The legendary Annapurna region is the most diverse and popular trekking area in Nepal. From the full three-week Annapurna Circuit, which stretches into the historic Mustang region to short three-day treks, there's a trek suitable for everyone here.
As the name suggests, the centre piece of this part of Nepal is the range of mountains that includes Annapurna I, the first of the 8,000 m peaks to be climbed. Also included in this region is another 8,000 m giant, Dhaulagiri, which is located west of Annapurna I.
Between these two mountains lies the valley of the Kali-Gandaki River, the deepest gorge in the world.
Views of lush, fertile farmland and undisturbed natural forest, snow covered mountains, and encounters with a mixture of many ethnic communities, all add up to a diverse range of experiences that make this area one of the most satisfying trekking destinations in Nepal.
The fact that the Annapurna chain of mountains lies inland causes a large chunk of land to fall in the rain shadow area.
Hence these parts are considerably drier than the southern slopes of the mountains. This leads to unusually diverse landscapes and the possibility of trekking during the monsoon.
Trek through Taplejung in the Kanchenjung region to see towering Himalayan peaks including Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest peak in the world, amid lush rhododendron forests.
Opt for the sacred Pathibhara trail and get a Darshan of the wish-fulfilling Goddess. Or search deep into the valleys to see cultural treasures in the mountain settlements and ancient routes.
This is one of the most beautiful areas in the country in the far-eastern Nepal borders with India in the east and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north. Alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, dense temperate, sub-tropical forests, and low river valleys make up the area.
Nearby is the Tinjure Milke Jaljale ridge that forms the border between Taplejung, Tehrathum and Sankhuwasabha districts. This is an area well known for its bio-diversity including the world's largest natural rhododendron forest with the highest number of rhododendron species in the world.
The rich cultural heritage of Taplejung is reflected in the Buddhist gompas (monasteries) such as the 400-year old Diki Chhyoling Gompaof Olangchungola which has a life-size statue of Avalokiteshwara. A butter lamp at the altar has been burning here uninterrupted since the construction of the gompa. The waters of a small stream outside the gompa continuously spin twelve prayer wheels with the prayer "Om Mane Padme Hum" inscribed on them.
The predominant people in the Kanchenjunga region are the Limbus, with the higher regions inhabited by people of Tibeto-Mongoloid ancestry. Tibetans, Sherpas, Rais, Gurungs, Magars, Newars, Sunwars, and Tamangs also live in this area, while the area also offers a cultural diversity of Chhetris and Brahmins.
Cardamom farming, agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism are the major means of livelihood for the people here. The Sherpa people, who arrived from Tibet more than four hundred years ago, live at higher altitudes. The Sherpas of this region have distinct culture and tradition - quite different from the Sherpas who live in the Solukhumbu district in the Sagarmatha region.
Kanchenjunga region falls in Taplejung district of the Mechi zone.
Taplejung is connected to the rest of Nepal by the 227-km Char Aali-Ilam-Phidim-Taplejung road. There is an air link with Kathmandu and Biratnagar from the STOL airstrip at Suketar. You can also take a bus from Dharan to Dhankuta - Basantapur - Hile and trek from there. In the dry season, bus services are available from Birtamod, Jhapa in East Nepal and from Phidim in Panchthar district. Often an overnight stay is required; otherwise, it is a full day's journey.
Tourist facilities are available in Phungling Bazaar and Suketar. While trekking, accommodation facilities have to be arranged along the way. Lodges, teashops, and campsites are available en route to Kanchenjunga and Pathibhara.
Basic tourist facilities for accommodation and food are available in the area. Private and community-owned campsites are also available. Lodges and home-stays provide local cultural experience.
Stroll through the ancient Mithila city to experience the Terai culture of southern Nepal and visit the Ram Janaki Temple in the center of the city that draws allusions to the famous Hindu epic Ramayana.
The city that has been mentioned in Ramanayana as birthplace of Sita, Ram’s consort. As Ram is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Sita is believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi as per the great Hindu epic Ramayan.
It is also believed that it was in Janakpur that Lord Ram and Sita met and were married to each other. Janakpur is also on the holy route of Parikrama (holy circle) carried out by Hindus as a form of worship in Ayodhya, Kashi and Brij in India as well.
Another important religious site nearby is Dhanushadham, its reference again dating back to the Ramayan era. It is believed to be the place where the broken remains of the divine Shiva bow fell after Ram broke it to obtain Sita's hand in marriage.
A fossilized fragment of the broken piece is still believed to present here. Dhanusha offers: religious sightseeing, lush surroundings of trees and groves, semi-rural charm of the Terai suburbs, and the colorful Maithali art and culture.
Diverse ethnic groups live in the district of Dhanusha. Yadavs, Teli, Brahmins, Kyastha, Tharu, Musahar, Rajput, and Chhetri are the main inhabitants of these villages. Most are farmers by occupation. The whole region is also considered the center of Maithali culture, therefore Maithali art and culture is predominant in this area.
Dhanusadham is in Dhanusha district and Janakpur zone.
Janakpur is approximately 390 km and 10-hour drive from Kathmandu. Buses to district headquarter Janakpur city leave from Central Bus Station, Gongabu in Kathmandu. One can also take a 40-minute flight to Janakpur city from Kathmandu. Dhanushadham which is 18 km is an hour-drive from Janakpur. Public transportation services are available to Dhanushadham from the city area.
Luxury hotels to budget accommodation and food facilities are available in Janakpur city. Dharamshalas (accommodation for pilgrims) are also available. Food is delicious with Indian touch. Varieties of sweets and vegetarian specialties are available. Other tourist facilities are also available in Janakpur city.
A brisk walk in a tea garden, tranquil picnic and sightseeing stops, short treks along gentle slopes, or a trudge into the nearby woods – all this and more is offered by Ilam.
An excellent getaway from city life, Ilam, famous for its tea, is a small hill town with pristine landscapes of sloped tea gardens, mountain streams, dense natural forests, holy sites and a unique culture. Using Ilam Bazaar as a base you can take excursions for a day or more.
While the subtropical climate of Ilam ensures good weather throughout the year, the best time to visit Ilam is between October-December or from April-February.
Ilam district is bordered by Panchthar in the north, Jhapa in the south, West Bengal (India) in the east and Morang and Dhankuta districts in the west. It lies to the south of the Mahabharat range and west of the Shinghalila range.
Elevations in Ilam district range between 140 m to 3,636 m above sea level. Ilam is sometimes called Charkhol (area of four rivers) because of the four main rivers - the Jogmai, Puwamai, Mai, and Deaumai in the district.
Ilam is one of the richest districts in Nepal in terms of its cultural diversity, natural landscape, and flourishing cash crops sector. Potato, cardamom, ginger, red round chilly, milk, and broom grass are the major cash crops. Visitors also go to Ilam for botanical and anthropological research.
The main ethnic groups living in Ilam are the Brahmins and Chhetris. Lepcha is also the predominant ethnic group in this region. A Lepcha museum is at an initial stage in Antu and is in the process of being extended.
Ilam reflects rich social and cultural heritage of people living in harmony. Other major ethnic groups living in Ilam include Magars, Gurungs, Rais, Limbus, and Sherpas. Most parts of Ilam are hilly regions with farmers as main inhabitants along with some businessmen, officials and government employees.
Discover ancient temples and myths in the valley of gods where Hinduism and Buddhism meet.
Smell and eat traditional Newari food cooked on wood ovens while you are strolling through the small little alleys around the “durbar squares” in one of the ancient king cities of the Kathmandu Valley; Bhaktapur, Patan or Kathmandu.
Buy handicrafts from artisans that still work according to centuries-old traditions. Or try if you are talented yourself in one of the many workshops that are available
Watch how the people of the valley still use their temples to practice rituals that have been passed from generation to generation. Discover the temples of the valley, learn more about the rituals of the people of Nepal.
Visit 7 monuments of UNESCO World Heritage Site Kathmandu in 48 hours.
There is a famous folk story that narrates the establishment of the Kathmandu Valley. Long ago, during the Pleistocene era, Kathmandu Valley was merely a lake – a beautiful exhibition of aquatic flora and fauna. Around the same era, when Manjushree, a holy Buddhist Saint from Tibet, saw a beautiful lotus flower floating in the center of the lake, boundless admiration started to flame inside his heart, which evoked his devotion to hold and worship the flower.
He, then, cut the Chobar Hill; that ‘cut’ turned into a deep gorge, letting lake water drain out, and leaving a fertile, and pious land for human settlement. Later the settlement became a well-known terminal for diverse individuals; for devotees (both Hindus and Buddhists), Tibetan and Indian merchants, artisans, emperors, explorers, historians, hippies, according to the respective eras, and – now - for tourists from all around the world.
The Kathmandu Valley has always been a melting pot for various cultures, religions, and arts and crafts. The Gopala and Kirat dynasties ruled at the earliest periods, followed by the Licchavi (300-879 AD), who, correspondingly, decorated the city with a passion, traditional art, and religious belief.
For such reasons, till this date one can experience the authenticity of the valley, its cultural and religious harmony; the varieties of temples of Hinduism and Buddhism that are standing next to each other for centuries, diverse ethnicities, colorful festivals, and celebration, but just within a walking distance, which is, perhaps, the most beautiful highlight of the city.
The Kathmandu Valley envelops three glorious cities - Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states ruled by the Malla kings, who ruled the cities from the 12th to the 18th centuries and decorated their individual kingdom with exotic craftsmanship and palaces. Back then, the mighty Mongol rulers would import craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley to decorate their empire.
That is to say, the famous Pagoda architecture is a gift from the Kathmandu Valley to China. Now the Kathmandu Valley is home to seven sites which make the valley a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, and also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture.