With a combination of varied cultural heritages, beautiful landscapes, and rich histories, our country, Nepal, is definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. The astonishing beauty of Nepal stretches from amazing flora and fauna in the Tarai region to snowcapped mountains in the north.
“As you travel across the country, you will be enthralled by astounding cultural events and exotic religious festivals,” says Hem Raj Bastola from Maitri Travels and Tours in Jyatha, Kathmandu. The Week’s Swasti Gautam consulted Bastola to come up with a list of places in Nepal that you must visit in the coming year. So here’s your travelling bucket list for the year 2018.
One of the best places to visit in Mustang is the town of Jomsom that spreads over the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. The peaks of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountains are clearly visible from this region. The local inhabitants of this region are known as the Thakalis who are also famous for the delicious Thakali cuisine. Overall, this is a fascinating place complete with natural beauty and welcoming locals.
Muktinath temple, a sacred place for Hindus and Buddhists alike, is located in the Muktinath valley of this district. “This sacred destination is also called Mukti Kshetra which literally means the place of liberation,” says Bastola.
Lo Manthang is another attractive destination in Mustang. This place is rich in cultural heritage and you will also get to experience one of the richest Buddhist traditions here. In the month of May, Tiji festival is celebrated in this region. This three-day ritual is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigor.
There is a direct bus from Kathmandu to Jomsom and from Jomson you can drive down to Muktinath. It will probably take you an hour and a half at the most.
Rara National Park
Located in Mugu district, Rara National Park is one of the most beautiful landscapes to visit in Nepal. The rich topography of this national park is home to a large number of animals such as musk deer, the endangered red panda, wild boar, and common otter. This park is also filled with a large variety of birds such as coots, great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe, common teal, and gulls during the winter season.
This national park also contains the biggest lake of Nepal, the Rara Lake. “While there, you can boat in clear waters of the beautiful lake, hike in the nearby mountains to enjoy beautiful views of snowcapped Himalayas, and interact with the friendly local people,” says Bastola
Sinja Valley is another highlight of this region. The valley is a great place to observe the culture of the Khas tribe. While trekking here, you will be able to observe nomadic lifestyles and you will also get a chance to understand the ancient civilization of Nepal.
The easiest way to get to Mugu is by taking a fight to Jumla via Nepalgunj. Rara is a two to three days walk from Jumla.
Langtang National Park
One of the most attractive features of this place is the Gosaikunda Lake. Situated at Langtang National Park in Rasuwa district, this lake lies at an altitude of 4,380 m. “Trekking to Goisaikunda Lake will give you an amazing view of the Ganesh, Manasalu, and Annapurna ranges,” says Bastola.
In the month of August, this lake is filled with thousands of Hindu devotees who come to visit this holy lake on a full moon night. It is said that Lord Shiva created Gosaikunda Lake when he pierced a glacier with his trident to quench his thirst. This lake is sacred to those who believe in Buddhism as well.
Gosaikunda basin also comprises of over a dozen holy lakes. Saraswatikunda and Bhairabkunda are the most famous ones.
The starting point of your trip to Gosaikunda should ideally be Chisapani or Dhunche. Dhunche is the headquarters of Rasuwa district that is approximately a seven- to eight-hour bus journey from Kathmandu.
This place is definitely a paradise for all tea lovers. Located in the Tarai planes of the Mechi zone, Jhapa is one of the largest tea producers in Nepal. Bhadrapur, the district headquarters of Jhapa, also has a lot of significance for Hindu devotees. “They say Pandu’s son Bhim killed Kichak in Kichakbadh located at Bhadrapur. So a great festival is celebrated each year in Bhadrapur to commemorate the event,” says Bastola.
Having an open boarder with India, this place is the gateway to Sikkim, Darjeeling and the rest of North India as well. Jhapa also has a beautiful and historic fort named Chandragadh. The district is home to many nationalities such as Rajbansi, Bengali, and ethnic groups such as Ghangai and Dhimal. There will be no dearth of new cultures and lifestyles to learn about here.
You can take a direct bus from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur and the trip will take about 10 to 12 hours. Or, there is also a direct flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur.
“Ilam is known for its lush green tea gardens but this beautiful hill station also has a lot of other things to offer,” says Bastola. The best place to enjoy the sunrise and sunset from Illam is the Antu Danda hill. It is only a three-hour drive from Ilam Bazaar and there are ample home stay facilities for both local and foreign tourists.
Mai Pokhari is a pristine lake surrounded by dense forests. This lake accommodates a large variety of species and is considered to be the holy abode of Goddess Bhagwati.
Another place to visit in Ilam is Gaur Mukhi that is about four hours drive from Ilam Bazaar. It is a stone tunnel on the bank of Deumai Khola that has carved images of Hindu deities.
To get to Illam, you will have to take a flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur and then drive to Illam Bazar. You can also travel to Illam by bus. The journey will be approximately 15 hours long.