Nepal is one of the best destinations in the world for those on the lookout for getting the most out of their budgets. A visit to Nepal is not only a culturally rewarding experience but also one that will not strain your pockets unduly; it being one of the worlds’s acknowledged cheap travel destinations. The country’s 10 world heritage sites are must-visit places for any tourist seeking to gain a better understanding of the natural beauty, history, and culture of Nepal. These go towards giving you a full-fledged mind, body, and soul experience, and isn’t that good enough reason for making Nepal one of the best holiday destinations in the world?
1. Lumbini: Prince Siddhartha Gautam, who went on to be known as the Buddha, was born here. Situated in Kapilvastu of Rupandehi District, the most sacred site here is the Mayadevi Temple with it image of Queen Mayadevi giving birth to Siddhartha. Nearby is the Pushkarni Pond where she took the ritual dip before giving birth, and where Buddha himself took his first bath. The famous Ashoka Pillar marks the spot where Buddha was born. The Lumbini Development Trust, established in 1976 to develop the site into an international Buddhist center, divided the Trust area into three zones: the Sacred Garden Zone, the Monastic Zone, and the Educational and Culture Zone. Being the birthplace of the propagator of Buddhism, Lumbini is one of the most important places to visit in Nepal.
2. Sagarmatha National Park: Located at 3000 m in Solukhumbu District of Sagarmatha Zone, and spread over 1,148 sq km, it is the highest national park in the world. Rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas go to make its landscape, with some of the world’s tallest peaks in its immediate vicinity, including Mount Everest. Animals found here are Himalayan black bear, wild yak, snow leopard, musk deer, and red panda. About 118 bird species, including the national bird, the Impeyan pheasant (danphe), and 26 butterfly species can also be seen here. Surely one place that goes to make Nepal one of the best destinations in the world.
3. Chitwan National Park: Located 120 km from Kathmandu, it covers an area of about 932 sq km, and is home to more than 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles. These include the rare Royal Bengal tiger, the one-horned rhino and the gharial, beside other animals like mugger crocodiles, Indian rock pythons, elephants, striped hyenas, the four-horned antelope, pangolins, leopards, deer, monkeys, etc. Bird species include the giant hornbill, black stork, white stork, Bengal florican, lesser florican, egret, red jungle fowl, heron, kingfisher, flycatcher pea fowl, woodpecker, etc. A wildlife paradise, and another reason why Nepal is one of the best destinations in the world, particularly for animal lovers.
4. Kathmandu Durbar Square: It has 61 listed monuments dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest temples here are that of the gods Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswar, and Taleju. Kumari Bahal, the residence of Living Goddess Kumari, is also located here. The name of Kathmandu is derived from the Kasthamandap Temple (kastha: wood, mandap: pavilion), another famous structure at the site which is built from the wood of one single sal (shorea robusta) tree. Located in the city center, one will find living history here, and this is why it contributes so much towards making Nepal one of the best destinations in the world.
5. Patan Durbar Square: It has one of the most diverse collections of traditional architectural styles found within a square anywhere in the world. Some outstanding examples are: Krishna Temple, Kumbheswor Temple, Jagat Narayan Temple, Bhimsen Temple, and Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar). There are three main courtyards: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk, and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Sundari Chowk has a famous sunken watering spot (once the royal bath) known as Tusha Hiti. This square is often referred to as a ‘living museum’ thus making it one of the places to visit in Nepal.
6. Bhaktapur Durbar Square: Many temples and stone statues can be seen in this square, including the Batsala Devi Temple, which has a bronze bell known as the “bell of barking dogs”; when it rings out, the local dogs start barking! Some other notable monuments are the Lion Gate and the Golden Gate, the latter being the main entrance to the 55-Window Palace. A statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, on a column facing the palace, is regarded as the best carved statue in the square. Life goes on here as it has since ages ago, culture thrives, and that is why it makes Nepal one of the best vacation destinations for those wishing to experience life as it once used to be.
7. Pasupatinath Temple Complex: With a two-tiered gold plated roof and silver embossed doors, this most scared of Hindu shrines houses a six-foot, four-faced lingum (phallic symbol) of Lord Shiva. A 300-year-old bronze statue of Nandi (Shiva’s carrier, the bull) is located in front of the main doors of the temple. Near the temple is the cremation ground, close to which is the statue of Virupaksha, the ‘three-eyed Shiva’. To the south is the Baccareshwari Templededicated to Goddess Parvati and a terracotta figure of Lord Narayan. It is a pilgrimage site for Hindus worldwide, and even for others, they are sure to discover spirituality here. This makes it another reason for making Nepal one of the best holiday destinations in the world.
8. Boudhanath Stupa: With a diameter of 100 m and a height of 40 m, it is believed to be the biggest stupa in the world. It is also known as Khasti Chaitya because it has the remains of the past Buddha Kashyapa. Buddha’s all-seeing eyes are painted on all sides of the huge dome, the upper tower of which is a pyramid. Around the 3-layered base are 108 Buddhist deities and numerous brass prayer wheels. Within the complex premises are monasteries from all four schools of Mahayana Buddhism. Certainly a place that underlines Nepal’s claim to be one of the best destinations in the world for those seeking solace from the never-ending grind of everyday living.
9. Swayambhunath Stupa: Clearly distinguishable by its white dome and golden spire, along with the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha, this famous Buddhist shrine is located at the top of a conical hill. It is reached either by climbing 365 steps, past two stone lions at the entrance, or by a metalled road winding up the hill. Many chaityas, temples, and deity images can be seen around the stupa. New additions in recent times include a 57-foot Buddha statue within a park. Swayambhunath is another good reason why Nepal is one of the best travel destination for travelers looking for more than just materialistic pleasure.
10. Changu Narayan Temple: Dedicated to Lord Narayan (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), whose 10-headed and 10-armed stone image stands inside, this 4th century temple is situated some 4 km from Bhaktapur. The pagoda-style temple exhibits fine examples of Licchavi period (2nd to 9th century) craftsmanship in stone, wood, and metal, which includes a life-sized, kneeling stone statue of Garuda (mythical man/bird carrier of Lord Vishnu). Close to this is one of the oldest Licchavi stone inscriptions found in the country. History, culture, and heritage—you’ll find all these here—and you’ll agree that Changu Narayan Temple is therefore another excellent reason for making Nepal one of the best destinations in the world for tourists who want a full-fledged holiday experience.