The landlocked country of Nepal is arguably most famous for its mountainous geography, especially the world renowned Mount Everest, known as the highest place on Earth. Located in the Himalayas, the capital city of Kathmandu is both rich in culture and saturated with an exotic backdrop frequently mentioned in novels and movies.
The diversity within its culture also presents many original and tantalizing cuisines for a visitor to delight in. Throughout the year, a multitude of religious groups within Nepal, from Buddhist to Hindu, celebrate a variety of festivals, making Nepal a true adventure for any traveler.
The Majestic Mountains
Many travelers come from diverse destinations to trek through the mountainous regions of Nepal. Of course, the father of all mountains is Mount Everest, standing proud and tall at 29,028 feet. Not everyone who comes to Nepal plans to climb Mount Everest, but most do end up taking a local trek to Annapurna or Langtang Valley.
The Langtang Valley trek is particularly stunning as it is completely surrounded by the Himalayan peaks. A trekker can also visit the sacred Lakes of Gosainkunda in Langtang Valley. This trek is suitable for most anyone in good health and decent shape and doesn't require one to be a world class fitness guru or high-end adventure seeker.
The Mystery of Kathmandu
Kathmandu, the capital, has frequently been considered the real-life Shangri-La represented in the James Hilton novel, Lost Horizon. Described as a place filled with both mystery and harmony, it is often described as heaven on earth. With eight rivers flowing through the city and surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains, one can easily understand why many believe Kathmandu to be The Land of Utopia.
Most travelers to Kathmandu will visit Thamel, an area filled with guest houses and restaurants. However, a fun alternative is to visit where the hippies of the 70s fell in love with, the aptly nicknamed area of "Freak Street."
Kathmandu is also a highly religious city, reflected in its architecture. Many of the monuments and structures famous in Kathmandu will be shrines, pagodas or palaces designed to worship one of their many gods. One can't visit Kathmandu without seeing The Seven Monument Zone, an area designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This is close to 500 acres that includes Dunbar Square, the Hindu temple of Changu Narayan, and what is considered one of the most holy sites in Kathmandu, Boudhanath.
The Mouth Watering Momo
No adventure to Nepal is complete until one dines on its unique and delectable cuisine. The most typical meal in Nepal is Dal Bhat, a spicy lentil soup served over a bed of rice, with chutney and achar (a pickled curry) eaten on the side. Then there's Momo, a dish influenced by the Chinese and Tibetan cultures. Basically, Momo is a dumpling, the Nepalese equivalent of ravioli or gyoza. Originally, Momo was filled with buffalo meat, but for the less adventurous traveler, Momo is also made with chicken or goat.
Without a doubt, Nepal is one of the most exotic and multi-cultural countries that anyone is fortunate enough to visit. Filled with world-famous mountains and lakes, a colorful city in its center that is considered paradise on earth, and a diverse and savory cuisine to delight in, this is truly a spiritual and cultural Land of Utopia.