Welcome to the roof of the world! Rising from 60 feet to 29029 feet in less than 100 miles, Nepal is one of the most diverse countries in the world. The Nepal's diversity of landscapes is equaled only by its multiple traditions, religions and cultural activities. Further, there are few places in the world which are synonymous to divinity, and able to retain their originality for centuries. Tibet is such a landmass where we can find a rare blend of mystery and mysticism. The following are the UNESCO treasures of Tibet:
- Potala Palace
This amazing palace has the credit of being the highest ancient palace in the world, with its highest point 12,300 feet above sea level, towering 300 feet above the city of Lhasa. This 13-stories-high palace has over 1,000 rooms, and covers over 32 acres. The stone walls measure 10 feet thick on average.
- Jokhang Temple
King Songtsen Gampo (617 – 650) was the leader of the Tibetan Kingdom. He actively promoted Buddhism. Under his reign, Tibet achieved great progress in social innovation. In order to promote friendly relationships with the neighboring countries, he consecutively married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (China). When the two arrived there, each brought a statue of Buddha. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsen Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Bhrikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, he built a giant complex in 647 A.D. and this is known as Jokhang Temple.
- Norbulinka Palace
Norbulingka is the summer place of Dalai Lamas. It is situated in the western suburb of Lhasa City, at the bank of the Kyichu River, about 0.6 mile of Potala Palace. The Palace garden covers an area of 360,000 square meters (about 430,000 square yards), with 374 rooms inside. It is the biggest man-made garden in Tibet Autonomous Region.
This small country lie eight of the world’s ten highest mountains and more than 100 ethnic groups. Nepal’s capital Kathmandu Valley holds a unique record of having 7 UNESCO world heritage sites within a periphery of only 20 Kilometers, they are:
- Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as Hanuman Dhoka square is one of the major attractions in Kathmandu Valley. The name Hanuman-Dhoka Durbar came from the statue of a Hindu god Hanuman whose statue was established by the King Pratap Malla at the entrance of the royal palace in 1672. The complex also has numerous Hindu temples, most of them are built in the pagoda style embellished with intricately carved exteriors as well as Most of the buildings we see here date from 15th to 18th century.
- City of Bhaktapur
The oldest existing city in Nepal, Bhaktapur is situated 14 kilometers Northeast from Kathmandu. This city, rich in religious values, ancient arts, magnificent cultural traditions, architectural masterpieces and ancient sculptures, is also known as an open museum. Moreover, the city is also famous as a city of gods. Bhaktapur has a cluster of temples, pagodas, monuments, courtyard, traditional houses, artistic stones, and taps. The city has also Buddhist shrines and monasteries built in different times. This beautiful and clean city teemed with architectural masterpieces, artistic temple and shrines and ancient paintings, has been able to preserve in historical identity. It is famous as a main destination for domestic as well as international tourists. This city was shown in Hollywood movie “little Buddha”, major portions of this movie were shot in Bhaktapur.
This is one of the biggest Buddhist monuments in the world. Bouddhanath was constructed in 4th century A.D. It is a closed dome with no entrance, and people believe that many Buddhist scripture and religious materials are stored here. Outside Tibet this monument has been a principle monument for Tibetans. The surrounding area of Bouddhanath is inhabitated by Tibetans who came to Nepal after Chinese rule started there in 1959.
This Buddhist temple was founded about 2,000 years ago when Kathmandu Valley used to be a great lake. According to Buddhist legend, a single perfect lotus grew in the center of the lake. A Chinese saint traveling here named Manjushree drained the lake with a slash of his sword, then the lotus flower settled on top of the hill and transformed into the stupa. Therefore, it is known as the Self-Created (swayambhu) Stupa. The earliest written record of the Swayambunath Stupa's existence is a 5th-century stone inscription. Swayambunath is one of Nepal's oldest Buddhist temples and it has an ancient atmosphere, especially when one visits walking with the pilgrims.
- Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath temple, constructed in 5th century A.D. is dedicated to the most powerful Hindu god Shiva. The temple serves as Mecca for all the believers and followers of lord Shiva. The temple is situated on the banks of ancient river Bagmati. Hindus cremate their dead ones on the bank of this river. This is a lifetime opportunity to see a very different tradition, though the mood here is somber and gloomy but this is one of the best places to see the example “the show must go on”. On the other side of river we see people crying and mourning but right next to the burning funeral pyres people pass by in their best dress, cheerfully coming to pray and wish in the temple.
Changu Narayan Temple: Located in a hill Northeast of Kathmandu, Changunarayan temple is dedicated to another popular Hindu god Vishnu (the care taker). This temple was built in 4th century A.D. and it houses the oldest stone inscription of Nepal. On a clear day we can see the mighty Himalayan range from the temple.
Apart from the above cited monuments which are located in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal has two more world heritage sites.
- Chitwan National Park
Situated 100 miles south from Kathmandu Nepal has one of the largest National Parks in Asia. Chitwan National Park used to be the royal hunting ground till 1970, but the government of Nepal decided to create a National Park in 1973 and a whole chunk of 592 square mile was converted into a National Park This Park is famous for its biodiversity and for its animals like one horned Rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger. The numerous resorts located on the border of the park serve and offer a unique jungle safari on the back of domesticated Elephants.
The birthplace of lord Buddha is situated in Nepal, some 200 miles south from Kathmandu. The government of Nepal has created a total Buddhist World in the premises of Lumbini; countries where Buddhism is official religion have been invited to build their temples nearby Buddha’s birth place. This vast area is now becoming a major Buddhist attraction and a unique place to visit.
The purpose of Nepal and Tibet trip is to conjure up an understanding, perhaps an awakening caused by a blend of Buddhism and Hinduism. This journey takes you from highest mountains to the flat terrain. Along the way you will go through the amazing serpentine roads surrounded by green forest, smiling people, after all travelers have always said they ‘went to Nepal and Tibet for the mountains, but returned for the people’.