Pokhara 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. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000 has several beautiful lakes around 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 of nature.
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 Magars and Gurungs, 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 April.
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 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.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.
Begnas lake and Rupa lake
The 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.
This 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.
World Peace Pagoda
The 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.
Flowing right through the city, the 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.
Locally 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 bathing/enjoying in the Pardi Khola (river) when the floodgates of the dam were opened, sweeping him to 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.
Mahendra 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 a torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites.
Pokhara is the starting and/or finishing point for some of the most popular treks including the Annapurna Circuit and the Jomsom Trek. It also offers a number of short treks for those who cannot opt for long, challenging ones. The most popular destination among them is Sarangkot (1592 m), a former Kaski fort lying atop a hill to the west of Pokhara. The panoramic view of the Himalaya seen from this point is superb. Kahundanda, Naudanda, Ghandrung, Ghorepani, and Ghalchok are other favorite destinations around Pokhara.
Access: Pokhara is located roughly 200 km west of Kathmandu. The journey between these two famed cities is certainly part of the Pokhara experience. Flying over the snow-capped Himalaya to the north and the green Mahabharat range to the south is thrilling, while the overland journey past sparse rural settlements nestled along the Trisuli river provides a view of life particular to Nepal's middle hills. There are daily flights and bus services between Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Gorkha is a scenic hill- town with great historical significance. King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the Kingdom of Nepal during eighteenth century, was born in the township of Gorkha. Situated on a small hillock at an attitude of about 1000 m, Gorkha offers panoramic view of snow-fed mountains.
The then small kingdom of Gorkha, founded by king Drabya Shah in 1560 A. D. became famous during the dynasty of Ram Shah (1604-1641 A.D.), who earned the reputation of being just to his people. There was a famous proverb in those days which said that one should go to Gorkha if he were looking for justice.
In the middle of eighteenth century there were hundreds of small kingdoms and principalities in Nepal. The great Prithvi Narayan Shah took the mammoth task of unifying Nepal in the eighteenth century. The Gorkha soldiers under his dynamic leadership eventually succeeded in conquering the Kathmandu valley. The capital of greater Nepal was shifted to Kathmandu. But this beautiful township has always remained as the center of attraction for visitors.
Gorkha Durbar: This historical palace is situated on the top of the fortified hill above the township, about one hour's walk uphill from the bus station. On the west side of palace is the temple of Goddess Gorakhkali. There is also a famous cave sheltering the statue of Gorakhnath Baba (sage). It is believed that the name of Gorkha was derived from the name of this sage, whose blessings inspired King Prithvi Narayan Shah for the unification of Nepal. The temple is now open for the general public also to visit and worship. Previously the temple was opened only for members of royal family. From the top of the hill above Gorkha palace and from a saddled bazaar on the east, the view of Manaslu and Himalchuli is spectacular.
About 133 kilometers from Kathmandu, Charikot provides a spectacular mountain view of Gaurishankar. In the eastern upper part of Dolkha township there is a famous roofless temple of Dolkha Bhimsen. The highway to Jiri is famous for the environment friendly approach adopted during its design, construction and maintenance. Jirels, are one of the unique ethnic groups of Nepal reside here. Jiri is one of the major starting points for mountain trek to Mount Everest region.
The road to Charikot and Jiri breaks off from the Araniko Hiighway at the 78km mark. The road climbs 1800m out of the Sun Koshi Valley reaching an elevation of 2540m.