Nepal is an ancient and beautiful mountain land. It is rich in its extraordinary variety of landscapes and wildlife. Its cultures, peoples and languages, art and architecture are equally rich.
The high Himalayan mountains, including Mount Everest, to the north are considered by many as the most beautiful. The lower mountains, the ‘Hills’, are almost as lovely. Their infinite green rises and falls into the distance. The backdrop of the white Himal adds poignant beauty. The plains bordering India, the breadbasket of Nepal, are hot and fertile, filled with fields of rice, foodstuffs, jungles and animals.
These extremes of altitude and landscape are dissected by rivers rather than roads. The wildlife is equal to the rare beauty of the landscape, with animals such as snow leopards in the cold north. Descending south, monkeys, leopards, tigers, alligators and elephants abound. Spectacularly beautiful flowers, such as rhododendrons are also breathtaking.
The peoples of these different altitudes are equally diverse. Their art, culture, and religions reflect their extreme diversity. Thangboche Monastery of the Sherpas, embodies the highest altitude. On the southern Indian border are the Janakpur temples and art of the Maithili. These people are mostly Hindu though some are Muslim. Most spectacular is the art and architecture of the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, with 18th century royal squares alive today as they were centrureis ago. Some Newars are Buddhist and some Hindu. There are now also some Christians in all areas.
These peoples and their different landscapes were integrated into one nation around 1768. A Shah king created the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal with Kathmandu as its capital. Until the 21st century this line of kings ruled Nepal as a kingdom. Peaceful and fair elections in 2008 changed Nepal from a Kingdom to a Republic.