Buddhism in Nepal
Buddhism is a world religion founded by Buddha (Siddhartha Gautam). The Dharma taught by Buddha, born about 2,600 years ago in what is now Nepal, has been organized into various sutras and propagated to the rest of Asia.
Buddhism has two major branches, the southern Buddhism (Hinayana) and the Northern Buddhism (Mahayana). The Southern Buddhism spread to Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka, while Northern Buddhism spread to China, Vietnam and Japan. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the early 6th century from the Korean Peninsula.
Founded by Gautam Buddha, Buddhism has been carried on through centuries and spread widely relieving people from suffering throughout the ages and making great contributions to the development of Asian culture.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal
Buddha was born in Lumbini, a land between Kapilvastu which was birthplace of his father Suddhodana, who was the chief of the Shakya clan, and birthplace of Maya Devi, his mother. When Maya Devi conceived Buddha, she dreamed of a white elephant entering her womb. It is said that on her way to her parental home to give birth, she went into labor and gave birth to Buddha near a square fountain in Lumbini.
Lumbini is located in the Tarai plain, in the southwestern part of present day Nepal which mostly borders India. As Buddhism became more popular, Lumbini was counted among the four great holy lands of Buddhism and many worshippers made their Pilgrimage.
There is a record that Chinese monks, Faxian visited Lumbini and Kapilvastu in 403 and Xuanzang in 636. However, after the decline of Buddhism in India after the 13th century, Lumbini becomes forgotten by history. Centuries later, in 1896, German archaeologist Alois A. Fuhrer discovers the Ashokan Pillar which proved Lumbini to be the birthplace of Buddha.
In present day Lumbini, with the Maya Devi Temple as its central feature, there are many other Buddha-related remains such as King Ashok’s pilgrimage memorial pillars and Puskarni pond, where baby Buddha was given his first bath. People make pilgrimages to Lumbini from all around the world (inscribed in UNESCO world heritage list in 1997). It provides great confidence to Nepalese Buddhists to have the birthplaces of Buddha in the country.
Nepal also has the ruins of Tilaurakot believed to be Kapilvastu, where Buddha spent his life before the age of 29, when he renounced the world. (The other possible place is Piprahwa, India and authorities have yet not reached a conclusion as to where exactly Kapilvastu is.)
Six years after his enlightenment, Buddha returned to Kapilvastu upon invitation from the King, also his father. There, not only does he meet his father, he meets his son Rahul again and Buddha teaches Dharma to his clan. It is said that at this time, many youths left the Shakya clan to become monks.
Sutras of Buddhism in Nepal
Most of the Buddhist scriptures familiar to the Japanese are classical Chinese translations. The original sutras are written in either Pali or Sanskrit. Pali was used in Southern Buddhism which spread to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Sanskrit was used in Northern Buddhism sutras, such as Parajna Sutra, Sukhaavativyuuha and Saddharmapundariika –sutra.
After Buddhism perished in India in the 13th century, since China used Chinese translated sutras, Sanskrit sutras were left unpreserved and most were lost. However, in early 19th century, British diplomat B.H Hodgson introduced the Sanskrit sutra which had propagated to Nepal. Ever since, Nepalese Buddhism has attracted attention from around the world.
Nepalese Buddhism inherited the Mahayana Buddhist sutras which were established in India in original Sanskrit. The Sanskrit sutras which survived in the Kathmandu valley, surrounded by mountains on all sides, contributed greatly to the modern research of Mahayana Buddhism.
Nowadays, Sanskrit sutras studies all over the world include many that have been found in Nepal.
Weather & Climate in Nepal
Weather & Climate are the essential factors of Travel.
Climate in Nepal
Nepal’s climate varies with its topography and altitude. It ranges from the tropical to the arctic. The low-land Terai region with its maximum altitude to approximately 305m, which lies in the tropical southern part of the country, for instance, has a hot and humid climate that can rise above 45 Degree Celsius (113 Degree Fahrenheit) during summer. The mid-land regions are pretty much pleasant almost all the year round, although winter nights are cool. The northern mountain regions, around an altitude above 3000m has an alpine climate with considerably lower temperature in winter as can be expected.
Seasons in Nepal
Nepal has four climate seasons.
Spring (between March – May):
During spring, the mornings are usually cool and clear but afternoon cloud build-up brings occasional showers. The days are mix up with warm and rain, which displays wildflowers like rhododendrons. The whole country is lush and an abundant green at this season. This period instigate the second most popular and pleasant trekking season as this is rice-planting time. Late-March into April is especially beautiful. It is also a good time for climbing as the high passes are usually snow free and the mountain views are still clear in April. Up to May, the weather becomes hazy and disturbed with the clouds.
Summer (Between June - August):
From June to August, is the monsoon season. Generally the morning is cloudy and cloud wisps form on random ridges and peaks. Trekking at this time of year is generally difficult and uncomfortable as the weather is hot and it rains almost every day. The trails become muddy and are often leech-infested and the mountains are usually obscured by cloud. During June and August, there is an expectation of thunderstorm, hail shower and strong winds among the fine periods. There are, however, possibilities for summer trekking in the trans-Himalayan regions of mustang, Dolpo and Tibet. These regions lie in a rain-shadow and therefore receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas. Summer is also the best season for trips to Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.
Autumn (between September – November):
Autumn is the peak season in Nepal and most beautiful time to trek in any regions of Nepal. This is the best tourist season in Nepal with the summer gone by and the winter to set in. The weather is highly pleasant and stunning view of mountains is breathtaking. This is the best time to visit Nepal. This is also the season of festivities as Nepal celebrates the biggest Hindu festivals Dashain followed by Tihar in October/November.
Winter (between December – February):
The weather is cool and the sky is clear with occasional snowfalls at higher elevations. This season is good for trekking in lower elevations. The morning and night is cold and the days are warm when sunny.
Temperature & Rainfall
Nepal is the country of extremes. The low-land plains of the Terai can have tropical temperatures and also the mosquitoes. The Himalayas can get to sub-zero temperatures, but the sun blaze can bring some warmth during the day, even in the mountains. The temperature of Kathmandu goes below 1 Degree Celsius (34 Degree Fahrenheit) in winter and rises to an average of 30 Degree Celsius (80 Degree Fahrenheit) in summer.
The average temperature in Kathmandu during the four seasons:
* Spring season ranges between 16-23 Degree Celsius (61-73 Degree Fahrenheit)
* Summer season ranges between 23-30 Degree Celsius (73-82 Degree Fahrenheit)
* Autumn season ranges between 15-24 Degree Celsius (59-75 Degree Fahrenheit)
* Winter season ranges between 9-12 Degree Celsius (48-54 Degree Fahrenheit)
During the rainy monsoon season between June to August, it rains to an average between 200-375 millimeters in Kathmandu. There is occasional rainfall during the other seasons too. In an average, 1300 millimeters of rain falls in Kathmandu every year.
Note: Monsoon in Nepal is not the typical monsoon of Asia. Rains usually occur during the night-time leaving the sky clean and clear by the morning making the Himalayan view even more dramatic. Some parts of the Himalayas in Manang, Mustang and Dolpo are in rain-shadow areas; the mountains are high enough to block the clouds. Tibet's high travel season also corresponds to Nepal's monsoon.