Nepal’s mountainous landscape offers much to love. Gleaming snow-capped peaks set against clear blue skies are a common sight. A bit closer to the ground, a colorful culture provides heavenly hues. Not everyone will get the chance to make the treacherous treks to the top of Mounts Everest or Annapurna or to visit the birthplace of Buddha, but you can still get a look at some of those amazing sites through these photos from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest.

prayer wheels
Buddhist mantras are often carved into prayer wheels that are meant to be rotated clockwise as visitors circle the temple in reverence. Sarah Delia, Kathmandu, 2019
Lumbini, a Buddhist pilgrimage site, is considered the birthplace of Buddha and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chun-Ju Wu, Rupandehi, 2016

Sun Sky
Although they’re closer to the bright sun than most things on Earth are, these mountain peaks remain covered in snow. Sujoy Das, Koshi Province, 2011
It’s a scene that could be found almost anywhere in the world. Students walk the streets of Bhaktapur as merchants sell their goods. Roberto Pazzi, Bhaktapur, 2018
elephant handlers
At Chitwan National Park, elephant handlers mount the pachyderms and direct them home after bath time at the river. Sarah Delia, Chitwan, 2019

A climber takes a moment to appreciate the view of the Himalayas before heading on to Mount Everest’s base camp. Ronil Patel, Koshi Province, 2018
A Trail Shop
Standing along the Mount Everest base camp trail, a rooster seemingly dares passers-by to buy those eggs in the display behind him. Micah Lynn, Phakding, 2019
At the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, a crowd of Nepalese observers celebrate Bala Chaturdashi, an occasion to remember their deceased family members. Roberto Pazzi, Kathmandu, 2018

With a furry coat to stave off the cold, this yak can tolerate the frigid temperatures atop the Annapurna mountain range. Angelo van der Laan, Annapurna, 2017
Hindu Temple
A man in colorful garments stands near an entrance to Pashupatinath Temple, a Hindu place of worship. Sujoy Das, Koshi Province, 2011
3 Sherpas
Three Sherpas journey past a tranquil lake, mirroring the majestic Machapuchare mountain, which is considered sacred by some. Marc Baechtold, Gandaki Province, 2023

Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world, was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979. Marco Panzetti, Kathmandu, 2018
Memorial cairns
These memorial cairns sit high on the snow-capped ridges above Namche Bazaar, as Konge Ri mountain looms in the background. Matthew Buese, Solukhumbu District, 2018
Prayer Flags
The starry night sky is the backdrop for colorful Buddhist prayer flags, which are commonly arranged in a specific order, from left to right: blue, white, red, green, yellow. All five colors together signify balance. Sanket Khuntale, Kathmandu, 2017

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