History: Civilization of Kathmandu valley-Chronological history of Nepal recorded that Gautam Buddha visited Kathmandu valley during the reign of Kiranti king JitadastiHang. He was the 7th dynasty of YalambaHang; YalambaHang established his kingdom around 3102 B.C. Kirati are Mongoloid race. Northern part of Nepal and India including Sikkim, Bhutan, Kumaon, and Assam were the cradle of their civilization. They were also known at that time as northern mountaineers because of their dwelling in the nook and corners of the hills and mountain. Expert says they were also original tribes in Deccan plateau of India. Historians have agreed that there were 29 rulers of the Kirant dynasty. Later, Asoka the famous Mauryan ruler of India visited Kathmandu valley in 3rd century B.C. (250 B.C.) during the reign of 14th king of Kirant dynasty-Sthunko. At that time Nepal was known as Kiratidesa (land of Kirat), The history have recorded that Asoka visited Kathmandu valley including Lumbini, birthplace of Gautam Buddha. He visited because of its famous reputation as sacred place. He left unmistakable footprint by marrying his daughter Charumati to Devapala. A former town of Devpatan near Pasupatinath is formed in his memory by Charumati and later she built Charumati Vihar in Chabahil near Gokarna forest. Gorkarna used to be the capital of Kirati kings though due to political condition of that time the capital was often shifted around. Asoka built 4 stupas at four points in Patan. During the time when he visited the valley Buddhism had already flourished.
It is firmly believed that Kirat dynasty ruled Nepal from 3102 B.C. to 7th century A.D. and after that around 3rd century A.D (250 A.D.). Licchavi or Lichchhavis dynasty finally took over. Licchavi had their capital at Godavari at the foot of Pulchauki danda (hill). Subsequent rulers like Gopala, Malla and later Shah dynasty, present ruler, contributed in making present Nepal. So the history of Kirat dynasty, teaching of Buddhism, tantric system, and later advent of Hinduism and migration of people across the Indian sub continent due to war and subjugation formed the present cultural, social and religious-mix. Special cultural tour of the villages is the only way you can truly understand the unique culture. The tantric form and Bon po style of nature worship still continues in the villages of central and eastern Nepal. The sightseeing sites in Kathmandu valley are the living memory of the past civilization.
Apart from culture architectural style seen around the cities are glaring example of ancient civilization that propagated two popular building styles – stupa (Chaitya) and pagoda. Pagoda style was popularized by Arniko (Balbahu) who visited Tibet and China in 13th century at the invitation of the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan Anshuvarma, a Licchavi king, opened trade route to Tibet. He married one of his daughters Bhrikuti to the ruler of Tibet – Tsrong Tsong Gompo; she propagated gospel of Buddha in Tibet. This is how Mahayana Buddhism was spread in Tibet. The famous Chinese traveler Hen Tsang who visited India and Nepal (Lumbini) in 7th century A.D. wrote that Anshhuvarma as a man of many talents.
Thangka painting that you see in the shops are oldest form of painting practiced in Nepal. Some of the paintings were dated 1369 A.D. and 1420 A.D. It is believed that this kind of painting was evolved as earlier as 9th century and has remained popular until today. The painting of that time reflects influence of tantrisim, Buddhism and Hinduism. Similarly stone and metal sculpture is another traditional art that flourished during the reign of last part of Kirat period (5th to 8th century). The architecture and sculpture at Changu Narayan temple built in 323 A.D. is the oldest monument built in pagoda style at the summit of small hill above Bhaktapur explains about the state of culture at that period. Lichhavi period (7th to 14th century) and from early Malla period (11th to 15th century) continue to contribute to the rich tradition. Another art form that you can see around the cities is woodcarving work. The preserved artifacts are dated back to to Malla period. Woodcarving was part of architectural work. Actually the art must have evolved earlier than Malla period.
Successive Malla kings formed the city of Kathmandu at that time known as Kantipur. It all started around 11th century. The art and architecture continued to flourished during the Malla period. Beside that the numerous festival of Kathmandu is attributed to Malla rule in the valley. Yakshya Malla, the last major ruler of Malla dynasty, ruled Kathmandu valley until the end of 15th century. After his death the valley was divided into three major principalities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. This happened around 1484 A.D. This was the beginning of the end of Malla reign of Kathmandu valley.
Prithivi Narayan Shah, the 9th generation of the present Shah dynasty was the king of Gorkha, a small hill north of Kathmandu before he rest control of Kathmandu valley from the Malla kings in 1756 at a time when they were divided and confused. He was instrumental in forming the present day Nepal. The border was later expanded as far as Tista River in the east and by 1792 the western border was at Kumaon. During the expansion period around 1770’s onwards various ethnic groups and races of the central region spread to the middle hills of eastern Nepal. The expansion period was interrupted because of the war with China in 1788 and in 1791. Before the war Nepal had virtual control of trade with Tibet. By early 19th century the western border of Nepal was expanded to Kangra (present day India). 1846 was the beginning of dark era in the history of Shah dynasty and Nepal. The Rana family rule was instituionalized that continued until 1951.
This Himalayan kingdom is divided into three regions. Himalayan range and its watershed area in the north, and Mahabarat range and Churia hills in the middle and Terai (plain) in the south. Himalayan range includes 8 of the 14 highest peaks of the world that has altitude more than 8000 meter: Mt. Everest (8848m), Kanchanjunga (8586m), Lhotse (8516m), Cho Oyu (8201m) and Dhaulagiri (8167m), Mt. Makalu (8463m), Manaslu (8163m) and Annapurna I (8091m). It covers about 16% of the total land area of Nepal with elevation range from 2500m to 8848m-(Everest). The middle hills known as Mahabarat range encompass 65% of the area with altitude range from 500 to 3000 meters above sea level. The plain area known as Terai covers 17% of the land with altitude range from 100 to 300m. Because of its fertile land now Terai has 48% of the country’s population. Some of the best known national parks are in this region.
Springs and autumn seasons are no doubt best time to visit Nepal. Other seasons like summer, monsoon, and winter are equally good if purpose of visit is different. For tours and treks in the Himalayas that are in rain shadow - Mustang, Inner Dolpo, Kailas and Tibet - summer (May, June, July) and end of Monsoon (September) season are better. Weather in winter is pleasant in the lower mountain area and in southern part of Nepal where Lumbini (Buddhist pilgrimage site) and National Parks are located. Winter is also nice to do short trek and hiking in the lower foothills and meet people when they are generally free for festivals and leisure. Autumn Monsoon rain normally ends by middle of September. Sometime rain drags on to the first week of October. Generally weather in October and November is cold in the night and warm during the day. Sky remains clear through out most of the day. It is good time to get great view of the snow peaks. From the second half of November weather starts getting colder and in the mountain snow starts to fall. Average temperature above 3000 to 4000m is around 4 to 18 degree Celsius. Above 4000 meter, the night temperature falls below zero to minus 10 degree Celsius. Below 3000meter, average temperature ranges around 10 to 25 degree Celsius. In Tarai region night is cold and day is hot.
Winter starts from December and remains until February. Usually at Christmas and New-year fresh snow falls on the mountain above 3000 meter. Temperature drops to 2 degree Celsius in the night in the middle hills and less than zero degree in the mountain above 2500m. During day it is sunny and warm with an average temperature of 19degree Celsius.
Spring is great when the air is cool like breeze and sun is shining. The mountain landscape is covered with snow, colourful flowers of rhododendron forests In March and April. You can see birds migrating and wild life animals easily in their habitats. There is less snow on the mountain pass. Usually sky is clear in morning and evening but during day it is cloudy. In April the weather becomes warmer (25 to 30 degree Celsius) and in May the temperature reaches around 35 degree Celsius.
Summer starts from middle of May and remains until beginning of July. This is the hottest period. But not so hot for people who lives in temperature above 35 degree Celsius.
Monsoon rain starts from beginning of July. Heavy rainfall occurs at the end of July (375 to 800mm). It becomes lesser (375 to 400mm) at the end of August and beginning of September. By middle of September usually the weather starts becoming drier. Rain does not pour every day, not even in the middle of monsoon. There are several dry days in between. Temperature is nice and pleasant (20 degree Celsius) in the middle Mahabarat range and cooler in the mountain above 3000 meter.