is a remarkable place of natural beauty. Situated at an altitude of
827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley, the city
is known as a center of adventure. This enchanting city has several
beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of Himalayan peaks.
The serenity of lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising
behind them create an ambience of peace and magic. So today the city
has not only become the starting point for most popular trekking and
rafting destinations but also a place to relax and enjoy the beauty
Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India
and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts
of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya.
This is the land of Gurungs and Magars, hardworking
farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide
fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important
ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime
temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35
degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June
to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest
rainfall in the country. Best time to visit is between October and
The activities of foreign visitors to Pokhara focus
around two districts known as Damside and Lakeside (or Pardi and
Baidam, in Nepali, respectively). These two areas, with their strips
of hotels and restaurants, are a few kilometers south-west of the
main Pokhara bazaar.
Phewa Tal (Lake)
lake, the second largest lake in the kingdom, roughly measuring
1.5 km by 4 km, is the center of all attractions in Pokhara. The
enchanting lake is an idyllic playground. Brightly painted wooden
boats and sailboats can be rented on reasonable cost around lakeside.
The lake is neither deep (roughly 47 meters at most) nor particulary
clean, but the water is warm and swimming is pleasant if you don't
think about the probable pollution.
The eastern shoreline of the lake, popularly known as Lakeside or
Baidam, consists of seemingly endless strip of lodges, restaurants,
bookshops and souvenir shops. One of the fascinating parts of lakeside
is the splendid view of the mountains, especially when the still
water reflects the peaks, creating a double image.
lake and Rupa lake
lakes are located about 15km from Pokhara at the end of a road that
turns north from the highway to Kathmandu. Divided by the forested
hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, the lakes offer the perfect nature
retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and
fishing can be done here.
is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost
in the middle of Phewa lake, the two storied pagoda is dedicated
to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protectress deity representing
the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays,
carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed
to the deity.
pagoda is a massive Buddhist stupa and is situated on top of a hill
on the southern shore of Phewa lake. Besides being an impressive
sight in itself, the shrine is a great vantage point which offers
spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. You can
get there by crossing the lake by boat and then hiking up the hill.
Seti Gandaki (River Gorge)
Flowing right through the city, the boisterous river
runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points
the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite
beyond imagination - over 20 meters! Mahendra Pul, a small bridge
near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the river's
dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.
known as Patale Chhango (Hell's Fall), Devi's fall (also known as
Devin's or David's) is an awesome waterfall lying about 2 km south-west
of Pokhara airport on the highway to Tansen. An interesting modern
legend says that a foreigner named David was skinnydipping in the
Pardi Khola (river) when the floodgates of the dam were opened,
sweeping him into an underground passage beneath the fall, never
to be seen again.
Gupteswar Gupha, a sacred cave, lies 2 km from Pokhara
airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading southwest from the city.
The entrance is right across from Devi's Fall and the cave is almost
3 km long. It has some big hall-size rooms and some passages where
you have to crawl on all fours. This cave holds special value for
Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in
the condition it was discovered. An entrance fee of Rs. 5 is charged
and taking pictures inside the cave is prohibited.
Gufa, locally called Chamero Odhaar ("House of Bats"),
is the large limestone cave. Shepherd boys are said to have discovered
it around 1950. A two hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best
to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites,
although most of them have been carted out by souvenir hunters.
(Ganesh tole and Ram Krishna Tole)
Pokhara's traditional bazaar is colorful and so are
its ethnically diverse traders. In its temples and monuments can
be seen ties to the Newar architecture of the Kathmandu Valley.
Located about 4 km from Lakeside, the market's original charm is
alive and well.
Bindhyabasini temple is the center of religious activity
in the old bazaar. It is dedicated to goddess Bhagwati, yet another
manifestation of shakti. Worshippers flock here to perform sacrifices,
and especially on Saturdays the parklike grounds take on a festive
Matepani Gumba (Buddhist
There is a splendid Buddhist Monastry on the top of
the small forested hill above Matepani east of Mahendra pool. It
overlooks a large section of the Pokhara city and once there on
find oneself lost in time amid the chanting Ramas, there colossal
guardian images of the Buddha accompanying two other gurus and a
prayer house with exquisitely carved columns and friezes.
To the south of the Buddhist Monastery there is another
small but beautiful hill and in this pleasant sylvan setting lies
Bhadrakali temple which also merits a visit.
Pokhara Museum, located between the airport and Mahendra
Pul, reflects the ethnic mosaic of western Nepal. The lifestyles
and history of ethnic groups such as the Gurung, Thakali and the
Tharu are attractively displayed. Open daily, except Tuesdays and
holidays, from 10 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee is Rs. 5 and there is
an extra Rs. 10 for cameras (Tel: 0612041 3).
Annapurna Museum, also known as the Natural History
Museum, is located at Prithvi Narayan Campus east of the old bazaar.
Managed by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the museum
has an exceptional collection of butterflies, insects, birds, and
models of wildlife as well as samples of various precious and semi-precious
stones and volcanic rocks. Open daily, except Saturdays and holidays,
from 9 am to 4 pm. Entrance is free (Tel: 061-21102).
magnificent Annapurna panorama that's visible on the northern skyline
of Pokhara is quite incredible. The main peaks are Annapurna I to
IV and the beautiful Machhapuchhare (or Fishtail Mountaian, so named
after its twin peaks). Besides these, you can also see the Himchuli,
Varahashikhar, Gangapurna and other peaks. The
mountains will probably be hidden in the clouds between April and
September. A nice evening on the banks of Fewa Lake with the mountain
range as the backdrop is what Pokhara is really about!
There is not much of a nightlife in Pokhara other than dining. The
town shuts down by about 10:30 in the evening. Until you can hang
out some of the bars and pubs that are becoming trendy in the area.
Fishtail Lodge puts up an hour long nightly Nepali cultural show
with dances and such.
is the starting and ending point for many of the popular trekking
routes in Nepal. Longer treks (one to three week long) such as the
Jomsom trek, Annapurna Circuit, and Annapurna Sanctuary begin here.
Check a book on Nepal trekking for more details on this. Otherwise,
you can also visit this site Pilgrims Book House for information
on trekking books of Nepal.
For those with less time, Pokhara also provides shorter
(one to seven days) more leisurely treks around the neighboring
hills and villages. The popular ones are:
Ghachowk Trek: two days, a circuit
through Lhachowk to Ghachowk and down to Batulechaur, north of Pokhara,
close up view of Fishtail mountain.
Naudanda Trek: two days, to Naudanda
from Suikhet and then back through Kaski, west of Pokhara.
Ghorepani Circuit: five to seven days long, upto
the Gurung village of Ghandruk village, great views of the Annapurna
range, north-west of Pokhara.
Kahun Danda: day trip, north east
of Pokhara, 1560m altitude.
Sarangkot: day trip, great view of the mountain
range including Dhaulagiri, north of Fewa Lake, 1592m altitude.
Rupa and Begnas Lakes: day trip,
15km south-east of Pokhara, take a bus there and leisurely walk
along the ridge that separates the two twin lakes.