National Geographic : 1920 Oct
VOL. XXXVIII, No. 4 WASHINGTON THE NATIONAL COPRIGHT.190.Y NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETYWASINGTON C COPYRIGHT.1920.BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,WASHINGTON,D. C. OCTOBER, 1920 NEPAL: A LITTLE-KNOWN KINGDOM BY JOHN CLAUDE WHITE AUTHOR o1P "LHASA. TIIl' WORn'S STRANGEST CAPITAL," "CASTLES IN TH AIR," AND "UNKNOWN PITUTAN" With Photographs by the Author A MONG the Himalayan Mountains, of which it owns a fair portion, including Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is the Kingdom of Nepal. Often heard of, it is one of the native Asian States of which least is known. With the exception of the British Resi dent and a few European officials who live in the Residency grounds at Khat mandu, the capital, no one is allowed to visit the country without a special per mit issued by the Durbar. When the pass or permit has been obtained, visitors are obliged to travel by one particular route and are not allowed to go beyond the Valley of Khatmandu, a tract of country about 15 miles wide by 20 miles long, surrounded by high mountains. The road into Nepal for its entire length is purposely kept in a bad state of repair by the Durbar and runs over quite unnecessarily difficult country, the idea being that the worse the road the more difficult it would be for attacking troops to enter the country. On one occasion, when coming up from the plains, I re turned to Khatmandu by a fairly good road, turning off near Chitlong and en tering the valley close to Patan. The Gurkha "escort," which always accom panies Europeans on any journey in Nepal, had temporarily left me, and, see ing the road, I rode in quite easily before the escort discovered I had left Chitlong. So I found that there was this much good road, at any rate, and I believe there is a good road all the way to the plains of India down the valley of the Bagh mutti, but no Europeans are allowed to travel on it. A TURBULENT, ACTIVE, PROLIFIC PEOPLE The Nepalese are a prolific people of very great energy and activity, eager to make the most of any opportunity which offers itself. The population is increas ing so fast that outlets have to be found, and the trend of emigration now is to follow the foothills along Bhutan and into Assam. They make good settlers, though some what turbulent, bring their manners and customs and religion with them, and do not intermarry with the people of the countries in which they settle. They re quire a very firm hand to keep them in order in the lands of their adoption. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that, in the near future, from sheer force of numbers, they will become the domi nating race in Bhutan, the Bhutanese be ing few in number and a race which ap parently is on the wane. The Nepalese are a fighting people, have an excellent army and organization, and are fond of show, both in military display and in their religious festivals. The latter are very numerous and in fact seem to be interminable. The women take a prominent part in most of them.