Tucked away in the magnificent Himalayas, Nepal is brimming with natural sights and other attractions alike, making it a must-visit place on the bucket list of travellers around the world. Read on as we list down what souvenirs you could pick on your trip to Nepal!
Any visit to Nepal feels like it ended too soon, but there is one way to bring back a slice of the beautiful country with you – souvenirs. There are certain things unique to Nepal, and you have plenty of choices when it comes to picking something as a keepsake from your travels. Here is a handy guide on picking the right souvenirs from Nepal:
IMAGE: METAL HANDICRAFTS Caption: A metal statue of Nataraja, a Hindu deity
Metal ware in Nepal is abundant, and represents the different faiths of the people of the country in an artistic manner. You can get beautifully carved statues of Hindi and Buddhist idols made from copper, bronze and brass using an ancient method. These statues, available in different sizes, can brighten up any corner in your home, they also serve as excellent gifts for loved ones.
You can even find pieces like hanging oil lamps, water and liquor jars, bowls, etc. available in case you are not keen on buying a statue as a souvenir.
An instantly-recognisable item, the khukuri (a curved metal knife) is a symbol of triumph and bravery for Nepal, as it represents the Anglo-Nepal war during which Gurkha (Nepali) soldiers fought using this weapon. Buying one of these as a souvenir means carrying home a representation of Nepal’s glorious history.
The khukuris are usually made by local iron smiths and are a popular memento among visitors to Nepal; particularly for those who are collectors of traditional items. However, since it is a weapon, there may be restrictions on transporting such items. Enquire about size limitations beforehand if you plan on buying a khukuri as a souvenir from the country.
IMAGE: THANGKA Caption: Thangka paintings are known for their intricate details and vibrant colours
If you wish to decorate your home with something from Nepal, you cannot miss out on the colourful traditional painting, locally known as thangka (the Tibetan equivalent). These are painted on cotton/fabric scrolls and depict different deities, monuments, and other religious symbols of Buddhism. While buying, do ask about the story sketched on the thangka that you have chosen. The best of these paintings feature ground stone pigments or even gold and silver threads, which give the paintings their vibrant colours. To ensure originality, ask for the painting’s certification number that indicates the artist and place where it was made.
Known in the western world as cashmere wool, the word Pashmina was derived from the Persian word for wool. Cashmere products are highly sought-after, and are made from a fine wool that is taken from the Himalayan mountain goat’s undercoat. Since this animal is found in remote areas of the Tibetan Plateau, Pashmina woollen products are an exquisite item.
Most of these shawls today are woven in Kathmandu Valley handlooms, so a Pashmina shawl makes an excellent and prized souvenir from Nepal. But be aware of fakes since the markets are flooded with those too. Good quality pashmina is quite soft and is made from yarn of at least 97% purity.
IMAGE: JEWELLERY Caption: Traditional-style jewellery and beads displayed at a storefront
Take a look around, and most Nepali women will be sporting colourful beads in addition to silver jewellery. So if you like collecting jewellery pieces, the markets of Nepal are sure to make you happy. The country is known for selling quality silver jewellery at reasonable prices. And if you’re looking for a design of your own – many small, family-owned stores will create the design you want!
There is also a market selling colourful glass beads imported from all over, and it is located close to Indra Chowk. Many visitors opt to buy local beads and create different necklaces.
Rice Paper products
Rice paper, the traditional paper form in Nepal, is handmade from rice husks and the daphne or lokta bark, found in remote areas. Originally used for manuscripts and paintings, it is now an interesting souvenir to buy from Nepal. You will find stores selling rice paper in areas like Patan and Thamel.
Lamp shades, calendars, journals, etc. are some paper products that have been designed for tourists to carry back home easily (the lamp shades are often available in foldable designs). The Babar Mahal Revisited mall also has a store selling these products.
IMAGE: SINGING BOWL Caption: The Nepalese singing bowl can also be a beautiful decorative item for the house
Since Nepal has many Buddhist followers, visitors can pick up Buddhism-related souvenirs here. One good choice is the singing bowls, often used during meditation and prayers. The metal bowls come with a short wooden stick that makes a vibration with a soothing sound when the stick is rubbed in a circular motion along the bowl’s rim.
There are both machine-made and handmade versions of these singing bowls available, although the handmade ones are comparatively simple and cost more.
What makes shopping in Nepal fun is that there are many options for bargain hunters as well as for those interested in high-end items. In addition, the vibrancy and enthusiasm you get while buying from small local stores is sure to leave you with fond memories of the place!
Nepal Fact File:
Location: Central Himalayas, in South Asia; bordered by China in the north, and India in the south, east and west
Connectivity: Air travel is best, owing to 41 domestic airports, and one international one, Thribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu; accessible from Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand by road and rail; major crossing points are Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Bairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: Nepali Rupee (NPR)
Time Zone: Nepal Standard Time, UTC + 5:45
Climate: Five different climate zones, depending on the altitude; Tropical and Sub-tropical (below 1,200 meters), Temperate (between 1200-2400), Cold Zone (2400-3600), Sub-Arctic (3600-4400), and Arctic Zone (above 4400m); temperature ranges between -15 to 40 degrees, depending on altitude and seasons.
Food & Drink: Dal-bhat-tarkari (lentils, boiled rice, and vegetables) is a staple for Nepalis. Momos, Gorkhali Lamb, and Thukpa are some must-try dishes. Sugarcane juice, tea, and alcoholic beverages like raksi and millet beer are popular.