Nepal is a country of breathtaking beauty and diversity of cultures like no other place on earth.
#1. Nepal’s ancient history began in the Kathmandu Valley and over the centuries its boundaries grew to include tracts of what today are neighboring countries such as India and China. It prospered as a crossroad resting place for two trade routes. As such, it became a cultural mixing pot.
#2. The Sakya royal family’s Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in the 6th century BC near Lumbini, today considered a sacred sight. He grew to embark on a path of contemplative thought and meditation that led him to enlightenment as the Buddha.
#3. The Hindu Kiratis, a Mongoloid people, are recorded by history as the first known rulers of the Kathmandu Valley in the 7th or 8th century BC. People from northern India overthrew the Kiratis in AD 300 and the country became predominantly Hindu. They ushered in an age of more prosperous trade and cultural brilliance.
#4. Nepal experienced a ‘dark age’ of which little is known from the late 600s until 1200. Both Tibet and Kashmir invaded the country in the 700s but its strategic location ensured the kingdom’s survival and growth. The credit for founding Kantipur (what is today’s Kathmandu) goes to King Gunakamadeva in approximately the 10th century.
#5. During the 9th century a new lunar calendar, the Bikram Sambhat, was introduced that is still used today. It is approximately 67 years, eight and a half months ahead of the Gregorian calendar Americans use. On it Nepal’s New Year is in mid-April.
#6. The age of the Malla kings was a golden one architecturally. The 15th century architect Arniko traveled to Lhasa and Beijing with the design for the pagoda, and forever changed the look of Asia’s religious temples. A 1255 earthquake killed a third of Nepal’s population during the reign of the Mallas as well.