Many tourists come to Nepal for thangkas alone, and rightly so. A souvenir that is worth the search and effort, thangkas are a traditional hand painting on cotton or silk canvas, and an emblem of the rich culture of the country. These religious scroll paintings can take six to eighteen months to make, depending on the size and details added. Perfect for hanging on your wall, thangkas can command quite a sum as they are meticulously crafted following rigid specifications laid down in detail, but they are definitely worth it.
Surendra’s Tibetan Thanka Treasure Pvt Ltd, Thamel, Kathmandu, +977 01 4700177
Khukuri knives are exquisite pieces of Nepali craftsmanship. This famous knife used by the Nepali Gurkha soldiers is also commonly used in every village in Nepal. Many of these knives found in Kathmandu today are specifically made for tourists as a keepsake, making them a must-buy souvenir when visiting the country. Being the national knife of Nepal, it is presented as a token of love on special occasions. They are a great centrepiece and conversation starter that symbolise bravery, and are a unique memento to take back home. Just don’t forget to pack them in your checked luggage!
Khukuri House, Ekanta Kuna, Lalitpur +977 9851033538
Singing bowls can make up for interesting souvenirs, with a multitude of uses when you get back home. These hand-crafted metal musical instruments emit continuous harmonic sound and vibration from the rim when struck by a padded mallet in circles. The vibration produced by the bowl is said to have perfect healing qualities, and ideal while meditating. The bowls come in various sizes, and antique singing bowls are often hand-hammered and crafted by at least three skilled artisans. All roadside vendors at the Durbar Squares in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan have stalls of singing bowls on display. You should invest in a singing bowl if you’re planning to meditate, or if you just want a calming experience.
Golden Temple Singing Bowls and Healing Centre, Kwalkhu, Patan, +977 01 5531956
From miniature Hindu and Buddhist deities to life-sided carved wooden masks to terracotta puppets, handicrafts are in abundance in Nepal. These one-of-a-kind handmade crafts are intricately detailed and make for a beautiful wall hangings and show pieces. Just don’t buy antique pieces, as it’s illegal to take them out of the country.
Mahaguthi Craft, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, +977 01 4438760
Tibetan prayer flags
When visiting Nepal you may notice colourful flags fluttering at important places around the country. These colourful flags are Tibetan prayer flags, or dar cho, intended to increase life, fortune, wealth and health of all sentient beings. With symbols, sacred texts and mantras etched onto them, they are believed to generate spiritual vibrations that are released when blown by the wind carried in the air as silent prayers. You can hang them in your garden to remind you of your trip. These prayer flags are easily available at tourist souvenir shops around Kathmandu.
There is little doubt that the way to a woman’s heart is through fine jewellery, and jewellery as exotic and colourful as that found in Nepal could make many a woman happy. Whether silver or gold, beads or semi-precious stones, blue lapis or yak bone, Nepal has it all. You can either buy something readymade or custom made, or you can opt to buy individual beads to create your own necklace.
Yak & Yeti Entreprises, Lazimpath, Kathmandu +977 01 4413760
Lokta Paper Products
Lokta paper is made of rice husk, and is an interesting souvenir from Nepal. In recent years, this industry has seen much innovation. You can find lampshades, photo albums, wallpaper and even handbags made of lokta paper. However, the most popular lokta products are cultural calendars, notebooks, diaries, gift boxes and loose paper.
Baber Mahal Revisited, Tanka Prasad Ghumti Sadak, Kathmandu +977 01 424872
Known to the world as cashmere, in Nepal Pashmina is considered of the world’s most luxurious natural fabrics. They are made from the soft hair of mountain goats found on the Tibetan Plateau. Soft and warm, these handmade shawls are the perfect item to gift friends and family. They make a great fashion statement, they never go out of style and are perfect for any occasion. Besides shawls, don’t forget to look out for cardigans, stoles and blankets to take back home.
Nyano Pashmina, Thamel, Kathmandu, +977 01 4268713
Nepalis just love drinking tea. Different varieties of tea–like oolong, Earl Grey, green, masala, silver tips and golden tips–are all available in beautiful packets. When visiting restaurants in the country, a cup of milk tea is worth trying, and if you get addicted to sweet Nepali chiya, take some back home.
Teafresho, Chhusya Galli, Thamel, Kathmandu +977 9851091618
Tiger moving game (Bagh Chal)
In search of something unusual to take home for your coffee table? Opt for this traditional Nepali board game called Bagh Chal (tiger moving game). There are four tiger pieces and twenty goat pieces in the game. The goat wins by surrounding the tigers, or the tiger wins by capturing all the goats. The board layout is easy to draw, and players can play this game anywhere. This in an intelligent puzzle game, and buying one for family or friends can forge a relationship between people.
Mahaguthi Craft, Lazimpat, Kathmandu +977 01 4438760