Nepal's beauty and innocence​

Nepal

Natalia Cohen

 

There is an overwhelming peace and tranquillity that prevails throughout Nepal. Its powerful aesthetic beauty has the magic to uplift even the darkest soul.
I found that when I first arrived in this destination, I had this inexplicable and unquenchable thirst for everything the country represents. My intrigue, fascination, love, admiration, respect and excitement for Nepal was matched only by my strong connection with the people and the mind-blowing scenery within its landlocked boundaries.

 

The wealth of colour – more shades and smells of green then I have ever seen or smelt before, rolling hills, deep-cut valleys, paddy and terraced fields, grassland, trickling streams, reflective lakes and raging rivers all contrast against the staggering formations of the snow-encrusted Himalayas. The majestic ranges almost seem to hang in mid-air with a stillness and perfection that draws you in from the first glimpse!
 

Not only is there a spiritual feel amongst the diverse landscape – but a strong energy of happiness and well-being emanates from the country’s people. The Nepalese are the most beautiful, open and inspirational people I have encountered so far. With their wide welcoming smiles, (perfect white teeth), traditional way of greeting – palms pressed held close to their face, they will not fail to engulf you in their positive yet simple way of life.
The men, women and especially children have an energy that is contagious and have both a mental and physical strength that makes your heart sing or melt.

The best way to experience Nepal is to live, feel and breathe it. Although the most popular activities include walking, hiking and trekking, the other adventures available cannot be overlooked.
Whether it be discovery of the temples and holy sites scattered throughout villages and towns, cycling, rafting, canoeing, boating, elephant and jeep safari’s, travelling on local transport or having a traditional dinner of Dal Bhat in a Nepalese home – they all make up unforgettable experiences.
With wildlife spotting to be done, including the elusive Bengal Tiger, one-horned rhino, sloth bear, over 800 species of birds and 600 different species of butterfly, there is always something new to look out for.

Nepal was always one place I had longed to visit and if people ask me if it met my expectations, I can only reply that its magic captured me instantly and everyday left me with growing feelings of amazement and happiness.

Travel in 2001
 

I arrived back in Kathmandu, Nepal after some time in India…… and was pleasantly surprised with how good it felt to be home! I adore this city and country – little did I know that the future of the place I was living in could so suddenly be thrown into a desperate state of affairs.

2/6/2001

A crazy situation! I came downstairs on the morning of the 2nd and did my usual happy singsongy ‘ namaste’ to be consumed by an air of sadness and horror. It appeared that the night before…the most bizarre incident had occurred! A whole family – massacred. Not just any family but the Royal family of Nepal. Initial speculations led people to believe that the tragic event had been instigated because of an arranged marriage! The Prince was so opposed to the choice of bride that he shot and killed his father, then his mother, his brother, his sister, then shot at some other family members before finally shooting himself!! However – amazingly so - he had managed to survive although In a coma and on life support. If he survives, he could possibly be the next King of Nepal! Speculations flew round Kathmandu. The streets were devoid of traffic, no shops were open, people were huddled round newspapers on street corners, all discussing the bizarre events of the previous evening…what they thought had happened…and what the outcome of this tragic event was going to be! There was an amazing feeling of expectancy in the air like nothing I have experienced before.

I sat in a restaurant (the only one open) discussing ideas and thoughts with a group of Nepalese ‘elite’. It was the only subject that was being discussed and everyone was on standby. In the afternoon – everyone was informed – the bodies were going to be paraded through the streets of Kathmandu to the cremation ground where the Royal burning would take place, and people could pay their respects. There were people lining the streets as far as the eye could see. Men, women, children, tourists, hanging over balconies, sitting on roofs, balanced on pavements and on each other’s shoulders. A strange atmosphere. The procession was a slow one. People threw flowers and kata scarves down onto the bodies as they passed – some people followed the huge gathering – others slowly moved away. I fell asleep that evening to the not so distant (!) sounds of cannons being shot as a mark of respect……56 times apparently for every year the late King had been alive. There has been 3 days of worship that has to be observed, 5 days national holiday declared and 13 days of mourning for the Nepalese people. No music, entertainment, marriages, or celebrations. Men are all shaving their heads as a sign of respect and as different updates are brought to light and news develops – everyone is concerned for the future of their country. The son, is now apparently dead……which means that the late King’s brother is next in line for the throne. Around the streets of Thamel today all that can be heard is the continual hum of discussions, confusion and mystery.

Wow……this is full on history in the making! It’s been an unforgettable experience. During all this upset I was busy preparing for my first trip to Tibet! As I sat in the starting point hotel watching CNN updates – I met a very interesting man. It transpires that he together with a huge group of Americans have just completed a world record-breaking expedition to Everest!!!! First blind person to summit, oldest man (64) to summit, a father/son combo to summit, and the largest number of people to summit in a single day! How indescribable must that feeling be?? I also met the trip photographer and had a cheeky look at some of his shots. These pictures just captured everything. Beauty, emotion, camaraderie, elation!

I was subsequently invited to the party that was taking place in the conference room on the roof of our hotel. Having left my local Nepalese friends and the streets of Kathmandu, shrouded in confusion and sadness (just before the curfew began), I ventured upstairs and entered into a large room filled with such a contrasting energy that I had to stop and compose myself. A room full of happiness and celebration. People who had conquered the ‘Roof of the World’ – Wow - I didn’t think it was possible to get such an antithesis of feelings. How surreal.

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all photography and writing © 2019 Natalia Cohen/Eye of the Nomad ​

No images can be used without prior written permission