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Once is not enough

Once is not enough
Nepal is rich in cultural and natural diversity. Nepalis often show patience and quietness and are generally not overly dramatic people. These traits have enabled many different faiths and civilizations to come together, quite pleasantly. Much of Nepal's cultures are genuinely immersed in tradition and religion. Nepal, known throughout the world as the home of Mount Everest and Lord Buddha, is a glorious garland of various cultures and castes of people who have inhabited the land for millennia. The unique cultural heritage of Nepal has developed over the centuries. Heritage involves the multiplicities of Nepal’s ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and it displays in music and dances, art and craft folklore and customs, languages and literature; philosophy and religion; festivals and celebrations, foods and drinks, and many more. Nepal has four properties on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list: The Kathmandu Valley and Lumbini, and Chitwan and Sagarmatha National Parks. The heritages  within the valley include the Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath Stupa, Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Changu Narayan Temple. Each of the above-mentioned sites has resources of attractive culture, history, or simply unique natural beauty and diversity. One of the most blessed Hindu temples in the world, Pashupatinath is a millennia-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple composite contains the main temple and compound, enclosed by a variety of smaller temples, ashrams, and sculptures, and is bordered by the holy Bagmati River to the east. Observing the various customs, ceremonies, and funerals is a fascinating experience for tourists. Showing off the significance of this temple is the number of pilgrims it impresses, particularly during holy occasions like Teej and Shivaratri when tourists number in the hundreds of thousands in a single day. The Pashupatinath Temple was one of the first sites in Nepal to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Swayambhunath Stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has various places of pilgrimage and monasteries on its premises. Swayambhu exactly means ‘self-existent one’. It is believed that Swayambhunath emerged after the draining of a lake in the present-day Kathmandu Valley. This hilltop stupa is a staggering mixture of Hindu holy places and Buddhist stupas. It is said that 365 steps on the staircases lead up to Swayambhunath. Apart from being a center of faith for Hindus as well as Buddhists, this vantage point also offers a spectacular view of the valley.

Boudhanath Stupa lies not so far away from Pashupatinath. Newar and Buddhist myths and legends surround the origins of this amazing stupa, while some records state that it was built by a Licchavi King Shivadeva as far back as the fifth century. It is one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, and the whole surrounding area is a Buddhist-populated settlement with over 40 monasteries nearby. A large number of tourists, pilgrims, and locals visit the stupa every day. The Changunarayan Temple sits on a high hill known as Changu or Dhaulagiri (around 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu) and is surrounded by a forest with a Champak tree and a small village known as Changu Village. The stone inscriptions and pillars, along with the temple and its various statues themselves, have recorded it as having been built as far back as 464 AD. Kathmandu Durbar Square is a heritage site located at the heart of the capital city of Kathmandu. The immediate large square is surrounded by primitive Newari architecture, high temples, popular shrines, and the old royal palace. A centuries-old venue for Buddhist and Hindu customs, holy ceremonies, and royal events, the square comprises the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings. This square surrounds quadrangles, exposing courtyards and temples. Bhaktapur Durbar Square, located 15 km east of Kathmandu, is a museum of ancient art and architecture with many examples of sculpture, woodcarving, and pagoda temples devoted to different gods and goddesses. Patan Durbar Square houses the old palace and other heritages dating back to the times when Patan was a kingdom. It is located around 8 kilometers southeast of central Kathmandu. The courtyard is dotted with several Hindu and Buddhist monuments. Per historical records, Emperor Ashoka constructed parts of this square way back in the 3rd century. The square has several attractions like the Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Krishna Temple, Golden Temple, Jagat Narayan Temple, Hari Shanker Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Bhimsen Temple, and Rato Machhendra Temple. Lumbini, a spiritual destination with a lot of history, is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Also known as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni,. Buddha was a Shakya prince from around the 3rd–4th century. Lumbini is an especially important religious destination for Buddhists from around the world. The major monuments and landmarks include the Maya Devi Temple, Sacred Garden, Tilaurakot Palace, World Peace Pagoda, China Temple, Thai Monastery, Burmese Temple, Nepal Buddha Temple and Dharmaswami Buddhist Monastery. We are very much proud of the land of the Buddha. The Chitwan National Park, formerly known as the Royal Chitwan National Park, is the first national park of Nepal. Established in 1973, it offers the tourists several activities like rafting, canoeing, elephant bathing, and jungle safari. It is a shelter for over 700 species of wildlife, from mammals and reptiles to rare species of birds as well. The Royal Bengal Tiger and the Asian one-horned rhinoceros are two iconic animals found at the park. In addition to these, clouded leopards, sloth bears, striped hyenas, golden jackals, gaurs, antelopes, Bengal Floricans, oriental darters, kingfishers, spotted eagles, king cobras, rock pythons, gharials and crocodiles make up the better-known species of this reservation. Sagarmatha National Park, which is the second oldest national park of Nepal, was established in 1976. Just three years after its creation, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, owing to the immense cultural and natural wealth of this region, including the world’s tallest peak, the 8,848-m Sagarmatha. The park itself stretches over an area of 1,148 sq km. It is home to a diverse variety of Himalayan flora and fauna, including rhododendrons, blue pine, silver fir, and birch. While exploring this natural wonder, there is also the possibility of encountering rare mountain wildlife like snow leopards, pandas, lynx, snowcocks, pheasants and snow pigeons. There are several famous trekking and climbing routes inside this national park. The Everest Base Camp Trek and Mount Everest Expedition are the most amazing trips in the world. Cultural heritages create bridges between the past, present, and future. They create continuity and change the structure of society through experiences like transition and supremacy. It is important to preserve our cultural heritages for maintaining our integrity as a people. Cultural identity relies on the memory of individualities and spirits. Cultural heritage can play a key role in promoting peace, by promoting tolerance, and interfaith dialogue, and mutual understanding. It can provide an automatic sense of unity and belonging within a group and allow us to better understand previous generations and history. Nepal is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. We are the land of Sagarmatha, the world’s tallest peak. The cultural heritage of Nepal has been established over the centuries. Nepal has its own tribal, ethnic, and modern social groups, and different festivals and traditions. Nepal is the beauty of nature. Nepal is versatile as it offers diverse activities like trekking, shopping, celebrating, or even relaxing along with a mix of Aryan and Mongolian cultures. Nepal is a kaleidoscope of forests, mountain ranges, rivers, valleys, golden villages and many other treasure troves along with ever smiling and friendly people. That’s why, a 2019 slogan of Nepal Tourism Board goes: Naturally Nepal—Once is not enough.