The home of Mount Everest, also home of the eight highest peaks on Earth. The internet arrived in 1994, and today, it has the second slowest internet speed of any country on Earth. Libya is number one. It has a system of ‘load shedding’, its answer to poor infrastructure caused by the population boom, meaning the electricity runs on a regime. You tend to get two to three hours in the morning, then five to seven hours at night. But this schedule changes daily, so it’s a bit crazy. It has the densest concentration of World Heritage Sites and has the only non-quadrilateral flag of any country on Earth. It’s never been in foreign hands. Hot water is rare and outside of the major cities, so is water in general. Communities are often served by community wells. Despite being illegal, marijuana is grown just about everywhere, especially in the countryside, especially alongside roads. And the current year there is 2070. Seriously. Yes, we’re in God’s country, Nepal.
The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia, with a population of around 27 million. Local legend says that a Hindu sage named ‘Ne’ established himself in the valley of Kathmandu in prehistoric times and that the name ‘Nepal’ came into existence as the place was protected, known as ‘pala’, by the sage ‘Ne’. The flag is unique. The blue symbolises peace and harmony that has been prevalent in the country since the age of Gautama Buddha, born in Nepal. The crimson red is the national colour, indicating the brave spirits of the people. The two triangles represent the Himalaya Mountains. The Moon, at the top, symbolises that the Nepalese are soothing and calm, and the shade and cool weather of the Himalayas. The Sun symbolises fierce resolve and the heat and high temperature at the lower part of the country. Together, they symbolise the hope that Nepal will last as long as the Sun and Moon. Their motto? The mother and the motherland are greater than heaven.
It’s a gorgeous country, with a marvellous landscape and culture. There are many sights. Potter’s Square is hidden by alleyways in the ancient town of Bhaktapur. A square full of treadle-power wheels and rows of clay pots drying in the Sun. Shops surround it selling the fruit of an old art. A beautiful centre of the popular ceramic industry. Nasal Chowk, a famous square and used for coronations, until 2001, surrounded with buildings of beauty. Durbar Square, once where the city’s kings were crowned and legitimised, and from where they ruled. The traditional heart of Kathmandu, home of spectacular architecture. Itum Bahal, a rickety antediluvian courtyard, sprinkled with an air of historical musk. The world-famous Swayambhunath stupa, a crown in the jewel of the Kathmandu valley, a stunning religious monument. A whitewashed dome and a gilded spire, surrounded by religious iconography. And Mul Chowk is ethereal and magical. A real treasure.
I think my favourite sight of Nepal is one that has fascinated me. The Kumari Bahal. It’s a three-storey building, home of the Kumari, a girl who is selected to be the town’s living goddess until she reaches puberty and reverts to being a normal girl again. The building is elegant and gorgeous, in the style of the Buddhist viharas, and built in 1757 by Jaya Prakash Malla. It’s interesting and intriguing, and gives the building a great presence and majesty.
Nepal, the country of rich history, stunning vistas and weed.
Photos: The flag of Nepal and The Kumari Bahal
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