Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, has been making it to the list of the traveling communities all the time – be it as a counter culture destination in the past or a value destination and cultural hub of South Asia now! This fascinating city has never ceased to wonder people. This time also, Kathmandu is chosen as one of the “10 cities primed to capture traveler’s imaginations in 2019” by Lonely Planet. The city ranks as the 5th top city after Copenhagen-Denmark, Shenzhen-China, Novi Sad-Serbia and Miami-USA. Other cities in the list are Mexico City-Mexico, Dakar-Senegal, Seattle-USA, Zadar-Croatia and Meknes-Morocco.
Kathmandu, which is as ancient as the history of the subcontinent itself and as modern as any other prime cities of South Asia, has been in the travelers’ pick since it started welcoming the foreigners back in 1950s. A medley of history, culture and myths, this vibrant city takes anyone to the roller-coaster of emotional experiences appealing all your senses. The Durbar Squares, backstreets, alleys, temples, Stupas, monasteries, bahals, endless array of street shops, vendors, and of course the infamous traffic-everything emits liveliness of this unique city. The city so seamlessly juxtaposes the extremes – quietude and chaos, ancient and modern, spirituality and celebration – together that every nook and corner unfurls a story of its own. Thus, why the city has been in the list is self explanatory. Regardless of who you are, either a curious traveler or simply a fakir, the city has everything for everyone!
PATA Human Capacity Building Programme themed “Explore the Art of Storytelling” was jointly organized by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on 13th and 14th August 2018 at Hotel Himalaya, Lalitpur. The 2-day program, which was one of the initiatives of PATA to enhance the skills of tourism industry professionals, was delivered by key speakers Dr. Mario Hardy, CEO – PATA; Stu Lloyd, an award winning professional story teller, writer and Chief Hothead – Hotheads Innovation; Choy Teh, PR Manager – Bannikins; and David Fiedler, Partner and Creative Director – Singular Foundry. Altogether 65 participants from travel and tourism sector of Nepal including the professionals, government officials and media attended the program.
The programme that was focused on the basics, tools and importance of storytelling had a series of intensive interaction and practical activities. On the first day, the programme started with an opening addressing by Dr. Hardy highlighting the need of storytelling in the exponential growth of tourism. The speech was, then, followed by Workshop Session conducted by the travel industry experts Mr. Lloyd and Ms. Teh. The second day had two sessions by Mr. Fiedler on “Building Empathy into Great Storytelling” and “Singular Purpose”. He presented a new case for empathy in Marketing Communications and conducted group activities on how to uncover and develop an authentic purpose statement of a company. The second half of the day had a concluding session where Mr. Lloyd wrapped the two day activities and Dr. Hardy provided some insights to Startups and Entrepreneurs for bringing about remarkable innovations in tourism sector. The programme concluded with a certificate distribution session in which Mr. Deepak Prasad Joshi, CEO – Nepal Tourism Board and Dr. Mario Hardy, CEO – PATA jointly handed over the certificates to all the participants. In his closing remark, Mr. Joshi extended gratitude to all the facilitators and PATA members for their immense support. The programme was hailed as successful by the participants. “The programme has exceeded my expectations as I have learned the magic of storytelling. I hope the skills I have got is sure to enhance my professionalism in days to come,” said Santosh Basnyat, one of the participants from Smartly Yours.
Mundum Trail, a new trekking trail in eastern Nepal, has been launched amidst a program today at Nepal Tourism Board, Bhrikuti Mandap. The program organized by Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center, promoted by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and supported by Trekking Agencies’ Association Nepal (TAAN); has been graced by the Honourable Member of Legislature Parliament of Bhojpur Mr. Sudan Kirati as the Chief Guest. Apart from unveiling the trail, the route map was also released in the program, followed by a 10 minute documentary show and photo exhibition. Among the guests were Mr. Hikmat Aiyer- Director of NTB, Mr. Amrit Bhadgaule- media person and tourism expert, Mr. Ang Pemba Sherpa – President of TAAN, Mr. Bachu Narayan Shrestha – senior tourism expert, Mr. Pasang Dorje Sherpa – Advisor of Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center, Mr. Ang Temba Sherpa – General Secretary of TAAN and Mr. Durja Kumar Rai, Ex-IGP of Nepal Armed Police Force. Other attendees of the program included various representatives of NTB, TAAN, NMA, tourism professionals and media houses.
The Trail that comprises of natural beauty, sub-alpine bio-diversity and rich Kirati-Rai cultural heritage of Eastern Nepal, is considered as a unique moderate trail suitable for all age group and is expected to attract both foreign and internal visitors. During the program, Chief Guest Mr. Sudan Kirati hailed the trail as an exemplary alternative to regular mountain trekking and assured full support from Government side for the promotion of the trail. Mr. Hikmat Aiyar said, “Nepal Tourism Board has already kept the trail in priority list and allocated budget for the development and aggressive marketing of the trail.” The Chairman Mr. Ramesh Kumar Rai-President of Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center concluded the program by briefing the highlights of the trail and asserting the needs of collaboration from all sectors.
Mundum Trail is named after the verbal scripture of Kirati people called “Mundum”, which is considered as the basic guiding principle of the whole Kirati values and life activities. The trail is commended as being the first trail used by HW Tillman back in 1950 while travelling to Lukla. Starting from Diktel (a town approx 265 km from Kathmandu), the trail goes through the typical mid hills villages, lush rhododendron forests, hill ridges, pasture lands and culminates at the vibrant town of Bhojpur. The major highlight of the trail include numerous exclusive viewpoints that offer the panoramic views of mountain ranges from Mt. Shisapangma (in China) to Kanchenjunga, including six mountains above 8000m Manaslu, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. Regarded as a live museum to observe Kirati civilization, one of the earliest known civilization in the history of Nepal, the trail also connects the lower Great Himalayan Trail and serves as the linkage points to Arun Valley and Lukla.
Day 1: Kathmandu – Diktel 1650m – 265kms (Guest House) 9-10 hour driving.
Day 2: Diktel – Chakhewa 2300m – Temke 3000m Hike – 48kms ( Camping) 1.30 hour.
Day 3: Chakhewa 2300m – Dhotre 2752m (Camping ) 4-5 hour.
Day 4: Dhotre 2752m – Maiyung (Satdobate 3122m) (Camping)4-5 hour.
Day 5: Maiyung (satdobate 3122m)- Rawadhap 3426m (Camping) 6,7 hour.
Day 6: Rawadhap 3426m – Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m (kulopankha) (Tea house) 4-5 hour.
Day 7: Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m – silichung climb – Salpa Bhanjyang (Tea house) rest day 6-7 hour.
Day 8: Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m – Hyakule 2972m (Camping) 4-5 hours.
Day 9: Hyakule 2972m – Maiyung danda 3333m (Camping) 3-4 hours.
Day 10: Maiyung danda 3333m – Delikharka Bhojpur 1800m (Guest House) 5-6 hours.
Day 11: Bhojpur ,Taksar – sightseeing (Guest House) half day.
Day 12: Bhojpur ktm – by Bus / by flight Bhojpur – Hile- 88 kms Hile – Dharan – 64 kms Dharan – Kathmandu – 300 kms Chakhewa – Silichung – Salpa Bhanjyang 66.9kms Salpa Bhanhyang –Bhojpur 49.4kms trekking trail distance.
For more details, please visit https://www.mundumtrail.com/
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!]