You might have heard about a lot of interesting facts about this naturally rich, bio-diverse, multicultural, and multi-ethnic country. This beautiful landlocked country with heavenly mountain beauty, marvelous green hills and landscapes have proclaimed some the most interesting records that might come as a surprise for a small nation.
However, there is no doubt that Nepal is one of the fascinating Asian countries. So, here we have prepared a list of some of the interesting facts about the country that might take you by surprise.
1. Mt Everest is not the original name of the highest mountain in the world
You must have at least heard once about the tallest mountain in the world Mount Everest which stands at the height of 8,848 meters. But, the real name of the tallest natural structure in the world isn’t Everest after all; this name is used by the westerners to identify the magnificent snow-peaked wonder. This western-English name was given by the Royal Geographical Society after discovering Everest was the tallest mountain in the world, before that, another mountain range of Nepal, Mount Kanchenjunga which is at an elevation of 8,586m was considered the tallest mountain in the world. Sir Andrew Waugh was the one who suggested the name ‘Mount Everest’ in 1865.
However, the real name of the great Mount Everest has quite deep meaning; in the Tibetian language this mountain is named ‘Qomolangma’ which can be translated into ‘The Mother’s Universe’. Similarly, among the Nepali people, the great Everest is recognized as the ‘Sagarmatha’ which means ‘The Heaven’s Forehead’. Also, among the ethnic group of Sherpas residing in the mountain region, they refer to this great mountain as the ‘Chomolungma’ which can be interpreted as ‘The Mother Goddess of Earth’.
2. A small nation in between giant territory
If you have ever examined the world map carefully, you might stumble on the fact that how this gorgeous country is surrounded by the Asian giants like the Republic of China north and by India on the south. Nepal has a total area of 147,181 square kilometers compared to which the giant nations; China is approximately 65 times larger than the country and India is almost 22 times bigger. Yes! compared to those giant nations, Nepal is a small territory, however, the wide and diverse varieties of the territory make this country a piece of art. You can find the territory of this beautiful nation extending from the humid flat plains of terai to the green hilly regions, and, finally touching the highest iciest mountain peak in the world making Nepal territory of wonders.
Also, the ‘Himalayan’ range which can be translated into ‘abode of snow’ separates the Tibetian Plateau from the subcontinent of the Indian Territory. The Himalayan range is also the youngest mountain range in the world and is spread across five nations like Bhutan, China, India, Pakistan, and Nepal forming a natural border. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that one of the significant gods of the Hindu religion, Lord Shiva resides in this region.
3. ‘Dal Bhat Tarkari’ everyday
Do you get tired of eating the same meal repeatedly for a couple of days? How about we switch it up to two times every day as a morning meal and as dinner as well? Yes! the national food Nepal Dal Bhat Tarkari(lentils, steamed rice, and vegetable curry) is cooked as two meals almost all over the nation. This is the favorite dish of Nepalese people that they eat as the morning meal and for dinner also; the primary part of the meal is the steamed rice, so, there is a cycle of different cuisines of vegetables, meat dishes and lentils frequently for each meal.
Further, to make the meal exquisite, different kinds of salads are prepared using cucumber, radish, carrots, and fruits, also, the meal is made spicy and yummy using several kinds of ‘aachar’(a special dish prepared using spicy and sour ingredients). This special meal also has high nutritious value, so it is preferred everywhere as this simple meal also doesn’t cost too much. You can almost find this dish everywhere across the nation from big star hotels to small lodging inns. There is also a saying among the Nepalese folks ‘Dal Bhat power 24 hours’ which can be translated into the nutritious quality of this tasty meal backs you up for 24 hours; when you are on a trip to Nepal, make sure to give this delightful dish a try.
4. The quadrilingual people
A study has shown that an average person can learn up to five languages in a lifetime, it doesn’t mean the person can’t learn more, however, it gets harder and harder to learn more languages you want to excel at. But, what if I told you that the Nepalese people are introduced to four languages from birth?
Generally, the national language of Nepal is Nepali which is the ultimate primary language and used from school to office in the country. This is also the primary language to communicate with each other in this multicultural and multi-ethnic nation, however, as growing up they are introduced to Indian language ‘Hindi’. The Indian cinema and television have a great influence on the country; it is common that Nepalese people grew up watching Indian film and TV networks as almost 80% of the cable channels are of Indian networks. So, it is not uncommon that most of the Nepalese people can speak Hindi. Likely, the English language has a great impact on the education system of the country, almost every school, and college in Nepal practice English courses, therefore, learning the language from the kindergarten level.
And, not to mention, the mother tongue, the country with 126 ethnic groups have more than 123 languages (Newari, Tamang, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Maithili, Magar, Urdu, Doteli, Sunwar, etc). So, young people grow up shuffling between the mother tongue and the national languages and they will be proficient in four languages when they turn into an adult.
5. Cows resting in the middle of busy roads is normal
The cow has always been a holy figure in the Hindu religion, and the country declared cow as the national animal on 20 September 2015. The last Hindu country which was later declared a secular state in 2007 decided to choose cow as the national animal in the constitution charted by President Ram Baran Yadav. The cow was given constitutional protection and the slaughter of cows was banned from the nation.
So, don’t get alarmed if you see a cow in the middle of a busy street, the Nepalese people won’t directly bother the cow in any way possible and walk around or drive around even if it’s resting peacefully in the middle of the streets. One of the main causes of cows ending up on the street is the unplanned urbanization system in the Kathmandu valley; the valley which used to be filled with playgrounds and open fields has been stacked with an unplanned housing system and modernized ploughs. So, when there isn’t any open land to graze and they are not used to tasting paved roads and breaks; the cows wander off on the streets of cities in search of food and water.
6. Poetry on vehicles taglines
You might have seen the deep meaning and amazing pieces of poetry in the books, exhibitions, and social platforms either by established artists or rising stars. However, you might have never seen the fiery verse or heartwarming poetry lines on the back of vehicle taglines.
Well, when you are in Nepal, you will find a lot of public transportation as well as private vehicles decorated with witty and cheeky or heart touching poems and one-liners on the back of the vehicles. It is a very common practice that the person in charge of the bus or truck to imprint amusing poems or references that reflect his characteristics to some level. These taglines are sometimes funny-humorous and sometimes imprinted with real-life lessons; these kinds of taglines are mostly self-created reflecting circumstances of life without taking any references. Generally, these types of taglines are handwritten, painted, or pasted using cheeky stickers. The sole purpose of using these kinds of taglines in the rear end of vehicles is to keep the people entertained; when you are on a long drive and bored to death, after seeing these kinds of cheeky witty wordplays, you are definitely bound to break a smile and have a refreshing moment in the boring long road.
7. Touching anything with feet is considered offensive
The world is a pretty vast place, sometimes it can be quite confusing when something you do like a simple sign or gesture which is quite normal in your culture can be an offense to a person from the other part of the world. Similarly, the diverse-cultured fascinating countries also have some boundaries that you shouldn’t cross or it is taken as an offensive action.
First of all, what you should keep in mind is, in Nepali culture touching anything with your feet is considered offensive, and, No! your shoe, socks, and clothes don’t count, you can kick them if you want. What we are referring to here is, generally, not even by a playful intention, touching another person with your feet is a very disrespectful gesture, you also shouldn’t put your feet on statues, pilgrims or any holy sculptures as it is considered an offensive action. Likely, you should also be careful about not touching or hitting anyone on the head, not because the person will punch back, but, for the reason that the head is considered a sacred part in the Nepali community. Similarly, you shouldn’t use your left hand while you are offering money, food, drinks, and other stuff to someone, especially, when you are dealing with an elder person; you will be deemed a manner less person in this one. And also, eating with your left hand in Nepal isn’t a sight that will be treasured, well; you can’t help it if it's a natural order.
8. People worship cows, dogs, and crows
It is a known fact that the country with more 81% Hindus worships cows on several occasions including Gaijtara and Tihar. The cow dung and urine are also necessary for almost every kind of religious Hindu ceremony. However, you might have not known that the people of the Hindu community also worship Kaag ’crows’ and Kukur ‘dog’ in one of the major Hindu festivals Tihar which is also known as ‘Deepawali’.
In fact, there are special days separated in worshipping these animals and birds in the big festival. The festival of light is opened up in a grand way worshipping the crows and feeding them, well, it is not possible to literally catch and worship the crows, so, the people conduct special pooja in the name of the crows and offer different kinds of delicious dishes to them on open spaces. The crows are considered the messenger of God of death ‘Yamaraj’; therefore, it has a significant value in the Hindu community.
Similarly, the dogs are worshipped on the second day of Tihar, Lord Bhairaba is believed to reside inside the dog and also the gatekeeper of ‘Yamaraj’, thus, even kicking the dog is an action treated as a sin in Nepal. On this special day, the dogs are decorated with a special flower called ‘Kukur Ful’ and served with delicious treats. Likely, the cows receive a special day on a third of the festival; they are worshipped with tika, flowers, and items made from flours. The cow worshipping day is one of the most significant days in Tihar as it is also the day of worshipping Goddess Laxmi thanking her bestowing family with wealth and happiness; the whole house is decorated with beautiful lights and goddess is worshipped using special oil lamps called ‘Diyo’.
9. The country with the variation of altitudes
It might surprise you that even with small territory this country has a variety of altitudes and climates. The country has been divided into three major geographical regions, the Himalayan region which is known as the region of hypnotizing snow beauty, Hilly region; a region which is balanced between cold and hot region, and finally, Terai Region, a heated and tropical region of the country. The highest point Nepal being Mt. Everest at an altitude of 8,848m and lowest point being Kechana Kalan, Jhapa in the Terai region at the elevation of 60m.
Similarly, the country also boasts the highest valley in the world Arun valley and the deepest gorge in the world Kaligandaki which is estimated to be more than 6,000 meters deep. In your expedition in the country you can experience hot tropical weather to bone-chilling cold within a short distance; so when traveling from Terai belt which is on the south upward to the northern side within a span of 100 km you can experience the diverse weather, the moist heat on the Terai belt to suddenly shivering cold in the Himalayan range. So, the country is definitely a perfect mixture of each and every kind of climate and a perfect destination to enjoy every kind of weather.
10. The amazon of Asia
Nepal is often referred to as the ‘Amazon of Asia’ despite having small territorial regions. Despite being rich in alluring natural beauty the country is also home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The unique biodiversity and ecosystem of this country is home to over 900 species of rare colorful birdlife which is 9% of total bird species in the whole world. Similarly, Nepal is home to 650 species of butterflies which is 4.2% of total butterflies found across the world and 360 types of orchids, a total of 6% species of rhododendron of the world. Also, the 5980 category of flowering plants which totals up to 2.4% of plants found in the world and the blue poppy plant which grows at the altitude of 5,400 meters is found in Nepal.
The country also has 10 national parks, 12 buffer zones, 3 wildlife reserves and 1 hunting reserve; these regions cover up to 23.3% of the total area of the country. This country is also a favorable habitat for the rare species like One-horned Rhino, Swamp Deer, Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Gharial, Royal Bengals Tiger, Red Panda, Pangolin, and so on. Furthermore, one of the largest moths in the world- Atlas Moth and the largest species of honeybees are found in Nepal. So, when you are on an expedition in Nepal, make sure to explore the unique species of the animal kingdom in the country.