16 Feb 2023 Bodhi Adventures
Pokhara’s tranquil beauty has been the subject of inspiration for many travel writers. Its pristine air, spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks, blue lakes and surrounding greenery make it ‘the jewel in the Himalaya’, a place of remarkable natural disposition. With the magnificent Annapurna range forming the backdrop and the serenity of the cluster of 9 lakes with three major ones – Phewa, Rupa and Begnas – Pokhara is a great destination for a weekend getaway as well as a long relaxing holiday. Pokhara Valley, gateway to the Annapurna region where many a trekker finds his Shangri-la, sits high on the list of ‘must visit’ places in Nepal.
Pokhara once lay on the important trade route between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains set up camps on the city outskirts, bringing goods from remote Himalayan regions including Mustang. Gurungs and Magars, who have earned world-wide fame as fierce Gurkha warriors, are predominant here. Thakalis, indigenous of the Thak Khola region of Mustang, are known for their entrepreneurship and run tea houses along the trek routes in the Annapurna region. The Pokhara is best known for the stunning view of the Annapurna range. It is perhaps one of the few places on earth from where mountains above 6,000 m can be seen unobstructed from an altitude of 800 m within the distance of 28 km.
Many find Machhapuchhre’s razor-edged “Fish Tail” peak piercing the skyline or reflected in the still waters of Phewa Lake to be their most lasting impression of Nepal. Pokhara Valley has in recent years grown as a destination for adventure sports such as paragliding and ultra-light aircraft flights. And with boating, bird watching, trekking and mountain biking as other attractions, Pokhara has it all.
PLACES TO SEE IN POKHARA
PHEWA & CLUSTER OF 9 LAKES
Pokhara owes much its popularity to the enchanting fresh-water Cluster of 9 Lakes which include the popular Phewa, Begnas, Rupa, Khaste, Dipang, Maidi, Gunde, Neurani, Kamalpokhari and Pokhara Seti Catchment, lakes. The lakes give Pokhara its name and also play a vital role in sustaining the biodiversity, ecosystem and the local livelihood. The Pokhara Valley Lake Cluster was listed as Ramsar Site on Feb. 2, 2021.
On the eastern shore of Phewa Lake is Lakeside or Baidam, a thriving resort town of hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops popular among travelers. Phewa Lake is a great place to relax with various leisure and water activities. Boaters usually also make it a point to visit Taal Barahi Temple dedicated to Ajima or Shakti, on a little strip of island in Phewa Lake. Equally popular are the Begnas and Rupa lakes which are a little out of town and offer refreshing breaks from the city humdrum. Boats can be hired in the lake vicinities.
An interesting tourist attraction of Pokhara is Seti River, which cuts gorgeously through the Mahabharat range and, therefore, seems to disappear in caves and tunnels in many places along its route through Pokhara city. At various points Seti is barely 2 m wide but its depth reaches an astonishing 20 m! The river gorge can be seen from several spots in the city ie Mahendra Pul, K.I. Singh Pul and Prithvi Chowk Pul. From these spots, the river can be seen in all its ferocity gushing down the deep gorge that it has carved over millennia. Seti which literally means the White River originates from the Annapurna Massif.
DAVI’S FALL & GUPTESHWAR
Locally known as the Patale Chhango (Fall of the Netherworld), Davi’s Fall is a ferocious waterfall located about 2 km southwest of Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway. The source of the waterfall is Phewa Lake and the fall itself is named after Swiss lady who was swept away by the fall in 1961. The fall cuts through the rocks to create complex caves and tunnels on its path. Gupteshwar Mahadev cave on the other side of the fall is one such cave carved by Devi’s Fall. The sacred shrine dedicated to Shiva is popular among the local residents and is seldom missed by tourists to Davi’s Fall.
WORLD PEACE PAGODA
The World Peace Pagoda can be seen on top of a hill on the southern fringe of Phewa Lake. It has four images of the Buddha facing the four directions. The dome-shaped pagoda is an impressive sight, and its hilltop location commands a great view. It is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna. Near the Peace Pagoda are Pumdi and Bumdi, two villages above Phewa Lake’s southern rim for exceptional views of the mountains. They have the old style oval-shaped, red clay houses.
OLD BAZAAR & BINDYABASINI
Located four kilometers from Phewa Lake, this is very different from Lakeside. It is a traditional bazaar and a colorful meeting place for traders from different ethnic backgrounds. The temples and buildings here are very similar to the Newari architecture in Kathmandu. In the old bazaar you can also find one of the most important shrines in Pokhara, the Bindhyabasini Mandir. It sits on a shaded pedestal, and from there, with its white dome, it dominates a vast courtyard paved with stones.
The limestone caves of Mahendra Gupha full of interesting features of stalactites and stalagmites are believed to have formed during the Pleistocene epoch (the Great Ice Age). Located about 8 km north of Pokhara and locally known as the House of Bats, the caves were accidentally discovered in 1950s by young shepherds. Named after Late King Mahendra, the caves were studied for the first time by a team of speliologists from the United Kingdom in 1976, the report of which resides with the UK copyright libraries and Royal Geographic Society.
THINGS TO DO IN POKHARA
Pokhara is blessed with stunning panoramic views of the Annapurna range which forms its backdrop. The mesmerizing Machhapuchhre also called Mt. Fishtail dominates the scenery because of its proximity to the valley and can be seen from anywhere in Pokhara. Stretching from east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna 1 to IV and Annapurna South. Further away are seen the giants, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu. Sarangkot, Thulakot, Kahun Hill, Naudanda and Ramkot are great for mountain views, sunrise and sunset views.
Pokhara’s Phewa Lake naturally draws visitors towards it. Easily the best means of recreation, boating is a favorite pastime which one can enjoy any time of day. The other two lakes, Begnas and Rupa, are located 15 km out of Pokhara. Less visited but no less beautiful, both these lakes are excellent for boating and fishing.
MUSEUM TOUR IN POKHARA
POKHARA MUSEUM: Located between the bus stop and Mahendra Pul, the museum showcases ethnic mosaic of the diverse cultures that thrive in western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of the Gurungs, Thakalis and Tharus are attractively represented by models, photographs and artifacts. Of much interest and also a major attraction are the more recently discovered remains of an 8,000-year-old settlement in Mustang.
ANNAPURNA REGIONAL MUSEUM: Also known as the Natural History Museum, it is located at the Prithvi Narayan Campus, east of the Old Bazaar. Run by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the museum showcases exceptional collection of butterflies, insects, birds and models of wildlife found in the area.
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN MUSEUM (IMM): The museum, situated 1.5 km south of Pokhara Airport at Rato Pairo, has on display historical documents, records and chronicles on mountaineering. It has three main exhibition halls: Hall of the Great Himalaya, Hall of Fame and the Hall of World Mountains. There is also a library, a prayer room and an audio-visual room. The museum, managed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association, was established with the theme “Man, Mountain and Mountain activities around the world”.
GURKHA MEMORIAL MUSEUM: Situated at Pardi, Pokhara, the museum displays a collection of uniforms, medals (including the Victoria Cross), pictures of the Gurkha infantry regiments, Gurkha engineers, signals and transport regiments and Gurkha contingent of the Singapore Police Force.
PARAGLIDING IN POKHARA
Paragliding is perhaps the most rewarding of short duration adventure sports given the fact that there is nothing between you and the scenery unfolding before you. In the distance lie the majestic Himalayas and down below are the villages, monasteries, temples, lakes and jungles, a truly bird’s eye view and a fascinating one at that.
Go up in an ultra-light aircraft and get a sweeping bird’s eye view of the entire Pokhara Valley. It is an exhilarating ride that allows unhindered views of the mountains and the scenic lakes far below. Ultra-light flights are operated from Pokhara Airport beginning September through June.
HIKING IN POKHARA
There are numerous hiking destinations around Pokhara for those constrained by time to go on longer popular treks to the Annapurna Circuit. These short hikes and treks lead through beautiful treks to charming hamlets and villages where hikers and trekkers can interact with local communities and observe their lifestyles. Some of the villages also offer homestay services for tourists. Popular hiking destinations around Pokhara are: Sarangkot, Kaskikot, Naudanda, Kahun Danda, Kalikistan, Sundari Danda, Phocksing, Bhalam, Batulechaur, Amala Kot, Bhadaure-Tamagi, Hemja, Australian Camp, Naudana-Lumle-Chandrakot, Mattikhan Hill, Thulakhot. There are also longer trekking routes very popular among tourists.
BIRD WATCHING IN POKHARA
With the whole valley dotted with lakes, Pokhara is a great for birdwatching migratory as well as inhabitant birds. Varieties of birds ranging from wetland, woodland and birds of prey are seen in Pokhara. Pamay, Begnas and Rupa are famous for wetland birds, while Raniban and Jhihjirk-Astam areas are good for woodland birds. Similarly, Ttunga- Bachhebuduwa areas are famous for birds of prey and Amala area is unique for pheasants. Well trained birdwatching guides to are available to accompany visitors on birdwatching tours.
ZIP-LINING IN POKHARA
Ride the world’s tallest and longest zipline! 600 m up in the air, zoom down at 140 km per hour covering a distance of 1.8 km. Travel to the enchanting Pokhara valley with its spectacular lakes and fascinating views of Himalayan mountains. Pokhara now offers the rush of extreme zip lining, the first of its kind in Asia. Head for the peak of Sarangkot overlooking the Pokhara valley down below, offering the most spectacular views of the Annapurna mountain range. The Zip line has been in operation since 2nd June 2012. Safety is the leading criteria, and the system by Zip-flyer TM LLC, USA is designed with the most advanced technologies, and has delivered a state-of-the-art zipline. So get ready to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush!
Take to the countryside where you can ride through lush green fields, delightful little hamlets, up and down the hills, along river banks, around temples, over suspension bridges, and along the highway. Mountain bikes can be easily rented from any of the numerous bicycle rental shops in and around the city. Some popular routes for mountain biking in Pokhara are: around Phewa Lake Pokhara-Sikles, International Mountain Museum-Kotre, Pokhara-Sarangkot-Naundanda, Pokhara-Milanchowk-Dhampus, Pokhara-Thulakot-Ramkot-Talbesi, Pokhara-Sundari Danda-Begnas Lake.
The only tower bungee jumping facility in Nepal is situated in Pokhara. The fact that adventurers get to jump off a tower makes bungee jumping in Pokhara a completely new experience compared to other bungee jumping facilities in Nepal where, people usually jump off a bridge. It is located at Hemja, only 20 mins drive away from the main city of Pokhara and situated at a height of about 70m over an artificial pond. Some of the facilities provided by bungee operators in Pokhara are tandem bungee and combo bungee that includes both bungee and zipline which is available all year round for those interested.