Nepal’s Season of Festivals

Playing Flute Nepal Festival

The rains have stopped; actually I felt that there was less rain this year during the monsoon season. Hope the paddy fields were inundated enough so that the harvest is a good one, for only then will the coming festivals be celebrated with real gusto. At the same time, it must be said that the earthquakes have put somewhat of a dampener on the works. Just the other day, someone was telling me that this time around, there wasn’t much of the usual hullaballoo about the upcoming Teej festival, which is the biggest and most joyously celebrated festival for women here. Perhaps this year, everybody feels it is appropriate to be more subdued. Anyway, subdued or not, festivals will be honored, because they are part of the country’s ancient tradition, and here are some on the way:

September 05: Shree Krishna Janmasthami

Krishna Asthami

This is the day when you should be in Patan Durbar Square, one of the Valley’s seven world heritage monument zones, because on this day there will be plenty of action at the Krishna Temple (built in 1637). Some say that it probably has the best deity images among the many other temples in Patan. Architecturally, too, it’s a work of art, built as it is in stone in the shikara style, both aspects thus setting it apart from the mostly pagoda-style temples around made of wood, and with metal roofs.

Long lines of Krishna devotees will make their way up a narrow stairway to the first floor, where the deities (Lord Krishna and his wife Goddess Radha) reside in glorious splendor, enjoying his birthday celebrations. Now, here’s something about Lord Krishna: he is one of the more popular gods in the Hindu pantheon, and was instrumental in ensuring victory of good over evil in the great Mahabharat war, when, acting as Prince Arjun’s charioteer, he provided the right advice at the right times. His deep insights of that time constitute the Bhagavad Gita, the most important Hindu religious text.

September 13: Kushe Aushi (Father’s Day)


This is the day when those who have lost their fathers offer rice and other pure foodstuff (sida daan) to priests, and many go to river banks to do the rituals (shraddha) honoring their fathers. Gokarana, some one hour to the east of Kathmandu city center, is a popular spot for such rituals at the Gokarneshwor Mahadev Temple. Gokarna is a protected forest reserve that has a terrific resort famous for its scenic golf course. Now, about the name Kushe Ausi: it refers to kush, which is a sacred grass used for purification purposes, and ausi means a no-moon day.

September 16: TeejFathers Day


The Teej festival is a three-day-long affair. The story behind it goes like this: a lady called Parbati was determined to marry the dashing Lord Shiva, and to attain her objective, she fasted and prayed for a very long time. Her dedication couldn’t be ignored by the mighty Shiva, who was meditating in Mount Kailash, and he agreed to marry her. Teej is a celebration of this rousing story, a celebration during which women pray for the long life of their husbands, and wellbeing and happiness of their families. Pashupatinath Temple, another of the Valley’s world heritage monuments, is where you’ll find lines and lines of women, all clad in bright red saris, waiting their turns patiently to worship Shiva.

Lots of volunteers will be around, and it’s a really carnival atmosphere. Most of the women will not have eaten or drunk anything for the past many hours, and chances are some of the weaker ones might even faint while waiting in line. To lessen this risk, they are invited to their paternal house the night before to partake in the dar khane ritual, when all the family members, especially the women, dance and sing all night, even as they gorge themselves on a large variety of delicacies. The fast begins from midnight onwards, however, there’s a lot of dancing and singing the next day, too. The third day, they do some special pujas, where banana and basil (tulsi) leaves hold significance, and after it’s over, sit down to break their fasts by eating karkalo ko tarkari (curry made of lotus leaves) and pure food made in clarified butter (ghiu).

September 18: Rishi Panchami


With the ending of the Teej festival, women worship the Sapta Rishis (the seven powerful sages: Vashishta, Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vishwamitra, Gautama, and Jamadagni). They take a ritual bath early in the morning, before sunrise, scrubbing themselves with mud that’s supposed to come from an elephant’s foot, and the roots of the sacred tulsi and amala plants. They also brush their teeth using datiyon, the stem of a herbal tree, and use its leaves as sacred offerings. Figures of the seven sages are made using cow dung, and these are worshipped with great devotion.

Well, as you can see, September has a lot of important festivals, and there’s more to come in the next blog. Keep on reading.

Top 10 Community Homestays in Nepal

Spoilt for choice, if you want to stay in a family/community homestays in Nepal, then there are now more than 20 listed on the Community Homestay Network; with new ones joining all the time.

Mainly managed by women, they are given training and support from Royal Mountain Travel to be able to welcome guests into their homes in a sustainable and well-organised manner. Set up by Royal Mountain Travel is a corporate giving strategy, CHN works on a non-profit basis and is now working with 21 community homestays all over Nepal.

The diversity in Nepal means that no homestay experience is the same. Scattered all over the country, there is a wide range of cultural heritage, traditions, scenery, things to do and cuisines!

I have had the opportunity to visit many of these communities in the early days. Obviously the priorities of guests – tourists who usually have little idea of life in these rural villages – is that most need access to clean, comfortable beds and good bathroom facilities. 

While some homestays in small villages tend to be more basic, generally those located in the Kathmandu Valley. Likewise, in towns such as Tansen tend to be more comfortable. However, even in the most rural and simple accommodation, outside toilets will not be far and everything is clean. 

Depending on your time duration and how far you want to go, and perhaps the level of comfort, you have a wide choice. There are seven community homestays in and around Kathmandu, all within about two hours drive from Kathmandu. 

Community Homestays in Nepal 

There are a few new ones, added during the pandemic, that I have not yet had the opportunity to visit. But here I will describe my top 10 personal favourite community homestays in Nepal. These community homestays are the places where I have been and of which I have special memories. 

Panauti Community Homestay

Panauti Community Homestay in Nepal
Panauti Community Homestay in Nepal

The first and the flagship, Panauti community homestay started out when the wife of an employee working for Royal Mountain Travel was encouraged to help organise a group of women to make available one or two rooms in their homes for guests to stay in. At the time, many of the women spoke very little English. They had to rely on their children to translate and help teach them the basics of English. Panaulti itself has much to offer visitors. About two hours from Kathmandu, this small historic town is home to the lush countryside of the Kathmandu Valley. Panauti is easy to reach and has lots of interest in its beautifully preserved old town centre. I first visited Panauti in 1994 on my first trip to Nepal. Apart from some changes in dress and perhaps the number of vehicles, not much has changed; it is still possible to see girls winnowing the rice in the streets.  

Every time I return to Nepal, I always try to fit in a visit to Panauti. Just to say hello to old friends and to bring my friends here.   

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Best Time to Visit Nepal for Trekking, and Travelling

The best time to visit Nepal for trekking and traveling is in the spring or fall. During this period, the temperature is warm and the sky is clear making it the best season to visit Nepal. But due to the land topography, geographical features, and awesome climatic condition, one can visit Nepal throughout the year.

Here’s our awesome guide to the best time to visit Nepal for trekking, traveling, and enjoying some of the main festivals of Nepal.

Best Time to Visit Nepal for Trekking

Mid- September- November

Upper Mustang- Best time to visit Nepal
Upper Mustang, The Kingdom of Lo
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Gai Jatra in Bhaktapur

Taha- Macha photo by Junu Shrestha

Today ( 04 August 2020 ), Gai Jatra is celebrated at Bhaktapur. Gai Jatra also known as “Sha paru” in native Newari language, where “Sha” means “cow” and “Paru” means celebration. The whole festival is celebrated for 7 days till Krishna Janmashtami on the main street of Bhaktapur.

Gai Jatra is one of the biggest festivals among the indigenous Newari communities living in the valley and is also celebrated by all the Newars living in different parts of the country in a different way.

Gai-Jatra here in Bhaktapur is celebrated in an exciting way. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the demise of the loved ones during the year. A chariot, known as Taha-macha made of bamboo decorated with flowers and colorful threads and dressed up in cloth with the picture of a dead person at the centre is carried around the old main street of Bhaktapur.

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Guni Punhi and Offering to Frogs

“Offering to frog” photo by : Junu Shrestha

Today ( 03 August 2020 ) we are enjoying “ kwati” at our house, with our family. “Kwati” is one of the traditional Newari soups which is prepared by indigenous Newari people living in the valley on the occasion of Guni Punhi festival.  The word kwati is derived from two words where “kwa” means hot and “ti” means soup, so it’s the hot soup, with a mixture of 9 types of sprouted Beans Black Pea, Green pea, Chickpea, Soya bean, Filed pea, Garden pea, Cowpea, Rice bean.

After the traditional method of rice plantation and a lot of physical work in the farming season, the farmers require proper nutrition to regain their body energy. Kwati, therefore, acts as the supplier of nutrition to the tired farmers. kwati was particularly consumed among Newari communities but with time, it also has been popular among other ethnic communities here in Nepal.

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Utilizing lockdown time to preserve an important cultural heritage site in a Himalayan village

The worldwide lockdown meant that people like myself who had been working in the tourism sector had no work to do and were forced to stay at home. The lockdown brought an abrupt halt to the daily lives of many people. With all this time in our hands, it seemed like there were many things we could do. I chose to go back to my hometown to create my own lockdown adventure. Continue reading

Women in Leadership

Ujita Nakarmi and Poonam Gupta Shrestha are two inspiring female leaders in their respective companies in the hospitality sector. Their commitment, hard work and leadership make them role models for women in Nepal aspiring to be in leadership positions.

Ujita Nakarmi is the manager of Traditional Comfort hotel, one of the leading sustainable hotels in Nepal. She oversees different aspects of the hotel from operations to sales and marketing to HR.

Ujita Nakarmi

How did you start your career?

Growing up, I always saw my mother and my aunts turn to their husbands for money. I did not like how dependent this made them on their husbands for little things. I was determined at a young age to never have to turn to my husband for money and to always become self-sufficient. My determination for financial independence led me to start working at a young age. I started tutoring younger kids when I was in grade 9. Throughout the rest of my high school, I also took other jobs through which I could earn money. This way I never had to turn to my parents for pocket money.

After completing 12th grade, an opportunity came for me to go to the UK. Meanwhile, my family was putting pressure on me to get married. I was determined to advance my career so I took the opportunity to go to the UK. In the UK, I worked at Burger King and Travelers Hotel. That is where I officially started my career in the hospitality sector. Continue reading

Spiritual Travel in Nepal

The face of tourism is changing. Once seen solely as a reprieve from the mundane day-to-day life, individuals are now taking vacation opportunities to explore destinations aligned with their spiritual journeys. Whether that be a pilgrimage to holy sites or simply to connect with the spiritual side of nature, there’s one destination that should be at the top of every spiritual traveler’s list: Nepal.

Home to multiple religions, the country is ripe to intake those looking intrinsically for deeper connections. The topic was even discussed during the last Himalayan Travel Mart, an international B2B conference for business leaders promoting travel in the Himalayas. While there is an abundance of holy sites in the country, we’ve round up a must-visit list below:

Lumbini, the birth of Buddhism

Situated in the Terai lowlands and bordered by India, Lumbini is where Buddha was born in 623 BCE. Today, it is home to numerous monasteries represented by a plethora of countries to showcase how widespread Buddhism is around the world, it has also become a pilgrimage site for devout Buddhists. Continue reading

How to Take Travel Experiences to the Next Level

Most travel professionals know the ins and outs of travel, but can they identify what truly makes for an unforgettable experience? While it’s most likely a combination of things, we’ve discovered a core component: a connection to locals.

The natural beauty of our planet can be found all over the world, but the unique culture and traditions of each destination are what makes a place unique. Take the town of Tansen in the Palpa district as an example, the hidden gem is a remarkable stop for travelers. Most who visit stop by to enjoy the sweeping views for a day, but those who end up spending the night with Community Homestay experience something different – a connection to the destination itself. Continue reading

How to Spot Red Pandas and Dolphins in Nepal

Plataniste or Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangética), Karnaphuli river, Bangladesh Plataniste or Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangética), Karnaphuli river, BangladeshDo you know what makes Nepal one of the most biodiverse countries in the world? Hint: it has something to do with a giant called the Himalayas. The climate range is so broad – from the highest point in the world (Everest) to the tropical lowlands that are engulfed in humidity and home to rainforests – the tremendous geographic diversity plays a part in the range of flora and fauna that exist within the country. Continue reading