Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Pokhara
Pokhara, situated at the base of foothills 200 km (125 mi.) west of Kathmandu, represents for many trekkers the gateway to the Himalayas. It is the starting point for treks to Jomsom and the Annapurna group. With more than 146,000 inhabitants Pokhara is the third largest town in Nepal after Kathmandu and Biratnagar. People coming from the Kathmandu Valley notice the much cleaner air and pleasant climate. Lake Phewa, with its cluster of lakeside hotels, restaurants and shops, is ideal for seekers after relaxation and for day excursions.Pokhara consists of many different parts and lacks cohesion: airport, bazaar, Lakeside, Pardi, as well as the shopping centers of Mahendra Pul and Chipledhunga are far away from each other, also the long connection road is difficult to reconnoiter on foot. Happily there are now taxis with meters, whereas previously very high taxi fares were charged. However, for the visitor with sufficient time, it is better to hire a bicycle.
This district, where everyday life of the Pokharans takes place, is named after the nearby Mahendra Bridge. Mahendra Phul throbs with activity - in contrast to the tranquility of Lakeside. The old town lies between the mountain ridges of Sarangkot and Kandu Danda where the Seti has cut a gorge 50-60 m (164-170 ft) deep in the rock. This gorge, which stretches through the whole district as far as the southern outskirts where it is 100 m (328 ft) deep, offers breathtaking views. In the old bazaar, which begins at the Ganesh Tol, all the daily necessities of life are on sale.
Lakeside, on the east shore of Lake Phewa, caters specifically for tourists. Numerous hotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops lie strung out along the 4 km (21/2 mi.) main street, the shops mostly selling souvenirs and trekking gear. Rock music blares from cafés and eating houses serving apfelstrudel, pizza and similar fare. Glimpses of Nepalese culture are few and far between, apart from the often poor quality souvenirs. Even so Lakeside is genuinely picturesque, with a relaxing, easy-going atmosphere particularly appreciated by exhausted trekkers.
Bindya Basini Mandir
The Bindya Basini Temple, also damaged in the 1949 fire, stands on a pleasantly green hillside site. Noteworthy on religious rather than architectural grounds, its principal shrine is dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati who, on Saturdays, receives many sacrifices. The temple and its environs throng with Hindu families making a party of the gory ritual. Figures of the present royal couple, King Birendra Shah and his wife, top the founder's column in the courtyard.
Annapurna Regional Museum
Situated on the campus of the Prithvi Narayan University east of the bazaar, the Annapurna Regional Museum is a natural history museum devoted to the Annapurna region and the Annapurna Conservation Area Project. Among its highlights is an unusually comprehensive butterfly collection.
The Pokhara Museum is located between the bus station and the Mahendra Bridge. Its chiefly ethnographical collection focuses on the region's various ethnic groups. Brief descriptions of the differing cultures are illustrated with samples of jewelry, musical instruments, clothing and customs.
Pokhara's bazaar is a world away from Lakeside (though actually just 4 km (21/2 mi.)). It was set up by Newari immigrants from Bhaktapur brought here in 1752 to give a new impetus to trade. On the road to the bazaar a visit to the Bimsen Temples, at the northern end of Nalamukh, is recommended.
Pardi, also known as Damside, is an offshoot of Lakeside, situated about one kilometer south at Pardi Dam on Lake Phewa. In recent years many hotels and restaurants have been built here.
About 2 km (11/4 mi.) south of where Lake Phewa drains into the Pardi Khola the terrain drops sharply away and the river plunges over the Devi Falls, disappearing into a sink-hole. After about 200 m (651 ft) it re-emerges before flowing into the Phusre Khola. The falls are also known as David Falls, reputedly because someone of that name was sucked into the whirlpool and drowned. The falls swell considerably after the monsoon but are little more than a trickle in January.This otherwise attractive spot is quite spoiled by litter and garbage, about which nobody seems much concerned. Because it is near Tashi Ling, one of the Tibetan settlements, there are usually one or two jewelry and souvenir sellers as well.
Several routes lead to the top of Sarangkot, a summit on the long mountain ridge skirting the north side of Lake Phewa. One of the best paths starts from near the Bindya Basini Temple; a sign indicates the road. Most taxis go only half way, as far as the end of the good road. From there it is about an hour's walk to the summit which is planted with young trees. There are several small inexpensive hotels here suitable for a night's stay. The climber must make an early ascent to see the sunrise and only in the early morning is the air clear. From above here there is a magnificent view of the Himalayan peaks and of all Pokhara which is very impressive at night.
At 1444 m (4740 ft) Kahun Danda is lower than Sarangkot and the view consequently that much less spectacular. But the 1 1/2 hour walk to the summit is easier and shared with fewer people. The Manangi Gompa a few kilometers beyond Mahendra Bridge makes a good starting point.
Two hours along the Sarangkot ridge past Kaski lies the little town of Naudanda with another good view of the Himalayas. Here a tourist infrastructure has been developed. A guard-post controls trekking permits to the Annapurna region. Naudanda is joined to Pokhara by a good motor road which goes to Birethanti and Baglung.
Half an hour's walk west along the ridge of Sarangkot lies the small village of Kaski, once the seat of the Kaski kings this little village with only one guest house shows little sign of its former glory.
A few kilometers north from the center of Pokhara lies the village of Batulechaur which is reached via the K.I. Singh Bridge to the north of the bazaar. This was the winter residence of the Kaski kings who in the raw winter months left their windswept eyrie in Kaski. It is said that the kings brought orange trees here, but disease put an end to their cultivation.Though Batulechaur's heyday is long past, the village still houses a small community of Gaines, professional musicians, members of the musicians' caste. They will oblige with a short performance by arrangement for a modest fee.
The Mahendra Cave or Chamero Odhaar (Bat Cave) is situated a kilometer north of Batulechaur. The exact size of the cave is a matter of dispute. Local people claim a Swiss geologist explored for two days without discovering any end. The electric lighting is limited and weak so a torch is useful Most of the stalactites have been stolen by souvenir hunters. Only an eerie cavern full of bats remains.
The Annapurna region is a very popular area for hiking and treks. Included in this region is the incredibly popular Annapurna Circuit, a two to three week trek that leads through high elevations offering beautiful views and outstanding scenery.The Annapurna mountain range takes in some of Nepal's highest peaks, including Annapurna I. While hiking is popular the area is also a challenging and enticing landscape for climbers who come here to tackle the mountains.Most visitors heading into the Annapurna region depart from the city of Pokhara.
Lake Begnas (Lake Rupa)
Lakes Begnas and Rupa are located 15 km (91/4 mi.) or so east of Pokhara. They are smaller and less well known than Lake Phewa and little frequented. Lake Begnas lies close to the village of Sisuwa where boats can be rented. The Sundari Danda, a vantage point about an hour's walk from Sisuwa, offers lovely views of the lakes with a breathtaking mountain-scape behind. On the east side is the 'Begnas Lake Resort'.
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