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10 Best Documentaries About Nepal To Watch

These documentaries about Nepal show a land nestled within the majestic peaks of the Himalayas of unparalleled beauty, rich in cultural heritage, and spiritual significance.

This small South Asian nation, sandwiched between India and China, has captured the imagination of adventurers, trekkers, and spiritual seekers alike. Renowned for its diverse landscapes ranging from Mount Everest’s towering heights to its lowland plains’ lush greenery, Nepal is a country that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity.


Documentaries About Nepal

These documentaries about Nepal provide a multifaceted view of the country, offering glimpses into its culture, traditions, challenges, and the extraordinary stories of its people.

Please note that these documentaries cover many different aspects of the country. If you are looking for documentaries specifically about mountains and trekking then I suggest you look at my other article about the 10 best documentaries about Mount Everest (opens in new tab.)


Sherpa (2015)

Sherpa focuses on the Sherpa community in Nepal and their crucial role in supporting climbers attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The film sheds light on the Sherpas’ perspectives, their cultural and spiritual connections to the mountain, and the risks they take in their profession.

It also delves into the dynamics between climbers and Sherpas, particularly in the aftermath of the tragic avalanche on Mount Everest in 2014. The avalanche resulted in the deaths of 16 Sherpas and sparked discussions about the working conditions, pay, and treatment of Sherpa guides.

“Sherpa” provides a compelling and often emotional exploration of the challenges faced by the Sherpa community in the context of the commercialization of Everest expeditions.

This is my overall favourite one out of these documentaries about Nepal.


Children of the Snow Land (2018)

Children of the Snow Land follows the lives of a group of Nepalese children who are sent away from their families to attend a school in the capital city, Kathmandu.

The title “Children of the Snow Land” refers to the fact that the school is located in the Himalayas, where snow-covered mountains dominate the landscape. The film documents the children’s journey from their remote villages to the school, exploring the challenges they face as they adjust to urban life and pursue education.

The documentary provides a poignant look at the sacrifices made by the families who send their children to school in the hopes of providing them with better educational opportunities. It touches on themes of cultural identity, separation, and the impact of modernization on traditional ways of life.


The Last Honey Hunter (2017)

The Last Honey Hunter explores the traditional practice of honey hunting in the remote and mountainous regions of Nepal.

The documentary focuses on Mauli Dhan Rai, a member of the Kulung culture, who is known as the last honey hunter in his community. The Kulung people have a long-standing tradition of harvesting honey from the cliffs of the Himalayan foothills, and the film provides a cinematic portrayal of this perilous and ancient practice.

“The Last Honey Hunter” not only showcases the breathtaking landscapes of Nepal but also delves into the cultural significance of honey hunting for the Kulung people. The documentary captures the risks and challenges faced by Mauli Dhan Rai and his fellow honey hunters as they navigate cliffs to collect honeycomb.


Even When I Fall (2017)

Even When I Fall tells the inspiring story of two Nepali women, Saraswoti and Sheetal, who were trafficked into Indian circuses as children but eventually escaped and formed their own circus company.

The documentary follows the journey of Saraswoti and Sheetal as they reclaim their lives and create a new future for themselves. They established the first contemporary circus in Nepal, called Circus Kathmandu, using their skills and resilience to overcome the challenges they faced.

The film explores themes of resilience, empowerment, the healing power of art and sheds light on the issue of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly in the context of the circus industry, while also celebrating the strength and determination of the human spirit.


Shamans of the Blind Country (1981)

Shamans of the Blind Country is a documentary film directed by Michael Oppitz, a Swiss filmmaker and ethnologist, which explores the culture and rituals of the Jhankri, the shamanic healers, in the villages of the Limbu people in eastern Nepal.

The documentary provides insights into the traditional practices of the Jhankri, their rituals, and the cultural context in which they operate. Michael Oppitz is known for his anthropological approach to filmmaking, and “Shamans of the Blind Country” is an example of his work in documenting and preserving the cultural heritage of indigenous communities.

If you’re interested in ethnographic documentaries or the cultural practices of Himalayan communities, then “Shamans of the Blind Country” is one of the best documentaries about Nepal for you to watch.


I Am Belmaya (2020)

I Am Belmaya tells the story of Belmaya Nepali, a woman from a remote village in Nepal who, after facing adversity in her life, decides to pick up a camera and learn filmmaking as a means of self-expression and empowerment.

The documentary follows Belmaya’s journey as she learns the art of filmmaking and begins to document her own life and the lives of other women in her community. It explores themes of resilience, empowerment, and the transformative power of storytelling.

“I Am Belmaya” sheds light on the challenges faced by women in Nepal, including issues such as child marriage and domestic violence, and emphasizes the importance of giving a voice to those who are often marginalized.


Manakamana (2013)

Manakamana is known for its unique concept and cinematography. The film captures a series of cable car rides to the sacred temple of Manakamana in the mountains of Nepal.

The cable car, which was introduced as a means of transportation to the temple, provides a scenic journey, and the filmmakers decided to record a series of unedited, uninterrupted rides in the cable car cabins. Each ride features different groups of people, ranging from pilgrims to tourists, as they make the journey to and from the temple.

The film’s approach is minimalistic, allowing you to observe the passengers and the changing landscapes without narration or a traditional storyline. “Manakamana” is often praised for its contemplative and immersive nature, offering a unique cinematic experience that invites you to reflect on the diverse perspectives and experiences of the people featured in the documentary.


Aftershock: Everest and the Nepal Earthquake (2022)

This is a documentary series that takes a look at the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, where 9000 people were left dead and several million homeless.

The series focuses on three different locations and people who suffered from the earthquake in those areas and gives an emotional look at how people there were affected.


Nepal: The Paths Of Wisdom

This documentary about Nepal is available to watch for free on YouTube and tells the story of the Gorkha region, which is far from the main tourist areas. The inhabitants of the region regularly fight against the monsoon and during these times the mountain villages find themselves isolated for long months.

Many vehicles and pack mules try to supply the people there and the journey is a dangerous one to undertake. This is a remarkable tale of achievement to help these people.


14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible (2021)

I’m adding this one at the end as it’s not specifically a documentary just about Nepal, but it is an incredible story about a Nepali mountaineer, Nimsdai Purja, who goes on a mission to climb 14 of the highest mountains in the world that are all over 8000 metres.

It’s a very inspiring story and features some shots of Nepal itself. I highly recommend watching this one.


Nepal

Whether exploring the high-altitude landscapes or the intricacies of daily life, each of these documentaries about Nepal contributes to a deeper understanding of this enchanting Himalayan nation.

For more on Nepal have a look at the 10 best documentaries about Mount Everest.

For more on this region have a look at my guide to travelling in Sikkim, the Himalayan state in India next to Nepal.


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