Spiritual Essence of Nepal in the World Map

Nepal

Whenever I have heard Nepal stories, it has always been about enchanting Himalayan ranges adorning the highest peaks, beautiful scenic landscapes, great adventure place and a trekker’s paradise.

And, It has been my dream to visit this beautiful neighbouring country to my heart’s content, but kept on deferring some way or the other. This year, as if my stars were aligned and I got the golden opportunity to visit Nepal as a part of media delegate along with 40 others world renowned bloggers/ influencers. Although, as an adventure junkie, I also wanted to opt for a trek as one of the option but due to certain physical condition, I went to opt for another itinerary which included a culturally immersive trip to experience the heritage and spiritual places around Nepal.

I thanked my stars for doing so, as I realised that there is so much more to see and to soak in Nepal.

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About Nepal

To talk about the topography of Nepal, it is 800 kms long and just about 150 kms in width. And in this small width area, Nepal has some low lying areas from 60 metres upto highest mountain ranges measuring 8848 metres above sea level, The Everest. And, the climatic conditions vary from sub-tropical in the Terai region to subzero winters in the upper mountains that too all within a span of few kilometers.  Nepal is also referred as the meditation and yoga capital of the world. So, whether you are at the mountain top doing meditation or visiting one of the several temples, stupas or pagoda, Spirituality will always be an integral part of this only Hindu Nation.  Nepal has more than 125 caste and ethnic groups, and 123 spoken dialects, and is characterised as naturally pure, tranquil and culturally unique.

Nepal
The Essential Prayer Flags

Talking about being the only Hindu Nation, I have witnessed the best amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism here. For travelers who aim for a self-transformation on the spiritual path, can choose to visit the various Hindu temples or meditate in the birthplace of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha. In the mystic land of Buddhism and several deities/ demons, the traveler or the pilgrims (should you choose to become one) can experience the spiritual upliftment through the practice of yoga and meditation as well.

My Experience on Spirituality in Nepal

Sacred land of Lumbini

Being an ardent follower of Buddhism myself, I have always based my life modules on the principles of creating causes and reaping effects. And, with that, a thought of meditating in the Birthplace of Buddha have ever since intrigued me. So, on a quest to my spiritual journey, I landed in the birth place of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Shakyamuni Buddha.

Nepal

Lumbini, located in the southern part of Nepal is the major pilgrimage destination which attracts a huge number global Buddhist tourist. With more focus on Spiritual tourism, a noble initiative by Nepal Tourism towards Vision 2020. The surge of spirituality with a right blend of tourism have seen a massive growth over the years in Nepal. 

After I am no more, O Ananda! Men of belief will visit the place with faith, curiosity and devotion.

Lumbini, the place where I was born. The path to ultimate peace is spiritual discipline”-Shakyamuni Buddha

lumbini
Karunakar Upreti (PATA staff ) offering prayers

Lumbini which is a UNESCO world heritage site has various religious sites comprised of several religious monuments and temples, amongst which, a massive peace pagoda, a Japanese Buddhist temple and the sacred Maya Devi temple are the most popular.

Maya Devi Temple is the holy birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as the last reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. And, hence Lumbini is also important destination among the Hindu pilgrim circuit.

Lumbini
Sunset at MayaDevi Temple, Lumbini
Mayadevi Temple, Lumbini

 

World Peace Pagoda is another prominent place in Lumbini. Nearly, all the spiritual places in Nepal has a peace pagoda which is also considered a symbol of welcoming peace. This grand pristine monument surrounded by lotus pond which signifies purity and prosperity, was built by Japanese Buddhist organisation. The area often witnesses locals, who flock in here to secure their quest for peace and also the monks who come to offer their prayers in the nearby Buddhist temples. The sight of them chanting reverberated my ears to the penultimate solitude, while I was gazing at the beauty of this place.

Lumbini, Nepal
World Peace Pagoda
World Peace Pagoda, Lumbini

 

Japanese Temple is one of the prominent temple situated next to the Peace Pagoda, this is where you can find someone chanting at all times. Hence, simply meditating and soaking the positive vibe here will lead you to a whole different level of satisfaction. In addition, if one has time, can go exploring all the monasteries and temples built by several nations like Myanmar, Japan, Korea, Canada.

Japanese Temple, Lumbini
Japanese Temple, Lumbini
Japanese Temple, Lumbini

Nepal is definitely one nation which stresses on the importance of spirituality in all its endeavour. It is quite evident from the fact each house/shops and building do have a symbol of a sun god right in front of the entrance as a sign of devotion. The fact that Nepal shares its border with India, China and Bhutan, hence the history is also deep rooted based on spiritual connection with its neighbouring religious countries.

Pristine Pokhara

Pokhara does not only attracts hippie nomad’s/adventure travelers but also is considered to be a place to meditate, do yoga or to learn more about the history and culture of Nepal. A beautiful sleepy hill town, gorgeously perched around the lake Fewa, also has many spiritual places apart from quirky cafes, bars and shopping places.

Pokhara
Pokhara, Nepal
Fewa Lake , Pokhara

Hiking upto the World Peace Pagoda, in Pokhara will be worthwhile after you get to see the panoramic view of Lake Fewa and the entire Pokhara town. I had my meditative moments in front of the giant Buddha statue which helped me channelize my energy.

World Peace Pagoda , Pokhara

Tal Barahi temple, is a small pagoda style temple which is located in the center of Lake Fewa and can only be accessible by boat. It is considered to be a sacred temple which is dedicated to Goddess Durga which is in shape of Barahi. This temple is very well renowned among thousands of devotees for its sacredness and is one of its kind in Nepal.

Tal Barahi Temple, Pokhara
Tal Barahi Temple , Pics by : Karunakar Upreti

So ideally, this idyllic destination is also a hub for the kind of travelers who are seeking for spiritual empowerment and is constantly developing into one of the most desired international tourist destination in Nepal.

Also read : Things to do in Aritar.

 

Kathmandu Valley

 

Melting Pot of Diverse Culture and Religious beliefs.

The moment I stepped out of Tribhuvan International Airport, I was delighted with the first sight of sacred Pashupatinath Temple.  Once you stepped into Kathmandu, the Capital of Nepal, you are welcomed with largely two things- the warm smile of the locals and several sights of Newari styled architectural temples and Monasteries in and around Kathmandu Valley.  Kathmandu is a home to many ancient temples and monuments which makes a peaceful coexistence between Hinduism and Buddhism. As Buddhism is considered to be an off-shoot of Hindu religion because Shakyamuni Buddha is considered the last reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Of the numerous temples and Buddhist monasteries to visit from, PashupatiNath Temple, Swayombhunath Temple and Boudhanath are some of the major attractions among the spiritual and as well as for general tourist. People come from all around the world to offer prayers towards their respective beliefs.

 

An Evening in PashupatiNath Temple

One of the most sacred and famous temple dedicated to Lord Pashupatinath, which is another name of Shiva. Lord Pashupati is also revered as the National Deity of Nepal. This largest temple complex is located in the heart of Kathmandu city and it stretches on both side of Bagmati river. Evening Aarti near the burning ghats will take you on a ceremonious journey about the evolution of birth and death. There are several pagoda style temples inside the complex, which although allows only Hindu devotees inside to offer prayers.

Tranquility at Swayambhunath

Also known as the monkey temple, is located on the western part of Kathmandu Valley, and is known as the holiest Buddhist sites in the country. As per the legends, Swayambhu means “self-occurring”. As it is believed that it all started with an occurrence of a large lotus flower which had an illusion of Shakyamuni Buddha. As the Buddhism is largely based on the philosophy of cause and effect, therefore the lotus flower also signifies the phenomena of creation in its own, as it is the only flower which seeds and blooms at a same time. How mystic!!! Visiting this sacred site which is perched on the hilltop with a beautiful backdrop is a total bliss.

Swayambhunath Temple
Swayambhunath Stupa

Omnipotent Boudha Eye- Boudhanath

I was fortunately staying at Hotel Tibet International, which is at an arm’s distance from one of the largest stupa in Kathmandu. It is believed that the eye of the stupa is the symbolic representation of wisdom, truth and protection. The stupa is surrounded by Tibetan monasteries and cultural centers. Built in the shape of mandala, this giant stupa was built by the Tibetan legends, as the same is believed to be situated in the ancient trade route from Tibet. The colourful fluttering prayer flags and prayer wheels around the stupa gives a surreal feeling of divinity. Given a chance, I would have love to spent hours just to gaze at the mystic beauty of this gigantic monument.

Boudhanath Stupa
Boudha, The Eye of the protector

Opulence of Bhaktapur

Out of my tight schedule from attending Himalaya Travel Mart 2019, which was held in Kathmandu in association with Nepal Tourism Board and PATA Nepal Chapter to promote tourism in Nepal, I got the opportunity to visit one of the three royal cities of Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur which was also a former capital of Nepal during Malla Kingdom. It is located an hour’s distance from the main city. Bhaktapur- the place of devotees, as they call it, is famous for its best kept architectural wonders. It is filled with religious pagoda styled hindu temples and buddhist shrines. The former courtyard and the durbar square depicts various stone carvings of hindu deities which bring out many mythological stories. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is also listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Definitely not to be given a miss, if you want to delve deeper into the cultural and mythical facts about Ancient Nepal.

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Namaste #bhaktapur . . One of the three royal cities of #Nepal which still preserves it's medieval charms in the beautiful and gorgeous temples . This was also the place which was the most effected by the devastating earthquake in 2015. The way this city has almost risen from its ashes can be found in the smile and the positive spirits of the people residing there . . . As I was just done with the immersive travel around various places around Nepal like #Chitwan #Lumbini and #Pokhara . I was lucky to visit this beautiful city of Bhaktapur with @nepaltourism. Suggested – A must on the itinerary when travelling around #Kathmandu . ====================================== #HTM2019 #VisitNepal #Nepaltourism #asiatravel #traveldestination #doyoutravel #gltlove #travelphotography #travelwithvagabong #VNY2020 #travelblogger #kolkatablogger #travelwithvagabong #bloggerstyle #exploringtheworld #bengaligirl #ig_nepal #lifetimeexperiences #getawaytothehimalayas #travelgram #femaletraveller #wanderlust #damestravel #cnttravellerindia

A post shared by Debjani Lahiri (thevagabong) (@the_vagabong) on

Salvation in the lap of Himalayas -Muktinath Temple

One of the most beautiful and sacred pilgrim sites in the lap of Upper Himalayas is Muktinath  which also means “place of liberation” amongst the Hindu’s and a place for Goddesses known as Skydancers, as per Tibetan buddhist beliefs .And, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A visit to this place will be worthwhile, as the same being the temple which is perched at the highest altitude in the world, measuring 3710 m.

So, whether you are an avid adventure seeker, or an enthusiast nature lover or perhaps a devout devotee, trekking up to such an altitude will definitely make all efforts go worth the same.

To Buddhists, Muktinath is also a place where the great sage guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) came to meditate.

 

ANNAPURNA REGION, MUKTINATH (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Yoga and Meditation for mental rejuvenation

Apart from several temples and monasteries, it is also a hub for yoga meditation seekers. The spiritual relevance between Hinduism and Buddhism have made this place, a perfect destination for meditation retreats. Several resorts and hotels have tied up with multiple yoga experts to offer world class service. Vipassana is a form of meditation that claims to allow practitioners to ‘see things as they really are’. It is taught in 10-day retreats in which participants learn the basics and practice enough for it to be beneficial. Vipassana retreats include sitting and walking meditations and are perhaps best known for their requirement that participants remain silent. 

Concluding to what I feel:

I do feel, that to make travel as an integral part of our lives to educate and empower ourselves with deeper knowledge about sustainable and responsible tourism, it is important to also have an altruistic approach to analyse each and every situation with a holistic approach. And spirituality have just added a new dimension to travel . It not only empowers your own self but also helps to unite with the very environment you are in.

Here is a short video , I have posted about the spiritual aspect of Nepal:

An outlook towards the spiritual tourism in Nepal

Nepal do places itself as an important destination in promoting spirituality all around the world. An initiative to promote and encourage spiritual tourism was envisaged as the theme for #VisitNepal 2020 in the Himalayan Travel Mart 2019, where over a 800 delegates gathered from all around the world to discuss the impending need of spirituality in everyone’s lives.

Nepal
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So what do you think? Do you take spirituality seriously . If you are a believer or an atheist or a practitioner , do let me know if you like my post on spirituality in the comments below.

You can stay connected with me through Facebook , Instagram or Twitter . And, for all future updates, consider to join my mailing list and I promise I wont spam your mail box.

Note: I was invited by the Nepal Tourism and PATA Nepal Chapter to attend the ITBMC conference on the theme #VisitNepal2020 at the Himalayan Travel Mart 2019 coupled with a FAM trip around Nepal. However, the views and opinions expressed are based on my own thoughts. All photographs are copyrighted with the author of this blog, hence copying of the same is strictly prohibited.  

 

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Comments

  1. Biswa Bhowmick

    An excellent post on Nepal with an insight into the cultural and spiritual aspect. Thank you for providing a beautiful road map to follow.

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  2. Angela

    I think you’re absolutely right to opt for a culturally immersive tour as there is so much more to Nepal than just the stunning scenery. I’m looking at your photos in awe as there are just so many places that are unique to Nepal like the peace pagoda. What a marvellous opportunity to experience the spirituality and culture of Nepal.

  3. Martha

    Nepal has been on the top of my bucket list for a very long time. Like you, I was originally attracted to the country due to its monstrous mountain range, but now I would love to explore more of the cultural and religious sides of the country. I would also love to visit Lumbini, where Gautam Buddha was born. Learning about a country’s religious traditions helps you understand their customs and why things happen in a certain way. Pokhara is also stunning though. I would love to take a boat out on the water to relax one afternoon.

  4. Shreya Saha

    It’s great to read this blog post about the essence of spirituality in Nepal. I would surely visit the sacred site of Lumbini, the Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu, and the World Peace Pagoda of Pokhara when in Nepal. Even Bhaktapur can’t be missed. Thanks for giving me some clear ideas about how I should plan my Nepal trip.

  5. Kate

    I could definitely handle a yoga and meditation retreat to Nepal. I’m a yoga fanatic and I’ve never even heard of Vipassana. Learning Vipassana in Nepal sounds like an incredibly tranquil experience.

  6. Vanessa

    I’ve been several times to Nepal, I adore everything about it! I’ve not heard of Lumbini though. The World Peace Pagoda is gorgeous and the setting equally so with the lotus pond, it’s lovely that various nations represent. I have great memories of Pokhara but mostly for the adventure activities, I’d like tio have seen the Tal Barahi temple. I visited Pashupatinath Temple at night on my last visit to Kathmandu, it was amazing to soak up the atmosphere and watch the ceremonies. Great article!

  7. Cat Lin

    It’s interesting to note that Nepal has National Diety. It goes to show how spiritual Nepal is. Spiritual Tourism sounds a noble Idea. I believe it would be great not just to have memories of beautiful places but also to gain wisdom and being able to connect with our deeper selves and with surroundings.

  8. MEENAKSHI J

    Nepal has been on top of my list for over a decade now. As happened to you, this destination has been elusive to me for long now. Would love to seep in the architecture and cultural vibrancy of Bhaktapur for sure. Pokhara looks good.

  9. Yukti Agrawal

    Nepal is truly spiritual and blessed with natural beauty. I would love to visit Pokhara due to its stunning landscape and Fewa lake also looks very photogenic. Bhaktapur really is spiritual as it is land of devotees and good to know its Durbar square is world heritage UNESCO site.

  10. Shane

    What a great write up, it was truly a great trip, my first time in Nepal. Been an adventure guy I truly believe we only scratched the surface. But as you wrote there is truly something that grabs your soul in Nepal.

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      Debjani Lahiri

      I am so glad you liked it. Yes even I have the adventure trait in me but fortunately fate gave me chance to see Nepal in a different way and experience its true essence.

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