10 books for Tihar

Here are the recent 10 books selected by the Nepali Times team for your Tihar reading. From heritage restoration and preservation to exploring Nepal’s culinary diversity, from foreign diplomacy to its strategic location between India and China, from Himalayan architecture and humanitarian support to hard-earned democracy, the listicle has something for anyone looking to learn more about Nepal in-depth.

Timmur: Stories and Flavours of Nepal
Nepali cuisine is so much more than dal-bhat-tarkari and momo. With over 100 ethnic communities, the country’s culinary range is as vast as its biodiversity. Prashanta Khanal’s cookbook Timmur: Stories and Flavours of Nepal presents selected recipes from 12 ethnic groups, with unknown and overlooked dishes from around the country. While the book does not represent the entirety of Nepali cuisine, it is a fine example of what Nepal has to offer, and perhaps a step towards having more than a few well-known dishes represent the country in the world’s gastronomic atlas. You might want to try cooking some these dishes this Tihar.

Timmur: Stories and Flavors of Nepal

By Prashanta Khanal

Fine Print 2022

297 pages

Regular hardback Rs2,500

Special hardback with slipcase Rs3,000

Kingdom Lost: Nepal’s Tryst with Democracy 1951-2008

Kingdom Lost: Nepal’s Tryst with Democracy 1951-2008 chronicles Nepal’s tumultuous road to democracy spanning 70 years after the Ranas. Two players stand out in the sequel: BP Koirala and King Mahendra. Kingdom Lost stops in 2008 but readers would agree that a third book depicting Nepal’s rocky transition to peace and federalism, the stalled transitional justice mechanism, the new Constitution and the rise of alternative politicians is due. Sagar Rana's previous book, Singha Durbar, is an inside story of the Rana era by a descendant of Chandra Shumsher, grandson of Gen Baber Shumsher, son of educationist Mrigendra Shumsher and brother of Bharat Shumsher.

Kingdom Lost: Nepal’s Tryst with Democracy 1951-2008

Sagar SJB Rana

Rupa Publications, 2023

326 pages Rs952

Monuments of the Kathmandu Valley: Before & After the 2015 earthquake

Within minutes of the 7.8M earthquake in 2015, Nepal’s foremost heritage architect Rohit Ranjitkar was out helping rescue not just those trapped under the rubble but also mobilising the community to safeguard many of the artefacts that fell. He has now put together a voluminous documentation of the repair, restoration and rebuilding of Kathmandu Valley’s monuments after the 2015 earthquake, a post-mortem of how the historic temples, shrines, monasteries, stupas, rest houses and Rana palaces were rebuilt from the ground up – with both good and bad examples. The 625-page volume is lavishly illustrated with photographs and drawings of the reconstruction process including that of Machindranath Temple in Bungmati, the Indrayani Temple built in 1792, Kasthamandap, Boudhanath stupa, and more.

Monuments of the Kathmandu Valley: 

Before & After the 2015 Earthquake

Achievement in Seven Years

by Rohit Ranjitkar

Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, 2023

+977 1 5523212

ISBN: 978-9937-1-3504-7

Restoration of Itumbaha

Seven of Kathmandu Valley’s temple complexes are on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, and Itumbaha is one of five main Newar Buddhist monastic enclaves in Kathmandu. Itumbaha has existed for at least 800 years, and is only one of only three monastic structures in Kathmandu Valley that have preserved their original architecture for so long. The historical and cultural importance of Itumbaha and its meticulous rehabilitation from 2002- 2016 is the subject of this book Restoration of Itumbaha. With contributions from a star cast of heritage conservationists and architects like Niels Gutschow, Thomas Schrom and Rohit Ranjitkar, the book can serve as a useful guide for first-time visitors and frequenters alike.

Restoration of Itumbaha

Buddhist Kathmandu Campaign — Itumbaha Initiative 2002-2016

Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, 2023

200 pages

ISBN 978-9937-3-3637-2 

Between the Mountain and the Sky

Maggie Doyne was a wide-eyed 19-year-old in 2006 when she came to Nepal to backpack. While walking along a dry river bed in Surkhet, she spotted a 6-year-old girl Hima Tamata helping her mother break boulders for a construction contractor, and she became the reason Doyne stayed on in Nepal to help disadvantaged children with money she earned from baby-sitting back home in Mendham, New Jersey. Seventeen years later, the act of enrolling Hima in school has grown into the BlinkNow Foundation which has educated over 500 children now. Along the way, Doyne was named CNN Hero in 2015, and has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and this newspaper. She was also named Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine. Published in 2022, Doyne’s biography is an emotional coming-of-age story of how one gap year student can change the world. Along the way, there are personal hurdles, financial challenges, the tragic loss of two children, and finally finding love.

Between the Mountain and the Sky: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, Healing, and Hope

by Maggie Doyne

Safu Publications, 2023

(South Asian Edition)

251 pages


Himalayan Style: Shelters & Sanctuaries

The Himalaya may be famous globally for the world’s highest mountains and the people who climb them, but this 3,000km range has also evolved its own distinctive art and architecture. Kathmandu-based photographer Thomas L Kelly and author Claire Burkert collaborated to document the elegance of the built environment of the Himalaya in a new edition of their coffee-table book. The final product is a record of Himalayan design, style and culture across Pakistan, India, Bhutan, China and Nepal some of which are disappearing, and others are being revived. First published in 2014, the 2022 edition updates the content with new museums that preserve art and precious objects, and public gardens that are oases in the urban sprawl of Himalayan towns. In essence, a book by non-Nepalis to remind Nepalis about the richness and treasures of Himalayan style and our way of life.

Himalayan Style: Shelters & Sanctuaries

by Thomas L Kelly and Claire Burkert 

Mandala Publishing, 2022 

304 pages

Hardback: $49.99

The Nepal Nexus

This is the English translation and updated version of the 2013 bestseller Prayogshala by editor Sudheer Sharma. It offers readers a vivid account of Nepal’s ten-year conflict, the 2006 people’s movement, the fragile transition that followed, to the Maoists’ subsequent rise to power. It has gripping revelations about the dynamics between the palace, Parliament, the (Royal) Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Maoists between 1996 and 2006. One of the highlights of

Sharma’s book is the treatment of Nepal’s relations with its neighbours, in particular India’s role in helping the Maoists join mainstream politics – apparently as a way to weaken a nationalist monarchy as well as to show India’s own Maoist revolutionaries that there was an electoral path to power.

The Nepal Nexus

An Inside Account of the Maoists, the Durbar, and New Delhi

by Sudheer Sharma

Penguin, 2019

521 pages 


Democracy in Turns

Sanjay Upadhya’s book looks back at the country's struggle to construct a new democratic identity under seven constitutions in seven decades. The author casts a critical look at the country’s monarchy, the decline of the political parties as well as the rise of ideology-personality politics including the Maoists, and non-political actors and their significant influence over the national discourse. The book also analyses Nepal’s corruption conundrum including the alleged increase in corruption post-Panchyat, electoral politics, and how the anti-graft body CIAA found itself at the centre of politics while issues of transitional justice and human rights were cast aside.

Democracy in Turns: A Political Account of Nepal

by Sanjay Upadhyay

FinePrint Books, 2023


280 pages 

All Roads Lead North

The 2015 Indian Blockade is often considered the turning point in Nepal's relations with China for transboundary trade, energy and infrastructure. But Nepal did not turn northwards overnight. The book is as much about China’s rise as a global superpower as it is about Nepal’s foreign relations. It delves into the historical and cultural ties between the two countries, rooted in Buddhism. Tibetan guerrilla fighters, failed coup leaders, trans-Himalayan traders and territorial disputes make for an interesting read with the writer primarily reflecting on the suffocating embrace of India and China next door to Nepal.

All Roads Lead North

Nepal's Turn To China

by Amish Raj Mulmi

Context, 2021

320 pages

Hardcover: Rs1,278

Unleashing the Vajra

Nepal’s great advantage is its strategic location between India and China, more so now as the two giants emerge as the next global superpowers. Historically, Nepal has been at its most prosperous when it has leveraged this geographical position but rarely have our politicians played the game right, instead pitting China and India against each other, and in turn, losing in spades. What Nepal needs to do is hitch its wagon to the fast-moving engines to its north and south, writes former columnist of this paper, Sujeev Shakya. He analyses the social, political and cultural aspects underlying the current state of Nepal to strategise the recalibrations required to capitalise on its location while also arguing that economic transformations cannot be realised through money and management skills alone but have to be driven by societal transformation.

Unleashing the Vajra

Nepal's Journey Between India and China

by Sujeev Shakya

Penguin, 2019

414 pages


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