Nepal does not have a longstanding Jewish population or any Jewish sites, but it is one of the most popular destinations for Israeli tourists. Any visitor to Nepal is guaranteed to hear Hebrew being spoken in the streets and to see Hebrew signs and T-shirts in the main tourist locations.
Nepal’s permanent Jewish population is small, mainly consisting of embassy officials, Chabad House employees, and a small handful of Israeli expats. In 1989, the Israeli embassy began hosting annual Passover seders for Israeli travelers. The first event proved to be so popular that the embassy called Chabad to step in and help. Today’s annual seder in Kathmandu, hosted by Chabad, is the largest seder in the world. Read more about it here: http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/1497338/jewish/Nepal-Seder-Enjoys-Long-History.htm
In addition to the year-round Chabad House in Kathmandu, Chabad has now established a new House in Pokhara. Both Chabad Houses feature restaurants, although the Pokhara location is only operational for a few months of every year. Please call ahead for information to be sure it is open. Finally, Chabad organizes a Passover seder at a third location (Manang) in Nepal along the famous Annapurna trek through the Himalayas.
If you are staying in Kathmandu, some hotels, like VisitNepal, offer discounts if you mention that Chabad sent you. You may find the same thing in Pokhara in some, such as the Village Inn. Our favorite guesthouse in Pokhara was Hotel Wood Pigeon, a 15-20 minute walk from Chabad, but inexpensive with stunning views of Phewa Lake.
In both Pokhara and Kathmandu you will find two main providers for trekking, rafting, and other adventure services, Shai Travels and Swissa. We’ve tried both and been very happy with both of them. They are both fluent in Hebrew and service mainly Israeli and Jewish travelers, so that they understand the needs of Shabbos and kosher. Swissa will also offer you a coupon for a free hummus at Or2K, an Israeli vegetarian restaurant in Kathmandu, although Or2K is not strictly kosher.
There are no formal mikvah facilities available in Nepal, although the small nation’s countless lakes and rivers are considered kosher for tevila.
Nepal is a country with incredible natural beauty and it is not hard to see why so many Israelis flock there. The people are friendly, welcoming, and warm. There is really something for everybody in Nepal – from mountain-climbing and treks in the snowy Himalayas to white water rafting and kayaking to paragliding to jungle adventures where you can see rhinoceros in the wild.
Chabad House of Kathmandu
P.O. Box 1844 Thamel
Mrs. Chani Lifshitz
Rabbi Yechezkel Lifshitz