Pokhara is probably Nepal’s most touristy town, after the capital city, Kathmandu. It serves as a base to the Annapurna basecamp trek, among others. Pokhara’s bohemian vibe particularly appealed to me. The main shopping street, aromatic cafes and bars with live music just a few factors that complemented the vibe.
This wasn’t my first time in Pokhara. Most of the experiences, however, were a first.
Things to do (my recommendations)
One morning, we checked-in to Pokhara Airport to take a different type of flight. The Pokhara Ultralight is a lightweight aircraft with two passengers on board. With winds on our side, two from our group prepared with security briefings into two ultralights.
In the 15-minute flight my pilot, Neeraj, and I soared up to 9000 feet to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I felt the winds chisel my face at certain turns but didn’t pull the visor down. Sometimes Neeraj lowered the motor speed. My body stiffened with fear. Soon he patted my knees and gestured a thumbs up to pose for the camera. After the first three minutes, I was meditating on the views below me. I noticed the famous World Peace Pagoda (or Shanti Stupa), the concrete town surrounded by green agricultural fields and a glistening Phewa Lake.
Landing was smoother than take off. And I immediately wished that the experience wouldn’t end. The thrills of ultralight are addictive.
Read: Itinerary: Sandakphu Trek, Bengal
Gupteshwar Mahadev Temple
On Siddhartha Rajmarg, the famous Devi’s Falls and Gupteshwar Mahadev Temple stand opposite to each other. Guru was our guide for the day and he perhaps saw my apprehension of going inside the latter—a cave temple. Daylight diminished as I walked down the spiral stairs into the cave. In darkness, I clambered on flights of stairs to a Shiva Lingam, formed by stalagmite.
After this shrine, all I saw was darkness and refused to proceed. Guru walked a few steps back to persuade me and I reluctantly agreed. After a few narrow limestone passages, I saw scaffoldings and heard water dripping. An iron staircase led me to the natural wonder that Guru so persistently pursued. A stream of water gushed through the steep boulders, darting through the darkness. And above it, the creek opened up just right to light the gushing water. This was a continuity to Devi’s Waterfalls.
At wee hours of the morning, we walked a tedious flight of stairs to Sarangkot viewing point. This is a popular spot for crisp and magnificent views of the Himalayas at sunrise.
I rubbed my sleepy eyes for the n-th time to see a patch of clouds move away. Set against a very faint blue backdrop, the tip of Annapurna I turned a light golden. And in a matter of seconds, the entire range appeared—from Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre (or fishtail) at the centre and peaks of the Annapurna range. I wish the clouds at the backdrop lifted to give the contours of the majestic Himalayas more definition.
Things to do (popular)
World Peace Pagoda on Anadu Hill and the adjoining Phewa Lake panorama.
Devi’s Falls, also called Davi’s Waterfalls. One of the many stories (and perhaps the most believable) is that of a Swiss couple swimming in the pools above the falls, in July 1961. The woman quite unfortunately was washed off by a gush of water. And hence the name, Davi.
A walk by Phewa Lake in the evening. Or go on a boat ride.
Visit Jangchub Choeling Tibetan Monastery to see exquisite Thangka art and Buddhist murals.
Experience a cultural night in Hotel Barahi on Lakeside.
Where to stay
Rita from the front office welcomed me to Hotel Barahi with the customary Nepali scarf. That was just the beginning of their hospitality. In my two-night stay there, Hotel Barahi excelled in their service. Guru deserves a special mention who guided us around town and shared his extensive knowledge.
I walked pass by the long swimming pool to my room. Distressed interiors, excellent sleep quality and all basics covered, I wish I had more time in my room. Also for the Spicy Pool Bar which had scribbles all over, giving it an interesting and unique feel.
Read: Kalutara: A Sri Lanka for the Lazy Travellers
Where and what to eat & drink
I highly recommend Byanjan on Lakeside Road, which serves simple continental food and elaborate Nepali thalis. Their Nepali dishes, like sukuti, is as authentic as it can be. I also liked their sit-outs overlooking Phewa Lake.
Barista Kazu on the way to World Peace Stupa has excellent affogato, along with other coffee and a sufficient menu of bakery bites.
Another cafe to worth trying is Himalayan Java Coffee on Lakeside. (They have a couple more in town.)
Try local beer like Gorkha and Everest, Khukri rum, Old Durbar whisky and local liquor which is rice wine called ‘Rakssi’. These are available in most restaurants and bars. Pokhara has many licensed beer and wine shops where tourists can buy their favourite tipple too.
-Photography of Shiva Linga in Gupteshwar Mahadev Temple is not permitted.
-Sarangkot has an entry of 50 NPR for foreigners.
-All activities can be booked from Hotel Barahi’s travel desk.
-Hotel Barahi has two dining options: Pokhara Flavour and Spicy Pool Bar. The former has Nepali cultural performances every evening from 1900hrs to 2100hrs.
-Lakeside Road is the main shopping street in the city.
-Pokhara Ultralight costs about $130 for a 15-minute experience.
Read: A Guide to Bodhgaya, Bihar
What is your favourite Pokhara experience?
Note: I was invited by Nepal Tourism on this bloggers trip.
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