A Bit About Nepal

Well the time is getting closer to our trip.  We still have issues posting from the Blackberry playbook so I don’t know how much “bloging” I will be doing but I will do my best.  As a start I thought I might give you some information about where we are going.

Nepal is a land locked country between India and Tibet and home to mighty and majestic Himalaya Mountains.

NEPAL MAP

Mount Everest, at 8,848 meters the tallest mountain in the world,MOUNT EVEREST

is no doubt its crowning glory but it is also home to 8 other mountains giving it 9 out of 10 of the top ten highest mountains in the world.  It only loses out for 10/10 by the 2nd highest mountain (K2/Qogir/Mount Godwin Austen) in neighbouring Pakistan.  The other eight are Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri I, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, and Annapurna I (Click on the name of the mountain for a picture and more info on the mountain).

I have had the  experience of seeing all of these except Dhaulagiri and Nanga Parbat on a previous visit to Nepal in 1981 when I was privileged enough to hike to the Everest Base Camp in the days before it became a popular trekking route for the average person and when, unless you were with an organized trek who carried your food and lodging, you had to stay and eat with the locals between the few stops where there might be a tea shop or lodge.  However I digress that was another adventure the first of what turned out to be many in my life.

A Bit of History:

The first civilizations of Nepal flourished in the 6th century BC in what is now the KathmanduValley – birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama who was born c. 563 B.C. Gautama achieved enlightenment as Buddha and started the rapidly growing practice of Buddhism.  It was not until between 1200 and 1769 under the Malla kings that Nepal reached it approximate current size.  In 1768 the states of Nepal were unified under King Prithvi Narayan Shah into the Kingdom of Nepal and the Shah dynasty ruled Nepal for the next 10 generations, albeit in a nominal state, as future Kings after Prithvi were, for the most part, enthroned in infancy (for various nefarious reasons) and kept under the control of regents leaving the ruling of Nepal to the Prime Minister – all successively members of the Rana family.

So the Rana family ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951. In 1951 the then current king Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah wrested the power back for the Rana’s and proclaimed a constitutional monarchy.   Sadly he only ruled for 4 years before dying of a heart attack at age 48 (heart disease runs in the royal family).  The throne was by Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah from 1955 to 1972 when he too died of a heart attack leaving the throne to Prince Birendra, at age 26.

In 1990, a pro-democracy movement forced King Birendra to lift the ban on political parties. The first free election in three decades was held and the role of the king was sadly reduced to a figurehead once more.  Then on June 1, 2001, tragedy struck the royal family again.  Crown Prince Dipendra angered by many things in his life, not the least of which was his family’s disapproval of his choice of a bride, massacred the entire immediate royal family (the king, his mother, his sister and younger brother and several other members of the royal family) before shooting himself.  He himself did not die immediately and although in a coma and clinging to life he was declared king and “ruled” for three days before succumbing to his injuries.  Nepal was in a state of panic it now had no king.  The throne passes to the eldest son and Dependra unmarried was childless, even his younger brother was gone.  It was quickly decided that the younger brother of King Birendra, Prince Gyanendra, was to be crowned king.

For Gyanendra this was his second coronation!  He ruled for 2 months when he was 3 years old in 1950 when the entire royal family was briefly in exile when his grandfather, Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, was trying to regain control of the country back from the Rana’s.  For some reason when the royal family left the palace he was left behind – in my reading I have never been able to figure out why.  Gyanendra ruled, during a troubled and violent time from 2001 until he was deposed in 2008 and left the palace to begin life as a commoner and Nepal began a new history as the Republic of Nepal.  A history that is still fraught with troubles as political parties vie for power and control in some semblance of democracy.

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