Monday, June 3, 2013

Pokhara - Mountaineers Delight

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Pokhara  is the second largest city of Nepal and is situated about 200 km west of the capital Kathmandu. It serves as the headquarters of Kaski District, Gandaki Zone and the Western Development Region.
Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal. Three out of the ten highest mountains in the world — Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu — are situated within 30 miles (linear distance) of the city, so that the northern skyline of the city offers a very close view of the Himalayas. Due to its proximity to the Annapurna mountain range, the city is also a base for trekkers undertaking the Annapurna Circuit through the ACAP region of the Annapurna ranges in the Himalayas.

There was a huge Maoist problem in Kathmandu(and whole of Nepal) , all the Shops were closed, transportation had come to a halt. We never thought the situation would be so bad. The hotel and sightseeing trip was booked at Pokhara beforehand. However, we managed to get few seats in a local bus that plies from Kathmandu to Pokhara.  

The route from Kathmandu to Pokhara is very scenic, which offers the view of some great valleys , rivers , lush green forests and a bypass route to the famous Manakamna temple. There are many places  where adventure sports like Kayaking and white river rafting along the Trishuli river are conducted enroute.

After a light breakfast on the way, we headed towards Pokhara. But on the way, some protesters got into the bus, and caused a delay of around 30 mins to our journey.

We reached Pokhara at noon, checked into a nice hotel "Nepal Guest House" , which is on the banks of the Phewa Lake.

Places of interest :

1. Phewa Lake : Phewa Lake, Phewa Tal or Fewa Lake is a freshwater lake in Nepal located in the south of the Pokhara Valley that includes Pokhara city; parts of Sarangkot and Kaskikot. The lake is stream-fed but a dam regulates the water reserve, therefore, the lake is classified as semi-natural freshwater lake. It is the second largest lake in Nepal, the largest in Gandaki Zone.

The Boat ride is a fun filled moment for everyone.
We can get the first glimpse of Mt. Macchapucchare from here. 

There is a small island in the middle of the lake called as the Barahi island. This has a temple named Barahi Mandir or the Tal Barahi mandir.

One of the most popular landmarks in Pokhara is the Barahi temple, which is visited by hundreds of people everyday. The temple is situated on an island surrounded by Phewa lake.

People visiting Pokhara are most certain to make a trip to the temple. The only way to go there is by boat.

After a beautiful and refreshing boat ride in the lake and a divine visit to the temple, the stress of the bus journey had vanished. We were also energized to do some more adventures :)

By this time, the sun began to set, and I was waiting to do some sunset photography.

Two major ways of transport apart from bus are Boat and Bicycle. One can get a bicycle for a day's/week's rent depending on the availability.


Enjoying Sunset in the lap of Himalayas is something special.

The next morning, we had planned to go to Sarangkot, to enjoy the beautiful sunrise with the majestic mountains in the background. But, we did not get any transport as the protests were going on. So we planned for "World Peace Pagoda" or the Shanti Stupa, which is on top of the Pokhara valley .

We woke up at 4AM, to see the magnificent sunrise with the Annapurna range. When the golden rays of the sun touch the mountains, the whole environment becomes magical !!!

2. Shanti Stupa - World Peace Pagoda : A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa; a monument to inspire peace, designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds.

Gaining entry to this is via boat only. This stupa is on a small hillock which is on the other bank of the Phewa Lake. We had to climb (trek) the mountain to reach there. The whole Pokhara valley can be seen from the top of the mountain.

The Stupa is on a hillock named "Minthumkumki"

To view the whole Annapurna range, climbing the Shanti Stupa is a very good option. Alternative to this is Sarangkot.

From Sarangkot, on the northern direction we can see Dhawalagiri in the far west . Annapurna range is visible when the weather is clear on the same side. On the southern direction the village overlooks the city of Pokhara and its lake on the north-western outskirts of the city.


The colorful boats are arranged at the bank which attracts many tourists.

A small flight that plies between Pokhara to Jomsom.

Jomsom also known as Dzongsam or New Fort, is a town located at an altitude of 2800m in Mustang District, Nepal. It extends over both the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. Along the banks of Kali Gandaki river there are rocks holy to the Hindus. The soaring peaks of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri form a backdrop.

It is the gateway to Mukthinath (A famous pilgrimage centre dedicated to Lord Vishnu along the banks of Kali Gandaki river)

Pokhara Valley as seen from Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda)

As, we climbed up, the cool breeze and the mighty Himalayas surrounded us. The way to the stupa is along a small patch of forest, which is home to plenty of birds and flowers.

Splendid view of Mt. Annapurna II and Mt. Macchapucchare

Tourist taking a photograph of the Pokhara Valley. The Phewa lake is a major water source to the city.

The Red-billed Blue Magpie, Urocissa erythrorhyncha is a species of bird in the crow family Corvidae. It is about the same size as the European Magpie but has a much longer tail.

   Red Billed Blue Magpie

Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in Japanese cities including Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of World War II. By 2000, eighty Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Other Places Of Interest :

1. Gupteshwor Cave :

Just opposite of Devi's fall, on the other side of the road there is Gupteshwor Cave. This cave is popular for the different natural forms made from limestone deposits.

2. Bindhyabasini Temple

This is one of the oldest temples in Pokhara. Legend says that when Pokhara was a part of Kaski Kingdom, the main deity of the temple, Goddess Durga, was brought from India. Apart from the peace and tranquility that can be felt in this region, the premises of the temple offers a good view of the Himalaya on a clear day. The temple is in the area of the Bazaar; hence, a journey of the old bazaar can be combined with a visit to the temple.

3. Devi's Falls : 

It is also called as David's Falls or Devi'ls Falls. The sight of this falls in monsoons are magnificent. You can have a day long picnic by the falls. Be careful as there are legends about people drowning in the fall.

4. International Mountain Museum : 

While in Pokhara make it a point to visit the International Mountain Museum (IMM) that records, documents, exhibits and chronicles the past and the present development of mountains and mountaineering activities in the world. It is built by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

Getting there :

1. The closest Indian border is a village called Sunauli . Regular transportation such as Taxi's / Hired Cabs are available from here. Sunauli can be reached via Gorakhpur.

2. If you are coming from Kathmandu, there are multiple bus services that ply to Pokhara daily.
The bus trip between Kathmandu and Pokhara takes six to eight hours, depending on the condition of the road and the number of army checkpoints along the way. All buses make a stop at a roadside restaurant along the way.

3. Also there are many flights that go to Pokhara from KTM daily.

Adventure activities in Pokhara :

Boating - There are many lakes here which offer boating. Phewa is famous.

Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking - Many rivers like Seti , Trishuli offer Rafting and Kayaking activities.

Canyoning -  is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rapelling and/or swimming.

Caving - Many caves such as Mahendra gufa or Gupteshwar gufa is good for caving. 

Hiking - Famous for Hiking all the way.

Mule rides - There are also mule/horse rides offered to the people along villages, which offer a scenic view of the mountains.

Paragliding - One of the best adventures one can have at Pokhara. It starts at Sarangkot, and the backdrop is Mt.Macchapucchare. Now just imagine !!!

Thank You

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