Records mention the Gopalas and
Mahishapalas believed to have been the earliest rulers with
their capital at Matatirtha, the south-west corner of the
Kathmandu Valley. From the 7th or 8th Century B.C. the
Kirantis are said to have ruled the valley. Their famous
King Yalumber is even mentioned in the epic, ‘Mahabharat’.
Around 300 A.D. the Lichhavis arrived from northern India
and overthrew the Kirantis. One of the legacies of the
Lichhavis is the Changu Narayan Temple near Bhaktapur, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture), which dates back to
the 5th Century. In the early 7th Century, Amshuvarma, the
first Thakuri king took over the throne from his
father-in-law who was a Lichhavi. He married off his
daughter Bhrikuti to the famous Tibetan King Tsong Tsen
Gampo thus establishing good relations with Tibet. The Lichhavis brought art and architecture to the valley but the
golden age of creativity arrived in 1200 A.D with the Mallas.
During their 550 year rule, the Mallas built numerous
temples and splendid palaces with picturesque squares. It
was also during their rule that society and the cities
became well organized; religious festivals were introduced
and literature, music and art were encouraged. After the
death of Yaksha Malla, the valley was divided into three
kingdoms: Kathmandu (Kantipur), Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and
Patan (Lalitpur). Around this time, the Nepal as we know it
today was divided into about 46 independent principalities.
One among these was the kingdom of Gorkha with a Shah ruler.
Much of Kathmandu Valley’s history around this time was
recorded by Capuchin friars who lived in the valley on their
way in and out of Tibet.
An ambitious Gorkha King named Prithvi Narayan Shah embarked
on a conquering mission that led to the defeat of all the
kingdoms in the valley (including Kirtipur which was an
independent state) by 1769. Instead of annexing the newly
acquired states to his kingdom of Gorkha, Prithvi Narayan
decided to move his capital to Kathmandu establishing the
Shah dynasty which ruled unified Nepal from 1769 to 2008.
Nepal is located in South Asia between China in the north
and India in the south, east and west. While the total land
area is 147,181 sq. km including water area of the country
that is 3,830 sq. km. The geographical coordinates are
28°00′N 84°00′E. Nepal falls in the temperate zone north of
the Tropic of Cancer.Nepal’s ecological zones run east to
west about 800 km along its Himalayan axis, 150 to 250 km
north to south, and is vertically intersected by the river
systems. The country can be divided into three main
geographical regions: Himalayan region, mid hill region and
Terai region. The highest point in the country is Mt.
Everest (8,848 m) while the lowest point is in the Terai
plains of Kechana Kalan in Jhapa (60 m).
The Himalayas act as a barrier to the cold winds blowing
from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern boundary
of the monsoon wind patterns. Eighty percent of the
precipitation is received during the monsoon
(June-September). Winter rains are more pronounced in the
western hills. The average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm, but
it varies by eco-climatic zones, such as 3,345 mm in Pokhara
and below 300 mm in Mustang.An interesting fact is that
there is no seasonal constraint on traveling in and through
Nepal. Even in December and January, when winter is at its
severest, there are compensating bright sun and brilliant
views. As with most of the trekking areas in Nepal, the best
time to visit are during spring and autumn. Spring is the
time for rhododendrons while the clearest skies are found
after the monsoon in October and November. However, Nepal
can be visited the whole year round.
The population of Nepal was recorded to be about 26.62
million according to a recent survey done by the Central
Bureau of Statistics, Nepal. The population comprises of
about a 101 ethnic groups speaking over 92 languages. The
distinction in caste and ethnicity is understood more easily
with a view of customary layout of the population.Though,
there exist numerous dialects, the language of unification
is the national language, Nepali. Nepali is the official
language of the state, spoken and understood by majority of
the population. Multiple ethnic groups have their own mother
tongues. English is spoken by many in Government and
business offices. It is the mode of education in most
private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities.
Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to
another. A conglomeration lies in capital city Kathmandu
where cultures are blending to form a national identity.
Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural
metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th
Century.A prominent factor in a Nepali’s everyday life is
religion. Adding color to the lives of Nepalis are festivals
the year round which they celebrate with much pomp and joy.
Food plays an important role in the celebration of these