37 Facts About Nepal - A Guide to Staying Culturally Conscious

Nepal, a landlocked country in South Asia, has been a favourite destination among mountaineers as well as adventurers looking for a thrill. Apart from the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest being a pride of the country, Nepal has much more to offer. It was the hometown of the Budhha, habitat for several species of flora and fauna and if that is not enough, it has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are a few facts about Nepal to make sure that you do not miss anything while you are in the country. Also, no harm in bragging about the new knowledge we have, right?

1. The Ceiling of the World

The Himalayas, Nepal
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Nepal has been tagged as the ‘ceiling of the world’ for being home to eight of the ten world’s highest mountains including Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyo, Dhaulagiri etc. A significant portion of the Himalayas is in Nepal.

2. Never Been Occupied

A Free World
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Nepal does not celebrate an independence day because they had never been under any foreign occupation. The nation is the oldest country in South Asia. Nepal became a federal democratic republic in 2008 after having a monarchical form of government until then. Pretty cool for a small country surrounded by the Asian giants, right?

3. Deepest, Highest and Largest!

Lake Tilicho
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Housing the world’s deepest lake, Shey Phoksundo; the tallest grassland, the Chitwan; the deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki Gorge and harbours, the highest altitude lake at Lake Tilicho, Nepal has broken records for its enchanting natural beauty. Arun Valley, the uppermost valley on earth, too is in Nepal. It is the only country with such drastic altitude variation from 59 meters to 8,848 meters. So well, your social media posts would have a row of pictures of these ultimate destinations if you visit Nepal.

4. A Large Concentration of World Heritage Sites

Facts about Nepal
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If you think Nepal is a tiny country famous for mountaineering, you couldn’t be more wrong. The capital city, Kathmandu itself, has seven UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites within a radius of 15 km. It has been nicknamed as the living cultural museum of the world. Moreover, Nepal has four recognised World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, making it the country with the densest concentration of heritage sites.

5. Nepal’s Own Venice!

There are ample evidence and agreement among geologists to suggest that the valley of Kathmandu was once a lake. Religion states the lake to have been divided to drain the water, thus allowing civilisation to flourish. Whereas, science points out a more logical reason behind the phenomenon, that makes the valley extremely fertile and excellent for cultivation.

6. The Land is Still Moving

Nepal is still alive and moving! The Indo-Australian plate under Nepal is supposed to travel 1,500 km into Asia in the next ten million years.

7. Nepal is Portugal Turned Ninety Degrees

If you haven’t noticed before, take a look at your atlas! Nepal resembles the map of Portugal when turned ninety degrees. Gives you something to brag about, eh?

8. The Snow Monster

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Ever heard about the mythical creature called Yeti, an abominable snowman, usually known to be taller than an average human being? It is what you call Bigfoot in North America. What if you find out that this is not a myth at all? Yes, you heard it right. Yetis or locally known as ‘Meh-Teh’ are said to have been spotted in the mountains of Nepal, at the off-beaten Himalayan treks

9. Amazon of Asia

Flora and Fauna in Nepal
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Nepal is the natural habitat to 5,980 species of flowering plants, 2% of the world's orchids and 6% of rhododendron species. The country shelters over 250 species of flora and fauna, 870 species of birds which is roughly the world’s 8%, 650 species of butterflies and the world's most giant moth and honeybees. The Chitwan National Park is a reserve of endangered and rare animals such as Asia’s one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger.

10. Perfect for Thrilling Adventures

Adventure Sports in Nepal
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Feed your enthusiasm for the whole lot in your bucket list because it is one of the best countries for adventure and extreme sports tourism. Be it paragliding, white-water rafting, kayaking, high altitude marathons, bungee jumping, and mountain biking, or mountaineering, Nepal is the perfect place to tick off these life experiences.

11. Snow Deposits

The Himalayas in Nepal are the mouths of three of the major river systems of Asia: the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Yamuna. The Himalayas also has the world’s third-largest depository of ice and snow.

12. The Constitution That Was Formed in 2015!

The constitution of Nepal is considerably new as it was formulated only in 2015.

13. The Non-Clichéd Flag

National Flag of Nepal
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Unlike the common quadrilateral flags, Nepal is the only country where the flag is of two triangles. The upper triangle has an image of the moon while the lower triangle has that of the sun representing the two major religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the current flag was incepted in 1962, the design is said to be 2000 years old. It is also said to represent the Himalayas.

14. The Birthplace of Buddha

Facts about Nepal
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Well, Nepal is a peaceful country because it is the birthplace of Budhha. Siddhartha Guatama or Lord Budhha was born in Kapilavastu, Lumbini in 623 B.C. Lumbini has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

15. No Religious or Communal Riots

Would you believe that a small, landlocked country of 147, 181 sq.km? Squeezed among its neighbouring giants is an abode of 80 ethnic groups speaking 123 languages? Despite Hinduism being the official religion, Nepal has never faced any riots on the lines of religion or ethnicity. The Nepalese pride themselves on maintaining their peace as a nation.

16. Original Inhabitants

The original rulers of Kathmandu are known to have been the Hindu Kiratis, a Mongoloid tribe. The country became predominantly Hindu when the north Indian rulers overthrew the Kiratis in 300 A.D. Nepal’s ‘Dark Ages’ came in the 700s when the Tibetans and Kashmiris invaded the country.

17. Isolation from the World

Nepal followed a policy of isolationism from 1846 to 1950s under the Rana regime to prevent the European conquest of its territory.

18. The Home of Living Goddess

Kumari: Living Goddess, Nepal
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Ever worshipped a little girl as a goddess? Yes, you heard it right. If you are in Nepal, you shall witness the living goddess. Also known as ‘Kumari’, literally meaning virgin, pre-pubescent girls are believed to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy or the incarnations of goddess Taleju, otherwise known as ‘Durga’ in India.  They lived in temples and worshipped and driven in chariots during festivals. However, the goddesses retire on puberty or if they fall prey to illness or accidents.

19. “Death is Better than Cowardice”

Gurkha Soldiers, Nepal
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Death is gratifying than cowardice is the motto of the Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who display exemplary gallantry for their country. Their dedication and skill made the British recruit them as a part of the United Kingdom’s paid army in 1816, and they have been serving ever since.

20.  Elephant Polo

Elephant Polo
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Elephant Polo is known to have originated in Meghauli, Nepal. The Tiger Tops in the country conducts World Elephant Polo Championship and is the elephant polo headquarters.

21.  Natural Porters

Sherpas are the natural porters
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Sherpas are the ethnic community in the eastern part of Nepalese Himalayan Mountains, who are employed as porters. They are known to be immune to the effects of altitude due to their upbringing and genetics.

22.  When in Nepal, You Live in the Future

Nepal follows the Bikram Sambat calendar a combination of the solar and lunar calendar. Its is calculated for 67 years, eight and a half months ahead of the Gregorian Calendar which is used almost globally, barring a few countries. The Nepali New Year is celebrated in mid-April.

23.  Weekend Rules

Saturday is a holiday in Nepal while people usually work on Sundays. Fridays are more often than not, a half-day.

24.  25% Revenue Comes from Tourism

The tourism industry is quite huge in Nepal. About 25% of the revenue comes from tourism. The government donates 50% of the revenue collected from the forest areas to the inhabitants in and around the wildlife.

25.  National Sport is Volleyball

Volleyball in Nepal
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Nepal’s national game is volleyball. However, they have never won an Olympic medal.

26.  Pot or Not?

Pot in Nepal
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Once named the ‘citadel of hippies’, in the 60s and 70s, Nepal had the most access to marijuana. According to Hindu mythology, Nepal is home to Lord Shiva, the destroyer of the universe. Those familiar with the myth would be well aware of his infamous tales revolving around marijuana. Hence, it is not uncommon to see natives and tourists alike to smoke pot in Nepal. Although weed has been considered a ‘Section A’ drug in the country since 1965, you can find it growing almost anywhere in the country. You do get the best quality of weed in the place. Just strike up a conversation with a local or in a bar, and you are good to go.

27. Say Goodbye to Internet Browsing!

If you hate your YouTube channels buffering, or always rely on google maps, what would you do in Nepal where internet speed is below 256 kbps? Well, streaming movies on 4G or even 3G is a dream to the Nepalese.

28.  PDA Gets You Arrested!

No PDA in Nepal
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If you are from any of the Asian countries, you may be quite familiar with this rule, but a Westerner would find it bizarre. Well, yes, you can’t kiss or hug a person of the opposite gender in public, or even hold hands for that matter. But it is perfectly reasonable to keep the hands of your friends belonging to the same gender, which seems quite tolerant in a way.

29.  Shortage of Electricity and Water

Water Scarcity in Nepal
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One downside of travelling to Nepal is the constant blackouts as well as lack of water. Bit of an irony, considering that Nepal is also called the ‘abode of lakes’ and has many freshwater sources of water. Speaking of electricity, people on an average face power cuts up to eight hours a day. The Nepalese are now accustomed to living this way, and in fact, adjust their schedules accordingly.

30.  59 kms of Railway Line

The Railway system in Nepal is just 59 km in total. If you choose to take a tour on the railway, you will travel the entire railway line within a day!

31. Other Names of Everest

Mount Everest, Nepal
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Did you know that ‘Mount Everest’ is a name given by the Royal Geographical Society after Sir George Everest? The Nepalese call the mountain as ‘Sagarmatha’ or ‘Chomolungma’.

32. Arranged Marriage System

Marriages in Nepal
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The Nepalese are pretty strict about their caste and society. Hence, arrange marriage is more common in Nepal than love marriage.

33. Namaste!

People in Nepal have their way of greeting, which is quite similar to that in India. A Nepali would greet you by saying ‘Namaste’ which means ‘I salute the God in you’, which is done by pressing the two palms against each other in front of the chest.

34.  USD 1 vs USD 68

Although an average Nepalese survives on USD 1 per day, Nepal spends USD 68 per person on healthcare.

35. Daal-Bhat 24 Hours!

Dal-Bhat in Nepal
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Daal (lentils) Bhat (rice) is the staple food of the Himalayan kingdom. They have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daal is prepared using vegetables and a lot of spice and is quite nutritious, that too for a nominal price!

36. Holy Cow? Literally!

Cows in Nepal
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Killing a cow in Nepal will earn you twelve years in prison. Cows are considered holy in Hinduism and happen to be the national animal of Nepal. So unless you are fond of your freedom being taken away and spending a decade behind bars, don’t even dare think about beef while you are in Nepal.

37. Think Before You Step on Someone

Touching anything with feet is considered to be offensive amongst the Nepalese. So be sure not to step on anyone. It is also believed to be rude to eat with left hand or touch anyone’s head. Head, according to the people in Nepal, is the most sacred part of a body.

Although there are a lot more to know about this beautiful country, which will never fail to surprise you, a few things are better left unknown, right? With the facts mentioned above, you are sure to go hunting to the right places to fill your thirst. Pack your bags and let nature do wonders to your soul.

This post was published by Shreyasee Deb

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