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Himalayan Art Paintings

Himalayan Art Paintings

There are many forms of Himalayan art. Although we acknowledge sculpture, textile, and jewelry as art, we focus primarily on paintings. This article reviews Himalayan art from Nepal, Tibet, Kashmir, Bhutan, India, and China. In general, the paintings were created as educational guides for monks, Buddhists, and Hindus.

Thangka

Thangkas are embroidered or drawn paintings of deities that tell a story. Most of the stories relate to the deity’s ascent to enlightenment or an obstacle they had to overcome in their life. The stories are used as teaching tools to explore the different paths to enlightenment. They also serve as historical documents describing the life of Buddha, or important Lamas.

Thangkas often serve as a centerpiece at a formal event like a ritual or ceremony. They are also used as tokens for people to send prayers to god, give offerings, and make requests. When they are used as a teaching tool, students are sometimes asked to visualize themselves as the deity and internalize their qualities.

Thangka paintings date back to 13th century AD, but archived letters and journal entries from china indicate they were present before the 5th century AD.

Mandala

Mandalas are geometrical patterns that represent the universe and enlightenment. In general, they are squares inside circles. Every detail and its placement have a specific meaning. They are painted to function as a diagram or map, where a person starts at the outermost border and attempts to make it to the center and achieve enlightenment.

There are more than 30 types of mandalas. The sand mandala is the most important type of mandala for initiation ceremonies or empowerment rituals. Painted mandalas are the second most important, followed by letters, and then plain types.

Parts of a Mandala

Each mandala is unique with differences ranging from subtle to extreme. The most common type of mandala has 4 outer circles. Each has its own color, spirit and meaning. The white wall symbolizes faith. Yellow symbolizes faith. The red wall symbolizes effort. Green symbolizes memory. And finally the blue wall symbolizes wisdom.

After entering the 4 walls, you come to 4 gates. The gates are in the shape of a “T”. They represent the 4 immeasurable thoughts, which are joy, compassion, love, and mental calmness.

Inside the gates are more gates and at the very center is normally a lotus flower, which represents the 5 psychophysical components of humans. They are, in essence, the 5 senses.

And if the mandala is detailed enough, there will be a person or figure or letter, which is normally written in Tibetan.

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Public Holidays in Nepal

Holidays in Nepal

Planning your trip to Nepal can take a tremendous amount of effort. You must make sure you have all the right materials, and equipment, time off from work, your pets are cared for (if you have them), your house or apartment is looked after, bills/taxes and other factors also play a part in timing your trip. And you haven’t even left the country yet. This doesn’t include all the planning you have to do in Nepal, such as where to stay, transportation, permits, licenses, when to visit and the list goes on. This article contains information on planning around public holidays in Nepal.

It sounds like a lot because it is. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure is happy to plan all the details of your trip for you. If you are more of the DIY kind, we are happy to provide you with the information you need to make your vacation a great one. As part of our commitment to being of service to our clients and our potential clients we would like to share a planning tip that is almost always overlooked.

Public holidays in Nepal

There is one caveat to planning around public holidays in Nepal, and that is if you are booking a Nepal holiday package. In which case you want to go during these festive times. There are 2 major holidays in Nepal. They are Dashain, and Tihar. Dashain and Tihar are bothe celebrated for 5 days. In general, most of the country shuts down and celebrates these two holidays. The other holidays may or may not be observed in different location across Nepal.

If you are planning a trip to Nepal that requires trekking permits, licenses, or other government documents you must plan your trip in advance, or contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventures and we will take care of it for you.

The following list of months contains most of the public holidays in Nepal.

Janurary

Maghe Sankranti is a celebration of the end of winter solstice. Observers of this holiday take baths in rivers, eat festival foods like sweet potatoes, and the mother of the household wishes the family members good health.

Sahid diwas is a festival celebrating the martyrs of Nepal. This day celebrates the individuals who fought against the Rana regime. Most of the martyrs are unknown, but people celebrate them by reciting slogans, or sayings in public gatherings.

Feburary

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated to honor Shiva. There is a Maha Shivaratri in every month, but the one in February is the most important, because it marks the arrival of summer, and Shiva’s overcoming darkness and ignorance. People chant prayers, fast, do yoga, meditate, practice self-restrain, and forgiveness.

March

Holi is the festival of color and is one of the holidays that elicits smiles from people around the world. There are 2 Holis in Nepal. The first is celebrated by the mountainous and hill districts, and the second by the people who live in the Terai. This festival is celebrated by throwing colored powder on people or by spraying them with colored water.

April

Nepali New Year is not a major holiday, but it is observed.

September

Teej is a holiday for women.

October

Dashain is a 15-day celebration, but only the most important 5 days are awarded as a holiday. Those days are the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th days of the celebration.

On the first day, a ball of mud is made. Rice and other seeds are planted in it. The mud ball along with tika and flowers are placed in a dimly lit room and worshiped twice a day. People build bamboo swings for the children of the village.

People celebrate the 7th day by roasting sugar cane stocks and smacking them on the ground, which causes them to pop like a firecracker.

On the 8th and 9th days people sacrifice animals like goats, water buffalos, and chickens. Most people will eat meat on these days.

The 10th day a mixture of rice, yogurt, and vermilion is made. This mixture is called tika and older relatives place it on the forehead of younger relatives. Parents and grandparents also give blessings and money to the younger members of the family. This day is an excellent excuse to visit old rich uncle Keith.

November

Tihar is my favorite Holiday in Nepal. It is a mix between Christmas/ Hanukkiah, and Halloween with a dance party. Tihar is also known as the festival of lights. It is a 5-day holiday where blessings are given to animals and brothers.

People start the celebration of Tihar by feeding crows and ravens. These birds represent sadness and grief, so people give them food to bring happiness to the household.

On the second day, people feed dogs and put garlands around their necks. This is probably the one day out of the year where dogs are treated nicely in Nepal. Most of the time people throw stones at them or hit them with sticks.

People celebrate the 3rd day of Tihar by feeding cows the best grass and putting garlands around its neck. This is seen as thanking the cow for providing milk and dung. People also celebrate this day with dancing, caroling, and going door to door asking for money and food.

The 4th day is celebrated differently for different groups. In general people feed oxen and give them blessings.

The 5th day is brothers’ day. People give money and blessings to their brothers.

Thanks for reading

Did I miss any holidays? Let me know in the comments, and Ill add them. Thanks for reading Public Holidays in Nepal.

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Nepal Earthquake

Nepal Earthquake

Earthquakes can be terrifying especially if you are experiencing one. They can also pass gently without being noticed or cause mayhem resulting in death. The intensity depends on multiple factors such as location. Most of the worlds earthquakes occur along circum-Pacific seismic belt or “ring of fire.” This area is characterized as having a tremendous amount of tectonic activity. About 80% of the world’s earthquakes occur in this area. About 17% of the worlds earthquakes occurs in the Himalayas along the alpide belt. The section of the alpide belt that passes Nepal is the subject of this blog post.

Nepal earthquakes

Earthquakes occur frequently in Nepal. However, a major earthquake only occurs about once every 70 years. The last major earthquake occurred on April 25th, 2015, but a major aftershock occurred on May 12th, 2015. Earthquakes and aftershocks are the same, except aftershocks are of a lesser magnitude. The earthquake that occurred on April 25 was a magnitude 7.8, which happened in Gorkha between Pokhara and Kathmandu in the northern part of the country.

The earthquake was a result of pressure caused by the Indian tectonic plate subducting under the Eurasian plate. The pressure that built up was suddenly released in a thrust southward. When this happened parts of Nepal, like Kathmandu, shifted 10 feet south.

The second most recent earthquake happened in 1934. It occurred near Murkuchi in the south eastern part of Nepal. This earthquake was classified as a magnitude 8.0. A lot less is known about this earthquake, but it did give Gandhi a talking point. He blamed the earthquake on India’s failure to the cast system citing it as gods punishment.

Before the 1934 earthquake was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near Tibet. This earthquake occurred in 1916.

The first earthquake recorded in Nepal occurred in 1255 AD. However, earthquakes have been occurring here since before human habitation, when Everest was at the bottom of the Tethys sea.

Take away message

The Nepal earthquake of 2015 is a dramatic example of the worst that can happen. but earthquakes are common in Nepal. You are not likely to encounter a large one within the next 70 years, but its likely you may experience a small one that tickles your feet.

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Yoga Instructor Certification

Yoga Instructor certification

Yoga instructor certification
Yoga instructor certification class in Nepal

Before you make a commitment to take a yoga instructor training course you should read this article. You do not need a certification to teach yoga; however, yoga training at a yoga school can help tremendously in marketing and acquiring the skills required to effectively manage a class. It will also help prevent injuries during your class. Choosing the right Yoga Instructor certification program can be a little challenging, but this blog post will help with that.

Choosing the right yoga instructor training program

If you already have a solid following and clients, your focus should be providing the best service possible or improving your current service. This can be done by taking an advanced training course, or a yoga training course that is highly specialized in a field of yoga.

Yoga Alliance markets themselves as the industry standard for quality yoga. I do not know if this is true, but a few yoga schools will not hire teachers unless they have been trained by a Yoga Alliance approved school. They have a list on their website of approved yoga schools.

There are plenty of very high-quality yoga schools that are not affiliated or approved by Yoga Alliance. If you find a yoga instructor certification program that you like, do not discredit it if they are not connected to Yoga Alliance.

Earning your yoga instructor certification in Nepal

There are a lot of great yoga schools in the US. However, I recommend receiving your yoga training in Nepal or India because these training courses can provide a cultural context for the practice.

Side note: Yoga originated in the Indius Valley (northern India/ Nepal) over 2,000 years ago (the exact date is unknown). Yoga is as much of a spiritual exercise as it is a physical exercise.

There are 8 yoga alliance approved yoga instructor certification schools in Nepal. They are Himalayan yogini, Nepal Yoga, Shanti Yoga Ashram, Yogstars, Himalayan Yoga Academy, Nepal Yoga Academy, Earth Yoga, and Mahalaya. I cannot make a recommendation for any of them though.

Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure has a great yoga training program, which can be tailored to attendees. The certifications available are the 200 hour instructor training course and the 500 hour instructor training course.

YouTube video

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Shaman in Nepal

Shamanism

rai shaman
Rai Shaman in Kathmandu

Animisim is the worlds oldest known religion. It dates to 200,000 years ago, which is when modern humans first appeared in the fossilized record. Animism can be found in every country that has an indigenous population. The core belief of animism is that all living and non-living things have a soul or spirit. It is intimately linked to shamanism through shamans. Shamans are the intermediary link between the spirits in animism and the physical realm. In this blog post I identify the different types of shamans in Nepal and provide a story of my experience with one while hiking in Langtang.

Shamanism in Nepal

Shamanism exists worldwide, although subtle differences exist from region to region the core beliefs remain unchanged. These beliefs are good and evil spirits exist and shamans can communicate with them. Evil spirits are believed to cause harm or illness to people through their mischievous acts. Good spirits can also cause harm to people through neglect or getting lost. It is up to the shaman to negotiate with spirits to restore the health of the ailed. In Nepal, each indigenous ethnic group has unique practices for negotiating with spirits.

Shamans by cast

  • Tamang/ Tibetan: Bon/ Bonpo
  • Kirat: Mangpa
  • Gurung: Khyapri
  • Magar: Ramba/ Rama
  • Rai: Bijuwa
  • Limbu: Phedangba
  • Tharu: Ojha
  • many others

Shamanistic practices

Shamans use different practices or perform different ceremonies to achieve different results. All shamans start by entering the spirit realm. There are two ways shamans can do this. The first is a slow process where a ritual is performed such as beating drums, chanting mantras, dancing and or providing offerings. These shamans are called Dhami Jhankri. The second process is much quicker. In this process the shaman identifies and ailment, then enters the spirit world without an elaborate procedure.

When in the spirit world shamans can perform certain tasks such as guiding a spirit back to its home, warding off evil spirits, cutting the lines of fate, soul retrieval, and other healing practices. Occasionally spirits will tell shamans the future.

If you would like to learn more, Paloma Cervantes is an excellent resource on shamanism and shamanistic practices.

Shaman in Shyaphru

I had just finished my trek to Langtang and I was staying the night in Shyaphru. A young woman told me about a shaman, who lived in the area. Since I had some extra time before my bus departure, I figured I would check it out.

I walked up a small hill to the shaman’s house to find nobody home. After getting caught in a rain storm for a few hours, the shaman’s wife came home. I asked her if I could meet with her husband. She made a few phone calls and he was home within an hour. Its amazing, wives have that power on their husbands.

The ritual

The shaman told me I needed some items. I went to the store and bought a scarf, a large beer, and some rice. We then went to his house. He poured the rice in a plate and advised me to put in 200 rupees ($2). Then he asked me to put in 1,000 rupees ($10), which I hesitantly did. The shaman took the beer and poured it into glasses for everyone to share.

He put incense in the rice with the money then he started chanting. Then, he waved the plate of rice, money, and incense left and right. He was conjuring up the rice spirits in a ritualistic séance. Next, he moved all the rice to one side of the plate and started tapping a few kernels to the other side.

About 12 kernels fell from the clump of rice to the other side of the plate. He gave me the kernels and asked me to put them in my right had and move my hand to my right shoulder, left shoulder, stomach, then head. I then repeated the process with my left hand and then gave him back the kernels.

He then repeated the process of chanting and tapping the kernels to one side of the plate. From the original 12, only 4 were left. He put these four in my hand then read my palms. He then told me what the spirits told him.

Coming home

It was an amazing experience, because I gained an insight into the ancient practices of a shaman.  I also learned about how a complete stranger (and the spirits) perceive me.

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Yogis and Sadhus in Nepal

Yogis and sadhus in Nepal

yogis and sadhus
Fake sadhu at a closed temple in Kathmandu Dubar Square

Yogis and sadhus in Nepal are not all that they pretend to be. A great many of them pretend to have renounced all earthly possessions and claim to be devotees or followers of a Hindu god such as Shiva or Vishnu. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is that many of the yogis and sadhus are bums and beggars.

Did you notice I didn’t say “homeless”? That is because a lot of them have wives and homes. The ones that do not own a home live collectively in ashrams. They pay rent or provide services to the leader of the ashram, who is generally the oldest member of their collective.

Even the Nepali government advises Nepal’s visitors not to give money to beggars. Though this article identifies kids as the issue, the problem does extend into yogis and Sadhus who operate under false pretenses.

Firsthand accounts

I have seen yogis fight over a bottle of water at Muktinath temple. Muktinath temple is known as the temple of 1,000 water faucets, because water naturally pours through faucets built into retaining walls. To see self-described holy men fight over an abundant resource seems absurd to me.

It was absurd because half the water they were fighting over spilled on the ground. Then when I started to walk by they asked for money, and immediately after resumed fighting. This group of sadhus were not the only sadhus at the temple. There had to be over 50 men and women, no exaggeration. They were lining the walk way asking for cigarettes and money.

A few of them will even curse and violently yell at you, if you pass them without giving any money. I saw one young man take a picture of a sadhu without paying for it. Lord Shiva couldn’t help him. It was as close to a mugging as you can get without any real punches or kicks being thrown.

Secondhand accounts

I came across an interesting fellow while trekking around the Annapurna circuit. We met at a tea house in Upper Pisang. He had an insightful story that he openly and freely shared with me. He went to the Pashupatinath Temple and met a sadhu there. He gave the sadhu $10 and they spent the day together. That night the sadhu invited the young man to join his ashram, which he accepted.

That night the sadhu made chicken for dinner, which most of the other sadhus also ate. After dinner they started smoking cannabis and playing music and singing. The young man had a flute that he began playing. One of the other sadhus at the temple became envious of the flute and tried first to ask for it, but then when the gift was not given, the sadhu tried to take it from him. Fortunately, another sadhu stopped the theft.

The young man left the next morning, but as he was leaving the sadhus made him give $10 to each of them or they wouldn’t let him leave. He gave all the money he had and left for Pokhara.

Good Sadhus

Don’t let this article convince you that all yogis and sadhus are terrible people. I have met a few that are good people that are honest and diligent on their quest for enlightenment.

The take away message from this article is if you go to Nepal, be aware that all the yogis and sadhus are not who they are pretending to be. Yes it can be fun to sit with them and take a few pictures, but please be safe.

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Dinosaur Fossil in Nepal

Geological map of Nepal
Geological map of Nepal

Dinosaur Fossil in Nepal

Dinosaur Fossil in Nepal? well not quite. There were dinosaurs in Nepal, however to date, no fossilized remains have been found. This opens up a unique opportunity for the adventurous paleontologist. Before I get to the opportunity, I write about fossils in Nepal.

The International Mountain Museum in Pokhara has a wonderful display of fossils. These fossils range from microscopic stromatolites, which are cyanobacteria, to prehistoric fossilized elephant teeth. Most fossils found in Nepal are ammonites and bivalves, however plant leaves, fruit, and ancient primates have also been found. This article identifies the plant and animal fossils in Nepal, and presents a challenge to find the first dinosaur fossil in Nepal.

How are fossils formed

There are a few different ways fossils are formed. The most common way is when an organism is buried under sediment in an aquatic environment. Overtime, as more sediment is deposited on the organism, the weight increases causing physical and chemical changes. The hard structures of the organism are replaced with minerals. The surrounding sediment is also changed. It is turned into a stone. Therefore, most fossils are found in sedimentary rocks, like shale, sandstone, limestone and siltstone.

Other types of fossils include small insects and animals trapped in plant sap. This is the foundation for the movie Jurassic Park. In this example, an animal gets stuck in the plant sap and is completely covered by it. The sap then hardens entombing the animal.

Another way fossils are formed is similar to being stuck in plant sap. In this scenario animals get stuck in tar pits. The most popular tar pit in the USA is the La Brea Tar Pit in Los Angeles. La Brea is known for its fossils from the Pleistocene era 40,000 years ago.

Continue reading to find out more about the dinosaur fossil challenge.

Fossil locations in Nepal

The following is a list of fossils and where they were found (if known).

  • Stromatolites- Agaha River, Palpa

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Stromatolite
  • Bioturbation- Butwal
  • Plant leaves- Surai River, Dang

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Plant leaves
  • Plant leaves- Chidiya River, Butwal

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Plant leaf
  • Plant leaves- Charchare, Palpa
  • Plant stem- Lukundol, Kathmandu
  • Trapa plant fruit- Lukundol, Kathmandu

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Trapa plant fruit
  • Bivalve, tansen
  • Crinoid- Phulchoki, Kathmandu

    Dinosaur Fossil
    cross section of a crinoid stem
  • Brachiopod- Jharkot, Mustang
  • Brachiopod- Kagbeni, Mustang
  • Ammonite- Upper Mustang
  • Ammonite- Jarkot
  • Belemnite- Upper Mustang

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Belmenite
  • Ramapithecus (primate)
  • Stegodon tooth- Surai River Dang

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Stegodon molar
  • Animal bone- Lukundel, Kathmandu

    Dinosaur Fossil
    Animal bone

Ok. You’ve read the article and have come to the same conclusion I did. “Where are the dinosaur fossils? They have to be there.” The challenge is to be the first person to find dinosaur fossil in Nepal. Pretty simple. Anyone is welcome to participate in this challenge. If you book a dinosaur fossil hunting expedition through Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure and find a dinosaur fossil, we will pay for your trip!

If you are interested in visiting Nepal as a paleontologist contact me with the subject Dinosaur fossil hunting.

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Minerals of the Himalayas

Minerals of the Himalayan Mountains

Geological map of Nepal
Geological map of Nepal

The Himalayan mountains are not rich in economically valuable precious minerals. However, trapped within the earthly confines of pegmatites, marbles, and gneisses are minerals of low economic value.  These minerals include: Garnets, kupfferite, tourmaline, spinels, chrysolite, euclase, kyanite, corundum, ruby, beryl, muscovite, jade, jasper and many others.

There are 2 minerals found in the Himalayan Mountains, specifically in Kashmir, of economic importance. They are Sapphires, and Aquamarines. These precious minerals, however, have not been found in Nepal.

The minerals found in Nepal’s Himalayan boundary are garnet, biotite, kyanite, chlorite, hematite, augen, mica, actinolite, hematite, tourmaline, ruby, and many others. These minerals are primarily found at the top of Lower Himalayan boundary and the bottom of High Himalaya boundary.

Pegmatites

Pegmatites are igneous rocks similar to granite; however, they also occasionally have rare and unusual minerals.  Pegmatites are characterized by the inclusion of large crystals (greater than 2 inches long) inside their matrix.

Marbles

Marble is a metamorphic rock that was once limestone (a sedimentary rock). Limestone is changed into marble through the metamorphic processes using extreme pressure and temperature. The primary mineral in marble is calcite; it may also contain muscovite and hematite.

Gneiss

Gneiss forms at the boundaries of convergent plates. It is a high grade metamorphic rock that normally begins as shale. Under high temperature and intense pressure, the shale is transformed into slate, then phyllite, then schist, and finally gneiss. This is the most common process of how Gneiss is formed, but other pathways exist. Some common minerals that gneisses contain are biotite, kyanite, and garnet.

Minerals of the Himalayas

The following is an incomplete list of known minerals found in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains. These minerals are on display at the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara.

  • Hematite

    Hematite
    Hematite
  • Galena

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Galena
  • Azurite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Azurite
  • Talc

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Talc
  • Magnesite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Magnesite
  • Orthoclase

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Orthoclase
  • Ruby

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Ruby
  • Sphalerite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Sphalerite
  • Sillimanite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Sillimanite
  • Arsenopyrite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Arsenopyrite
  • Chalcopyrite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Chalcopyrite
  • Chlorite

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Chlorite
  • Quartz

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Quartz
  • Limonite
Minerals of the Himalayas
Limonite
  • Tourmaline

    Minerals of the Himalayas
    Tourmaline

 

If you are interested in going on a geologic field trip to see these minerals, please contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure.

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A Complete Guide to Rocks in the Himalayan Mountains

Rocks of the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal

Geological map of Nepal
Geological map of Nepal

All three classes of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary) are found in the Himalayan mountains. Although the Himalayas are only 50-60 million years old, most of the rocks in it are much older. The oldest known rock in Nepal is about 2 billion years old, while a great many of them are over 570 million years old. This post identifies the 3 different classes of rocks in 5 different geologic units of Nepal and Tibet.

Rock classification

Igneous rocks

Igneous rocks are formed when magma cools. Their classification is dependent on the how they formed, their texture, mineral composition, chemical composition, and their shape. It’s a bit much even for geology majors. The point I am trying to make is that there are different classes/types of igneous rocks, but only a few are found in the Himalayas.

Metamorphic rocks

Metamorphic rocks are formed when intense temperature and pressure alter a pre-existing rock physical and or chemical structure. This alteration occurs deep within the earth, by tectonic process like continental drift, and by its proximity to magma.

Sedimentary rocks

Sedimentary rocks are formed from the collection of mineral and or organic particles and or weathered and eroded rocks. The sedimentary rocks form when an abundant pressure (lithostatic) squeezes the sediments together. Under the right amount of pressure, chemical, and physical changes occur in the sediment causing the sediments to bind together.

Geologic units in Nepal

Nepal is separated into units by fault lines. The fault lines run east and west. Their names are Main Frontal Thrust Fault (MFT), Main Boundary Thrust Fault (MBT), and Main Central Thrust Fault (MCT), and South Tibetan Detachment Fault (STDF). These faults separate geologic divisions, which are Indo-Gangetic Plain, Siwaliks, Lesser Himalaya, Higher Himalaya, and Tethys Himalaya.

Indo-Gangetic Plain

There isn’t too much going on in the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is primarily alluvial deposits, weathered and eroded rocks from the Himalayan mountains. Only a small portion of Nepal is in the Indo-Gangetic plain. I couldn’t find any specimens that were collected in this area.

From the Indo-Gangetic Plain, heading north, we cross the Main Frontal Thrust Fault into Siwaliks.

Siwaliks

The Siwalik region occupies a space in southern Nepal just north of the Terai and south of the middle hill mountains. This area is one of the most geologically active areas of Nepal. It is increasing in altitude of 3 to 4 mm per year. The area is known for its calcium carbonate and mineral deposits, and its sandstone. The rocks found in this area tend to be 2 to 18 million years old.

Sedimentary rocks

The sedimentary rocks found in Siwaliks are:

  • Marl

    Merl
    Merl
  • Silt stone

    Siltstone
    Siltstone
  • Mudstone

    Mudstone
    Mudstone
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Sandstone

    Sandstone
    Sandstone
  • Shale

    Shale
    Shale

On the northern edge of Siwaliks is the MBT, which separates the Siwaliks from Lesser Himalaya.

Lesser Himalaya

Lesser Himalaya is known for its metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, however there are also some igneous rocks in this region. The rocks in this area generally date to over 570 million years old.

Sedimentary rocks

The sedimentary rocks found in Lesser Himalaya are:

  • Chert

    Chert
    Chert
  • Dolomite

    Dolomite
    Dolomite
  • Conglomerate
  • Limestone

    Limestone
    Limestone
  • Diamictite

Metamorphic rocks

The Metamorphic rocks found in Lesser Himalaya are:

  • Metasandstone

    Metasandstone
    Metasandstone
  • Phyllite

    Phyllite
    Phyllite
  • Banded gneiss
  • Schist
  • Slate

    Slate
    Slate
  • Marble

    Marble
    Marble
  • Banded Gneiss
  • White quartzite

    White Quartzite
    White Quartzite

Igneous rocks

The igneous rocks found in Lesser Himalaya are:

  • Trachyte

    Trachyte
    Trachyte
  • Pegmatite

    pegmatite
    pegmatite

On the northern edge of Lesser Himalaya is the MCT, which separates Lesser Himalaya from High Himalaya.

High Himalaya

High Himalaya is the area between Lesser Himalaya and Tethys Himalaya. Some rocks in High Himalaya are dated to 500-2,000 million years ago. However, there are other rocks much younger, 60 million years old, due to metamorphic processes. Metamorphic rocks are found at the base and sedimentary rocks are found at the top.

Sedimentary rocks

The sedimentary rocks found in High Himalaya are:

  • Merl

    Merl
    Merl
  • Dolomite

    Dolomite
    Dolomite
  • Greywacke
  • Siltstone

    Siltstone
    Siltstone
  • Shale

    Shale
    Shale
  • limestone

    Limestone
    Limestone

Metamorphic

The Metamorphic rocks found in High Himalaya are:

  • Granite gneiss
  • Schists
  • Gneiss
  • Black schist

    Black Schist
    Black Schist
  • Augen gneiss

    Augen Gneiss
    Augen Gneiss
  • Mica schist

    Mica Schist
    Mica Schist
  • Kyanite schist

    Kyanite Schist
    Kyanite Schist
  • Actinolite in calcareous gneiss

    Actinolite in Calcareous Gneiss
    Actinolite in Calcareous Gneiss
  • Kyanite gneiss

    Kyanite Gneiss
    Kyanite Gneiss
  • Biotite schist

    Biotite Schist
    Biotite Schist
  • Chlorite schist

    Chlorite Schist
    Chlorite Schist

Igneous

The igneous rocks found in High Himalaya are:

  • leucogranites

    Leucogranite
    Leucogranite
  • granite

    Granite
    Granite
  • diorite
  • gabbro
  • tonalite

the last tectonic zone is the Tethys Himalaya. It is north of the South Tibetan detachment Fault, which separates it from Higher Himalaya zone.

Tethys Himalaya

This area of the Himalayas is generally considered the Tibetan plateau. it is approximately 500 million years old and is comprised of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Sedimentary

The sedimentary rocks found in Tethys Himalaya are:

  • dolomite

    Dolomite
    Dolomite
  • sandstones

    Sandstone
    Sandstone
  • conglomerates
  • greywackes

Metamorphic

The Metamorphic rocks found in Tethys Himalaya are:

  • biotite quartzite
  • marble

    Marble
    Marble
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Himalayan Mountain Range Formation

Himalayan Mountain Range Formation

Geological map of Nepal
Geological map of Nepal

To kick off international rock day (July 13th) I will be posting a series of articles about rocks, minerals, and fossils of the Himalayan mountains. I will also be discussing how the Himalayan mountain range formed. If you enjoy geology and the Himalayas, these articles are a must read! If you are planning a trek in Nepal, these articles will make great conversation starters… “did you know Everest used to be at the bottom of the Tethys Sea?

Plate tectonics and Earth

To describe how the Himalayan mountain range formed, I need to first describe the structure of the earth and plate tectonics. The earth has 4 layers, which are the inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust. This may not seem like a lot, but when consider that these layers are 3,958.75 miles thick, it gets heavy.

Scientists used seismic waves to discover the outer core is a fluid while the mantle behaves like a fluid but is a solid. the inner core and crust are solid. This is important because the way the layers interact with each other determines what happens on the crust. All the volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountains are the results of these interactions.

In short, the earth’s crust “floats” on the mantle, which is also divided into layers. These layers are composed of solid and semisolid (partially molten) rocks. The composition of the earth is like trying to stack confetti on Jell-O on a piece of tile on a hamster ball, with the hamster inside, on the top of a needle. Good thing gravity is holding it all together!

You can see how unstable the top layer might be. When you couple this with molten magma seeping up through the crust along weak/ thin points, it only magnifies the instability. This instability is known as plate tectonics.

The destruction of Pangea

Plate tectonics and Pangaea
Plate tectonics and Pangaea

All the continents on earth were once connected creating a super continent. Over the course of 4.5 billion years the super continent has broken up and reformed 7 times. I’m including Gondwana and Laurasia as one super continent.

Due to plate tectonics and the instability of earthly processes, these continents drifted apart, collided into each other, then drifted apart again.

The last super continent was Pangea. During the breakup of Pangea, the landmass known as India broke apart from Antarctica, Africa, and Australia, and moved north. This move pushed the Tethys Sea’ floor up, on top of the Eurasian subcontinent. Eventually overtime, Tethys Sea’ floor became the highest peak in the world, Everest.

India initially moved at a rate of 7.9 inches per year. It is still moving north, but at a much slower rate (almost 1 inch per year).

Rocks in the Himalayan mountain range

Semi-precious mineral garnet
Semi-precious mineral garnet

You can expect a collection of different types of rocks, minerals, and fossils in the Himalayas. What you may not expect is that most of the rocks are much older than the Himalayas. The mountains are about 50 million years old, while the rocks that are on the mountains are over 570 million years old! Pretty cool huh.

You can find all three rock types/ classes, igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary, in the Himalayas. Within these classes there are multiple different kinds ranging from biotite to trachyte.

Plant leaf fossil
Plant leaf fossil

You can also find some low quality precious and semi-precious stones in the Himalayas. These include garnet, tourmaline, ruby, and others.

Some of the coolest things you can find while hiking on the Himalayan mountains are fossils. It is against the law to take them with you though. The most common type of fossils are ammonites. They are extinct mollusks, related to squids, octopi, and nautiluses. You can also find brachiopod, belemnites, and plant fossils.

Ammonite Fossil
Ammonite Fossil
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A Complete Guide to Caves in Pokhara, Nepal

A Complete Guide to Caves in Pokhara, Nepal

Mahendra Cave entrance
Mahendra Cave entrance

Caves in Nepal are normally connected to some spiritual component of Hinduism.  Many caves have a temple inside with an associated sadhu or a guard to prevent people form stealing the speleothems or cave formations.  These cave formations are generally believed to be relics or representations of Hindu gods such as Lord Shiva or his son Ganesh.  The Caves in Pokhara, with the exception of the bat cave, are modest and have religious connections.

Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

This is one of the larger caves on this list in terms of maneuverability.  It is a Corrasional cave formed by the water coming from the outlet of Lake Phewa.  This water also forms Davi’s Falls, which is visible from within the cave.  The original Nepali name for Davi’s Falls is Patale Chango, which translates as “underworld waterfall.”  Gupteshowr Mahadev Cave translates to “Cave Beneath the Ground.”  It is located in Pokhara-17, Chhorepatan.

The entrance fee to for the cave is $1 for non-Asian foreigners.  For people belonging to SAARC, the entrance fee is about $0.85, and for Nepali citizens it is $0.5.  The entrance to the cave requires descending down a spiral staircase excavated into the edge of the cave.  The walls are decorated with sculptures of people performing various acts such as breast feeding, and in kama sutra positions.

Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave has two features that may interest the board traveler.  The first is the relatively large stalagmite in the center of the cave.  This stalagmite has a fence surrounding it with a guard protecting it from people taking pictures.  The stalagmite is believed to represent Loard Shiva and is worshipped as such.  I couldn’t get close to it, but it looked like it had a diameter of about 2 feet and a height of 3 feet.  The stalagmite is a dark brown in color.

The second noteworthy part of the cave is the Davi’s Falls at the bottom and end of the cave.  After descending about 100 ft into the cave and walking probably an equal distance south east, the cave opens up to see Devi’s Falls.  It is quite beautiful.  Ferns and lush plants surround the cave opening, and the air is a soft mixture of sale cave air and fresh waterfall dew.  The reviews about this cave on trip advisor are accurate.

The cave itself is not attractive and in many parts has been plastered or cobbled over.  The reason for the recent construction is due to the 2015 April earthquake.  The earthquake made some of the cave parts unstable.  Retaining walls were built around most of the cave as well as scaffolding erected to hold it together.  The walk way can be a bit obstructed at times and there were plenty of obstacles to dodge walking along the path.  Except for the one stalagmite there were no other cave formations.

You can read more about it here.

Mahendra Cave

Mahendra Cave ticket booth
Mahendra Cave ticket booth

Mahendra Cave is described as a limestone Karst Cave.  The cave has about 320 feet of maneuverable area with another 320 feet of un-maneuverable area.  The limestone in the cave was formed in the Pleistocene era, but the age of the cave is unknown.  The cave was discovered in 1953 by Phokhara residents.  The cave is named after Nepal’s late King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, who was king at the time of the discovery.

Mahendra Cave is located about 30 minutes outside Pokhara city by bus.  Bus fair to the entrance to Mahendra Cave is about $0.45.  The entrance to the park is a vibrant pink, white, and aquamarine archway with a ticket booth directly next to it.  The entrance fee for Nepali people is $0.5, and SAARC members is $0.8.  The entrance fee for all other people is $1.5.  To get to the cave you have to walk through a plain grass garden, which is nice if you like open spaces.

mahendra cave tunnel
Mahendra Cave tunnel

The entrance to the cave looks like the arm openings of a tortoise shell.  I like tortoises, so I immediately felt good about my visit.  After entering the cave, I realized it is almost the same as Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave.  There are very few cave formations to admire.  What I did like about the cave though was its internal architecture.  It looked heavy on the supporting walls.  I also like that nobody tried plastering the walls, although somebody did spray paint the ceiling.

mahendra cave tunnel
Mahendra cave tunnel

The cave ended a little anticlimactically with a small shrine to the Hindu god Ganesha as represented by a stalagmite.  The person looking over the temple was very friendly, and was extremely eager to talk about Ganesha.  After a 3-minute lesson on Hindu gods, other cave goers came and the man started all over again.  I walked a little slowly coming out of the cave as I wanted to explore the unexplored branches of the cave.

Stalactite
the largest stalactite in the cave

Coming out of the cave I found an area marked “exit.”  It must have been a former exit, because it was covered by boulders.  I’m guessing the blockade was caused by the same earthquake that rocked the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave but it could have been from anything.  After exploring the “exit” I exited out the entrance and walked around the grounds for a little while.  The reviews on trip advisor sum up the cave nicely.

You can read more about the cave here.

Bat Cave

This way to the Bat Cave
This way to the Bat Cave

Can you believe it? Bruce Wayne though he had us all fooled.  The Bat Cave isn’t in Gotham, it’s in Pokhara!  The Bat Cave is no longer one of the secret caves in Nepal.  All joking aside, this is my favorite cave of all the caves in Pokhara.  It is also the one I know the least about.  There is not much information about this cave.  It is in Batulechcour, which is about 30-minutes from Pokhara City by bus, and 15 minutes from Mahendra Cave by foot.

Bat Cave ticket booth
Bat Cave ticket booth

The Bat Cave is Karst limestone cave, and I don’t know how it was formed or its age.  If I had to guess, I would also date it to the same age as the Gupteshwor cave.  This cave also has a sunken, in the ground entrance.  Though it is completely dark inside the cave, the light from the flashlight proved the cave is vast.  The explorable area is about 720 feet long, and the ceilings are high.  The ceilings have hundreds if not thousands of bats from mid-September to mid-May.

Bat Cave enterance
Bat Cave entrance

The bats that primarily occupy this cave are identified as round leaf, and horseshoe bats.  In some sections of the cave, you can get within a foot of them.  Be careful though.  Those same areas are slippery and without protective hand rails.  A lot of people have hurt themselves on the rocks of this cave.  My mandatory guide was too eager to tell me about all the horror stories of people falling on the rocks of the cave.

Warning:

If you are claustrophobic, acrophobic / afraid of heights, or do not have any climbing skills do not try to exit out of the exit.  Exit out of the entrance.

The second chamber of the cave has a side chamber on the right-hand side.  Your guide (you have to have one) will hurriedly try to get you to go in it.  From here you can climb up to about the same level with the ceiling and can be within feet of the bats.  Then you will be asked to transvers a narrow walk way (5 inches wide), swing around an obstruction and back onto the path.  If by the grace of god, you do not fall, you will have to climb up a very slipper rock face and crawl out a tiny hole in the ceiling.

Horseshoe and Roundleaf Bats
Horseshoe and Roundleaf Bats

The “exit” is more of a death defying catastrophe than it is an exit.  I admit though I had fun doing it.  I also got very dirty doing it, so if you don’t want to die or get dirty exit out the entrance.  I read on the Pokhara Information Center’s website that it is believed that anyone who exits out the “exit” is purified of all their sins, and is reborn in Nepal.  It is definitely a triumph I do not recommend.

Bat Cave exit
Bat Cave exit

The cost of this adventure is $0.5 for Nepali people, $0.8 for SARRC members, and $1.5 for all other people.  There is no guide fee.  My guide insisted on receiving a guide fee and when I called it a tip he became very upset and said he didn’t work for tips.  I told him I can only give him a tip because there is no guide fee associated with the cave.  He accepted the tip after I put the money back in my pocket and called me an insulting name.  The Bat cave reviews on trip advisor are fairly accurate.

You can read more about the bat cave here.

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Bat Cave Review

Bat Cave Review

Horseshoe and Roundleaf Bats
Horseshoe and Roundleaf Bats

I know, it came as a shock to me too. Bruce Wayne doesn’t live in Gotham! Yes, the Bat Cave is in Pokhara. Who would’ve known? The Bat Cave is by far my favorite and the sketchiest cave I’ve been to in Pokhara. It is fun, exhilarating, dangerous, and there are bats! Hang from the ceiling with me as I explore this cave and give you a detailed review.

This way to the Bat Cave
This way to the Bat Cave

About Bat Cave

Bat Cave cavern
Bat Cave cavern

The Bat Cate is a karst limestone cave formed in the Pleistocene era about 2.5 million years ago.  The inside of the cave does not have any lighting, so bring your flash light.  You will receive a mandatory guide when you buy your entrance ticket. He comes with a light, but its nice to have your own. The cave is about 720 feet long and incredibly vast.

There are 2 main caverns in the cave. The second cavern has bats in it and has a secret passage to the outside. I do not recommend taking this passage tough. It is dangerous and risky. The bats can be found in the cave from mid-September to mid-May. The bats that are found in the cave are round leaf, and horseshoe bats.

How to get to the Bat Cave

The Bat Cave is located about 40 minutes away and 6 miles north east of Lakeside, Pokhara.  It is in Batulechcour, which is a 15-minute walk from Mahendra Cave. You can take a bus or taxi to Mahendra Cave then walk for 15 minutes up the road to Bat Cave.

Entrance fee

Bat Cave ticket booth
Bat Cave ticket booth

Nepali citizens: $0.5
SARRC nationals: $0.8
All other foreginers: $1.5

Exploring the Cave

Bat Cave enterance
Bat Cave enterance

My guide and I descended a long walk way and stairs into the cave. I was surprised about how dark it was just a few feet inside the cave. I was glad he had a flashlight but was a little upset about his constant talking.  When I’m someplace new, I like to experience it in its fullness without distractions.

The first cavern we came to was just a dark room with very little going on. We were joined by a few Nepali women who were exploring by the light of their phones. We walked further ahead, and the bats were in full chorus. The chirps reminded me of dolphins. It was cool.

Next, we ascended a very slippery rock face. This part was extremely dangerous. There was a guard rail, but it wasn’t secured to the rocks, it was only resting on the rocks. We then started climbing. Now we are 30 feet above the ground, no ropes, no safe guards, and on a slippery rock face.

One last push and I was squeezing my way through the narrowest of openings. I was happy to be back on solid ground.

I found out later that most people normally exit the cave from the entrance.

Bat Cave exit
Bat Cave exit

Warning:

If you are claustrophobic, acrophobic / afraid of heights, or do not have any climbing skills do not try to exit out of the exit.  Exit out of the entrance.

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Mahendra Cave Review

Mahendra Cave review

Mahendra Cave ticket booth
Ticket booth at Mahendra Cave

Mahendra Cave is a unique cave 5.8 miles north east of Lakeside, Pokhara.  It is surrounded by a quite lovely botanical garden, which was, in my opinion, as interesting as a saltine cracker (it’s nice but it’s not the Kew). The cave is classified as a limestone karst cave and was formed in the Pleistocene era. Stick with me as I explore this cave in this detailed review. I hope you enjoy it.

History of the cave

Mahendra Cave entrance
Mahendra Cave entrance

Mahendra Cave was discovered in 1953 by two brothers while they were herding their goats. Legend has it that one of their goats lead them to a crack in the earth. After finding the crack, the brothers raced home to tell their family about the discovery.  This was fascinating to the villagers and word quickly spread to other villagers.  The brothers decided to name it after the king of Nepal, King Mahendra Bir Bikram Sha Dev. The king heard about this honor and visited the cave.

The cave has since become a major attraction for Indian and Nepali tourists as well as a and minor attraction for non-SAARC foreigners.

How to get to the cave

mahendra cave tunnel
mahendra cave tunnel

You can reach the cave by bus or taxi.  I do not recommend walking as it would take a long time. The bus drivers are pretty good as to pointing you into the direction or bus you need to be on (just ask). To get from Lakeside, Pokhara to Mahendra Cave will take about 30 minutes by bus and cost $0.45. A taxi will take about 15 minutes and cost $15.

Entrance fee

Stalactite
the largest stalactite in the cave

Nepali nationals: $0.5
SAARC nationals: $0.8
All others: $1.5

Mahendra Cave

mahendra cave tunnel
Mahendra Cave tunnel

The entrance of the cave reminded me of a giant tortoise shell. This immediately comforted me for some reason. I like tortoises. After entering the cave, I realized how similar this cave was to Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave. The Mahendra Cave has more geometric symmetry in its architecture and it feels more natural than the Gupteshowr Mahadev Cave.

There are very few speleothems in the cave, but there is a large stalagmite that is believed to represent Ganesh. This stalagmite is at the end of the cave, which is almost 656 feet long. When I got to the end, I was greeted by a sadhu, who was very friendly and eager to talk about Ganesh. I left after a short lesson in Hinduism.

I found a sign marked “exit” while leaving the depths of the cave. Then, I followed the arrow indicated on the sign and found myself at a dead-end. I found the real exit, which is also the entrance, and left Mahendra Cave.

Old exit
Old exit
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Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan Temple

Ok, I admit I have never been to Changu Narayan temple. Because of said disclosure it may be unethical for me to write a review of it.  Instead of a review this blog post combines the information from all known sources, mainly Wikipedia, in an easy to read article. I humbly present to you everything you want to know about Changu Narayan Temple.

Where is it located?

The temple is in the Changu village of Changunarayan village development community of Bhaktapur district. Try saying that 3 times fast. It is located 13.6 miles north east of Thamel Kathmandu, which takes about an hour to drive.

Two myths of Changu Narayan Temple

Once upon a time a man bought a cow that produced a lot of milk.  Everyday the man would let his cow graze in the Changunarayan forest. One day the cow stopped producing milk so he decided to spy on her to see what was happening. After a long day of grazing the cow went to a tree, where a young boy lived.  The boy came out of the tree and began drinking the cow’s milk.

The man became angry with the boy and ran home to fetch his axe so that he could chop down the boy’s tree. The man returned and took one swing at the tree.  Blood immediately started pouring from the tree’s wound. The boy again came out of the tree and told the man he was Lord Vishnu.

Then the man committed himself to worshiping Vishnu where he cut the tree. He built Changu Narayan Temple near the tree he cut.

The second myth

Changu, a talented young man that was known for his fighting skills, challenged an immortal warrior to a fight. Changu defeated the immortal man and Changu Narayan Temple was built to honor him.

What really happened

The King of Kashmir made his daughter marry the prince of Bhaktapur. The prince was so pleased with her that he had the Changu Narayan Temple built in her honor. He named the temple after her.

I can see some similarities between the truth of why the temple was built and the second myth. If you let the princess be the warrior Changu and the Bhaktapur king be the immortal warrior, the story kind of falls into place.

About the Temple

Changu Narayan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Nepal. It was built in a traditional Nepali style, with a high plinth of stone to rest on. The temple was built with 2 stories tall with ornate art and sculptures carved into the wood. Most of the art and decorations are dedicated to Vishnu, some are dedicated to Shiva too.

There are 4 entrances to the temple. Each entrance is guarded by a pair of life size stone guardians. They include lions, sharabhas, griffins, and elephants. This confused me at first because sarabhas and griffins are the same.  If you know the difference, please let me know in the comments.

There are also many smaller temples and monuments in the temple’s court yard. They include various sculptures of Vishnu, Krishna and, Laxmi, former kings and queens, a flying man, and the temples Chhinnamast, and Kileshwor.

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Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave review

The Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave is a corrasional cave excavated by water flowing from Lake Phewa and Devi’s Falls. The cave is not incredible or even extraordinary. I would compare it to a hole in the ground with 1 stalagmite. The stalagmite is as equally amusing as the cave, but with a little more interest, because it is believed to be the earthly form of of lord Shiva. The best part of the cave is Devi’s Falls, which tumbles into the bottom of the cave.

About Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave translates to cave beneath the ground. I know its redundant, of course a cave is beneath the ground. The air in the cave is humid and muggy so make sure you have breathable cloths. Also, you must be prepared for stairs.

The cave was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, and since then the government started building support walls. Their idea of support walls is just to plaster everything with cement. The cave feels like an artificial worm hole.  The only good part is Devi’s Falls at the bottom of the cave.

I admit, the last cavern with Devi’s Falls is quite beautiful.  The waterfall’s original name was Patale Chango, which translates as underworld waterfall.  The name changed when a young woman fell down the waterfall. Her name was Devi.

You can read more reviews about the cave on trip advisor, which are accurate.

How to get there

Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave is in Pokhara-17, Chhorepatan. You can take the bus or a taxi.  It is a very common destination for locals and foreigners alike. However, the cave is hidden by a small outdoor bazaar, which takes a little bit of time to navigate though. You will come to a ticket counter before descending into the cave. make sure you pay first because tickets are checked at the bottom of the stairs.

Cost of entrance

Nepali citizens: $0.5
SAARC members: $0.85
Non-SAARC foreigners: $1.00

YouTube Video

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Pokhara Natural History Museum

Pokhara Natural History Museum

Annapurna Natural History Museum sign
Annapurna Natural History Museum sign

Dorothy Mierow built the Pokhara Natural History Museum in 1965 as part of her Peace Corps service project. It was originally developed to provide entertainment to people in the area. Although it has kept its original purpose, it has developed into an educational facility. The Pokhara Natural History Museum identifies the different animals, and rock types found throughout Nepal. It also has a small section on Himalayan culture.

In this blog post I review the Pokhara Natural History Museum and provide a brief history.

History

Annapurna Natural History Museum
Annapurna Natural History Museum building

The Pokhara Natural History Museum was built on unused Prithvi Narayan Campus’ land.  As part of the agreement for the construction of the building, the museum had to be freely available to all people. The original purpose of the building was to provide entertainment and be educational. The dolls and simple exhibits were for children while the advanced exhibits were there to educate people about areas of Nepal outside Pokhara.

Exhibits

When you enter the main entrance, you arrive in an educational area for kids.  There are paintings on the walls and cement statues of animals on the ground. Next to each animal is a plaque identifying the animal and providing information about it.

My favorite animal was the squirrel.

flying squirrel
Surprise M.F.

In the room directly south of the main entrance is the Annapurna Conservation Area Project room. This room contains several displays including mounted animals, and geological collections.  Among the mounted animals are the Himalayan Monal and a leopard. The geologic displays have fossils and types of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rock found in Nepal.

Himalayan Monal mount
Himalayan Monal mount

East of the ACAP room is the cultural display. This room has toy dolls, pictures, masks, and other historic artifacts that represent the many different cultures in Nepal.

glary picture of a mask in a glass display case
Glary picture of a mask in a glass display case

The southernmost room is the butterfly museum. This room has almost all of Nepal’s 660 species of butterflies and moths. The biodiversity of the butterflies on display is amazing. The collection is so impressive that the Pokhara Natural History Museum is also known as the Butterfly Museum.

Butterfly Museum

Tropical butterflies of southern Nepal
Tropical butterflies of southern Nepal

Colin Smith collected and preserved most of the butterflies in this collection. The collection grew over the course of 30 years and is Nepal’s largest collection of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies. The displays are organized to show mimicry, camouflage, endangered and threatened butterfly’s. There are also comparisons of the same species of butterflies from different parts of Asia.

Tssoria issaea male and female butterflies from Manang
Tssoria issaea male and female butterflies from Manang

 

Stilbochiona nicea butterfly
Stilbochiona nicea butterfly

 

Ypthima confusa and Dallacha hyagrive butterflies
Ypthima confusa and Dallacha hyagrive butterflies

 

Precis orithya recycle butterfly

 

Common Meadow Blue male and female butterflies.
Common Meadow Blue, male and female butterflies.

Museum Hours

Sunday through Thursday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (4:00 pm in winter)
Friday: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Closed for lunch: 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm in winter, 1:30 to 2:00 pm in summer

Closed for public holidays

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Himalayan Cannabis Tour

Himalayan Cannabis Tour

Cannabis plants
Cannabis plants

Do you like marijuana? Do you enjoy amazing mountain views, and ancient cultures? Why not put them together in a Himalayan Cannabis Tour? That is exactly what Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure did.  Now, for the first time, you can have a guided Himalayan Cannabis Tour. This tour combines the natural beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the rich cultural heritage of Nepal, and all the cannabis you set your eyes on.

History of Cannabis in Nepal

annapurna 2, pisang peak, manaslu
Annapurna 2, Pisang Peak, and Manaslu from Upper Khangsar

Cannabis is native and indigenous to central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. This means that Nepal and its people have grown and developed next to each other for 1,000’s of years.  As proof of such a relationship, cannabis is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, which was written 500 to 200 BCE.

Amazing right?

More recently, (date unknown) up to the 1970’s, the king of Nepal sold cannabis products to people in government-run hashish shops.  These shops were shut down in the late 1970’s, because of political pressure from foreign governments.

The king then outlawed cannabis, but Nepali citizens protested the new law. The protest resulted in neutralizing the law. Although still a law, it is now not enforced.

During Shivaratri, the law is removed and everyone can partake in nation wide cannabis celebration, more on this later.

Cannabis production and celebration in Nepal

Cannabis in someones front yard garden in Kathmandu
Cannabis in someones front yard garden in Kathmandu

Cannabis grows wild throughout Nepal. It is also grown in gardens for its seeds, hash, and foliage for goats. By the way, goats love it! I would say each household that grows it, grows enough for 12 people or 2 goats. These plants get massive, upward of 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide. They can be extremely fragrant too.

Since most of the gardeners want seeds in their cannabis, they freely allow pollination. The seeds are used to make a food condiment used as a dipping sauce for vegetables. Its pretty good.

The hash produced from their plants is used during Shivaratri, which is a national holiday celebrating the Hindu god Shiva. Shivaratri is a Nepali version of St. Patty’s day, except with marijuana and not alcohol. In the words of Bob Dylan, “Everybody must get stoned.”

Shivaratri is based on the lunar calendar, so the date is different each year. It occurs in March or April, which correspond with the Nepali month Magha.

The tour

Swambhunath shrines and stupa
Swambhunath shrines and stupa

The Himalayan cannabis tour takes you on a high-flying adventure through Nepal.  We visit Pashupatinath temple, which is known for its ganja smoking sadhus, Boudhanath stupa, andSwayambhunath Stupa as part of our introduction into Nepali culture and history.

You will also get to visit the historic “freak street”, where the king’s government sold hash to “alternative travelers” in the 60’s and 70’s.

We spend the remaining time traveling to different villages to respectfully “inspect” their horticultural practices. It is from these villages we gain phenomenal views of the Himalayas in bliss.

Book your trip now!

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Hiking etiquette in Nepal

A guide to hiking etiquette in Nepal

Hiking etiquette is a controversial issue, believe it or not, because the mountains and trails are shared by all nationalities and all types of people.  What is acceptable behavior in one person’s country may be unaccepted in another.  I am addressing some of the common etiquette issues I’ve found while trekking in Nepal. This article is by no means a comprehensive list, but that of common shared opinions. I hope you enjoy the article and can take away some of the information presented in it.

Hiking Cloths

Nepal is an extremely conservative country. Men generally wear pants and collard shirts.  The women wear kurta suruwals with parachute pants or leggings. However, there is an exception to this. Since the 70’s a lot of people have been trekking in short running shorts and t-shirts.  Though traditionally unaccepted, this has become the norm and is tolerated by most and even preferred by some of the Nepali men.

I saw one women trekking to Poon Hill in a bra, which is not recommended, but nobody seemed to mind.  To me, this is evidence of the impact of the tourism industry.

Greetings between hikers

When you pass people on the trail, either coming or going, please smile and say hello in your native language or the language you are most comfortable with.  I’ve crossed paths with 1,000s of people in Nepal. Most of them will say hello or Namaste, which is fine, but a small percentage of people are unfriendly or hostile.

Some of the excuses if received when I asked about people’s rudeness are headache, altitude sickness, hungry, didn’t hear me, swear words and vow of silence.  The people who had taken a vow of silence either give hand signals that they can’t talk or just nod their head and smile.

Greetings from hikers to Nepali people

I’ve seen some weird things happen between foreigners and Nepali people.  One such occasion happened while I was hiking to Everest Base Camp. My guide and I were going up and another trekker was coming down.  I said hello and smiled, the person completely ignored me then dove at the bottom of my guides feet and kept saying Namaste. My guide walked around and didn’t say a word, except to complain later about how weird foreigners are.

I asked my guide how he preferred to be greeted and he said “Hello! Everyone understands hello.”

Letting people pass

If there is a faster hiker coming up behind you, please step aside and let them pass.  The same goes if you are going downhill and you are about to cross paths with someone coming uphill. Nobody likes being stuck behind someone or pushed aside on a difficult part of the trail.

Tea house etiquette between hikers and owners

In my experience, the owners of the tea houses on the Annapurna Circuit Trek tended to be unfriendly.   A lot of them also over charge. Please bargain with them if you are an independent trekker. If you have a guide, he or she will do it for you.  It is customary and expected for hikers to bargain. Bargaining has huge impacts on future trekkers and the cost of their hikes.

Tea house owners on the EBC trail tended to be more friendly, open, welcoming, and fair. You can bargain with them too, but their prices for food are about what you would expect to pay in Kathmandu.

Langtang teahouse owners were very open and welcoming, but extremely expensive.  You must bargain with them to get good prices on food and a room.

Teahouse etiquette between hikers

This is an interesting situation because the rudest people become friendly in tea houses. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general tea houses have a wholesome campfire setting. Most people stick to conversations related to traveling and hiking, health, and board or card games.

Tipping etiquette

Guides and porters are paid very well for their services, but most of them do expect a tip at the end of the trek. $2 to $5 per day is a fair amount to tip.

You do not need to tip for food, transport, or lodging.

Hiking etiquette miscellaneous

This isn’t specific to Nepal, but if you hike with animals, please do not let them jump on or lick other people.  Also, please don’t let them chase the wildlife.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

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5 simple ways to prevent jet lag naturally without medicine

5 simple ways to prevent jet lag naturally without medicine so you can have a longer groggy free vacation

Pink rhododendron flowers
Wake up and smell the rhododendron flowers

You’ve booked your trip to Nepal and you announce the news on social media. “I’m going to Nepal!!!” Then all your friends post comments like “that’s great!”, “Have fun!”, “Bring me back a souvenir!”. Your drunk cousin Tamara then comments “Petri dish, centrifuge, jet lag.” (it’s code for have a good time, use a condom and jet lag). You reply to Tamara “centrifuge, centrifuge, petri dish, jet lag”, which translates as lots of love, thank you for the best wishes, and I already know about jet lag.

You already know about jet lag, great! But do you know how to prevent it? In this article I provide details for how you can prevent jet lag naturally, so you can have a longer more enjoyable vacation. Sounds pretty good huh? It is, and its easy too.

Acclimate to the time zone

Flying from the pacific coast of the united states (time zone UTC-8) to Nepal (UTC-5:45), you will cross 14-time zones.  UTC stands for Universal Time, Co-ordinated, which is a fancy way of saying time starts in Greenwich London.  To make it simple Nepal is 12 hours and 45 minutes ahead of pacific standard time.

A general rule of thumb is, your body will naturally adjust to the new time zone at a rate of 1 hour per day.  That means, it will take 13 days to adjust to Nepal’s time zone if you are in the PST zone.

Fortunately, there are ways to get around this, like flashing light therapy, acclimating before your trip, change your eating time, abstain from alcohol, and arrive in Nepal in the morning or afternoon.

Flashing light therapy

Light therapy is a relatively new idea.  It is designed to adjust your body’s biological clock to the time zone you want while you sleep. The therapy is straight forward; one flash of light, 2-milliseconds long, is emitted every 10 seconds for 1 hour while you sleep.  The result of the therapy is a 2-hour delay in sleepiness.  This therapy can reduce your acclimation time by 6 days!

Acclimate before your trip

This is my favorite method of preventing jet lag.  For a week before my departure date, I go to bed an hour later each night.  Its easy and super simple!  I will stop going to bed later if it reduces my sleeping schedule to less than 6 hours. This can process can completely prevent jet lag if given enough time.

Chang your eating schedule

This biology hack has 2 components.  The first component is fasting for 16 hours before arriving at your destination.  This works best if you arrive at your destination in the morning around 8 or 9 am.  Your first meal, after 16 hours of not eating, will in a since reboot your circadian rhythm.

When the first part is paired with the second part, it is extremely effective at preventing jet lag.  It entails waking up during the middle of your sleep schedule and eating. This will program your body to “wake up” in the middle of your time zone, but in the mid-day of Nepal’s time zone.

No alcohol

I’m not aware of the science behind it but drinking alcohol in large quantities severely impacts the quality and duration of your sleep. If you know anything about it, let me know in the comments below.

Schedule arrival for the morning or afternoon not at night

When you book your flight, try to book one that arrives in the morning or before noon.  This will give you full day of being active and potentially in the sunlight, which helps reduce jet lag.

Now that you know how to naturally prevent jet lag, you can message you cousin Tamara “petri dish, Nepal, jet lag jet shmag P.S. nah na nah na booz!” (I’m going to have a great time in Nepal without jet lag P.S. stop day drinking.)

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Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour Overview

Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour Overview

Boudhanath stupa
Boudhanath stupa

Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventures created their Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour to allow visitors the opportunity to explore the temples, stupas, and shrines in the Kathmandu valley.  These areas are world heritage sites, with each offering a unique glimpse into Nepal’s past, and its culture.  The world heritage sites include: Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, Changu Narayan Temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Patan Durbar Square, and finally Swayambhunath Stupa.

Unfortunately, all the Kathmandu world heritage sites can’t all be seen in 1 day; there are too many sights too far apart. Fortunately, you have this guide to help you choose which places to visit.  In this blog post I provide a description of each of the world heritage sites, a few photographs and links to detailed articles further explaining the sites. I hope you enjoy!

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Nyatapola Temple
Nyatapola Temple Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is an amazing old-world town with a long history and rich culture.  Its most famous temple is the Nyatapola Temple, which has 5 stories.  It has a pottery area, where people can see craftsmen create earthenwear.  Bhaktapur Durbar Square is known as the way back to culture. You can find out more about it here.

Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa

The history of Boudhanath Stupa is a shrouded mystery and covered in folk tales and lore. You can receive 3 different backgrounds from 3 different people and they will all have some aspects of truth.  Without giving away too much detail, one history involves a human sacrifice, a chicken, and water.  Another involves an old woman and the king of Nepal. Hint: the old woman isn’t his grandmother! You can read about these interesting stories here.

Changu Narayan Temple

Full disclosure: I’ve never been here, but I hear its nice! From what I understand its an old Hindu temple that is beautifully carved and constructed. Most tours do not go here because it is very far away from the other heritage sites in Kathmandu.  If you do visit, let me know how it went and I will rewrite this blog post with your description. Really, you can write whatever you want, and I’ll post it here! “tempting offer” you say. You can read more about it here before you make up your mind.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square has a similar history as Patan Durbar Square.  It was ruled by both the Mallas (from noth east Indians) and the Shahs (from Gorkha).  It has a beautiful pallace and many supporting temples.  The main attraction of Kathmandu Durbar Square is the Kumari (living goddess), who you can see, if she is there.  You can read more about it here.

Patan Durbar Square

Krishna temple Patan
Krishna temple and ticket counter

Patan Durbar Square is an amazing old-world town with a long history and rich culture.  Its most famous temple is the Shiva Temple, which was carved from imported stone from India.  It has a phenomenal 3 story museum, which houses relics and cultural artifacts from the past.  Patan Durbar Square is known for its Newari architecture, museum, and palace. You can find out more about it here.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath by the Bagmati River
Pashupatinath by the Bagmati River

You are only allowed entrance into the Pashupatinath Temple if you are Hindu.  You can say you’re Hindu and try to enter, but you should not be wearing any leather products.  Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventures’ guides will help you, if you have any issues. In addition, I’ve even met people who have been turned away for being white.  The racial bigotry aside, the temple complex is very cool.  It is located on the Bagmati River and there is a mini-zoo too.  You can read about the significance of the river and zoo here.

Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath stupa and shrines
Swayambhunath stupa and shrines

The Swayambhunath Stupa has a very beautiful myth about its creation. The myth involves a giant lake, a god with lice, and a single lotus flower. It is a miniaturized version of Boudhanath Stupa, but with statues, and a small brick stupa.  Do not come here if you are allergic to monkeys stealing your lunch. Swayambhunath is also known as the monkey temple. To find out why, follow this link.

I hope this article was helpful. Please feel free to save any of these pins to your Pinterest account.

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Chitwan National Park Overview

Chitwan National Park Overview

 

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Chitwan National Park is one of the premier sites to visit in Nepal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is 359.8 square miles. It has forests, marshlands, grasslands, and abundant wild animals. Chitwan National Park is one of the best parks in Asia for seeing endangered animals. It has single-horned rhinoceroses, Asian elephants, gharial crocodiles, monkeys, deer, leopards, sloth bears, Bengal tigers, 544 species of birds, and many others.

In this blog post you will learn about Chitwan’s location and climate, the history of Chitwan, animals in Chitwan, cost to visit Chitwan, and the best time to visit.   I hope this article provides the information you are looking for as well as enjoyment from reading the content. If you have any questions, please contact me or post your question(s) in the comment section.

You can also read my captains log eteries of day 1 and day 2 of my Chitwan Jungle Safari.

Chitwan’s location and climate

peacock and fence
peacock and fence

Chitwan National Park is in the inner Terai lowland in the southern central region of Nepal.  It is 65.8 miles south west of Kathmandu, and 119.3 miles south east of Pokhara.

The Terai is classified as a humid, subtropical climate with an average yearly rainfall of 87.2 inches.  Over 80% of the rainfall occurs within the monsoon season from June through September.  The average high temperature of the area is 87.44o F, while the average low is 61.39o F. You can find a weather graph here.

History of Chitwan

Royal Chitwan National Park was established in 1973. Before that, in the 18th century, the Terai was segregated into small kingdoms in harmony with the jungle.  After the unification of Nepal in 1800 A.D. In the 1920’s jungle areas were cleared for agricultural production and the forest products were sold to India.

By 1955, malaria was removed from the Terai using DDT and other insecticides.  This paved the way for tourism and the development of the park.  The King of Nepal had an advisor that told him he could make more money in tourism than in forest products, so the king stopped the forest clearing, declared Chitwan a national park, and then opened it to the public.

Animals in Chitwan

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Chitwan park is home to 68 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles, 544 spices of birds, and 126 species of fish. Among the threatened and endangered animals are the Bengal tiger, 1 horned rhinoceros, giant hornbill, gharial crocodile, and the south Asian river dolphin.

Elephant love
Elephant love

Despite their threatened or endangered status some of these animals are quite common in the park! The most commonly encountered animals in the park are alligators, gharial crocodiles, elephants, 1-horned rhinos, deer, monkeys, and birds of various species, which includes the wild chicken.

Alligator in Rapti River
Alligator in Rapti River

Cost to visit Chitwan

The entrance fee into the park is $7.50 with an added $0.98 as a tax.  This fee does not include the any services such as jeep/ elephant safari, elephant sanctuary admission, boat ride, guided hike, or elephant bathing. These services can be purchased individually at a premium, but in a package, they are cheaper.

Package jungle tours come in a variety of classes. The prices range from $150 to $1,3335. In general, you get what you pay for.  Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure offers an excellent tour package that includes food, accommodation, and all available jungle activities for $1,090. Mention this article and receive 10% off the purchase price.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the park for comfortable weather is in the winter, November through January. The best time to visit the park for animals is in the spring season, April and May, which is also the best time to see Bengal tigers.

The park is closed to tourists during the monsoon season from July through September.  During this time, you can book trips to the buffer zone which has a lot of the same amenities as the park.

 

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Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari Day 2

Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari Day 2

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

Day 2 of the jungle safari tour is when the real adventure begins.  I’m talking elephant rides, jungle safari, endangered animals, a canoe trip, hiking through the jungle, and a visit to the elephant sanctuary.  This trip captured my attention and gave me memories that I still fondly look back on.  I’m grinning as I wright this blog post. You can read about day 1 by following the link.

Elephant ride and jungle safari

Elephants lining up for tours
Elephants lining up for tours

We woke up at 6:00 and took a jeep to the entrance of the Chitwan National Park.  There was a line of about a dozen elephants waiting for people to ride them.  I was too excited to realize that the elephant drivers and keepers do not treat their animals well, but more on that later.  We climbed up on our designated elephant and waited for more people to arrive.

Elephant love
Elephant love

Our elephant was a sweetheart. I immediately fell in love. I doubt the feeling was reciprocated though, because its hard to love a monkey on your back.

Elephant jungle safari
Elephant jungle safari

We set out into the jungle after a few minutes. Everything was new and thrilling. The elephant swayed left to right as she walked.  Wild chickens and pheasants ran across the trail with each snap of a twig. People were whispering,
“look at that.”

Rhinoceroses in Chitwan National Park
Rhinoceroses in Chitwan National Park

It was like participating in a drama where you keep anticipating some wild jungle animal to come out of the bushes.  We were, of course, safe from unknown beasts on the back of the elephant.  It was still exhilarating and fun spotting chital grazing in an open area of the jungle or alligators and gharials bathing in the sun on the banks of the Rapti river.

Bird on the bank
Bird on the bank

I saw all types of birds and plants, and even a few monkeys.  The highlight of the jungle safari was seeing 2 rhinoceroses grazing on a burnt patch of grassland.  We came within 20 feet of the rhinos, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned by our presence.  One of them even laid down and fell asleep.

Parrot in a tree
Parrot in a tree

Canoe trip down the Rapti river

Bird on Rapti river
Bird on Rapti river

We finished the elephant ride and jungle safari at the bank of the Rapti river.  A dug-out canoe was waiting for us in alligator and crocodile infested water.  I questioned the “sea worthiness” of the vessel but decided to throw caution into the winds and let the sails catch us on our maiden voyage.

Alligator in Rapti River
Alligator in Rapti River

I jumped into the canoe and immediately regretted it when an alligator on the opposing bank darted into the water.

I thought “that’s it. We’re done for!”

Deer in Chitwan
Deer in Chitwan

Fortunately, the canoe didn’t tip, and we remained safe as we paddled down the river.  We saw all sorts of amazing birds as they hunted for fish along the river. We also saw a lot of deer, some elephants, and lots and lots of alligators and crocodiles.

The canoe trip was a lot of fun.  It stopped on the bank about 2 hours after it started.  Everyone got off and we started hiking through the jungle to the elephant sanctuary.

Jungle hike

I was excited and a little terrified of the jungle hike because tigers eat people. The hike was a lot of fun though.  We saw some more rhinoceroses, signs of sloth bears and huge termite mounds.

We hiked for about 45 minutes with each turn of the trail just as suspenseful as the one before it.  Be careful if you go, because there are leaches on the plants near the trail.  They are more of a problem in the rainy season, but they are there in December too.

We hiked a little further then suddenly, the jungle disappeared, and we were in a grass land prairie. The elephant sanctuary was a quarter mile from the edge of the jungle.

Elephant sanctuary

Elephant sanctuary
Elephant sanctuary

We walked in the “sanctuary” expecting a preserve for happy elephants, but instead we found an elephant prison.  It was pretty much a zoo minus the other animals.  The elephants had chains around their legs to keep them in their pen.

Elephant sanctuary
Wild elephant at the elephant sanctuary

The sanctuary’s intentions are good, to keep poachers from killing the elephants. However, they also use the elephants as taxis.

After seeing this, I started to reflect on the jungle safari. I realized how unpleasant the elephant drivers were to their elephants.

I do not recommend the elephant jungle safari and visiting the sanctuary for these reasons.

Concluding the trip

After we visited the elephant sanctuary we went to the Rapti river and watched the elephants bathe and be washed by travelers.  The elephants and the travelers both looked happy.  I highly recommend this practice.

The next day we left Chitwan a little smarter and as more experienced travelers. I recommend Chitwan National Park to everybody, but be mindful of how they treat their animals.

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Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari Day 1

Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari

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Chitwan National Park is amazing!  I thoroughly enjoyed my 2-day tour of the park and Chitwan village.  Some of the highlights were a Tharu cultural dance show, a walk to Rapti River, elephant ride jungle safari, Rapti River canoe trip, hiking through the jungle, and a visit to the elephant sanctuary.

If you would like to visit Chitwan National Park you can book your trip through and number of travel companies in Nepal or Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure, which has an Office in California and Nepal. 2 for the price of 1! All joking aside, mention this article and receive a 10% discount on your Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari tour.

Day 1 Visiting Chitwan

My friends and I were on vacation from our jobs with the Peace Corps. We were all hanging out in Pokhara, when I got the idea to visit Chitwan.  I contacted Ganga who booked my trip for me.  The next day I told my friends I was going to Chitwan in a couple of days, and they insisted on coming with me.

It was me, Saline, Sacha, and Stephanie.  It was an oblong dynamic to say the least.  I could never remember Saline’s name until I associated it with salt, which is unusual because her personality was more creamy than salty. Saline and Sacha were best friends, and Stephanie was my former girlfriends best friend.

How we all ended up in Chitwan together, I have no idea.  But there we were, 2 days later, on a tourist bus from Pokhara to Chitwan.

We traveled for 4.5 hours before arriving to Chitwan.  The trip was entertaining because I enjoyed seeing the country side.  You can see a lot of Nepal by taking the bus to different locations.

Chitwan

Elephants in stable
Elephants in a stable

We were picked up by our travel company when we arrived in Chitwan.  It was a very easy process because everything was arranged for us. They drove us to our hotel, which was beautiful, and we checked into our rooms.

I went out exploring because why stay in a room when an adventure awaits outside the door.  I discovered an elephant stable in the back of the hotel. You couldn’t imagine how happy I was and the amount of discipline that kept me out of it.  Honestly it was also partly fear of being stepped on.  Those are some huge animals.

Next, I walked down the main road, which doesn’t have much in terms of tourists’ interests. I remember being extremely unhappy about the result of my adventure.  The result was me back in my hotel room playing cards with the girls.  I laugh about it now.

Hike to the Rapti River

Alligator in Rapti River
Alligator in Rapti River

Our guide knocked on the door and asked us if we wanted to go down to the lake and watch the sunset over the Rapti River.

The road from the hotel leads directly to the river, but we took a side trail and hiked to it.  We didn’t see much of nature, because it was December.  When we arrived at the river, we saw a heard of elephants, some wild boar, and a lot of alligators and crocodiles.

The sun set over the jungle and it reminded me of a mirage in the Serengeti desert.  It looked a like this Picture from Wikipedia.

Tharu Cultural Dance Show

Finally, we concluded our day by going to the Tharu Cultural Dance Show.  The dance show was housed in a hall in Sauraha, Meghauli, which is right near the river.

The program was developed to introduce Tharu culture and tradition to tourists.  We saw dances like Danda Nach (Stick Dance), Aglo Nach (Fire Dance), and Mayur Nach (Peacock Dance).  The host talks about the dance, when it is performed, and why it is performed before each performance.  The show lasts 45 minutes and is a treat to watch.

YouTube video

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Gurkha Memorial Museum part 4, 3rd floor Gurkha regiments

 Gurkha Memorial Museum part 4, 3rd floor

Gurkha Museum entrance
Gurkha Museum entrance

The 3rd floor has information and displays of specialty units within the Gurkha regiments.  In addition, it also has a segment on the Gurkha Singapore police unit.  The museum identifies The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, Queen’s Gurkha Signals, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, Gurkha Contingent Singapore Police Force and other units.

If you missed parts one, two, and three, you can access them by following the links.

The Queens Gurkha Engineers

The Queens Gurkha Engineers' uniform
The Queens Gurkha Engineers’ uniform

The British government created the Queens Gurkha Engineers in December 1948 in Klaung, Malaya.  The unit contained 300 re-enlisted Gurkha Riflemen.  This Regiment supported infantry riflemen in several operations, but the 2 major ones were Borneo Confrontation, and Unrest in Hong Kong.

The Borneo Confrontation took place between 1962 and 1967.  Brittan developed this regiment to build bridges, landing strips, and landing pads.  Lieutenant Stephens and Lieutenant Thapa ordered the construction of a 1,700-foot-long airstrip.  The regiment finished the airstrip to civil engineering specifications.

Unrest in Hong Kong took place in 1967.  The Queens Gurkha Engineers built a 20-mile-long barbed wire snake fence.  In addition, they built 2 parallel high apron fences that were infilled with 4 lines of Dannert coils.

Queens Gurkha Signals

hand signals
Signals used before there was electronic equipment

The British military assembled Queens Gurkhas Signals in November 1948 in Kuala Lumpur.  They accepted 102 Gurkha men.  Major Gregory separated the men into 3 units Operator wireless and line, Lineman Field Permanent Line, and Dispatch Riders.

Queen’s Gurkha Signals supported many regiments in different operations, but the operation they are best known for was the Borneo Confrontation 1962 to 1965.  Queens Gurkha Signals provided communication between battalion commanders and operation directors. They also built rebroadcast links on mountains to allow units in the jungle to communicate with commanding officers.

Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment

Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment uniform
Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment uniform

Brittan formed Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) in June 1958 in Kluang Malaya.  The British government merged The Queen’s Own Gurkha Transport Regiment, and The Gurkha Transport Regiment, and The Gurkha Army Service Corps to form the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment in April 2001.

Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment supported many regiments in different operations, but the operations they are best known for are Borneo Confrontation 1962 to 1966 and Gulf War 1991.

QOGLR moved into Brunei and Labuan Borneo in 1962 at the start of the conflict.  They commanded over 1000 miles of road and water ways by 1963.  They supplied other regiments with rations, ammunition, batteries, and clothing.

QOGLR entered the Gulf war in 1991.  They assisted ground regiments by driving trucks, ambulances and other support vehicles.

Gurkha Contingent Singapore Police Force

Gurkha Singapore Police Force uniform
Gurkha Singapore Police Force uniform

The British government created the Gurkha Contingent Singapore Police Force (GCSPF) in April 1949 in Duxton Plain Singapore.  Major Scott Leatheart commanded this police force because the Kikh police force deteriorated under Japanese rule.  GCSPF originally had 142 Gurkha members, but it grew to 300 shortly after.

GCSPF is best known for suppressing riots and acts of violence and is known for their discipline, turnout, and bearing.

25 and 9 years of service medal for Gurkha police
25 and 9 years of service medal for Gurkha police

Other Units

Gurkha women working the lines in a dress, flip flops, and hard hat.
Gurkha women working the lines in a dress, flip flops, and hard hat.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps

Gurkha women also have a long history of fighting alongside their male counterparts.  They also have many other talents, which they argue they can do better than the men!  One such talent is nursing.  Brittan accepted Gurkha women into the nursing corps in the 60’s. Radha Rawat was the first Gurkha women to be assigned a nursing position.  She retired as a Major in the 80’s.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw famous quote
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw famous quote
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Gurkha Memorial Museum part 3, 2nd floor Gurkha Rifles

Gurkha Memorial Museum 2nd floor Gurkha Rifles

Gurkha Museum entrance
Gurkha Museum entrance

The second floor of the Gurkha Memorial Museum is dedicated to the Gurkha infantry regiments.  The displays on the second floor consist of uniforms and accessories. In addition to the displays and regiment information, instances of Gurkha bravery and gallantry are highlighted.  If you missed parts one and two of the first floor, you can access them through the provided links.

2nd King Edward VII’s own Gurkhas (The Sirmoor Rifles)

2nd gurkha officer uniform
2nd Gurkha officer uniform

The adjunct general of India asked Lieutenant Frederick Young to lead a group of “irregulars” (hill men).  Young raised the Sirmoor Rifles on April 24, 1815. He collected 1,223 men and arranged them into 10 companies.  They remained in India until 1947 to join the British army.

Before the Sirmoor Rifles left India, they had a major battle in Delhi, which became their defining moment. Hindu soldiers revolted against the British East India Company on May 10th, 1857, because they were given ammo cartridges greased with cow fat, which was against their religion. The Sirmoor Rifles defended against the mutineers for 3 months.  Then with the help of reinforcements, they attacked rebellion stronghold.  The Sirmoor Rifles suppressed the rebellion on September 14th, 1857.

Queen Victoria recognized their bravery and valor and presented them with the Queens Truncheon.

Miniature metals received by the 2nd Gurkha regiment.
Miniature metals received by the 2nd Gurkha regiment.

6th Queen Elizabeth’s own Gurkha Rifles

6th Gurkha Rifles uniform
6th Gurkha Rifles uniform

The 6th Queen Elizabeth’s own Gurkha Rifles (6th Rifles) was originated in Cuttack, Orissa in India.  Captain Simon Frasier created the regiment to help keep order in the area.  The first Gurkha soldier joined the group in 1824 and by 1886 it was solely composed of 656 Gurkhas.

Before the 6th Rifles left India in 1947 to join the British army, they fought the Japanese in WW 2, which was their defining moment.  The 6th Rifles had orders to attack a railroad bridge in Mogaung, Burma. The Japanese had a strong position, which they reinforced with machine guns and bombs.

The 6th Rifles received heavy casualties along with other units. Tulbahadur Pun, one of the last men alive in his section, seized a bren gun and while firing from the hip he charged the Japanese base.  He single-highhandedly captured the base despite a heavy concentration of automatic fire directed at him.  Pun received the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

7th Duke of Edinburgh’s own Gurkha Rifles

Gurkha military patch
Gurkha military patch

The 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s own Gurkha Rifles (7th Rifles) has a mixed history.  It originated in 1902 but didn’t have any Gurkha soldiers until 1959. They moved through north east India and Pakastan for a while and were even converted to a field artillery unit for a short time. This company has 2 defining moments.

The Japanese advanced on Imphal, Bruma in June 1944. The 7th Rifles went to Burma to defend against the Japanese attacks. Japanese’s enforcements used tanks and superior fire power to break through the rear guard at the Tiddim road blockade.  Rifleman Ganju Lama immobilized 3 tanks and killed many enemy soldiers. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions.

Japan stationed 3,000 men in Meiktala, Bhutan. They had a strong position and were effectively fighting the 7th Rifles.  2 Gurkha soldiers, Naik Dalbir Rana and Narbir Pun, charged over open ground firing their rifles at the enemy. As they advanced on a position, 2 Japanese soldiers fled into a nearby building. Narbir Pun chased after the enemy and engaged them with his kukhuri. Pun killed the soldiers then rejoined Rana at the front of the fight.  They defeated the Japanese a short time later.

Pun and Rana received the Victoria Cross for the bravery.

10th Princess Mary’s own Gurkha Rifles

Metals for Gurkhas in WW 1
Metals for Gurkhas in WW 1

England created the 10th Princess Mary’s own Gurkha Rifles (10th Rifles) in 1890, to support Burma.  After service, the 800-man regiment left Burma and went to Pakistan.  lieutenant colonel MacGregor led the 10th Rifles.

Macgregor deployed the 10th Rifles to Gallipoli to fight Turkey in WW 1.  The 10th Rifles fought the most successful operation of the campaign even though the allied forces eventually had to withdraw from Turkey.  The 10th Rifles engaged the Turkish army and gained 1,000 yards and 5 lines of trenches.  They killed over 10,000 enemy soldiers and wounded 6,000 more. They withdrew from Gallipoli when Turkish reinforcements arrived on July 5th.

Royal Gurkha Rifles

England scaled back its military on July 1st, 1994.  England condensed the Gurkha Rifles in to the Royal Gurkha Rifles, because of budget cuts. They served in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Iraq, and Afghanistan with other UN forces.

Acting Sargent Dipprasad Pun was 1 of 4 men guarding a base in Afghanistan.  The rest of his platoon were off base on assignment.  Pun had sentry duties on the evening of September 17, 2010.  That evening his base was attacked by an unknown number of Afghan guerilla forces.  Pun identified hostile enemies approaching and engaged them with a grenade launcher and automatic fire.  The enemy counter attacked, but Pun anticipated their movements and gained a strategic post.  This occurred three times.  By the end of the fire fight Pun had killed 3 men and made the others retreat.

Pun receiving a metal and recognition.
Pun receiving a metal and recognition.
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Gurkha Museum part 2

Gurkha Memorial Museum part 2

Gurkha Museum entrance
Gurkha Museum entrance

This blog post is a continuation of the Gurkha Memorial Museum.   Part one introduces the museum, its departments and displays.  It also gives a brief history of the museum and Gurkhas before 1857, which is where the museum starts recording the heroic actions of Gurkhas.  Part 2 identifies minor conflicts the Gurkhas were in.  If you haven’t already read part 1, please check it out before continuing to part 2.

The Borneo Operation 1962-1966 aka the Indonesian Confrontation

Borneo Operation
Borneo Operation map

On Dec 8, 1962, the president of Indonesia, President Sukarno, began attacking areas tactical importance in Brunei, which was under the control of Malaya’s prime minister Rahman.  Prime minister Rahman asked the British government for assistance in uniting his country and quelling the invasion. The British sent British and Gurkha troops to fight; Gurkhas beat President Sukarno’s troops in 10 days.

The British and Gurkha forces succeeded in reclaiming the lost ground, but President Sukarno was persistent in his conquests.  In 1963 president Sukarno resorted to gorilla style warfare.  British and Gurkha regiments began patrolling and ambushing enemy units.  The Gurkha and British forces conquered all the Indonesian forces by March 12, 1966. Indonesia and Malaya signed a peace treaty on August 11th.

Permanent base for Gurkhas in England

IN 1972 a Gurkha infantry battalion received a permanent base in Church Crookham England.

Minor engagements

Gurkha Khukri
Gurkha Khukri, a symbol of bravery and ferocity

Gurkha forces went to Belize in 1978 during the Belizean-Guatemalan territorial dispute.  Their jungle warfare skills aided the Belize in defending attacks by Guatemala.  The Gurkha forces remained there for several years.

Gurkha units assisted with the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.  They did not participate in a lot of combat, but they did play a major role in moral support.

The Gurkhas also had a minor role in the 1991 Gulf War. Their engagement was limited to officer attachments and stretcher bearers.

From 1990 to 2002 Gurkha forces were deployed to multiple international destinations to support NATO and United Nation forces.

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Gurkha Memorial Museum

Gurkha Memorial Museum

Gurkha Museum entrance
Gurkha Museum entrance

The Gurkha Memorial Museum was founded to honor the brave men and women who join the Gurkha army.  The museum is sectioned into 3 floors, with each floor becoming increasingly specialized and dedicated to a specific aspect of the Gurkha army.  The 1st floor introduces the people that live in the Gorkha district and a history of the Gurkha military.  The 2nd floor displays the uniforms of different personnel of the Gurkhas. Finally, the museum ends at the 3rd floor, which identifies the specialty groups in the Gorkha regiment, like engineers, signals, and transport regiments.

Instead of telling you about the museum, I will tell you stories exhibited in the museum, which identify acts of bravery by Gurkha soldiers.  It was because of these acts and acts like this, this museum was created.

History of the museum

The museum officially opened in Kathmandu in 1994, with a goal of maintaining records of Gurkha bravery.  At that time the museum was only an archive of information with few military items on display.  By 1998 they received more donations and enlarged their display.  From 1998 to 2000 the museum expanded to 3 rooms after the Gurkha Museum in Britian sent donations.

A major advancement happened in 2004 when Commander Colonel Peter Sharland gave leased land outside of Pokhara to the Gurkha Museum.  The first floor of the new construction was completed and then opened for public in 2005. By 2008, 2 additional stories were added and open to the public.  In 2015 the parking lot was built.

A Brief history of the Gorkha District.

Present day Nepal was created by the war efforts of the Gorkha Kingdom.  In the 16th century Dravya Shah gained control over the Gorkha kingdom by winning a foot race. This is the beginning of the Shah dynasty, which lasted until 2008. After his inauguration, he set his sights on kingdom expansion.  He used Magar warriors to fight battles with neighboring territories.

In the 17th century Dravya’s son gained control of the kingdom and continued its expansion.  At this time, he created the unified kingdom of Gorkha and continued to expand its territory until the Anglo-Gorkha war in 1814.  Though he was defeated by the East India Trading Company, he maintained control of the kingdom.

In 1846 the Shah dynasty was briefly interrupted by the Rana Dynasty, which lasted until 1951.  At this time Matrika Koirala became the prime minister, but after 2 terms he gave control of the country to the Shah rulers.  In 2008, after the murder of the royal family, the country became a constitutional monarchy.

 First floor

The history of the museum begins in 1857 with the engagement of the Sepoy mutiny.  The royal Nepali army, led by a Rana king, assisted the British army commanded by General Campbell for the relief of Lucknow. By 1914 the Gurkha military personnel began to be recognized for their bravery.  The author Sir Ralph Lilley Turner wrote this about the Gurkhas:

“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.”

Most of the Gurkha soldiers fought in Turkey, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Russia, France, and Egypt.

WW1 Gurkha bravery

Rifle, sword, and medals issued to Gurkha soldiers in World War 1
Rifle, sword, and medals issued to Gurkha soldiers in World War 1

This is my favorite story from the WW1 section of the museum:
Rifleman Karanbanadur Rana entered in a firefight with German soldiers on April 10, 1918 in Palestine.  He and a few other rifle men, under enemy fire, encroached upon the German position with a Lewis gun.  Their objective was to take out a machine gun, that had just demolished most of their unit.  When they reached their strategic position, Rana’s comrade opened fire on the machine gunner, but was immediately shot. Rana, without hesitation, moved his fallen comrade aside and began an assault on the enemy objective.  He took down the machine gun team under a hailstorm of counter fire and bombs.  After the machine gun was neutralized, he fought back the enemy riflemen and bombers.

He saved his battalion from heavy losses and remained steady in his pursuits even when his Lewis gun jammed twice.  He received the Victoria Cross from King George V in 1919 for his actions and bravery.

victoria cross medal
Victoria Cross medal

WW2

Gurkhas came to arms again after the announcement of the 2nd world war.  They were stationed in Malaya and Burma to defend against Japanese attacks, North Africa to fight Ramel, and later Italy, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.  In total 120,000 men were deployed to the front.  Unfortunately, as it is in war, 20,000 men died during their deployment.

Gurkha soldier

WW 2 rifleman lachhiman Gurung
WW 2 rifleman lachhiman Gurung

This story highlights the bravery and dedication of Gurkha soldiers during the second world war:
Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was stationed in Burma at a strategic location to intercept japaneese persenel as they were moving through the country.  His outpost was one of the fist areas enemy soldiers passed through.  On May 13th, 1945 his platoon was attacked by advancing soldiers.

At 1:20 in the morning the Japanese soldiers began throwing hand gernades into Gurung’s trench. One fell on the ridge lip of the trench; he grabbed it without hesitation and threw it back at the enemy.  Then another grenade landed inside the trench, which he once again fearlessly grabbed it and threw it back.  Just after that, one more grenade landed just outside his trench. As he was reaching to grab it, it blew up, ripping through his hand arm and part of his face.

A short time later the enemy began advancing on his position, where he was the only one still living.  Gurung, still able to fight, began defending his base by shooting and loading his firearm with his left hand. For 4 hours after his injury he prevented the enemy from taking over his position and gaining a tactical advantage on his comrades.

He was evacuated and treated for his injuries when reinforcements arrived.  He regained full health minus his right arm and right eye at the hospital.  After his recovery, he received the Victory Cross on December 19, 1945 for his bravery and actions.

The Malayan Emergency

The Malayan Emergency resulted from the power void left by the evacuation of the Japanese at the end of WW2 (1948-1960).  In short, a rough organic military developed in support of the Malayan Communist Party and to oppose the Federation of Malaya.  6 Gurkha battalions were brought in and by 1957 most of the threat from the Malayan Communist Party.

Gurkha to Gorkha

Because of a tripartite agreement between Britain, Nepal, and India, the Gurkhas were spilt into 2 fractions.  Soldiers going with Britain became Gorkhas, while those staying with India remained Gurkhas.  After this fraction, the Gorkhas and Gurkhas maintained a presence in the many wars that followed.

YouTube video

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International Mountain Museum (IMM)

International Mountain Museum (IMM)

International Mountain museum
International Mountain museum

The International Mountain Museum in Pokhara Nepal houses a collection of artifacts and information related to life and mountain climbing above 12,000 feet.  More than 70,000 people visit the museum each year.  These people come to see the many exhibits, which include world famous peaks and the mountaineers that climbed the peaks, culture and lifestyle of the people who live on the mountains, biology of mountain plants and animals, and the geologic formations that created the mountains and their corresponding rock classes.

This blog post provides a brief overview of the entire museum.  Feel free to share it on your social media channels.  If you have a Pinterest, please pin the pictures you enjoy.

Location

The museum is 2 miles south east of Lakeside Pokhara. It takes 10 m minutes to get there by car or is a 30-minute walk.  I do recommend walking because there are a lot of scenic pathways that lead to the museum. You might get lost because its not a direct route, but if you follow Lakeside road south east, you should be able to find it.

Entrance fee

International mountain museum ticket
International mountain museum ticket

The entrance fee is dependent on your nationality.  Nepali nationals are charged $0.8, SAARC nationals are charged $2, and other foreign nationals are charged $4.

History

The international Mountain Museum was established on Dec 1st, 1995 by Nepal Mountaineering Association.  It had a soft opening on May 29th, 2002 and opened officially on February 5th, 2004.

Best time to go

The museum is open all year long from 9am to 5pm.  The best time to go is in the morning, but you run the risk of being swarmed by school kids.

International Mountain Museum exhibit halls

There are 4 exhibit halls in the museum.  Each covers a specific topic relating to mountains.  You will come to the hall of mountain people first, then hall of world mountains, after that the Hall of mountain activities, and then finally Hall of temporary display.

Hall of mountain people

Traditional cloths of Tamang people
Traditional cloths of Tamang people

The hall of mountain people has two sections, mountain people of Nepal and mountain people of the world. It provides information about the people that live on the mountains. It also has a gorgeous mandala that is amazing to look at.

Mountain people of Nepal

This section looks into the past and present daily lives of “mountain people.”  It examines their customs, traditions, culture, dresses, ornaments, musical instruments, and household items.  The ethnic groups investigated are Tamangs, Thakalis, Chhantyals, Gurungs, Sherpas, Pun Magars, Yakkhas, Rais, Limbus and Sunuwars.

Mountain people of the world

This section of the hall of mountain people is small.  It identifies other countries and their ethnic groups that live on mountains. The countries identified are Taiwan, Slovenia, Japan, and various European countries.

Mandala   

Section of the mandala
Section of the mandala

A giant sand mandala rests in an enclosed case at the center of the exibit.  It was created by Lama Ngawang Kechha Sherpa.  It is an incredible art piece, which is alone worth visiting IMM for.

Hall of world mountains

The hall of world mountains has 4 sections, mountain, geological, flora and fauna, and dedications.  It identifies the tallest mountains in the world and provides their height.  It also provides information on their geological formations and classifications, mountain biology, and the mountaineers and summiteers that made the mountains famous.

Mountain section

This section identifies the 14 peaks over 26,247 feet. It also provides their pictures with information about summits and summit attempts.

Geological section

Ammonite fossil found in Upper Mustang
Ammonite fossil found in Upper Mustang, about 150 million years old

This section is a geologist’s dream because of the plethora of information and displays it provides.  There are interactive monitors, and films that show how the Himalayas were formed. Fossils and different types of rocks are displayed.  In addition, there are even some rare earth minerals on display.

Flora and fauna section

This section is a natural history trove.  It identifies some plants such as rhododendrons and where to find them, but mainly focuses on the animals.  There is also a decent sized display of the different kinds of butterflies found int the areas.  The natural history museum in Pokhara has a great butterfly display.

Corner of dedications

This section displays equipment used by climbers, which includes cloths tools, and cameras with photographs.  It also identifies the Nepali people associated with the development of the of the IMM and their contributions.

Hall of mountain activities

The hall of mountain activities has 5 sections, equipment, ecology and environment, images, climate change, and touch screen sections. This portion of the museum focuses on climbers, equipment, climate, climate change, and provides a chronological display of the 26,247-foot peaks in the order they were summited. In addition, there is a side display of stamps with mountain pictures on them from around the world.

Mountaineering section

This section is similar to the corner of dedications section in the previous hall, but the displays are larger, and it only focuses on the mountaineers that summited the 14 peaks.  Pieces of the summiteers’ equipment are also on display with their photograph.

Mountaineering equipment section

Mountaineering knots
Mountaineering knots

This section displays the equipment most commonly used for summiting mountains.  The equipment is grouped by type and age. Its impressive to see the different styles and their advancements. In addition to the primary equipment, there is a small section on the different types of knots and what they are used for.

Mountain ecology and environment section

I don’t remember there being a lot of information about mountain ecology.  This section was mainly focused on the environment at altitude.  It also has a large display of garbage removed from Mt. Everest and Lhotse to demonstrate the importance of not littering and how a little bit adds up.

Imaging Everest section

yak wool sun glasses
Before there were sun glasses, there was yak wool

This section has a ton of photographs of mountains and the people that climb them.  The pictures were taken by people on British expeditions to Mt. Everest starting in 1921.  There are some very cool old photos in the lot.

Climate change section

This section focuses on the effect of climate change on the mountains.  The most notable impact is the recession of Himalayan glaciers.  The section is divided into the effect of climate change on air, water, and ice.

Touch screen

I don’t remember this section, but supposedly you can interact with satellite images to view mountains, lakes and different areas of Nepal.

Hall of temporary display

This area has items on loan in it.  When I went, it had photographs of Dr. Tony Hagen and others loaned by ICIMOD.  It also has a prayer room and library.

Prayer room (Lakhang)

This room is a replica of a Buddhist prayer room and is always open for people to enter and pray.  The room reflects the openness of people living in the Himalayas.

Library

The library has a moderate selection of books on mountains, biology, people and mountaineering.  When I went, I only saw a few books in English, but I didn’t investigate too deeply.

Mt. Manaslu model

The Mt. Manaslu model is outside the museum just before the front door.  It is not to scale, but you can play on it.  I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of fun.

Yak model

The yak model isn’t part of the temporary display.  It is outside located next to the foot path. Its ok, but it really doesn’t look like a yak to me.

 

 

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Pashupati Temple

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath by the Bagmati River
Pashupatinath (upper right hand corner) by the Bagmati River

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, but only Hindus are allowed entrance.  Pashupati is complex of buildings on the bank of the Bagmati river.  You can find temples, ashrams, and artistic carvings in the primary temple complex.  Outside the temple funeral pyres are routinely held and the ashes are freed in the river.  A small zoo is located above Pashupatinath in a park.  It is fitting, because the deity Pashupati is considered lord of animals.

Pashupati is important in Hinduism, because it is identified as one of the homes of Shiva as out lined in the ancient text Paadal Petra Sthalams.  To see other important world heritage sites you can follow these links: Boudhanath Stupa, Patan Durbar Square, swayambhunath, or see them all.

Bagmati River in Pashupatinath.
Bagmati River in Pashupatinath.

History

Pashupati was originally built in the 3rd century, but has been rebuilt several times since.  The current version of the temple was built by King Shupuspa in the 15th century.  In addition, the Guhyeshwari Temple was built in the 11th century, and the Ram temple was added in the 14th century.

Mythology

Deer at the Pashupatinath zoo
Deer at the Pashupatinath zoo

There are several myths surrounding Pashupati.  My favorite myth is:
One day Lord Shiva was walking around on earth and he came to Bagmati River, which he believed to be one of the most beautiful sites in the world.  He fell in love with the area, and turned himself into a deer. He spent many years in this form.  Because he grew missed by his deity friends, they came and grabbed him forcing him back into his original form.

Lord Shiva announced, after he returned to his divine form, that he will be known as the Lord of Animals.

How to find Pashupati

Pashupatinath Temple is located 2.5 miles east of Thamel.  It is a 15 minute drive, but if there is traffic, it can take up to 40 minutes. You can walk there without too much trouble, because it is a short distance.

When to go

Pashupatinath shrine
Pashupatinath Pandra Shivalaya

You can visit Pashupati anytime because the area is always open.  You can see the funerals and zoo during the day and the lighted temple at night. If you are Hindu, you can enter the temple between 4am and 9pm.

How long to stay

Because you will probably not be able to enter the temple, you will want to spend at least 1 hour in Pashupati.  If you are Hindu, you will want to visit for at least 2 hours.

 

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Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

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Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu. It is also one of my favorite areas because of its towering towers, museums, temple art, many mandala studios, cleanliness and pottery square.  The whole area is made up of 4 squares, which each have their own attractions.  You can learn about the area, before your visit in this blog post.  Kick back, relax and enjoy.  If you have a Pinterest, feel free to pin these pics.

History

Temple art in Bhaktapur
Temple art in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur was Nepal’s capital city from the 12th to the 15th century.  It was also a sovereign country at the same time!  The city is surrounded by tall brick walls with many gates, which gives it a fortress or medieval feeling.   Bhaktapur was joined with the rest of Nepal in the 18th century, and though it is no longer considered the cultural capital of Nepal, it still has a rich and beautiful Newari cultural heritage.

Durbar Square

The Durbar Square is the first area you come to after walking through the main gate.  You are immediately inundated by beautiful temples, shrines, statues, artwork and culture.

You will see a giant lion statue, Lion’s Gate, Golden Gate, and 55 Window Palace on your left.  The Bhaktapur museum is in the 55-window palace.  You will see the mini Pashupati Temple, Rameshwar and Gopi Nath connected Temples, Vatsala Devi Temple, and the remains of the Vatsala Temple on your right.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate in Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Golden Gate in Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The Golden Gate is decorated with gold and has a figure of the goddess Kali and her griffin Garuda at the crown of the door.  They are served by 2 nymphs (one on each side).  Above the door and on the trim are mythical Hindu creatures performing mischievous acts.  Golden Gate is the entrance to the Bhaktapur museum and the 55-Window Palace.

55-Window Palace

The palace is not much to look at from the outside, and since I haven’t been on the inside, I can’t speak for it.  The wood trimming surrounding the 55 windows are beautifully decorated with ornate carvings of deities.

Vatsala Temple

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Vatsala Temple is directly across the 55- window palace.  It is a wooden 2-story temple with a brick foundation.  There are 2 lion statues guarding the entrance to the temple.  It was moderately damaged in the 2015 earthquake.

Vatsala Devi Temple

This stone temple is directly behind the Vatsala Temple.  It was reduced to ruble in the 2015 earthquake.  Restoration attempts are being made, but progress is slow.

Mini-Pashupati Temple

Mini-Pashupati Temple in Bhaktapur
Mini-Pashupati Temple in Bhaktapur

This temple is tucked behind the Vatsala Devi and Vatsala Temples.  It was built to honor Shiva and is a smaller version of the Pashupati Temple in Pashupatinath.  This temple as many beautifully carved support structures.  Some of the carving are borderline crude to extremely erotic.

Rameshwar and Gopi Nath Temples

These temples are connected to each other.  They are located on the right-hand side of the entrance gate.  Rameshwar Temple is a 4-pillar temple built to honor Shiva.  Most of the time the door to this temple is closed, but it is suspected of housing 3 deities.  The Gopi Nath Temple is a 2-roofed pagoda style temple also built to honor Shiva.

Taumadhi Square

The Taumadhi Square is the 2nd most important area in the city.  It has one of the most famous temples in Nepal, Nyatapola Temple.  It is also the home of Bhairabnath Temple, Tilmadhav Narayan Temple and Stone sculptures.  On April 10th, large slides are brought in people can play on them.

Nyatapola Temple

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Nyatapola Temple is the tallest 5 story temple in Nepal.  Its name means 5 stories.  It is extremely beautiful, because it’s 5-tiered brick foundation reflects the 5 wooden stories above it.  It has many artistic carvings in the doors, window frames, and supports.  The temple overlooks Taumadhi Square and is a delight to climb to the top and look out.

Bhairabnath Temple

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Bhairabnath Temple is a much smaller temple in comparison to Nyatapola, but it is still huge.  It is a 3 storied temple made of brick and wood.  It has a stone and iron fence around it with sculptures.  The entrance to the temple is rarely opened.

Dattatreya Square

Dattatreya Square is the oldest part of Bhaktapur; it also serves as an open museum.  This square is known for its wood carving craftsman.  It has Dattatreya Temple, which is the oldest temple in the Bhaktapur.

Dattatreya Temple

Dattatreya Temple is a 3 tiered wooden and brick temple built in 1427.  The temple is rumored to be built from the lumber of a single tree.  There is a later addition in front of the temple that is sometimes referred to as the porch.  It has stone statures guarding the entrance and deities looking over it on pillars.

Pottery Square

Pottery Square is one of my favorite areas in Bhaktapur.  You can see how pottery is thrown and how they “kiln dry” their creations.  The earthen containers are also set in the sun on display.  In addition, you can receive a pottery lesson by a master craftsman.

Entrance fee

The entrance fee is 15 dollars.  The price was increased after the 2015 earthquake.  The museum fee is $2 to $5 dollars.  There are many entrance points into the Bhaktapur.  If you are willing to hustle your way through the side streets and back allies its possible to get in for free.

How to get to Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is about 10 miles south east of Tamel.  It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to drive there.  I would not recommend walking or riding a bike, because the route travels along a busy freeway.

When to go

Any time is a good time to go.  If you want to see the Bhaktapur museum, you should be there before 4:00, because it closes at 5:00.

How long to stay

When I come to Bhaktapur, I usually spend 1 to 2 hours walking around and taking pictures.  If it is your first time in Bhaktapur, you will probably want at least 3 hours to wonder the area.  The length of your visit also depends on what you want to see.  If you want to see all 4 squares at one time, you might want to stay for 4 to 5 hours.