Pokhara is a big tourist spot because it has the beautiful Phewa Tal Lake, great mountain scenery,and is the gateway to the most popular treks in Nepal. It is one of the most beautiful place in Nepal. There are several excellent one day trips and short works in the area. Some of the best river rafting tours in Nepal begin nearby. It is a pleasant laid-back, relaxed place to stay for a while. Located at just 800m above sea level, it is close to the 8000m Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges and there some outstanding views to the north. Machhapuchhare (Fishtail Peak), which is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, is right next to the city. Pokhara is 200km west of Kathmandu. It is a great place to relax after a long trek.
Pokhara has an excellent selection of good hotels and restaurants. Hotels are clean, well-maintained and often have a pleasant garden. Restaurants have a wide selection of Western, Chinese, and Italian and have a pleasant atmosphere. Hotel views sometimes get blocked by newly built ones, so thing can change often in Pokhara. There are three large lakes, Phewa Tal right next to the city, and Rupa Tal and Begnas Tal, which are a little east of town.
The road between Kathmandu and Pokhara (Prithvi Highway) was built in the early 1970s with the help of the Chinese. The road from the Indian border town of Sanauli was built with the help of the India also in the 1970s. The first tourists to find Pokhara were hippies in the 1970s. Since then Pokhara has become a major tourist town. It is not as cold here in the winter as Kathmandu, because it is at 884m elevation, while Kathmandu is at 1500m. It can get pretty hot in May and June.
The rainfall can be heavy during the monsoon and the humility can be really bad. It receives about twice as much rain as Kathmandu yearly/ The Pokhara Valleys is mainly Chhetris and Bahuns, while the hills surrounding Pokhara are mainly inhabited by Gurungs. The Gurungs make up a good percentage of the Gurkhas regiments in India and other places.
Orientation Pokhara is a spread out city that runs north–south for about 5km. The oldest section of the city is the bazaar area in the north of town. Most of the shops for the locals and the post office are near Mahendra Pool in the area of the bazaar. Pokhara University is in the area of the bazaar. The bus station is south of the bazaar, and south of this is the airport. The tourist office and three of the more expensive hotels are near the airport. The immigration office and tourist bus park is between the airport and Phewa Tal, at the north end of Damside.
West of the bus station and airport is the Phewa Tal lake and the Lakeside or Baidam area on the east side of the lake. The main tourist area is the Lakeside area where most of the foreign tourists stay. Along the road on the lake there are many hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. If you go from south to north it is uphill. The southeast end of Phewa Tal Lake is known as Damside or Pardi. There are many hotels in this area. Information The Tourist Office (20028), near the airport, has maps and information (Sunday to Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm, Friday 10 am to 3 pm). It is closed Saturday and public holidays. There is not reason to come here.
There is a tourist counters at the airport.There is a typical tourist map of Pokhara sold in most bookshops. The Kato Atelier’s Pokhara Town and Valley is a better map. Best is the detailed map published by HMG/FINNIDA, but it can be hard to find it in Pokhara.
Money You can change money at Nepal Grindlays in Lakeside (Sun to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm, Friday, 10 am to 1 pm). They also take MasterCard and Visa cards. Rastriya Baniya is open 8 am to 7 pm. There are several legal money changers at Lakeside, Damside, and the airport that are open daily usually from 8 am to 6 pm. Some hotels change money.
The main post office is in the bazaar near Mahendrapul Bridge, a good distance from the main tourist areas (open Sunday to Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm (closed 4 pm winter), Friday 10 am to 3 pm). The telecommunications is near the post office. This may not be such a reliable post office. Book and postcard shops usually sell stamps. Some shops and hotels will bring your postcard or letters to the post office, but you should trust them. There are many places to make phone calls in the Lakeside and Damside areas. International calls usually range between Rs 175 and Rs 200 per minute. A call to Kathmandu costs around Rs 20 per minute.
There are many places to connect to the internet in Lakeside. The normal rate is Rs 10 per minute while on-line. You can write your letters off-line for Rs 2 or Rs 3 per minute. The rate is about Rs 20 per kilobyte to send. Often the network can be slow, so connections may not be so reliable. Usually early morning and late at night are the best time for connections. Places often allow you to send letters. Two places are Global Net Communication (email@example.com) and Office Depot Communication & Travels (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Immigration Office The Central Immigration office, just north of Damside, gives visa extensions and issues trekking permits for the Annapurna region (not other areas). Open for applications Sundays to Thursday 10.30 am to 1 pm, and to noon on Friday. You can pick them up in the afternoon from 3 to 4 pm and from 2 to 3 on Fridays. There is a Rs 1000 fee to enter the Annapurna Conservation Area. Travel agents can arrange the permits for Rs 150 to Rs 300. Passport photos can be gotten from the photo places near the office (about Rs 200 for four photos).
ACAP Information Centre The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has an Information Centre, at the immigration office, has excellent information about trekking. They can give latest information on the trails and weather conditions. You pay the Rs 1000 entry fee for the Annapurna Conservation Area. They also sell some useful books and maps. Open daily except Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm. Practical Information There are cultural Music and Dance programs at nightly during the season at the Fish Tail Lodge and the Hotel Dragon. Pokhara Sports and Fitness Centre (20707), has a good gym, a sauna, a tennis court and aerobic classes (6 am to 8 pm).
Pokhara Holiday Inn, MustangChowk, has a pool that can be used from 9 am to 12 pm and 1 to 4 pm (Rs 100). In a health emergency there is the Western Regional Hospital (20066), which often has Western doctor working there. It is also known as Gandaki Hospital. It is best to have your hotel call in advance to make sure there is a doctor there. There is a sightseeing bus operated by the Pokhara travel agencies that goes daily to sites in the area. There are many bookshops on Lakeside road selling new and used books. There are many rental shops for trekking equipment. The selection is not as good as Kathmandu. Rental for a sleeping bag is Rs 10 to Rs 20 per day.
Sanja Lama at the Natural Health Clinic, across from the Hotel Snow Land in Lakeside, does good therapeutic massages using different methods (Rs 750 per hour). Massages usually costs around Rs 300 per hour. Trekking Wayfarers (24052), in Damside Chhetri Sisters Guest House (24066; email: email@example.com). Rafting and Kayaking Equator Expeditions (20688; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) Ganesh Shop (22657) Himalayan Encounters (22682; email@example.com) Ultimate Descents (23240; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other Action Activities
Mountain Views From the lake you get a fantastic view of the Annapurna Mountains. The mountains that can be seen are the Annapurna peaks: Annapurna I to IV and Annapurna South, and the outstanding Machhapuchhare. Other mountains that can be seen are Hiunchuli, Tarke Kang, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, Varahashikar and Khangsar Kang. West of the Annapurna mountains is Dhaulagiri at 8167m, which at one time was considered to be the highest mountain in the world, before more precise systems of measurement were discovered.
There is an interesting story about the climbing of Annapurna I at 8091m. It is not easily seen from Pokhara because it a good distance to the north. After a French led expedition in 1950 led by Maurice Herzog made it to the top of this peak, it became the peak above 8000m to be climbed. The story of the climbing of this mountain is told in Herzog’s classic book Annapurna, which makes very interesting reading. After a severe mountain storm caught the expedition, Herzog got a frostbite in which he lost most of his fingers and toes. Machhapuchhare stands out because it is nearer to Pokhara than any of the other peaks. At 6997m it is the lowest of the mountains. Machhapuchhare means “fish tail.” From Pokhara, Machhapuchhare looks like a singular mountain peak. If one walks several days towards Jomsom, at this point you can see that the mountains has a second peak and at that place is resembles a fish tail.
No one is allowed to climb this mountain, because it is considered holy. An expedition in 1957, led by the late Colonel Jimmy Roberts got to within 50m of the top, before turning back after the Sherpas refused to go any further.
At Sarangkot you can get an excellent view of the mountains. To get here you take a taxi for around Rs 700 and from where it lets you off is a half-hour walk. From Pokhara it is a beautiful three hour walk.Entertainment At the Fish Tail Lodge there is an excellent daily cultural program featuring Nepali dance. From 6.30 to 7.30 pm. Admission: Rs 175. There is also a cultural music and dance show at the Hotel Dragon.Most of the night spots close at 11 pm. Some night spots are Maya Pub, Club Amsterdam, and Old Blues Night Pub.
Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City is a city of close to 200,000 inhabitants in central Nepal located at 28.25°N, 83.99°E, 198 km west of Kathmandu. It is the third largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and Biratnagar. It is the Headquarters of Kaski District, Gandaki Zone and the Western Development Region. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country.
Pokhara is situated in the northwestern corner of the Pokhara Valley, which is a widening of the Seti Gandaki valley. The Seti River and its tributaries have dug impressive canyons into the valley floor, which are only visible from higher viewpoints or from the air. To the east of Pokhara is the municipality of Lekhnath, a recently established town in the valley.
In no other place do mountains rise so quickly. In this area, within 30 km, the elevation rises from 1,000 m to over 7,500 m. Due to this sharp rise in altitude the area of Pokhara has one of the highest precipitation rates of the country (over 4,000 mm/year). Even within the city there is a noticeable difference in the amount of rain between the south of the city by the lake and the north at the foot of the mountains. The climate is sub-tropical but due to the elevation the temperatures are moderate: the summer temperatures average between 25–35 °C, in winter around 5–15 °C.
In the south the city borders on Phewa Tal (lake) (4.4 km² at an elevation of about 800 m above sea level), in the north at an elevation of around 1,000 m the outskirts of the city touch the base of the Annapurna mountain range. From the southern fringes of the city 3 eight-thousanders (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu) and, in the middle of the Annapurna range, the Machapuchare (Nepali language: Machhapucchare: ‘Fishtail’) with close to 7,000 m can be seen. This mountain dominates the northern horizon of the city and its name derives from its twin peaks, not visible from the south. The porous underground of the Pokhara valley favours the development of caves of which three prominent ones can be found within the city: Mahendra, Bat and Gupteswor. In the south of the city, a tributary of the Seti coming from Fewa Tal disappears at Patale Chhango (Nepali for Hell’s Falls, also called Devi’s or David’s Falls, after someone who supposedly fell into the falls) into an underground gorge, to reappear 500 metres further south.
History Pokhara lies on an important old trading route between Tibet and India. In the 17th century it was part of the influential Kingdom of Kaski which again was one of the Chaubise Rajaya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty. Many of the mountains around Pokhara still have medieval ruins from this time. In 1752 the King of Kaski invited Newars from Bhaktapur to Pokhara to promote trade. Their heritage can still be seen in the architecture along the streets in Bhimshen Tol (Old Pokhara). Hindus, again, brought their culture and customs from Kathmandu and settled in the whole Pokhara valley. 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.
Originally Pokhara was largely inhabitated by Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris (the major villages were located in Parsyang, Malepatan, Pardi and Harichowk areas of modern Pokhara) and the Majhi community near the Fewa Lake. When the newars of Bhaktapur migrated to Pokhara they settled near main business locations such as Bindhyabasini temple, Nalakomukh and Bhairab Tole. The establishment of a British recruitment camp brought larger Magar and Gurung communities to Pokhara. At present the Gurung (Tamu), Khas (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri and Dalits) form the dominant community of Pokhara. There is also a sizeable population of Newaris in Pokhara. A small muslim community is located on eastern fringes of Pokhara generally called Miya Patan.
From 1959 to 1962 some 300,000 refugees came to Nepal from neighbouring Tibet after it was annexed by China. Four refugee camps were established in and around Pokhara: Tashipalkhel, Tashiling, Paljorling and Jambling. These camps have evolved into well built settlements, each with a gompa (Buddhist monastery), chorten and its particular architecture, and Tibetans have become a visible minority in the city.
Until the end of the 1960s the town was only accesible by foot and it was considered even more a mystical place than Kathmandu. The first road was completed in 1968 (Siddhartha Highway) after which tourism set in and the city grew rapidly. The area along the Phewa lake developed into one of the major tourism hubs of Nepal.
Structure The Annapurna range from the World Peace Pagoda above Phewa lakePokhara spans 8 km from north to south and 6 km from east to west but, unlike Kathmandu, it is quite loosely built up and still has much green space. The Seti Gandaki flowing through the city from north to south divides the city roughly in two halves with the down-town area of Chipledunga in the middle, the old town centre of Bagar in the north and the tourist district of Lakeside (Baidam) in the south all lying on the western side of the river. The gorge through which the river flows is crossed at five points, the major ones are (from north to south): K.I. Singh Pul, Mahendra Pul and Prithvi Highway Pul. The eastern side of town is mainly residential.
About half of all tourists visiting Pokhara are there for the start or end of a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang.Lake Phewa was slightly enlarged by damming. It is in danger of silting up because of the inflow during the monsoon. The outflowing water is partially used for hydro power. The dam collapsed in the late 1970s and has been rebuilt. The power plant is located about 100 m below at the bottom of the Phusre Khola gorge. Water is also diverted for irrigation into the southern Pokhara valley.
The eastern Pokhara Valley receives irrigation water through a canal running from a reservoir by the Seti in the north of the city. Phewa lake is also used for commercial fishing. The tourist area is along the north shore of the lake (Baidam, Lakeside and Damside). It is mainly made up of little shops, little hotels, restaurants and bars. The larger hotels can be found on the southern and south-eastern fringes of the city, from where the view of the mountains is best. To the east of the valley, in Lekhnath, are several smaller lakes, the largest being Begnas Tal and Rupa Tal. Begnas Tal is also known for its fishery projects. There are no beaches in the valley, but one can rent boats in Phewa and Begnas Tal.
Tourism and economy Bindhyabasini Temple in the eveningAfter the annexation of Tibet by China that led to the Indo-China war the trading route to India became defunct. Today only few caravans from Mustang still arrive in Bagar.
Pokhara has become a major tourist hub of Nepal, more than making up for the loss of its trading importance. The city offers a combination of nature and culture and is mostly known as the gateway to the trekking route “Round Annapurana”, which is usually a trek of 25 days.
Pokhara is quite a modern city with only few touristic attractions in the town itself. Most interesting is the old centre in the north of the city (Bagar, Purano Bazar) where still many old shops and warehouses in the Newari style can be found. Although more seldom, mule caravans still arrive there from Mustang.Temples worth visiting in the older part of town are Bindhyabasini temple and Bhimsen temple. Another temple, Barahi temple, is located on an island in the Phewa lake, accessible only by boats.
The modern commercial city centre at Chiple Dhunga and Mahendrapul (now called Bhimsen Chowk, named after a Shahid (Martyr) in Jana-aandolan II, April, 2006) is halfway between the lake and Purano Bazar, the old centre. Apart from this there are several subcentres in other parts of town: in the north in Bagar, in the south between Prithvi Chok and rijana Chok (mainly hardware stores), and in the east, on the other side of the Seti, in Ram Bazar.
Phewa lake and lakeside view from SarangkotOn a hill overlooking Phewa Tal from the south is the World Peace Stupa (at 1,113 m) QTVR built in 1996 with a view of the lake, across the city and of the snow peaked mountain ranges of Manaslu, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himal.
The best viewpoint of Pokhara is Sarangkot (1,600 m) and Thulakot (in Lekhnath a part of famous Royal Trek from where four lakes Phewa, Begnas, Khaste and Dipang and whole Annapurna range can be seen) to the west of the city. Paths and a road lead almost to the top of Sarangkot with an excellent view of the mountains and the city. On the summit of Sarankot there is a Buddhist stupa/monastery, which also attracts many tourists.
Seti gorge in PokharaThe major touristic attractions of Pokhara are its scenic views in and around town. Many of them are not mentioned in guides or maps. The Seti Gandaki (White Gandaki) and its tributaries have created spectacular gorges in and around the whole city. The Seti gorge runs through the whole city from north to south. At places it is only a few metres wide and the river is so far down below that, at places it is not visible or audible.
Phewa lake in 1982In the middle of the city, the gorge widens to a canyon looking like a crater. In the north and south, just outside town, the rivers created canyons, in some places 100 m deep. These canyons extend through the whole Pokhara Valley. Viewpoints are not easy to find. One place is the Prithvi Narayan Campus and the other side at the foot of Kahu Danda, where several rivers and canyons join. Behind the INF-Compound (Tundikhel) one can see the Seti River disappear into a small slit of a wall about 30 metres high which is especially impressive in monsoon. Betulechaur in the far north of Pokhara is known for the musicians caste of the Gaines.
Military Pokhara is the location of the British Gurkha Camp in the north of the city. It is a recruitment camp for Nepalis as Gurkha soldiers. About 370 are selected annually in December out of a pool of over 20,000 applicants. About 140 eventually join the Gurkha Contingent in Singapore while the rest join the British Army. Pokhara also is the location of an Indian Gurkha Pension Camp and barracks of the Nepal Army, both in the eastern side of town.
Education The city of Pokhara has some important educational institutions. Prithivi Narayan Campus, IOE Western Region Campus providing engineering education, Foresty Campus, Nursing Campus under Tribhuvan University and Manipal College of Medical Science under Kathmandu university.
Transportation Public transit Pokhara has several bus routes, mainly running the length of the city from north to south.Inter-city connections There are two major bus parks in Pokhara. The oldest one is located at near Pritivi Chok, the main entrance to the city from Kathmandu. Here buses mainly arrive from and depart for destinations east and south of Pokhara, like Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Dhangadi, Birganj etc. The newer Naya Bus park near Purano Bazar links Pokhara to western destinations such as Baglung, Beni etc. Airport Pokhara AirportPokhara Airport is situated in the middle of town and offers flights to Kathmandu, Jomsom and Manang. Helicopters to Manang and Jomsom are also available for charter.
- Visit Sarangkot hill for sunrise or sunset
- Phewa lake boating with barahi temple darsan.
- Explore peace pagoda, old bazzar, mahendra pul.
- Day tour of International mountain Museum.
- Visit Tibetan camp, devils water fall (patale channgo), gupteshor cave, mahendra cave, Bat cave (chamera gufa).
- Trip to KI sing bridge, seti river George, cultural museum, butterfly museum, British Gurkha army museum.
- Adventure trip like cycling, paragliding, jeep flyer, ultra light flight.
- Long trekking to Annapurna base camp and Dhaulagiri circuit.
- Short trekking to Ghorepani, poonhill, ghandruk, dhapus. one week trek to Muktinath, manang, Mustang.
How to get ?
If you arrive in Kathmandu Nepal take a flight 25 minutes from kathamndu domestic airport, will reach easily. Or take a private car or public bus transportation which takes 6 hours drive. there is also easy access from Chitwan National park and Lumbini the birth place of Buddha.
Place to See
Phewa Tal (Lake) This beautiful lake, along with the mountain views are the main attractions of Pokhara. It is the second largest lake. Rara Lake, in the west side of Nepal, is the largest. You can take a boat ride on the lake for Rs 100 to Rs 200 per hour. You can hire your own boat and hire a boat with someone to row you around. A sail boat can be rented at the Hotel Fewa for 300 per hour. For longer period there are discounts. Boats are most expensive opposite the Varahi Temple, and are cheaper going towards Damside. While boating it is advised to stay away from the dam, because the currents can be rough and therefore dangerous. There is a small island in the lake, which has on it the Varahi Temple dedicated to the goddess Varahi Bhagwati, the Shakti energy.
Lakeside (Baidam): Damside (Pardi) There is a great class view of the mountains from a small Vishnu temple in the piece of land between the lake and the spillway. Pardi Dam is next to the Damside area. It can not be walked on.
Seti Gandaki River: The Seti Gandaki River flows through the east part of Pokhara. In some places it flows completely underground and can not be seen. Seti means white and the water is turned a milky color by the limestone in the soil. You can get a good view of the river at the north end of the bazaar, from the bridge near the old Mission Hospital and just north of the main bus station. From the bus station you go north past Shanti Batika Park which then pasts some jungle and you make a right at the path. You can also get an even better view of the river on the footbridge, on the other (east) side of the airport runway. You can also see the river from the Mahendrapul Bridge in the area of the main bazaar.
Tibetan Places: There are several Tibetan settlements in the area of Pokhara. Many Tibetans sell crafts in the area of the lake. From the hill-top Tibetan Buddhist Monastery there are good views of the Pokhara Valley. It has a large statue of Buddha and some nice wall paintings. To get here you cross the Mahendrapul Bridge from the bazaar area and then follow the road to here. The Tashiling Tibetan Village is a few km southwest of the airport. They make Tibetan carpets there. There is a good-size Tibetan settlement called Tashipalkhel at Hyangja, which is a short drive away. It is an hour or two walk northwest of Pokhara along the Pokhara to Jomsom trek.
Mahendra Gufa: North of town is Mahendra Gufa, which is a cave with several tunnels. You need a flashlight. A taxi is Rs 200. Admission Rs 10.
Devi Falls: It is also known as Patale Chango and Devin’s. The Pardi Khola is the river that flows from the Phewa Tal Lake. At Devi Falls the river falls down into a hole and disappears. The Pardi Khola flows underground for around 200m and then re-emerges again and flows in the Phusre Khola which later meets the Seti Gandaki River. It is also known as David’s Falls because one story says that a tourist names David and his girlfriend fell into the hole and were never seen again.Devi Falls is just before the Tashiling Tibetan Village on Siddhartha Highway, about 2km southwest of the airport.
Museums: There are three museums in Pokhara, but neither is so interesting. Pokhara Museum has local history exhibits, crafts and costumes. The exhibits are good. It is on the main road, north of the bus station. Open daily except Tuesday, 10 am to 5 pm, closes 3 pm on Friday. Admission Rs 10. National History Museum has a natural history section that has a good butterfly, moth and insect exhibit. It is also called the Annapurna Regional Museum. There is an ACAP exhibits showing the environmental problems of the area. Open daily except Saturday, 10 am to 1 pm and 2 to 4 pm. Admission is free, but it would be nice to give a donation. Near the museum is the Information Center for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project which has some good cultural exhibits in the ACAP region. Tamu Kohibo Museum has exhibits relating to the Gurung culture and shamanic traditions. It is on the east side of town near the Seti River. Admission Rs 25.
Temples: There are not many temples in Pokhara The double-roofed Newari-style Bhimsen Temple is located in the northern part of the bazaar on the main road. It has some erotic carvings on its roof struts. In the north part of town, on a small hill, is the Binde Basini Temple. In this temple is Durga (Parvati) manifested in the form of a shalagram. It is located in a pleasant location and there are good mountain views. There are animal sacrifices at this temple, the main day being Saturday and the ninth day of Dasain in October.