If the devastating April 2015 earthquake dashed your dreams of visiting Nepal, think again. This mountainous country is welcoming tourists back, hoping to climb to its pre-quake number of eight lakh annual visitors. From shrines to summits, here’s where to go on the top of the world.
The Kathmandu Valley, home to the ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, features seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites squeezed into less than 60 square kilometres. The Nepali capital is a colourful jumble of ornate temples, carved wooden Newari architecture, and chaotic streets. A number of monuments were destroyed but the country’s rich history and culture remains.
The subtropics of southern Nepal cradle Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 68 mammal species, 544 birds, and 56 reptiles and amphibians. Track rhinos through the forest and canoe rivers in search of gharials, the second largest crocodiles in the world.
Nepal contains eight of the globe’s 14 tallest peaks, and the trekking areas around the Everest region and the Annapurna Circuit are open again. To escape the hiking crowds, fly to the tiny outpost of Jomsom, north of Pokhara, and explore Upper Mustang, a dry, rocky region that borders Tibet.
Appeared in the May 2016 issue as “High Time for Nepal”.
Getting There Direct flights to Kathmandu are available from Mumbai and New Delhi. It is also possible to travel to Kathmandu by road in your own car. You can drive with an Indian driver’s licence. Register the vehicle at the border post for the required number of days by paying a fee and carry the permit with you at all times. More details are available at www. cgibirgunj.org/page/detail/179.
Visas Indians don’t need a visa to enter Nepal. However, they will need to show a passport with a validity of at least six months, or an official government-issued identity card such as a voter’s ID, PAN card, or driver’s licence.