Pokhara is believed to have got its name from the Parusni River which has been mentioned in Rig Veda (the sacred Hindu Scripture). Its ancient name was Poskarini which later changed to Pokhara.
Pokhara rests peacefully beneath the protection of Annapurna Mountain Range – which is a chain of 2133m snowcapped mountains. It is the gateway to the popular Annapurna Trek and is a place where everybody gets something of their interest to amuse themselves, no wonder it is a major hub attracting plethora of tourists each year.
Pokhara can be categorized under two heads for convenience:
i) Lakeside Pokhara with modern luxuries and all sorts of comforts which lies near to the Fewa Lake and stretches around the lake from Basundhara Park to the Northern shore. It is lined up with many lively bars, restaurants, cyber cafes and gift shops.
ii) Old Pokhara is an old town which lies to the north of Mahendra Pul encircled by Seti River gorge and Baglung Highway. It still retains the old culture and traditional way of living. Newari Houses with elaborately carved wooden windows and decorative bricks and Bhimsen Temple of Bhairab Tole make the place worth the visit.
Pokhara sits at an elevation of 884m height which is about 400m lower in comparison to Kathmandu. Thus it enjoys the luxury of mild weather- one can get out into the street donned in a T- shirt even during daytime of peak winter. Winter season lasts for four months (June- September) when mountains hide their beauty behind the veil of fog. Pokhara is often called as the “Cherapunji of Nepal” for it receives more annual rainfall in comparison to other places in Nepal.
Locals usually prefer to shop in Mahendra Pul which lies to the North of Public bus stand.
General medicines are available in Pharmacies located in Lakeside Area. If anything gets serious, you would like to head for Western Regional Hospital which is situated on the east bank of the Seti River.
i) Phewa Lake:
It boasts in being Nepal’s second largest lake where one can see the clear reflection of the mountains of Annapurna Range in clear sunny days. Boating is available in Phewa Lake.
ii) Barahi Temple:
It is a two- tiered pagoda- style Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his Baraha Avatar (Vishnu in manifestation of Boar) built in 18th c. which is situated in a small island near to Royal Palace. Rowboats are readily available to take you to the temple.
iii) Gorkha Museum:
It is situated to the North of Mahendra Pul near to the K.I. Singh Bridge which displays the achievements of Gurkha Regiment from the 19th C. Indian Mutiny to the current –day Afghanistan. It costs NRS 150 to foreigners and NRs 80 to tourists from SAARC countries to enter the Museum which is open from 8 am to 4:30pm.
iv) Devi’s Fall:
Actually the name used to be “David’s Fall” which was named in reference to the Swiss person David who fell down into the sinkhole in 2018B.S. taking his girl friend along with him as he fell. But locals found it easier to pronounce Devi’s fall and thus it was renamed. It is known also by its next name- Patale Chhango. It lies about 2km southwest of the airport on the road to Butwal. The water from this fall gets mixed with Fusre River.
v) Bindhyabasini Temple:
This holy site is located about 3.5km far from Prithvi Chowk and about 2km west of Chiple Dhunga. This goddess is regarded to be the ‘Wish Fulfiller’ and many devotees make a bee line to pay visit to the goddess each day.
vi) Peace Pagoda:
Known as ‘Biswo Shanti Stupa’ in Nepali, it lies to the south of Phewa Lake atop the Anudu hill. It proudly sits at an altitude of 1100m above sea level height and thus is popular even as the view point from where beautiful sceneries of mountains, lakes and Bazaars can be viewed. This Anudu Hill can be reached after crossing the Phewa Lake via boat and then walking for about half an hour. For those having difficulty in walking, they can try the Chhorepatan Route lying 9km far from Prithvi Chowk from where a bus is available to take you to the top.
vii) Matepani Gompa:
Lying in Kahun VDC near Pokhara Bazaar, it is popular for its massive idols of Buddha and colorful Thankas. It is only 3km west north of Mahendrapul. Teachings regarding Buddhism is offered in this Gompa.
viii) Begnas Lake:
It lies 14km east of Prithvi Chowk in Lekhnath Municipality. Boating facility is available in this lake. Locals estimate the depth of this lake to be in between 7.5to10.5m. Nepalese have to pay Rs5 and its Rs10 to the foreigners to visit this lake. Lots of restaurants are available around the lake where dishes of local fish are available. It costs NRs 250 for Nepalese and NRs 300 to the foreigners to do boating in the lake.
Popular cave spots of Pokhara:-
i) Mahendra Cave:
It is located at Batule Chaur– 7km to the north of Prithvi Chowk. The cave as officially open to tourists in 2017B.S. by late King MahendraBikram Shah Dev and thus it got its name of Mahendra Cave. One can cover 125m of the cave without any hassles; the way becomes difficult afterwards however. There is availability of light bulbs inside the cave for the convenience of the visitors. It costs NRs 5 for students, NRs10 for Nepalese and NRs 20 for foreigners to enter the cave.
ii) Chamero Cave:
Lying at a distance of 700m from Mahendra Cave, the cave is aptly named as one can find thousands of live horseshoe bats clinging to the damp ceiling in this cave.
iii) Gupteswor Cave:
Being the longest and important cave of South Asia, it lies in Pokhara-16, Chhorepatan, 4km south of Prithvi Chowk and 100m Southwest of Devi’s fall. It provides shelter for the temple of Hindu God-Gupteswor Mahadev. One can see waterfall from inside the cave.
Pokhara as gateway for trekking:-
About 70% of the tourists arriving in Pokhara come for trekking. Annapurna Circuit Route is among the top 8 Trekking Routes of the world. Annapurna Base camp, Machhapuchhre Base Camp, Ghandruk– Pun hill, Kharapani, Dhampus, Panchase, SundariDanda, Armalakot, Matikhan, Lumle Hill, Kaski Kot, Sirubari, Jomsom– Muktinath, Jomsom– Upper Mustang, Sikales, Dhaulagiri Basecamp offer worldwide trekking Routes.
- 1. Kharapani:
It is situated 18km far from Pokara. Kharapani is a hot water from Seti River which lies near to the borders of Mirsa, Volawari and Kavre VDCs. Taking bath in this hot water is believed to cure skin diseases and Arthritis.
Lying at the height of 1650m above sea level altitude, it offers exotic views of white snowcapped mountains, Sunrise, Sunset and one can even have the chance to experience the village life. No wonder this is a hub for tourists. Dhampus is a Gurung dominated village which can be reached after taking a bus ride of 18km to the bottom of Baglung Highway and then head for 3-4 more kilometers of gravel road.
Lying at the height of 1960m above sea level altitude, Ghandruk is popular as “THE SECOND JAPAN” all over the world. Ghandruk is a Gurung Village. Majority of men living here serves in Indian or British Armies. Slates of stone have been used in pathways, walls and roofs of all houses. If you are planning to visit Ghandruk, you can allocate three days- one day to reach, one day to roam around and the final third day for a return trip. But most of the visitors continue their journey towards Ghodepani, Punhill, Jomsom, Muktinath and Annapurna Basecamp from here. A clear and close up views of 6993m tall Machhapuchhre Mountain and 8091m tall Annapurna Mountain which can be viewed from the windows sitting inside the room is the central attraction of this village.
Visitors are provided with facility of home stay. Staring from Pokhara, one has to cover 45km of distance to Nayapul lying in Baglung Highway. Then one can reach Ghandruk as they pass through Nayapul to Birethati, Syauli Bazaar and Kimche.
- 4. Panchase:
Panchase is a hill from where one can view most of the landscapes of Syangja, Kaski and Parbat districts as it serves as the meeting point for these three districts. It is situated at the height of 2500m above sea level altitude from where Himalayan Ranges from Ganesh Mountain to Dhaulagiri Mountain can be viewed in the East. It is rich in biodiversity as one can find leopard, deer, monkey and different species of birds here. Natural herbs, Ancient Gompa, Sunrise view, cave, lake and Siddha Temple are key features of this hill. It can be reached either by following the Baglung Highway or taking the more difficult route starting from Prithvi Chowk to Khadke Tari through Syangja Marga and then taking the jeep ride to Bange Bhanjyaang from where one has to trek for 3-4 hours to finally reach Panchase Hill.
- 5. Armalakot:
Lying at a height of 1430m above sea level altitude, this hill serves just the perfect place to get enthralled in exotic views of Pokhara Valley and Mountain Ranges. It is accessible after climbing the 9km long gravel road starting from the Mahendra Cave. Facility of Homestay has been made available with a view to promote village tourism. Jeeps are readily available from Mahendra Cave which transports you to Armalakot.
- 6. Sundari Danda:
It lies at a distance of 3km from Deurali. Deurali temple in turn lies 15km due east of Prithvi Chowk. Enthralling views of Rupa Lake and Begnas Lake can be seen from this Hill. It falls under Royal Trek and has few hotels and lodges to stay.
- 7. Sirubari:
It is situated 56km south of Pokhara at Panchamul VDC of Syangja. It was planned by Nepal Government as the first model village to promote Village Tourism. Being an entirely Gurung Settlement, one can experience the Gurung culture and traditions in this area. Stones are found to have been extensively used in the making of houses of Sirubari. Though this village lacks hotels and lodges, community is providing facility of ‘Home Stay’ for the visitors in which accommodation and meals are provided by local farmers. Starting from Prithvi Chowk of Pokhara, one has to cover 33km of distance to reach Syangja from where a jeep ride or a bus ride of 28km distance will take you to Sirubari.
- 8. Kaski Kot:
It lies 23km far from Sarangkot of Pokhara and has historical significance apart from natural beauty. Kaskikot is known to have been the originating source of kings of Shah Dynasty in 15thc. Kaskikot palace and Guptakalika temple are worth the watch.
- 9. Sarangkot:
Mostly popular for the sunrise view, it lies 6km far from the Bindhyabasini Temple. As a tourist, you certainly do not want to miss the perfect location to have a bird’s eye view on exotic beauties like Pokhara Valley, Hemja VDC, Fewa Lake, Taal Barahi, World Peace Pagoda and Lakeside. It marks the set off place for Para Gliding. Hotels and Lodges are in abundance. A viewing tower equipped with a binocular has been erected at the hilltop to enhance the view. Kaskikot lies about 13km far from Sarangkot.
Located 7km far from Mahendra Pul Bazaar, Kahundanda is famous for mountain views and sunrise. A tower has been erected at the top of the hill. A temple of Kahunkot Deurali lies near to the tower. The hill contains no hotels and lodges however.
Things to do:
- 1. Boating:
Boating facilities are available in lakes like Phewa and Begnas. Wooden rowboats called “doongas” in Nepali are available for rent at several boat stations in Phewa Lake, including the one near the city bus stand and next to the Phewa Hotel. If you are thinking of having a boatman row the boat for you, well it will cost Rs250 per hour. Alternatively, it will cost Rs 200 per hour or Rs500 per day if you row the boat all by yourself.
- 2. Cycling and biking:
Dozens of shops in and around Lakeside offers cycles and bikes on hire. It costs NRs20 per hour or NRs150 per day for cycle while for bike the charges rise to NRs1000 per day. Sarangkot and Naudanda offer just the perfect routes for biking.
- 3. Golf:
There lies Himalayan Golf about 7km east of Pokhara which offer two packages. It will cost you US$ 35 for 9 holes package and for 18 holes, its US$45. Fulbari Village Resort also provides a 9hole Golf Course.
- 4. Horse Riding:
Pony treks can be arranged for heading upto viewpoints like Sarangkot, Kahundanda and World Peace Pagoda. It will cost US$13 for a half-day trip while for a full day trip; you need to pay US$20.
- 5. Kayaking and Rafting:
Phewa Lake can be accessible even through plastic Kayaks which are offered by Ganesh Kayak Shop. The fee is allocated as US$200 for an hour or US$500 for half-day or US$650 for a day. The Ganesh Kayak Shop even arranges the four day Kayaking camping safaris around Nepal for just US$220.
Rivers like Kali Gandaki and Seti provide the best rafting experience you will ever have. Paddle Nepal and Ultimate Descents are few of those offering reliable Rafting operations under reasonable prices.
- 6. Paragliding:
Pokhara is ranked to be the 5th top place around the globe for experiencing paragliding. Blue Sky Paragliding, Frontiers Paragliding and Sunrise Paragliding are some of the operators providing the service in Pokhara. They stop the service in Monsoon season.
- 7. Ultra Light:
Ultra light is a small plane with engine where there are two seats available- one for the pilot and the remaining for the passenger. It officially started giving its service in January, 1997. Ultra light is the best option if you are planning to have a bird’s eye view of mountains.
- 8. Rock climbing:
Want to add thrill in your adventure? Well, here might be just the thing you are opting for? Try rock climbing in Pokhara amid the Mekalyan forest in Sarankot VDC. Lucky Chhetri- the proprietor of “Three Sister Band” had taken an initiation for promoting Rock climbing in Pokhara.
- 9. Helicopter:
Companies like Fish Tail Air Pvt. Ltd. are providing service to the visitors through which they can glide around different destinations in and around Pokhara in the helicopter, most likely places being Muktinath, Panchase, Sirubari, Ghandruk, Annapurna Base Camp, Manang Village, Lomanthang. The chopper is of five seat capacity. It requires an early reservation for those eager to take service.
Street Festival is organized each year from 28th December to 1st January when restaurants and hotels literally come up into the street.
Bagh Jatra is celebrated by Newars of Pokhara each year in August.
Tamu Dhee is celebrated by Gurungs to ward off evil spirits.
How to reach:-
You can either choose to visit Pokhara by bus or through air. Many companies like Buddha Air, Nepal Airlines, Sita Air and Agni Air offer several flights each day and it takes about 25 minutes from Kathmandu on air to reach Pokhara.
One can reach Pokhara after taking a busride of around six hours from New Buspark of Kathmandu.
Where to Stay:-
Night life is not entertained in Pokhara. Thus the restaurants are usually open from 6am till 10pm. These restaurants serve wide variety of dishes from Nepali to Chinese to Western style cuisines. Lakeside is especially crowded with lines of hotels and lodges.