Sunday, September 25, 2022

Culture of Nepal’s Khumbu

With eight of the ten tallest mountain ranges located in Nepal, the country certainly does not lack in trekking options. In fact, trekking in Nepal can be done at all parts and regions The legendary Sherpa Culture of Nepal’s Khumbuof the country. What is more exciting is that each region and destination of Nepal offers its own unique cultural and natural features. Nepal is a multicultural country and it is occupied by people who follow a wide plethora of unique traditions and practices. From having their own costumes to speaking their own distinct dialect, Nepal truly is a country that has a lot to offer in terms of travel. And it is almost impossible to talk about Nepal without at least mentioning the country’s gorgeous Himalayas. In fact, Nepal is often referred to as “the Land of the Himalayas”. The world’s tallest mountain peak- Mount Everest, is situated in Nepal in the Khumbu region.

The Khumbu, a.k.a. the Everest region, is a region that lies to the north of Nepal on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest. It is perhaps one of the most famous regions for . Every year, thousands of travelers from all parts of the world visit Nepal for trekking in the Khumbu. As a matter of fact, among the many wide varieties of options that Nepal has in terms of trekking, the Everest Base Camp Trek is the most famous and sought-after.

The Khumbu has many amazing natural hallmarks. The region is situated entirely on the Trans-Himalayan zone and has an alpine climate and vegetation. The lower sub-regions of the Khumbu are ornamented with pasturelands and deciduous and ever-green woods. Rhododendron trees are quite abundant in the region, and the Khumbu looks absolutely ethereal during spring. The rhododendron is also Nepal’s national flower. Moreover, a large majority of the Khumbu’s area is under the protection of the Sagarmatha National Park- a Natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is named after the Nepali name of Mount Everest. In the Nepali language, “Sagarmatha” translates to “the Head of the Sky”- a fitting name for the world’s tallest mountain peak.

The higher sub-regions of the Khumbu on the other hand, mainly consist of very minimal vegetation and vast snow-covered acreages. Other major highlights of the region also include the natural vantage point of Kalapatthar which is one of the most popular vantage points in the country. The panorama of the entire Mount Everest massif seen from Kalapatthar is just astounding. In fact, the base camp of Mount Everest itself does not present views like Kalapatthar does. Trekkers mainly hike to Kalapatthar early in the morning to watch the sunrise from amidst the Everest peaks.

The legendary Sherpa

Sherpas are people who settled in Nepal’s Solukhumbu district way back when the salt-trade route was active. They are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and trekkers. They are experts in navigating the Himalayan terrain of their local area. When the Himalayan expedition first began, the Sherpas were immensely invaluable to the early explorers. They served as guides at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and treacherous mountain passes.

Renowned in the international mountaineering and climbing community for their expertise and experience, the Sherpa people serve as guides and companions to trekkers of the Khumbu till this day. It is even speculated that the Sherpa people’s climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaption to living in high altitudes.  Majority of the Sherpas have Tibetan-Burmese origin. Genetically, the Sherpa cluster closest with the Tibetans and Han Chinese. Since ancient times, the Sherpas, like many other indigenous Nepali tribes, moved from one place to another within the Himalayan region surviving as alpine pastoralists and traders before finally settling permanently down in the Khumbu. Consequently, the Khumbu is the largest Sherpa community in the whole of Nepal with the Tengboche village in the region being the oldest Sherpa village.

The Khumbu is full of Sherpa traditions and practices at each and every Himalayan town and village. Traditionally, the Sherpa men wear long-sleeved robes which fall slightly below the knee. Most of the time, the clothes are made from thick home-spun wool and sheepskin. Raw white silk is also used in tailoring the traditional Sherpa attire. Women traditionally wear long-sleeved floor-length dresses of think wool as well. They are often ornamented with colorful striped aprons held together with embossed silver buckles. In many ways, Sherpa clothing resembles Tibetan clothing.

One of the most well-known Sherpa is perhaps Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. He and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest back in 1953. Another is Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepalese woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest.

Nepal is truly a cornucopia of cultures and natural beauty. Nepal is also relatively cheaper than many other countries in Asia to travel to. You should defiantly visit Nepal for your next vacation if you haven’t already!

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