And The Water Flows And The Rain Still Pours The Monsoon in Nepal

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The Monsoon in Nepal

Many people stop visiting Nepal during the rainy season. I think monsoons are the best time to travel in Nepal if you want to see the true culture, ways and beauty of life in the Himalayas. Granted, you might not see the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, but the slightly wet and muddy rewards are well worth it. Just remember to pack your umbrella, a touch of good humor to sit down and your camera to capture the heart and soul of Nepal.

Monsoon is the lifeblood of both urban and rural Nepal. Life here revolves around the arrival and departure of the annual three-month deluge. Festivals, worship and colorful celebrations involve Indra, the god of rain, to bring the monsoon in good time and then end it again to prevent the rains from ruining the crops. After the crisp winter days are over, the clouds and light showers herald spring time and the snow-capped mountains slowly disappear behind the clouds. Morning fog fills the valley, but it is dry. The bones are dry, the winter harvest is over and the fields and roads are dusted with countless feet, hooves and bicycle tires. The winter harvest is done and dusted and the villagers sit spinning wool, making wheat, maize and millet, ruski and chaang. The air becomes thick with dust and pollution and the temperature rises. Harsh heat dries up the spring wheat crop and there is nothing left to do but prepare the fields and wait for the rains.

In the heat of May the bleak and barren country sides have been cratered, the streets of Kathmandu are littered with garbage and stench, the rivers are overflowing, the taps in many villages have run dry, and trees and plants have withered along with the people. Eyes turn skyward to the edge of a cloud on the horizon, and finally a brisk wind brings the first sweet drops of rain to the ground. The first easterly showers of the monsoon clear the air, relieve the oppressive heat and moisten the parched earth. Villages become hives of activity as farmers harness oxen and plow fields. Women carry cart dokas (woven baskets) filled with manure and plant paddy (rice) plants. Corn, potatoes, greens and tomatoes are planted everywhere, and men work hard to connect a complex network of hand-dug irrigation canals to water the rice paddies. But time has not yet passed, this shower is only a foreshadowing of what is to come. Next is the waiting game, man’s game with the clouds, when will the big rain come? Sharmans (witch doctors) and priests are called upon to throw rocks and caste predictions. Rice, the life blood of Nepal depends on the arrival of heavy rains and proper cultivation is essential for the crop to be successful. More clouds form on the horizon and more rain falls. Then suddenly the skies literally open up with a rumble of thunder from the seemingly blue sky and the life-giving rains of the monsoons.

As the tourists flee and the locals of Kathmandu retreat to their homes, the villages come alive with activity. The land also comes alive, the rivers always change course, the land moves and shifts to form new landscapes and the plants come alive with millions of shades of living green. Rain has a thousand faces, soft and sticky, harsh, violent, pleasant, calm, cold, warm… Rain Rain Rain, the sweet flow of life in the Himalayan land!

White water rafting

The rains make the river in Nepal swell with high winds and it’s a great fun time for those looking for some adrenaline. Trushili, Sunkoshi and Seti are raftable rivers during monsoons, but make sure to book with a safe and reputable company.

Village treks

While most of the Himalayas can be off limits due to unpredictable weather, landslides and snowfall at this time of year, some village treks around Pokhara, Kathmandu and Dhulikhel are ideal for those looking to experience the real side of rural Nepal. Don’t forget that most of the village trekking routes can also be ridden on mountain bikes!! Descended and got muddy in Nepal.

Yoga and meditation

If you don’t fancy getting wet, head to one of the many yoga and meditation retreats around Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. They are great places to learn about getting in touch with your inner self. There are some excellent value for money meditation and yoga packages these days.

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