The People and Places of Nepal

The Silk Road, the Himalayas, and the mighty Mount Everest; Nepal is an idyllic country that has something for everyone.

In more recent times, the country has sadly become known for the tragic earthquake of April 2015, and even though it is still recovering, it shouldn’t be missed off anyone’s must-travel list. Nepal is a colourful country with a rich history and the most welcoming people, making each day that I travelled there different.

I got to see the sunrise over the Himalayas, downhill mountain bike in the Annapurna region, explore the temples and stupas of the Kathmandu Valley, and even visited Lord Buddha’s birthplace of Lumbini. I created this collection of photographs to supress the images of past tragedy and to promote Nepal’s charming people, exquisite food, and extraordinary sights.

In the bustling streets of Bhaktapur these two rival fruit sellers lock eyes. From bananas to apples, oranges to mangos, most fruit is sold to people across Nepal by bike based sellers, as they can cover greater distances.

It is a common sight to see these big suspension bridges spanning wide, deep valleys across Nepal. These bridges are a cheap, quick and efficient way to reduce travel time and connect otherwise cut off villages. Unfortunately for me (someone who does not have a head for heights) I had to cross one on a mountain bike ride to the Himalayan foothill town of Dhampus.

During my mountain bike ride to Dhampus, I spent some time here with the local farming community. It was harvest time and this elderly farmer was moving dried long grass into a store room for the coming colder months. In the winter, hay is used to supplement the diet of oxen and other livestock used to farm the steep paddy terraces.

Babas and Shadus can be found across the holy sites of Nepal as well as India. Hindus receive prayers from Babas to burn bad karma. Babas consider themselves dead unto themselves, even attending their own funerals. They live without possessions, surviving only on donations from others.

After a 4:30am start and a short ascent to the hill station of Sarangkot, I was lucky enough to see the sunrise over the Annapurna Massif range, part of the much larger Himalayan Mountain range. The Machapuchare mountain, otherwise known as the ‘Fish Tail,’ is the most popular as it is sacred to the Hindu god Shiva.

This elderly hill lady also made the short ascent to watch the sunrise. She had come from a nearby foothill village and wore her best clothes for the occasion. 

A Buddhist monk recites mantras and prayers on a pilgrimage to the famous Boudhanath, or Chorten Chempo. Dating back to the 5th Century, this is the most important Tibetan Buddhist monument outside of Tibet,  a sacred site since the Chinese occupation in 1959. Inside the Boudha are holy relics, such as objects used by Lord Buddha, and maybe even parts of him such as his hair, teeth and bones.

On the outskirts of Pokhara stands the Shanti Stupa, or World Peace Pagoda. Shanti is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning ‘peace,’ which is widely used through Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. This Stupa was built by a Japanese Buddhist sect that has built 80 around the world, two of which are in Nepal.

The Annapurna range is in Nepal’s central region. It’s home to 30 mountains over 6,000 meters tall, spans 34 miles and is home to world class treks.

When biking up the steep gravel paths to get to Dhampus, I passed this lady who was a widow of a subsistence farmer in the foot hills. Having stopped for a water break, she slowly approached me and my Nepali friend Vimal. Using Vimal as a translator, she told us she needed some medical assistance for a cut on her lower leg. After cleaning and dressing the wound we arranged to collect her on our way back and take her to the nearest town. She was deeply touched and let me take her photograph in return.

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Trekking Annapurna

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You can find more of Chris Atkinson's photography on his Instagram.