Some of the important archaeological sites in Nepal are:

Tilaurakot: is located in the Terai region of Nepal, where Nepal’s first settlements were probably located. It is situated in Kapilvastu district in western Nepal, and used to be the capital of Shakya dynasty.

Gotihawa: the ancient ruins are located about eleven kilometers south of Taulihawa, the present district headquarters. To the north of the Gotihawa village, there is an ancient brick stupa and an Ashokan monolithic column. This site can be identified as the Nirvan stupa of Kakuchhanda Buddha(on of the previous Buddhas), whose hometown lies within one kilometer of this setup-pillar complex.

Sagarhawa: was excavated in 1896 and seventeen miniature stupas were found there. In the same general region, important sites of ancient civilization have been identified at Lumbini, Banjarhi, Nipaniya and Kadyatawa. This archaeological site is located about two kilometers north of Tilaurakot on the bank of the Banganga River.

Bhediari: is located nearly ten kilometers south of Biratnagar. Many important brick temples have been excavated and they appear to have been built during the Sunga period. A number of silver punch-marked coins have been found, but no stone or terra-cotta idols have been found.

Varahakshetra: is an important temple site located at the confluence of the Koka and Koshi rivers. This site belongs to the later Gupta period.

Narasingha Tappa: an idol of Vishnu was discovered here few years back. The idol belongs to the fifth or sixth century A.D., based on the Gupta art tradition and has been temporarily kept inside a local Shiva temple.

Janakpur:an idol of Uma lying over a bed and feeding a baby has been discovered at the Ram-Janaki temple complex near Janakpur. Many archaeological pieces belonging to the Karnatakas of Simrangarh from the 12th or 13th century A.D. have been found here. Influence of Malla art period of Kathmandu can also be seen.

Simarangarh: was the old city of the Karnatakas of Mithila and was built by King Nanyadeva in 1097-98 A.D. The ruins of the city extend over the area of sixteen kilometer and the whole area is surrounded by high kiln-burnt bricks.


Excavations at Jhapa district, Nepal

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Sharma, Rashmi. Nepal and SAARC. New Delhi: Regal Publications, 2007.

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Heritage Sites

Kathmandu Valley

The cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley consists of seven groups of monuments and buildings – Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu),Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of
Pashupati and Changu Narayan. These display the full range of historic and artistic achievements for which the Kathmandu
Valley is world famous.

Buddhism and Hinduism have developed and changed over the centuries throughout Asia. In Nepal, both religions prospered and
produced a powerful artistic and architectural fusion beginning at least from the 5th Century AD, with the three hundred year
period between 1500 and 1800 AD being its golden period. These monuments were defined by the outstanding cultural traditions
of the Newars. This is manifested in their unique urban settlements, buildings and structures with intricate ornamentation displaying
outstanding craftsmanship in brick, stone, timber and bronze that are some of the most highly developed in the world.


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Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini. It became a place of pilgrimage
and Indian emperor Ashoka erected one of his commemorative pillars there. Apart from being a Buddhist pilgrimage centre,
the archaeological remains associated with the birth of Lord Buddha form a central feature.

The complex of structures within the archaeological conservation area includes includes the Shakya Tank, the remains within
the Maya Devi Temple consisting of brick structures in a cross-wall system dating from the 3rd century BC to the present century,
and also the sandstone Ashoka pillar with its Pali inscription in Brahmi script. Moreover, there are the excavated remains of
Buddhist viharas (monasteries) of the 3rd century AD and the remains of Buddhist stupas (memorial shrines) from the 3rd
century BC to the 15th century AD.


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Nepali (Khaskura bhasha) is the official language of Nepal and roughly half the population of Nepal speaks Nepali as a mother tongue, and many other speak it as a second language. It is also called Gorkhali/Gurkhali, “the language of the Gurkhas,

Traditions & Rituals

Religion is an integral and deep-rooted part of Nepali life which shapes the diverse traditions and rituals followed by people. Hinduism and Buddhism are closely connected in Nepal, and religion is not just a set of beliefs and accompanying rituals handed down from generation to generation; rather it is a complex intermingling of traditions, festivals, faiths and doctrines that have permeated every strata of Nepali society.

Religious traditions and rituals guide every important event in the life of a person from cradle to pyre. These rituals differ from community to community and different ritual experts have different roles in these rituals. A new born child undergoes Chaithi Nwaran, the naming ceremony (6thday of birth), and Annaprasan, the rice-feeding ceremony (5th or 6th months after birth depending on whether the baby is a girl or boy). The ‘coming of age’ ceremony (gufa rakhney for Newar girls at pre-puberty stage or gifting of Guneu-cholo– a set of adult female dresses); and the Bratabandha or Upanayana ceremony for boys is performed before he reaches teenage when his head is shaved and given the ceremonial loin-cloth and sacred thread to wear. Marriage ceremony contains very elaborate rituals that go on for more than a day. On the death of a person, funeral rites are performed by the family.


Nepali Bride-Groom

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Sharma, Rashmi. Nepal and SAARC. New Delhi: Regal Publications, 2007.

Cultural Treasures of Nepal. Nepal Tourism Board.2009.

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Cultural Festivals & Events

Festivals in Nepal bind people together of diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs into one nation. Most Nepali festivals are related to different Hindu and Buddhist deities and are not merely the annual spectacles, but also are a living part of their rich cultural heritage.

Month Festival
  • Seto Machhendranath Snan
  • Swasthani Puja
  • Maghe Sankranti
  • Basanta Panchmi & Saraswati Puja
  • Maha Shivaratri
  • Losar
  • Fagu Purnima or Holi
  • Chaitra Dasain
  • Ghode Jatra
  • Bisket Jatra
  • New Year’s Day
  • Red Machhendranath Jatra
  • Buddha Jayanti
  • Gunla
  • Krishna Astami
  • Janai Purnima
  • Gai Jatra
  • Teej
  • Indra Jatra
  • Dasain or Durga Puja
  • Mani Rimdu
  • Tihar or Deepali
  • Balachaturdarsi
  • Bibah Panchani
  • Yomari Punhi

Basanta Panchami and Saraswati Puja: is a day to celebrate the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. It falls between January/February and is regarded as a very auspicious day for marriages too. On this day, people from school students to scholars worship their pens and books to please the Goddess Saraswati. People pray and throng around the idol of Saraswati, especially in Swayambhunath and offer flowers, sweets and fruits.

Maha Shivaratri: or the night of Lord Shiva that falls sometime between February/March. On this day more than 100,000 of Hindu devotees from India and Southeast Asia gather around Pashupatinath temple, one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus in Kathmandu.

Holi- Fagu Purnima: is festival of water and colours. It falls between February/March and is also known as “Phagu

Cultural Identities

Nepal is a melting pot of many races and tribes which can be broadly categorised into three major ethnic groups in terms of their origin: Indo-Nepali (Nepali Hindus such as the Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris), Tibeto-Nepali (Sherpas, Thakalis, Dolpalis, Mustangis, Newars, Tamangs, Rais, Limbus, Magars,Sunuwars and Gurungs) , and indigenous Nepali (Tharus, Chepangas, Rautes, Danwars, Dhimals, Majis, Darais, Sattars and Bodes). The first group, comprising those of Indo-Nepali origin, inhabited the more fertile lower hills, river valleys and Tarai plains of Nepal. This group can be further divided into two categories: first, those who fled India and moved to the safe sanctuaries of the Nepal hills several hundred years ago due to the Muslim invasions of northern India. The hill group of Indian origin primarily composed of descendants of high-caste Hindu families, mostly of Brahman and Kshatriya status. The other Indo-Nepali group are recent migrants who settled in the Tarai from northern India’s border states of Bihar and Bengal.The second major group consists of communities of Tibeto-Mongol origin inhabiting the higher hills from the west to the east. The third and much smaller group of indigenous Nepali comprised a number of tribal communities, such as Tharus and the Dhimals of the Tarai; and they may be remnants of indigenous communities whose habitation predates the advent of the Indo-Nepali and Tibeto-Mongol elements.

Each ethnic group in Nepal has its own identity and cultural heritage, with most groups having their own spoken language and script. Food, dress, ornaments, beliefs, customs, festivities, myths, legends, song and music of each group differs from another. They also practice different faiths, Hindus are in majority, followed by Buddhists. Islam and Christianity are also practiced in Nepal by a small but growing minority. Moreover, the caste system is an integral aspect of Nepali society, modeled after the ancient and orthodox Brahmanic system of the Indian plains, which did not exist in Nepal prior to the arrival of Indo-Aryans. Each caste is ideally an endogamous group in which membership is both hereditary and permanent. Caste identity plays an important part in social and cultural life of people in Nepal. This caste system was not strictly upheld by the Newars, the original inhabitants of the Kathamndu Valley and they have their own caste hierarchy, which is similar to the fourfold (Brahman/priests, Kshatriyas/warriors, Vaisya/merchants and Sudra/labourers)  caste system of the Indo-Aryans.  Newars are pioneers of urban culture in Nepal. The rich Newar culture has given Kathmandu its identity as the cultural capital of the country. Though Newars have contributed abundantly to the creation of Nepali culture, different communities and ethnic groups from the high Himalayas down to the southern Terai have added equally in enriching it.

Sharma, Rashmi. Nepal and SAARC. New Delhi: Regal Publications, 2007.

Cultural Treasures of Nepal. Nepal Tourism Board.2009.