Weekly Official e-Newsletter of Nepal Tourism Board
(Printable version)
June 15, 2012
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Discovering Nepal in South Africa
Best Publicity Award to Nepalese Embassy in Korea
Ganesh Himal exploration begins
Japanese climber scales all the world's 14 tallest peaks
Immortal Travel to Kathmandu in Nepal

Discovering Nepal in South Africa

The Embassy of Nepal in Pretoria in coordination with StreetSchool, Sandton organized a Nepal's tourism promotion programme 'Discovering Nepal' on Wednesday, 6 June 2012, in Protea Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa. The main objective of the programme was to highlight the Visit Lumbini Year 2012 and also to promote Nepal as a major tourist destination among South African tourists.

The programme was inaugurated by a 12 year old South African girl Ms Kim Huysamer, who had recently trekked to Mount Everest base camp, by lighting a traditional Nepali lamp.

Addressing the event, Ambassador of Nepal to South Africa Mr. Arun P. Dhital, said that with the successful completion of Nepal Tourism Year 2011, Nepal is celebrating yet another event – Visit Lumbini Year 2012. He highlighted the historical and religious importance of Lumbini and said that one of the main objectives of the Visit Lumbini Year 2012 was to convey Buddha's message of peace to the world. Mr. Dhital further said that Nepal is not a country only for pilgrimage, but it has a privilege to be one of the most spectacular tourist destinations in the world and urged all the participants to visit Nepal.

Mr. Klasie Wessels from Streetschool of South Africa made an audio - video presentation on trekking in Nepal especially on his wonderful experience of recently trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp. He said that there was no other place where the physical and spiritual worlds were so integrated than in Nepal and the Himalayas. Posters of Lumbini and other tourist attractions of Nepal were displayed at the venue. Various tourism publicity materials were also distributed to the participating guests.

The programme was attended by the Travel Writers of the major newspapers of South Africa, Travel Tour Companies and by large number of South African people from different backgrounds.

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Best Publicity Award to Nepalese Embassy in Korea

The organizing Committee of the 25th KOTFA-2012, World Tourism Fair has awarded the Embassy of Nepal with "The Best Publicity Award." On behalf of the Embassy Mr. Raja Ram Bartaula, Deputy Chief of Mission received the award from Joong-mok Shin, Chairman of the KOTFA 2012 Organizing Committee at the closing ceremony. The Fair was held from June 7 to 10, 2012 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Seoul. KOTFA, which is one of the major events in tourism promotion, was participated by 60 countries and more than 280 local firms and companies.

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Ganesh Himal exploration begins

A 30-member team led by Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) embarked on the exploration of Ganesh Himal area in Dhading district on June 12.

The exploration began from Gatlang in Rasuwa and will head toward Somdang, Pansang Danda, Tipling, Shertung, Hindung, Bochyat and Chhumlo Danda before reaching Kalo-Seto Daha. From Kalo-Seto Daha, the trek descends to Bochyat, Tatopani, Lapa, Jharling and Darkha Phedi from where the team will take a bus to Dhading Besi – the ending point of the trek.

The team is jointly led by Rajendra Prasad Subedi and Saroj Neupane – the executive members of TAAN. The exploration is being supported by Dhading DDC and Ganesh Himal Tourism Development Committee (GHTDC). Along with trekking staff, the team has media persons, videographer/photographer, cartographer and representatives of GHTDC. The team will identify new trekking trails, and produce maps, brochures and promotional DVDs of the new trekking trail.

Before the team embarked on the exploration trip, TAAN on June organized an interaction on tourism development of Ganesh Himal area in Dhading besi. Dhading CDO Bed Prasad Sharma graced the interaction as chief guest. Chiefs of government offices, local representatives of all the political parties and media persons participated in the interaction. All the participants stressed the need to exploit tourism potentials of Ganesh Himal area to trigger socio-economic development in the northern reaches of the district.

The interaction was chaired by Anjan Thapa, treasurer of TAAN.

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Japanese climber scales all the world's 14 tallest peaks

A climber, who years back returned from a near death, has become the first Japanese to scale all the world's 14 tallest peaks.

Hirotaka Takeuchi achieved the feat by climbing 8,167 metre Mt Dhaulagiri on May 26 to complete his mission of scaling all the world's over 8,000 metre peaks, Nepal's Tourism Ministry announced today.

Takeuchi, five years ago was almost given up for dead as an avalanche swept him down 300 metres after he had climbed 8,080 Mt Gasherbrum peak in the Karakorams in Pakistan. Two German climbers were killed in the freak mishap, but the Japanese climber was pulled out from 300 metres deep snow by other mountaineers and brought to safety by helicopter.

"It has been my childhood dream to scale all the world's highest peaks," said the Japanese climber after achieving the feat.

Takeuchi became the first Japanese and 30th climber in the world who have done the feat.

His ascents include Mt Everest, Mt K2, Mt Kanchenjunga, the world's three highest summits.

But the Japanese climber does not intend to rest his oars and said, "I will continue to climb as long as my body allows it."

(News source: PTI)

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Immortal Travel to Kathmandu in Nepal

Seeing the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu is one of those cultural experiences where Western travelers must temporarily suspend personal mores and accept the traditions of another country.

Buddhas in Nepal (Photo: Peabod) Also known as "The Living Goddess," the Royal Kumari is a pre-pubescent girl from the indigenous Shakya clan of the Newari sect of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. While there are approximately eleven Kumaris scattered across Nepal, the Royal Kumari is the most important and celebrated. Idolized and worshipped by many, but not all, Hindus and Nepalese Buddhists, the custom of reverence for the Kumari is a relatively recent tradition, dating only as recently as the 17th century.

Travelers to Kathmandu have the best opportunity for getting a glimpse of the Royal Kumari by visiting her palace courtyard late in the day. Tours usually schedule their programs to coincide with an appearance by the Living Goddess, but if they are not on the itinerary, just ask your guide. A good guide should be able to make the arrangements if they are given enough notice.

Royal Kumari's third floor balcony (Photo: Peabod)

In this land of temples and shrines, a Kumari is regarded as the incarnation of the demon-slaying Hindu goddess Taleju, and her reign ceases at the onset of menstruation or if she bleeds for any other reason. At that time, Taleju is believed to abandon the young girl's body and she reverts to mortal status.

Despite the prestige of their early lives, some ex-Kumaris have difficulty finding a husband because tradition says that a man who marries a former goddess will cough up blood and die within six months.

Finding a successor for a departed Kumari is a frantic process resembling the procedures used to select nearby Tibetan lamas. Using a specific group of 32 signs of perfection, five senior Buddhist Vajracharya priests meet with hundreds of girls from the Newar Shakya clan; the same caste to which Buddha belonged.

A candidate must possess the following: a neck like a conch shell, a body like a banyan tree, eyelashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, a chest like a lion, a voice soft and clear as a duck's. In addition, the girls must be in perfect health, have no blemishes, very black hair and eyes and dainty hands and feet. Horoscopes are also checked to be certain they are compatible with the current king.

Once chosen, the final group of selectees endures a series of severe and, by Western standards, unorthodox tests. This is where the process becomes even more difficult for an outsider to comprehend.

Durbar Square & the Kumari Ghar (Photo: Peabod)

Former Royal Kumari Rashmila Shakya refutes the selection rituals in her autobiography, From Goddess to Mortal, but she does state that a Royal Kumari must undergo a rigid annual test of her qualifications.

According to tradition, would-be goddesses are taken one-by-one to the courtyard of the Taleju temple where masked men wearing demon masks dance around freshly severed buffalo and goat heads illuminated by candlelight. If the girl shows fear, she is removed and another candidate undergoes the same procedure.

As a final challenge, the girl must pick out the clothing of her predecessor from a collection of items that have been laid out in front of her. If she succeeds, she becomes the chosen one and her life changes until her divinity departs.

After the Kumari is selected, she participates in several other ceremonies to cleanse both body and spirit. She is then robed in traditional red garments and made up with a "fire eye" painted on her forehead. Finally, the new Kamari walks across Patan Durbar Square upon a white cloth to the Kumari Ghar, the palace built in 1757, which becomes her home. She is now the "Living Goddess."

In essence, the Royal Kumari becomes a prisoner, sequestered within the Kumari Ghar until she again becomes mortal. Throughout the year, she only occasionally leaves her temple to appear at important festivals. Her family is rarely allowed a visit, and even then, it must be within a formal context.

During her tenure as Royal Kumari, the feet of the "Living Goddess" never touch the ground. Like the rest of her body, Kumari's feet are now sacred. When she does venture outside, she is transported in a golden palanquin carried by several men.

Exterior of the Royal Kumari's palace (Photo: Peabod)

Since getting a glimpse of the Royal Kumari is considered a sign of good fortune, it's not uncommon for crowds to gather in the courtyard of her palace. While the occasion of a Kumari's appearance is usually brief and irregular in nature, she will most likely to emerge on her third floor balcony in early morning or late afternoon. Though pictures are strictly forbidden, such opportunities are always marked by excitement, devotion and awe.

Though her life is forever changed, a Kumari is allowed to have a few playmates who must respect her and grant her every wish.

Because a Kumari is regarded as omniscient, it was once a tradition that she required no education. Today, during her tenure as Royal Kumari, such customs are no longer followed and private tutors are provided. With recent advances in technology, a formal education for modern ex-Kumaris is a necessity. As a result, after returning to mortality, Kumaris are now allowed to attend public schools where they may interact within the classroom as if she is no different than any other pupil.

To view a Royal Kumari is a rare and mysterious experience. And yet, there is a note of sadness for it is a story of a childhood lost. It all becomes a part of the bittersweet emotion of traveling to another culture.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC, founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Clubbook, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.

(Courtesy: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/travels-peabod/2012/jun/11/Immortal-Travel-to-Katmandu-in-Nepal/)

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Tamang Mahotsav 2069
Date :- 31 May - 2 June 2012
Venue :- Tudikhel, Kathmandu
Organizer :- Nepal National Tamang Ghedung, Kathmandu

Sarad Pradhan     Asst. Editor: Sudhan Subedi

Media Center | Nepal Tourism Board

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