Essential for both the traveller and scholar alike, Nepal fills a long dormant gap in the literature of this spectacular region and is a product of many years of individual research by scholars of Nepal's history, religion, art and sociology. It draws on a variety of authoritative studies of Nepal's cultural history that have been published in European and Nepalese languages.
The guide begins with an overview of the history of Nepal. This focuses on the Kathmandu Valley, with its rich and sophisticated culture, but also outlines developments of historical importance outside the Valley. This is followed by a detailed introduction to religion as it is practised in Nepal: here, the focus is on Hinduism and Buddhism, and on the major deities of each tradition, their relationship to one another, and their representation in art and sculpture.
There are also introductory chapters on the main forms of architecture and the principal art forms: painting, stone sculpture, metalcasting and woodcarving.
The second part of the book consists of in-depth descriptions of specific sites within the Kathmandu Valley, each written by a scholar who has a long and intimate acquaintance with the temples, places, stupas and other monuments he or she describes. The book is copiously illustrated with photographs in monochrome and colour, and contains maps and line-drawings. There is a chronology and a full glossary of Nepali, Newari and Sanskrit terms.
Although written mainly by academics, the book is intended for a general readership. Easily portable in format, Nepal does not tell the reader where to stay, what to eat or what to wear. It will though help those who wish to appreciate the cultural splendours of Nepal in their historical and religious context and require more information than is imparted by the average tourist guidebook.