Charikot is the headquarters of Dholkha District in the Janakpur Zone of north-eastern Nepal. At the time of the 1991 Nepal census it had a population of 7349 people residing in 1541 individual households.. The town is located at 27°40′0″N 86°2′0″ECoordinates: 27°40′0″N 86°2′0″E and has an altitude of 1554 metres (5101 feet).. The name of the district Dolakha came from theDolakha Town situated north-east of the head quarter Charikot.
The region is bordered by the Sun Kosi River on the west and the Khimti Khola River on the east. It is divided unequally by the River Tama Koshi, proportionately two thirds to the west of the river and one third to the east.
To the north east lies the impressive Rolwaling Himal to the western edge of which are such peaks as Gauri Shanker and Melungtse. Gauri Shanker is synonymous with the god Shiva and his consort Parvati.
GeographyTo the northwest the mountains slope gently downwards towards the ancient pass of Kuti that starts above the Tibetan town of Khasa and follows the waters of the Bhote Kosi from Tibet. The river flows past Kodari and Tatopani (Hot Springs) on the Nepalese side and gradually rushes down into an ever-widening stream of water that becomes the Sun Kosi.
The Khimti Khola drains down from a region of five lakes called Panch Pokhari. They have a specific place in legend and go by the names of Mohi (buttermilk), Jata (hair), Dudh (milk), Bahula (insane), and Bhut (ghost). People believe that if one bathes in Bahula Pokhari one will become insane, whereas the Ghost Lake cannot bear the smell of human perspiration and will pull one inside its murky waters to a certain death if you as much as venture near it. The Khimti Khola joins the Tama Koshi, as do the Khare Khola and Rolwaling Khola to the northeast and the Sangawati, Dolti and Charnewati Kholas to the west.
It is a beautiful region in which the riverine valleys open out into massive volcanic folds. Sub-tropical settlements on the banks of rivers boast banana trees, guava, and an abundance of fish. Above the banks hover the terraced fields of paddy, make, wheat, and millet.
Between Charikot and Jiri the road descends to 845 metres and is bordered by plantations of sugar-cane. Above these slopes are forests of dark oak, fir and pine, interspersed with tangles of bracken and fem all in the embrace of clinging orchids and coloured in the springtime by the rhododendrons, the national flower of Nepal.
Mosses cling to the shaded rocks and in the forests are wild strawberries, loganberries, red berries and thyrne.
The shy Nepal Babbler chitters away 'Wich, Wich, Wich' in the damp, dark woods below the hir of the mountain eagle whilst in the early autumn foaming white waterfalls rush over the river moulded rocks. Some of these lichen and moss-covered banks hide crevices in which lurk black krates, orange and black patterned rock snakes and the dull green grass snake. Higher up and even higher are the slate-grey cliffs where the yellow flowered gorse clings to the last breath of life between the hostile rocks. Higher still lies the Himalaya, an abode of snow against a sky sometimes of azure, sometimes turquoise, or even clouded, brooding, and forbidding all intervention from below.
Against the winds of this world the prayer flags dance in a plea for communion with the divine which only can offer solace in the immensity that is time on the face of the highest mountains on earth.
PeopleThe Hindus are great followers of Lord Shiva. The favourite female goddess is Durga or Kali, an avatar of the consort of Shiva. The greatest national festival dedicated to her is Dashain, a ten day celebration of her slaying of the demon Mahisesura.
This festival is also a symbolic representation of the struggle in heaven which corresponded to the epic battle in the Ramayana when Rama slew the Ravana. Therefore, although Shiva as Pashupati - Lord of the Beasts,is the patron god of Nepal, worship is often delivered to his female aspect Durga. These gods are slayers of evil and many of the Hindus of Nepal are from martial tribes. However, there is a gentler side to their faith in the veneration of Vishnu.
The former King of Nepal was believed to be a re-incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver. Vishnu has a avatars in Rama, Madhusudhan, Shyam, Govinda, better known as Krishna - the lover of honey, stealer of butter, pursuer of milkmaids and Lord of all Compassion or Buddha.
A great belief in the Tantric arts explains the Nepalese affiliation to female deities. As for the many aspects of a religious faith that leads to a belief in re-incarnation into various other lives; unless we have the good fortune to be spotless in this one; suffice it to quote Lord Krishna himself who according to the Bhagsvad Gita said,
"I know that many lives Arjuna you and I have lived. I remember all of them and you none at all," and, "That which men call a thousand names, the wise know as one."
Therefore as you meet with our people and listen to their legends be tolerant of their beliefs. They are in essence one with yours. The Buddhists of Nepal are Mahayana Buddhists, followers of the Greater Vechicle. The mountain people usually follow the practices of Lamaistic Tibet. The monks of Nepal are usually of the Nyingmapa order which is the order which was prevalent in Tibet before the great scholar and monk Tsong-Khapa brought in his reforms and founded the Gelugpa sect of monks, who could neither leave their orders nor practise lamaism as married lemas in-charge of a village.
Brahmins-Indo-Aryan; Referred to twice-born. They have been the dominant priestly cast of Nepal since Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha unfied the states of Nepal into a single Kingdom. Usually completely Aryan in feature, they believe they came to Nepal following their Kings and Lords during the Moslem conquest of India. They originate, so they believe, from Rajasthan and Kumaon. They have preserved their orthodox lifestyles and observe the more traditional "taboos" e.g. menstrual pollution, mourning pollution etc.
Jirel-Tibeto-Mongoloid; It is believed that they may be descendants of original inhabitants of Tibet and Tibetan tribes with whom they inter-married. Broadly speaking, Jirels have retained a Buddhist tradition. However, they employ Hindu Brahmins for many rituals. This behavior may date back to the Rana rule, a Hindu dynasty. They live in Jiri and the village nearby. They believe they originated as a result of trade between this region and the adjoining regions in Tibet. At death ceremonies, a Buddhist tradition prevails. However, for many domestic ceremonies they call a Brahmin priest and adhere to the bramanical tadition. This strange mixture can be explained by their mixed ethnic origins and that sometimes amongst certain of the middle-hill peoples there is no hard, dividing line.
Other- Ksehtris,Magar, Newar, Sherpas,Tamangs, Thamins
Different in various rituals but not in essence are the practices of Newar Buddhists who, true to Mahayana tradition, accept more than one road to Enlightenment.
Incorporated into their social customs is the acceptance of caste, and their pantheon of families is headed by the hereditary priests or Gubajus, amongst whom are scholars and ascetics of the highest order.
It is a feature of Mahayana that it accepts practices of the Lower Vehicle as valid steps towards true Enlightenment and among the Newar families there are some ceremonies that bear much similarity to the Buddhist practices of South-East Asian Hinayana Buddhists.
The greatness of Mahayana lies in its all-embracing quality, and the Buddhists of Nepal have many gods in common with the Hindus, or more correctly, many aspects of the re-incarnation of Buddha which correspond to Hindu deities. They too are great believers in the Tantric arts.
A favourite god of both Hindus and Buddhists alike is the Red Macchendranath or Red Avelokiteswara, a rain-god for Hindus whilst for Buddhists he is Chenresig, the reincarnation of the Compassion of Buddha.
Finally, there is the Bon or animist religion which is neither of the above two, although some aspects of Bon worship are similar to them both and old animists gods have often been accommodated in Hindu and Buddhist worship. The animists rely on Jhankris to lead their worship. The Jhankris are priests and faith-healers who will declare spells to cure ailments and enrich lands. At the same time they are skilfull healers with old remedies and their medicine is not to be dismissed in a land where modern medical facilities are not easily available. In fact their role is probably nearest in kinship to that of the North-American tribal medicine man. They claim neither to be Hindu nor Buddhist although they probabty mix a little of the beliefs of each into their worship.
This is typical not only of this region but of Nepal as a whole. Worship is life in a way that is difficult to visualise for those who come from countries that are technologically a century or more ahead of Nepal.
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