I spent my first 2 days in Nepal exploring Kathmandu and then it was time to move to my next destination Pokhara Nepal. It is Nepal’s second biggest city after capital Kathmandu. I decided to travel by bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara and for return by air from Pokhara. Road travel in Nepal is time-consuming because roads are full of twists and turns. I choose one way by road because road travel has its own charm, it gives a glimpse of a country’s real charter and it’s easier to understand & observe the local culture in slow travel. I booked my tickets in a 2×2 seater bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, it was not luxurious but it was comfortable. I traveled during the day so it was ok for seating. As I mentioned earlier the route was full of twist and turns between mountains with rivers flowing deep in valleys. The bus stopped on the way twice for the lunch break and refreshments. It was approximate 7 hours journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara. By the time I reached my hotel it was late afternoon and I was tired from the journey.
My Hotel was next to the Phewa lake in the market area. Despite it being in the busiest area of Pokhara Nepal, it was very quiet. Even from my room’s window, I can see the mountain range. Pokhara is situated in Nepal’s most beautiful natural valley with a lake and is the most popular tourist destination. The Annapurna range, Machhapuchere and uncountable Mountains around Pokhara always stand high welcoming every visitor with a smile.I stayed in Pokhara for three nights and on last day, I returned to Kathmandu. Pokhara Nepal is blessed with the natural beauty and has a most panoramic view of mountain range surrounding it. I traveled for short break and my focus was to explore the Pokhara city, it’s heritage buildings & temples and places around.
There are some must-see places in and around Pokhara Nepal. Since it is a small place, so most of the places are within 10-20 minutes drive from the main market area.
I stayed in the market area, which is on the eastern bank of Phewa Lake. The lake was 2 minutes walking distance from the hotel. The Phewa lake is surrounded by mountains from 3 sides and on the fourth side are all restaurants/hotels in a row. Phewa Lake also called Fewa tal by locals, it is one of the most popular spots to hang around. Boating is very popular here and mostly traditional rowing boats are used in the lake. These boats move slowly without creating any noise of the engine. The natural beauty of Phewa lake and its surroundings can be best enjoyed at slow pace travel.
There is an island in the Phewa lake. On this island stands the Varahi temple (Mandir), this famous Hindu temple is made in two-tiered pagoda style near the old Ratna Mandir. This temple was founded in the 18th century and it is a Shaktipith dedicated to goddess Varahi. I came to know that some Nepali Hindus sacrifice a bird or animal on Saturday as an offering to Goddess. During my visit to the temple, I saw local people praying in temple and feeding pigeons. There was no sacrifice ceremony/offering on that day, fortunately.
The market area around Phewa lake. There are many restaurants and cafes across the lake. Some restaurants have live music and karaoke night every evening. Even during the day sitting in these cafes reading a book with a hot cup of coffee was very relaxing. Walking around the Phewa lake or sitting in a cafe around the lake was my favorite activity during my stay in Pokhara.
Bindhyabasini temple is considered most sacred temple in Pokhara Nepal. The Bindhyabasini temple is little outside the Pokhara city. This ancient temple sits atop a small hill in Old Pokhara city. The temple is dedicated to goddess Durga the warlike incarnation of Parvati and commonly known as Bindhyabasini in Nepal. The temple is very very popular among local people. A visit to this temple is a must after marriage to seek blessings for a happy married life. Even during my visit, I saw a family with the new bride and groom, they were offering prayers to the goddess. The small market outside temple sell different items for offerings to the goddess and also sell souvenirs.
Seti River Gorge is known as the hidden milky river of Pokhara. Seti River Gorge is passing right through the Pokhara but you won’t see it unless you go looking for it. Most of the river has carved a deep, narrow chasm through the middle of town, gushing and turning the water milky white in the process. Most of the river is running underground in Pokhara.
Davi’s fall is another interesting place near Seti River gorge. This waterfall is mostly underground and only upper part of it is visible from the viewing points. The Nepali name for Devi’s fall is Patalo Chango which literally means underground waterfall. There were metal fences around the waterfall near the viewpoint at the cliff to prevent accidents during the viewing of waterfalls. Outside the falls area is a wishing well, where people toss a coin in while making their wish. It is believed that wishes come true here.
Across the road from Davi’s Falls is Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave. This venerated cave contains a huge stalagmite worshipped as a Shiva lingam. The cave is musty and damp, most of the time one needs to bend down until passed through the 50 meters long tunnel. From inside one can see the Davi’s fall falling right from the top. It was a nice little adventure to go inside this cave.
The Old Bazaar of Pokhara Nepal is a small area consisting of few old buildings, there were some shops in these old buildings. If you have seen Bhaktapur or other markets in Nepal then there is nothing much to see here.
Another interesting place in Pokhara is World peace Pagoda. This pagoda is also known as Shanti stupa of Pokhara Nepal. This Buddhist style peace pagoda is on the hilltop and can be reached by a small trek. There are many ways to go to the Peace Pagoda, I went through the one with a short trek and uneven stairs. View from the top was beautiful. Later on, I came to know that the trek from Phewa lakeside is shortest and easiest. World Peace Pagoda provides a panoramic view of the Annapurna range, Pokhara city, and the Phewa Lake. Word of Caution – In recent times there were few incidents of mugging reported on the trek to the pagoda, be careful and try to stick with other tourists to avoid this problem.
The Sarangkot viewpoint is one of the highest points to watch the spectacular sunrise, view of Pokhara Valley and it’s surroundings. I went for sunrise but the sky was overcast so I could not watch the sunrise but later on during the day, I was able to see the view of Pokhara valley from here. Fortunately, I was able to watch a beautiful sunrise in Nagarkot during my trip.
I had also visited the Tibetan Camp In Pokhara Nepal. It is on the outskirts of Pokhara city and near to Davi’s falls. This camp was set up by UNHCR in early 1960’s. The camp is open to everyone (All tourists), there was no need to take a guide or permission to visit the camp. The families of Tibetan refugees settled here. There was a school for children, a monastery, and dispensary in this camp. There was a shop in the camp, which is run by a cooperative society. Here they sell products made by the Tibetan refugee people living in these camps.
Mahendra Gupha is another tourist attraction outside Pokhara city. It is natural site reached after a two-hour walk north of Pokhara town. Near this cave is another cave, which is known Bats cave. In Bats cave hundreds of bats are living within its walls, hanging everywhere in the cave. I had seen few bats caves in other places so I didn’t go to this cave. If someone wanted to see Bats in their natural surroundings then it is the place to visit.
Trekking around Pokhara Nepal is one of the most popular activity. There are many small & longer treks around Pokhara and it’s a heaven for trekkers. I didn’t go for any trek because I am not an adventure freak or I am not someone who goes for trek holidays. I was there to relax and explore the culture and heritage.
Pokhara is heaven for people seeking adventure activities like paragliding, bungee jumping or zip lining etc. It is second most visited place in Nepal still it is very peaceful and is not crowded.
The bikes and bicycles are available for rent in Pokhara market.
Pokhara offers the most popular treks in Nepal after Mount Everest, it is the base for intensive Annapurna Circuit and Jomsom Treks. Together with these treks, there are several short treks near Pokhara, like Sarankot, Naudanda, Ghandruk or Ghorepani.
I explored Pokhara city and its beautiful surrounding areas at a slow pace. My return flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu was in a small single-engine plane.
The Pokhara airport is the smallest, I saw to date. There was a small cafe at the airport, the view of airstrip from the cafe is nice. It was half an hour flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu and I felt as I am floating in clouds.