Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal, situated about 200 km west of Kathmandu, and is connected by air to Kathmandu. 3 out of the 10 highest mountains in the world – Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu – are situated within 50 km (linear distance) of the city, so that the northern skyline of the city offers a very close view of the Himalayas. With the magnificent Annapurna range forming the backdrop and the serenity of 3 major lakes – Phewa, Begnas and Rupa – Pokhara is the ultimate destination for relaxation.
The climate of Pokhara is sub-tropical; however, the elevation keeps temperatures moderate: summer temperatures average between 25 to 35 0C, in winter around -2 to 15 0C. The monsoon season, which last from mid-June to mid-September, is very wet. In fact, Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country.
It is the second largest lake in Nepal, covering an area of about 5.23 sq. km. with an average depth of about 8.6 m with maximum water depth of 24 m. The lake is famous for the reflection of mount Machhapuchhre and other mountain peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges on its surface. The eastern shoreline of the lake, popularly known as Lakeside or Baidam, consists of a seemingly endless strip of lodges, restaurants, bookshops and souvenir shops. Boats can be hired, and many visit the island temple of Barahi in the middle of the lake.
Begnas & Rupa Lake
These twin lakes lie in the northeast of Pokhara Valley about 15 km away from the main city of Pokhara. Begnas Lake is the second largest, after Phewa Lake, whereas Rupa Lake stands at third, among the 8 lakes in the Pokhara Valley. Divided by the forested hillock, the lakes offer the perfect nature retreat because of their relative seclusion. These two lakes provide opportunity for fishing, canoeing, sunbathing and bird watching.
Built almost in the middle of Phewa Lake, the 2-storied pagoda is dedicated to the Goddess Ajima – the grandmother. The universal protector is the boar manifestation of Goddess Shakti. This is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.
Bindhyabasini Temple, dedicated to Goddess Bhagawoti, yet another manifestation of Goddess Shakti. Founded in the 17th century, the temple is the center of religious activity in the old bazaar of Pokhara. Worshippers flock here to perform sacrifices, and especially on Saturdays the park like grounds take on a festive fair.
World Peace Pagoda
The World Peace Pagoda is situated on the top of a hill on the southern fringe of Phewa Lake. It was constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organization. It is a Buddhist stupa designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds within the world and to help unite them in their search for world peace. The dome-shaped pagoda is an impressive sight, and its hilltop location commands spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. There are 3 paths up to the pagoda and several small cafes once you arrive.
Seti Gandaki Gorge
The gorge carved by the Seti Gandaki is one of the natural wonders of Pokhara. K.I. Singh Bridge at Bagar, Mahendra Pul & Prithvi Highway Bridge near bus park, provides a perfect view of the river’s dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by the turbulent flow of white water. Flowing right through the city, the energetic river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly 2 m wide but its depth is quite beyond imagination – over 20 m!
Locally known as ‘Patale Chhango’, Devi’s Falls is a waterfall located about 2 km south-west of Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway. The water there comes from the Phewa Lake and directly goes into a deep and narrow canal with no ends.
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, a sacred cave, lies 2 km from Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading south-west from the city. The entrance is right across from Devi’s Falls and the cave is almost 3 km long. It has some big hall-size rooms and some passages where one has to crawl. This cave holds special value for Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in the condition it was discovered.
Mahendra Cave is a large limestone cave that lies in the northern settlements of the Pokhara Valley. Shepherd boys are said to have discovered it around 1950. The cave has been fitted with lighting system for the convenience of the tourists. It is known for its rock types and stones that glitter when a beam of light hits them. So, it is best to bring a flashlight to see the stalactites and stalagmites, although most of them have been carted out by souvenir hunters.
Tibetan Refugee Camp
There are 2 Tibetan villages in the vicinity of Pokhara. One of them called Tashiling is in the south past Devi’s Falls. The other village by the name of Tashi Palkhel lies north of Pokhara at a place called Hyangja on Pokhara-Baglung Highway. The Tibetan people living in these villages keep themselves busy by producing and trading in woolen carpets and other handicraft items.
The Pokhara Museum, located between the bus stop and Mahendra Pul, showcases the ethnic mosaic of the diverse culture that thrives in western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of ethnic groups such as Gurungs, Thakalis and Tharus are well displayed by models, photographs and artifacts. One major attraction is a display highlighting the recently discovered remains of an 8000-year-old settlement in Mustang.
Gurkha Memorial Museum
Situated just north to Mahendra Pul, near the K.I. Singh Bridge, the museum displays the achievements of the famous Gurkha regiment. It covers Gurkha history of the 19th century Indian Mutiny through 2 World Wars of current-day Afghanistan. There is a fascinating display outlining the stories of the 13 Gurkhas who have been awarded the Victoria Cross medal.
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 displays a large variety of butterflies, moths, insects, birds and also cement-models depicting the wildlife of Nepal. It also exhibits a variety of items that captures the culture and customs of different tribes and races of Nepal.
International Mountain Museum
The International Mountain Museum, situated 1.5 km south of Pokhara Airport at Rato Pairo, is devoted to the mountains of Nepal and the mountaineers who climbed them. It has 3 main exhibition halls: Hall of the Great Himalaya, Hall of Fame and 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 (NMA), was established with the objective to record, document and chronicle the past and present development of mountaineering activities in the world in general and to preserve the saga of the momentous feats in the history of mountaineering in the Himalayan peaks in particular.
Sarangkot is the most popular destination in Pokhara, situated at 1,592 m above sea level, on a mountainside ridge to the west of the old bazaar. The panoramic view of the Himalaya seen from this point is outstanding. There is also a great view down to Phewa Lake and Pokhara Valley.
Naudanda is a village lying 15 km west from Pokhara or about 3 hours from Sarangkot. It is a soft walk through green hills and ancient ruins with good views of Phewa Lake, Pokhara Valley and the mountains.
Kahun Danda, at 1,560 m above sea level, is a popular 3-hour gradual walk from Mahendra Pul to the northeast of Pokhara. There is a ruined fort on the summit with a view-tower that offers spectacular scenery.
Sirubari is one of the most attractive villages in Nepal, located at an altitude of about 1,700 m above sea level. It lies in Syangja district, just 20 km south-west of Pokhara, and takes about 5 hours to reach the village as one has to climb up a hill after leaving a motorable road. The village is neat and clean, very colorful and warm, while the people are friendly, well educated and are enthusiastic about tourism. The climate is ideal throughout the year; however, between September and June is the perfect time to visit. Sirubari won the PATA Gold Award in 2001 for its efforts to preserve the culture and heritage of Nepali rural life.