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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe third largest city of Nepal, Pokhara is the headquarters of the district of Kaski in Nepal. It covers an area of 21 square miles and has an overwhelming population of nearly 300,000 people. Only 124 miles from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, Pokhara lies in the vicinity of the Annapurna , the Dhaulagiri , and the Manaslu, three of the most famous mountains in Nepal. The city of Pokhara is located in the north-western part of the Pokhara Valley in the Himalayas. This place also acts as a base camp for trekkers intending to scale the Annapurna Circuit. Nepali language is spoken by most of the local people but English is also widely known by the inhabitants of this town. Hence, in popular tourist places, like Kathmandu and Pokhara, most of the people can communicate in English while they also have a basic understanding of Hindi as they are both different versions of the ancient Sanskrit languages.
HistoryAround the 17th century Pokhara used to be a part of the Kaski kingdom under the Shah dynasty as the hills surrounding Pokhara still has some medieval ruins scattered about in its vicinity. Prithvi Narayan Shah incorporated Pokhara under his dominions in 1786. Since then, this city developed as a vital trading post on the Indo-Tibetan trading route and also on the route between Jumla to Kathmandu. The King of Kasaki invited the Newars from Bhaktapur to settle in the business hub of Pokhara in the 18th century. Around this time, most of the inhabitants in and around Pokhara belonged to the Khas community. However, with the coming of the British reign and the establishment of the occidental military camp, other communities like the Gurung and the Magars started populating this city.
Presently, a very small Muslim community inhabits the eastern corner of Pokhara known as Miya Patan.
With the annexation of Tibet by China, a large number of homeless refugees from Tibet flocked into this area and at present, Pokhara houses four camps of Tibetan settlers which have evolved into proper townships, each with its own monasteries and typical architecture that stands on their own.
Till the 1960, this place could have only been reached by foot. However, with the completion of the Siddharta Highway in 1968 this city was connected with the rest of Nepalese territories as it, thereafter, started developing as a major tourist attraction in Nepal. To be simple and precise, the Phewa Lake and its surrounding area which is known as the ‘Lake Side’, has of late, become one of the most important tourist hubs of Nepal in recent times.
What to ExpectThe tourism capital of the county, Pokhara is the favorite destination for trekking enthusiasts and adventure seekers from all over the world. The place is dotted with more than 300 hotels of all kinds which varies in price, from very cheap budget rooms to magnificent 5 star rated resorts. Being a small city, most travelers prefer to explore it on foot though there are cheap and crowded minivans which can take you to the city’s most popular tourist destinations. One can even hire a bicycle or scooter from many of the shops near the lake side, however it’s advisable that you must tread on foot since many spectacular tourist spots around this picturesque location are particularly accessible on a bicycle.
The Phewa Lake, popularly known as the “Phewa Tal” is a picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful forests, full of monkeys and glorious mountains with their towering white peaks at a distance. It’s a truly beautiful sight to behold in the early morning when million golden rays of the sun falls seamlessly on the surrounding white peaks of the water's body which is stunningly reflected in the crystal clear water of this lake. One can even hire a boat or simply take a joy ride across this Pokhara Lake at all hours of the day, including midnight. Pokhara allows you to indulge in the death-defying pleasures of kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, and hiking while you visit this beautiful Asian destination in Nepal. Some of the most popular trekking destinations of this area are the Annapurna Base Camp Trek which takes about 7-10 days, the Annapurna Sanctuary trek ( which takes 2 weeks), and the beautiful Annapurna Circuit Trek which encircles the Annapurna Mountains and takes approximately 18 to 21 days to complete under normal weather windows.
Just a note on to this destination. One should not miss the opportunity of paragliding around the beautiful lake, which you can take as a once in a lifetime experience.
There are dozens of Reiki and yoga centers in Pokhara as it is the country’s most popular yoga destination in Nepal. Being a popular destination of the ‘Hippie movement’, many trance parties are organized in this beautiful location during the full moon nights. Most of the hotels of Pokhara are located on the lake side area and one is free to choose from a large variety of rooms depending on their budgets.
Being one of the most expensive cities in Nepal, food here can be costly. However, one can always savor mouthwatering noodles, dumplings, and samosas at the road side stalls at a very affordable and flexible rate while vising this town. The lake side road also has numerous pretty cafes and several gastronomically enriched eateries to choose from.
The musical aura at Pokhara is very vibrant and the traditional Nepali ‘lok geet’ (country songs) along with western rock and roll, jazz, and pop is very popular here as many musical concerts are arranged in this city for the musical aficionados during the evening times.
The Hindu festival Diwali is celebrated during the month of October or November with great pomp in the city of Pokhara.
Places to VisitThe Shanti Stupa or the World Peace Pagoda which was created in 1999 and is located on a hilltop, south of the Phewa Lake and offers splendid views of the Annapurna mountain range. It is a great site, especially to view the sunrise or sunset. The World Peace Pagoda can be reached by taxi or by a moderately long trek from this location.
The Sarangkot which offers a stunning view of the mountain can be reached by a steep hike from the northwest corner of the Pokhara city.
There are three caves in and around this city. The Mahendra Cave which lies in Batulechaur, in the northern fringes of Pokhara, is indeed a sight to behold. The ‘Bat cave’ which is locally known as the Chamare Gufa is a 10 minute walk from the Mahendra cave and is infested with bats hanging from the cave walls.
The Gupteswar Mahadev Cave near Pokhara, which is situated in the southern part of the city houses, is a deity of Lord Shiva and therefore is of religious importance to all the localities. Located directly opposite the Devi’s fall, on the following staircases of the Gupteswar Mahadev Cave, one can easily reach the waters of this fall.
The Pokhara Valley is dotted with numerous monasteries and temples. The Taal Barahi Temple which lies on a tiny island on the Lake Phewa can be reached by a boat. The Bindhyabasini Temple, Mudula Karki Kulayan Temple, the Sunpadeli Temple, The Kumari Temple, and the Sitaladavi Temple are some of the other notable temples in this valley.
The International Mountain Museum in Pokhara houses is dedicated to the history of mountaineering and the Gurkha Memorial Museum which displays the uniforms and weapons of the famous Gurkha soldiers of Nepal are the two notable museums of this city.
ShoppingOne can find many Tibetan women sitting by the roadside and selling pretty jewelry and trinkets which can satisfy the tourist’s shopping spree. However make sure to bargain since the starting rate is naturally overpriced. One can buy hand-woven clothes and other pretty handmade goods from the Kriayt Social Business Center- which is a small market in the lake side which aims to empower the local business women in Pokhara.
How to Get TherePokhara is well connected by means of roads to other parts of Nepal and there are regular bus and taxi services from this city to all adjoining towns and villages in India and Nepal. The 128 miles road from Kathmandu to Pokhara is scattered with many beautiful temples and places of religious interest. There are local buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara and vice-versa which leaves, throughout the day, from both the cities. The Pokhara Airport also operates regular flights to Mustang and Kathmandu and will soon be converted into an international airport, in accordance to the news of recent times.
Similar Landmarks NearbyMany travelers to Pokhara like to go for a trek, covering the Annapurna Circuit . Hardened trekkers might even like to go for expeditions on the Tilicho Peak , the Dhaulagiri or the Gangapurna trekking paths. Some of the visitors of Pokhara might also be interested in visiting the historic city of Bhaktapur near Kathmandu or the picturesque village of Nagarkot which is located only 20 miles from the Kathmandu city.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Dec 08, 2014