About Pokhara

Pokhara, the 'Tourist Capital of Nepal,' is the second-largest city in Nepal, after Kathmandu.It is famous for its tranquil atmosphere and the beautiful surrounding countryside. It lies on the shores of lovely Phewa Lake. Three out of ten highest mountains in the world (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manasalu) can be seen from Pokhara. The iconic Machhapuchre (Fishtail) with its distinctively pointed peak, has become the icon of the city. 

Trekkers throng Pokhara as it is a popular starting point for many treks in the Annapurna Range. The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a challenging trek that is rewarded with striking views of Pokhara valley atop Mt. Machhapuchhre. The Sarangkot trail is a much shorter one, which is perfect for novices. Pokhara offers paragliding and river rafting to all thrill-seekers. You can take solo or tandem rides, depending on your expertise. River rafting and white water rafting are offered on Seti Gandaki and her tributaries.

The city is divided into two parts - Lakeside Pokhara and Old City. Phewa Lake (or Phewa Tal), a spectacular lake borders Lakeside Pokhara while Old City is the commercial hub. Phewa Lake flawlessly reflects the mountains that border it, making it a breathtaking photo-op and a boating paradise. Charming shops, dreamy cafés, restaurants and pubs that line Lakeside Pokhara compliments the postcard-perfect scenery. The old city houses shops where you can buy famous handicrafts, woodwork and wool work. Pokhara is cut by the Seti Gandaki River and her many tributaries, which contributes to the unique geography - many gorges and caves even within city limits. Most of the tourists visiting Pokhara trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang. To the east of the Pokhara valley, in Lekhnath municipality, there are seven smaller lakes such as Begnas Lake, Rupa Lake, Khaste lake, Maidi lake, Neureni lake, Dipang lake. Begnas Lake is known for its fishery projects. 

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Geography

Pokhara is in the northwestern corner of the Pokhara Valley which is a widening of the Seti Gandaki valley that lies in the region (Pahad) of the Himalayas. In this region the mountains rise very quickly and within 30 kilometres (19 miles), the elevation rises from 1,000 to 7,500 metres (3,300 to 24,600 feet). The Seti Gandaki is the main river flowing through the city.

The Seti Gandaki (White Gandaki) and its tributaries have created several gorges and canyons in and around Pokhara that give intriguingly long sections of terrace features to the city and surrounding areas. These long sections of terraces are interrupted by gorges that are hundreds of metres deep. 

In the south, the city borders Phewa Tal (4.4 km2) at an elevation of about 827 metres (2,713 feet) above sea level, while Lumle at 1,740 metres (5,710 feet) in the north touches the base of the Annapurna mountain range. Pokhara, the city of lakes, is the second largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu. Three 8,000-metre (26,000-foot) peaks (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu) can be seen from the city. The Machhapuchchhre (Fishtail) with an elevation of 6,993 metres (22,943 feet) is the closest to the city. 

The porous underground of the Pokhara valley favours the formation of caves and several caves can be found within city limits. In the south of the city, a tributary of the Seti flowing out of the Phewa Lake disappears at Patale Chhango (पाताले छाँगो, Nepali for Hell's Falls, also called Davis Falls, after someone who supposedly fell in) into an underground gorge, to reappear 500 metres (1,600 feet) further south.

Climate

The city has a humid subtropical climate; however, the elevation keeps temperatures moderate. Temperatures in summer average between 25 and 35 °C; in winter around −2 to 15 °C. Pokhara and nearby areas receive a high amount of precipitation. Lumle, 25 miles from Pokhara city center, receives the highest amount of rainfall (> 5600 mm/year or 222 inches/year) in the country. Snowfall is not observed in the valley, but surrounding hills experience occasional snowfall in the winter. Summers are humid and mild; most precipitation occurs during the monsoon season (July–September). Winter and spring skies are generally clear and sunny.

History

Pokhara lies on an important old trading route between China and India. In the 17th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Kaski which was one of the Chaubisi Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal, चौबिसे राज्य) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty. Many of the hills around Pokhara still have medieval ruins from this time. In 1786 Prithvi Narayan Shah added Pokhara into his kingdom. It had by then become an important trading place on the routes from Kathmandu to Jumla and from India to Tibet.

Pokhara was envisioned as a commercial center by the King of Kaski in the mid-18th century A.D.  when Newars of Bhaktapur migrated to Pokhara, upon being invited by the king, and settled near main business locations such as Bindhyabasini temple, Nalakomukh and Bhairab Tole. Most of Pokhara, at the time, was largely inhabited by Khas[25] (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri and Dalits), gurungs, and magars. At present the Khas, Gurung (Tamu) and Magar form the dominant community of Pokhara. There is also a sizeable Newari population in the city. A small Muslim community is located on eastern fringes of Pokhara generally called Miya Patan. Batulechaur in the far north of Pokhara is home to the Gandharvas or Gaaineys (the tribe of the musicians).

Tourism

In recent decades, Pokhara has become a major tourist destination: it is considered the tourism capital of Nepal in South Asia, mainly for adventure tourism and the base for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek. Thus, a major contribution to the local economy comes from the tourism and hospitalities industry. Tourism is a major source of income for local people and the city. There are two 5-star hotels and approximately 305 other hotels that include five 3-star, fifteen 2-star and non-star hotels in the city.

Many medieval era temples (Barahi temple, Bindhyabasini, Bhadrakali, Talbarahi, Guheshwari, Sitaldevi, Gita mandir temple, Bhimsen temple) and old Newari houses are part of the city (Bagar, Bindhyabasini, Bhadrakali, Bhairab Tol, etc.). The modern commercial city centres are at Chipledhunga, New Road, Prithvi Chok and Mahendrapul (recently renamed as Bhimsen Chok).

The city promotes two major hilltops as viewpoints to see the city and surrounding panorama: World Peace Pagoda built in 1996 across the southern shore of Phewa lake and Sarangkot, which is northwest of the city. In February 2004, International Mountain Museum (IMM) was opened for public in Ratopahiro to boost the city's tourism attractions. Other museums are Pokhara Regional Museum; an ethnographic museum; Annapurna Natural History Museum which houses preserved specimens of flora and fauna, and contains particularly extensive collection of the butterflies, found in the Western and ACAP region of Nepal; and Gurkha Museum featuring history of the Gurkha soldiers. The city has recently been adorned with a bungee jumping site (the second in Nepal): Water Touch Bunjee Jumping. A cable car service has begun construction joining Phewa Lake with World Peace Stupa led by the government of Nepal which is expected to boost the tourism exponentially.

Adventure Activities in Pokhara

Pokhara city is a remarkable city with natural beauty rests under the shadow of the Himalayas. With the tranquil ambiance created by the serene lakes and the magnificent Himalayas, the charm of the city is hard to resist. The city fame as an ultimate holiday destination in exotic locations. Also, the starting point of major trekking routes and recreational adventure sports. The vibrant city of Pokhara offers so much that it hard to list down all. But, we have tried our best to include the diverse range of activities to do while you are in Pokhara.

Bungee Jumping

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Pokhara introduced Bungee Jumping in the mid-September 2014. This is the second Bungee Jumping point in the country and is growing popular among the adventure lovers. Bungee jumpers fall from a height of 70 meters over an artificial pond. A boat then picks them up after the jump and helpers unharness them. This 20-minute activity will be all performed under the supervision of the trained jumpmasters so that the safety is taken care of.

Paragliding

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Pokhara is one of the best destinations in the world for paragliding. Enjoy the bird’s eye view of this wonderful city as you try out Paragliding in Pokhara. Enjoy the magnificent flight over the beautiful green hills and lakes. Plus, enjoy the incredible view of Annapurna ranges. The famous variant of the Paragliding is Para-hawking. In this flight, you go alongside the magnificent birds. The view from the top will render you speechless. The Paragliding experience is unforgettable and is one of the most popular things to do in Pokhara.

Zip Flying

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Zip flyer is one of the attractive adventure activities offered by the Adventurer’s Mecca, Pokhara. The Zip-flyer starts from the 1625 meters in Sarangkot and ends at 960 meters in Hemja plain. The Zip Flyer claims to be the most extreme zip flyer with the total distance of 1.80 km (1.12 mi). A vertical height of 610 m (2000 ft.) and the greatest speed of 120 km/hr (75 mph). The zip line is the world’s steepest, tallest and the fastest of its type in the world. - Zip flying in Nepal, especially in the city of Pokhara, is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the country.

Ultra-light flight

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It is a superb experience for light-hearted adventurers. The Ultra-light Flight plane takes the flight over the beautiful hills. And gives the full spectrum of the magnificent Pokhara valley along with mountain peaks and lakes. The light plane has a passenger seat and opens all sides to allow the riders feel the fresh air. Further, enjoy spectacular views of the lakes, mountains, and villages.

Mountain Biking

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Mountain biking is a fun opportunity to explore in and around the beautiful city of Pokhara. Take a ride through the lush green hills across typical villages along the river banks. And ride around the temples as you explore the magnificent surrounding. You can rent bikes on an hourly or daily basis from the various bicycle rental shops around the city.

Hiking

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Pokhara is a starting point of most of the famous trekking routes in Nepal. Further, Pokhara also offers plenty of beautiful hikes that you can enjoy within a day. You can go on short hikes around the surrounding villages like Dhampus, Sarangkot hill or Kahun Daada. This is a perfect opportunity to stroll around the spectacular villages and enjoy splendid views.

Sightseeing in & around Pokhara

Bindhyabasini Temple

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The ancient Bindhyabasini Temple in Pokhara stands on top of a small hill. It lies at 3,000 ft above from the sea level. It is Hindu based religion temple built in a Pagoda style. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, an incarnation of Devi Parvati. The Goddess worshipped is in the form of a Shaligram. According to a local legend, King Siddhi Narayan Shah bought the idol from Bindhyachal in India. Many Hindu people come to this temple for worshipping and marriage ceremony. From this temple, you can also enjoy the fabulous views of the city and the mountain ranges including Machhapuchhre and Annapurna.

Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir

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Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir is a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva near the place where Seti River emerges from underground. A self-emerging Shiva Lingam was found in the 3 km long cave during the 16th century. Apart from the holy temple, the long, deep and dark cave offer an excellent opportunity to explore the natural wonders in its truest form. It lies 2 km away from an airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading southwest from the city. The cave has been divided into two sections. One part of the cave is 40 meters in length with natural caves and the Shivalinga. To reach the shrine you’ve to climb a thousand stairs. The second part begins after this temple and leads to Davis Fall. The entrance is 2 meters high and 3 meters wide. You’ve to pass few hall rooms which have many passages. Some passages are so small that you might need to crawl.

Devi's Waterfall

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Devi's Fall in Pokhara is an extraordinary waterfall which creates a 500 feet long underground tunnel as it reaches its bottom. This tunnel has brought the fall its name, i.e. Patale Chango in the Nepalese language, which means "underground waterfall." Fed by Phewa Lake Dam, the waterfall is surrounded by abundant flora. A landmark of Pokhara, Devi's waterfall is a must-visit when in Nepal. Witness the grandeur of nature as you see this colossal fall struggling with rocks to set itself free. Devi's Waterfall/ Davis Waterfall is different from other falls in the country due to its natural phenomenon. It marks the point where the Pardi Khola stream disappears underground and leaves no clue of its existence. When the monsoons are at full power, the splashes of water against the boulders create a terrific site.

Phewa Lake

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Regarded as the most popular lake in the Pokhara valley, the Phewa Lake is a major tourist hotspot. Its crystal clear waters mirror the surrounding peaks of Mount Machhapuchhere and Annapurna. The surrounding Rani Ban, or Queen’s Forest, bestows an emerald hue to the lake While the eastern shoreline of the lake, popularly known as Lakeside, consists of a seemingly endless strip of restaurants, bookshops and souvenir shops; the steep western shore is densely forested. In the centre of the lake, towards the east is the famous Tal Barahi Temple which is dedicated to the Varaha where devotees sacrifice birds and animals every Saturday. A number of visitors visit the temple and take boating experience on this lake. 

Pokhara Shanti Stupa

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Perched atop a narrow ridge above Phewa Lake is the sparkling white World Peace Pagoda. The dome was built by Buddhist monks as a symbol of peace. Although there are three different ways to reach the stupa; via boat, hiking through a jungle or walking along the dam, however the safest and popular way is by boat.The Stupa has two tiers for tourists and religious people. On the second tier, four statues of Buddha are displayed, each from another country- ‘Dharmacakra Mudra’ from Japan, ‘Bodh Gaya’ from Sri Lanka, ‘Kushinagar’ from Thailand and ‘Lumbini’ from Nepal. The statues represent important events related to Buddha. Dharmachakra signifies wheel of life, dharma and Buddha’s teaching while Bodh Gaya symbolizes intellect and grace. 

Barahi Temple

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This two storey temple is beside the beautiful Phewa lake and attracts thousands of tourists by its cultures. It is built in the pagoda- style to the deity of Tal Barahi. This temple is devoted to Ajima in the boar manifestation which is the incarnation of the Goddess Shakti. The shakti is the Hindu Goddess who is the origin of this universe. This place is always filled with religious people that have faith in deities and they also sometimes sacrifice birds and animals as an offering to god. The scenic beauty around this place is marvellous and the only communication is possible is through boats. 

International Mountaineering Museum

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International Mountaineering Museum holds the best history about mountains and mountaineering, it is located in Pokhara Nepal. Thousands of local as well as international tourists come to visit this museum every year. The museum features an excellent collection of flora and fauna collected from the Himalayas and other regions. There variety of documents, IMM records and other things related to mountains and mountaineering. There are three exhibition halls which are important: Hall of Fame, Hall of great Himalayas and Hall of World Mountains. The museum showcases the culture, lifestyle of a mountaineer, highest peak around the world in detail, descriptions of famous mountaineer and the traditional culture of the Nepalese people.

Jangchub Choeling Gompa

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Located in the Tibetan Refugee settlement of Pokhara is the Jangchub Choeling Gompa. At first the monastery was established to serve as a center of Buddhist services and ceremonies. In 1967, His Holiness the Dalai Lama named the monastery. The Gompa houses a shrine hall where all prayer rituals take place. The hall’s architecture is a reflection of traditional Tibet design. A 7 foot copper and gold plated statue of Lord Buddha is the main highlight of the monastery. Some 1000 small Buddha figures are placed on either side of the statue; each representing the 1000 Buddhas believed to exist in this ‘Fortunate Era’. The walls are adorned with paintings portraying the life of Buddha from birth to Nirvana.

Shree Gaden Dhargay Ling Monastery

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Located in Tashi Ling Tibetan Camp in Pokhara, the Shree Gaden Dhargay Ling Monastery is idyllic for a spiritual touch and respite. The monastery was built and inaugurated in 1984 by Tibetan refugees in Nepal. Blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it stands as the traditional source of inspiration and peace in Nepal. Though it is not a very big monastery compared to the others in Nepal, it is the best place to experience Tibetan style and culture and gain an insight into Buddhism. A key highlight of the ceremony is a prayer ritual which involves the crimson and saffron robed monks producing multiple pitches while chanting. As the melody of monks’ chants blends with the air, it transforms the environment around you, a phenomenon you must experience to understand.

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Sarangkot

Located on the outskirts of Pokhara, away from the city noise is the small hill village of Sarangkot. Owing to its distance from the main city and rich natural surroundings, Sarangkot is inhabited by many bird species, however spotting wildlife like a tiger or leopard is a very faint possibility. Offering many adventure activities and breathtaking views of the Annapurna mountain range, the village is frequented by many tourists. You can either trek or drive your way to reach Sarangkot. 

The ideal time to catch a glimpse of its stunning surroundings and mountain views are at dusk or dawn, when a faint light of the sun casts a scarlet hue over the peaks. From Dhaulagiri in the west to the Machhapuchhere and Lamjung in the east, the panoramic view of the Himalayas from the village is a soul-satisfying experience.

Besides offering a nature’s retreat, Sarangkot is also a popular paragliders’ spot. The first flight starts at 9:30 am followed by the second flight at 11:30am. So if you want to soar high above the stunning Phewa Tal, head out early in the morning. Other than paragliding, it offers many other adventure sports. Sarangkot is the launching point for one of the fastest and longest zip-lines in the world. The journey starts at the top of the mountain and runs down to the valley below. If you enjoy trekking, you are in for delight. You may take the slightly challenging trek route to Annapurna or follow the trail towards Panchase and other villages near Pokhara for a thrilling experience.