Our Himalayan neighbour, Nepal, abounds in sublime serenity with a constant backdrop of mountains juxtaposed with curtains of fluttering prayer flags. With its majestic views of the Himalayas, golden temples, charming villages, dense jungles, exotic wildlife, trekking trails and adventure activities, Nepal is without a doubt one of the greatest destinations for any travel enthusiast. Given our geographical proximity and friendly relations with this Himalayan nation, travelling to Nepal is as easy as it gets. And you can pull this trip off without any sizeable dent in your pocket. To help you get started, here is a complete Nepal travel guide from India:
Things to Do in Nepal
Think Nepal, and you obviously think of towering mountain peaks. That’s only appropriate given that the country is home to the highest mountain peak on earth. While mountains are the biggest drawcard for tourists in Nepal, there is a lot more to see and do in this enigmatic country. Let’s begin this Nepal travel guide from India with a rundown on top things to do:
Everest Base Camp
Scaling the Mt Everest is not everyone’s cup of tea, so most people go to Nepal with the next best thing on their itinerary – making it to the Everest Base Camp. Be warned that trekking to the base camp of Mt Everest too is a daunting adventure that will challenge your fitness, stamina, grit and determination every step of the way. If you are ready to brace the challenge, rest assured you’ll be treated to the most breathtaking view of your life.
If you intend to set out on just one hike during your trip to Nepal, make it this one. Popular among trekking enthusiasts over the world as one of best treks of all time, the Annapurna Circuit takes you through clear streams, striking mountains, charming hill villages over a span of 17 days. Breathtaking locales, a chance to live in the wilderness, heart-warming Nepalese hospitality and amazing guides to lead the way, Annapurna Circuit is an experience of a lifetime.
Formerly known as Kingdom Lo, Mustang is an isolated region of Nepal that shares its border with Tibet. A trek in Mustang is a privilege that very few travellers explore. This mystical, culturally rich region with a unique topography that bears striking resemblance to the terrain of Mars with its arid high-altitude desert and eroded badlands is an escape into a parallel universe.
The cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan that once served as the capitals of three erstwhile kingdoms of the regions each have Durbar Squares that are essentially similar in their constitution but unique in character. Statues, temples, idols, fountains and open courts, these Durbar Squares are a cultural treat.
For anyone with a spiritual leaning, the peaceful Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu is a must visit. Meditate in the central dome, pray, chant and spin prayer wheels, and experience a sense of calm wash you over.
Another religious centre that must feature on your Nepal itinerary is the Swayambhunath Stupa situated atop a hill in the Kathmandu. The structure comprises intricate temples with Hindi and Buddhist iconography. The 365 stairs leading up to the stupa makes for an arduous climb that is rewarded with the most stunning panoramic view of Kathmandu.
Chitwan National Park
Situated in the Terai Lowlands bordering India, Chitwan National Park was once a royal hunting ground and now one of the most bio-diverse national parks of Asia. On your wildlife safari in Chitwan National Park, you can expect to spot sloth bears, rhino, monkeys, crocodile and alligator. If you are in luck, tiger and leopard may make an appearance too.
Apart from some of the most exhilarating treks you can embark on, Nepal offers almost every conceivable adventure sports and activities on your bucket. Here are some of the most highly recommended adventure activities to indulge in on your trip to Nepal:
- Experience your life’s longest free-fall from a bridge at an elevation of 3600 feet above the Bhotekoshi River.
- Go rafting on Nepal’s torrent river waters with head-spinning rapids, twists and turns.
- Canyoning on majestic waterfalls and rock slides that land you in a pool of turquoise blue waters.
- Go paragliding or parahawking above mountain peaks, rivers, lakes and forests.
- Ride on the zip flyer in Pokhara that goes from Sarangkot to Hemmja, and take in the breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna range, Lamjung Himal, Fishtail as well as panoramic views of the entire Pokhara valley.
- Experience the extreme high of adrenaline rush with the Everest Skydive. Take a free fall toward the Everest summit from a plane hovering at an altitude of 29,500 feet.
Nepal Travel Guide from India – Accommodation, Transport and Getting There
Now, that you have your itinerary sorted, it is time to get down to the logistics of trip planning. This Nepal travel guide from India covers all bases to ensure a comfortable, hassle-free trip:
Accommodation in Nepal
The one thing you never have to worry about during your trip to Nepal is going without a bed. The place is brimming with accommodation options for every budget range in established tourist centres and main cities such as Chitwan, Pokhara and Kathmandu as well as remote locations. From guesthouses to BnBs, mid-range hotels, luxury resorts, tree houses and lodges, you can find it all.
In the main cities and tourist areas, a modest hotel will cost you an average of INR 700 a night whereas book yourself a trekking lodge in a remote location for as little as INR 350. On the other hand, lodges and luxury resorts can set you back by INR 15,000-20,000 per night. The prices vary dramatically and with a little research, you can find a fairly reasonable yet comfortable lodging option.
Transport options for travelling within Nepal can be a bit of a nightmare. The roads leading up to most of the breathtaking, remote locales are either non-existent or broken and the cities too crowded. All in all, travelling across Nepal can evoke a strange homey feeling because it’s not very different from navigating your way around crowded Indian towns, cities and villages.
Your primary options for getting around are taxis and buses. While buses plying on local routes are extremely cheap, they are also super crowded and often in a rickety shape. So, your best bet here IS taxis as long as you are prepared to bring on your haggling A-game.
Nepal Travel Guide from India – Getting There
As is well known, Indian citizens do not require a visa to travel to Nepal. That said you still need to carry your passport or a Voter ID card for immigration clearance if flying to Nepal. Nepal still does not recognise Aadhar Card as a proof of identity. There are direct flights to Kathmandu from Delhi.
Overland travel is also a popular, and really cheap, way to reach Nepal, provided you have the time to take the long road journey first all the way to the border and then into Nepal. The Sunauli Border Crossing close to Gorakhpur in UP and Babansa Border Crossing in Uttarakhand are the most accessible points of entry for most people in the north and central India.
In the east, Raxaul Border Crossing accessible for Bodh Gaya and Kolkata, and Panitanki Border Crossing accessible from Siliguri in West Bengal and Sikkim are popular entry points to Nepal. You need to carry a government-issued identity card to secure a permit to enter Nepal from these border crossings. A voter ID card is the most reliable identity proof if you choose overland travel to Nepal.
Travelling to Nepal is pocket-friendly but it is also time intensive, so make sure you set aside at least 10 days for your trip to be able to get a real feel of this exotic land.