in the layer wise. After all the pots are kept, it is then covered by ashes from the top, while the fire is given from the bottom and takes 3-4 days to get fired. It is the traditional way of pottery firing.
Preparation for firing the pots with straw arranged in many layers (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)
In this way, the pots will be ready after all the hard working of artists. However, it would not get the complete fairness in terms of learning process until you go there and work as a local people, playing and shaping the clay by your own hands.