On the 18th of May, 2006, Nepal became a secular state. Prior to this decision by Nepal’s democratically elected House of Representatives, Nepal was the last Hindu Kingdom on earth, the monarch widely regarded as a living incarnation of Vishnu. Today, approximately 80% of the population of Nepal is Hindu. Other folks, Sherpa, Tamang, Newar and others are Buddhist. Nepal is also home to many smaller faiths including those that exercise shamanic beliefs.
This rich cultural history combined with Nepal’s extraordinary antiquity, has left its mark on the country with an absolutely incredible number of spiritually significant landmarks, sacred areas, temples, monasteries, holy rivers and mountains and numerous other pilgrimage spots. Nepal is a genuine Holy Land with some of the most important religious art and architecture to be found anywhere. From it’s world class museums in the Kathmandu Valley, to remote pilgrimages sites like Muktinath where fire burns on top of a water spring, Nepal provides a true cornucopia of edifying experiences.
Boudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu Valley is home to literally thousands of people of Tibetan extraction and monasteries representing every branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Most of the cultures along the northern region of the country are also Buddhist. Of particular interest are the valleys of Solu and Khumbu, on the way to Mount Everest, the cradle of the Sherpa people. Numerous monasteries in Solu and Khumbu have some of the best examples of Sherpa painting and statuary and rank as some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures.