Pokhara (पोखरा) Pokhara (पोखरा) – after the capital it is the second largest (in terms of population) city in Nepal. It is located about 200 km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 827 m above sea level, on a lovely lake Fewa (Phewa Tal), almost at the foot of Annapurna, acting as a comfortable and welcoming base in its direction. This is due to the fact that it is close to many excellent trekking trails, Pokhara is so popular among tourists. Even if you do not feel like trekking, at one of many travel agents you will organise here easily rafting, paragliding, bike, boat, safari, or some other pastime.
Compared to dusty Kathmandu, Pokhara looks a bit like a neglected resort. It is a little like makeshift and disarray, but it is situated in a very nice and picturesque location. As elsewhere in Nepal there are a lot of contrasts here. In the Fewa lake you can see both the beautiful mountains reflected in it, and floating litter; colourful showcases and fragrant food diners are adjacent to the trash-filled, gloomy streets and dilapidated walls of houses covered with corrugated steel sheet pressed with stones.
Pokhara has a regular bus and plane connection from Kathmandu. All buses, in both directions, leave in the morning at the same time. If you want to have a guaranteed place, then you have to buy a ticket at least the day before. In 2011, it cost 500 rupees (Rs) per person. In Kathmandu buses departure from Kantipath and in Pokhara from the bus station.
An air ticket to Kathmandu was offered to us in Pokhara at a special price of $ 50. Unfortunately, I do not know what is the normal price and how much the promotion was promotion.
Finding accommodation is nothing difficult. As often happens in Nepal, actually the accommodation looks for tourists. As soon as we got off the bus we had two offers. We chose (virtually in a haphazard way) a man who offered free drive and the possibility of resignation, if we did not like the room. When we arrived we found out the room is already taken, but immediately we found a place for us in the hotel next to previous accommodation. Most of hotels and restaurants wait for tourists in popular Baidam (called Lake Side), but you can find a lot of accommodations in another place.
One night in a very nice, triple room with a view on the lake at Hotel Tropicana cost us 17$ on special offer. Apparently, the normal price is 35$, but we were not able to verify it. The hotel advertises itself that it lies a stone's throw from Lake Fewa. I guess that I could not make it, but (as you can see in the picture) it is actually very close to the lake.
Hotel Tropicana, Khahare, Lake Side, Pokhara, Nepal, www.hotelthetropicana.com
We also recommend very clean, nice, and cheap rooms at Panas. We found it by accident, wandering around Pokhara to find a cheap accommodation. We saw many rooms. Some of them were very cheap, but they did not encourage to spend the night in them, the other ones were very nice, but they cost around 20-30$ per room. The triple room with private bathroom in the hotel Panas, which we liked at first sight, cost us 700 Rs (28 zł) per room. It was the most preferred choice by us, taking into account value for money.
Hotel Panas, Lake Side, Pokhara, Nepal, phone:00977-61-461837
Of course, there are a lot of restaurants and other eateries in the resort town. Unfortunately, we could not find any restaurant like Shree Lal in Kathmandu, but wherever we ate, the meals were pretty fair and affordable. Certainly, you will not poison yourself in the Korean restaurant which is located on the first floor of the building opposite one of the laundries in the center of tourist Pokhara – Baidam. Pretty good food is also in a more universal restaurant on the ground floor of the same building.
You should not limit yourself only to the restaurant for tourists, but try also more seedy beaneries for the natives. Local specialties fragrant with oriental spices are not only delicious, but also very cheap.
The mandatory point should be also squeezed juices from beautiful, colourful and fresh fruit. No chemicals, no preservatives, or even any packet. Before our eyes, a retailer chooses from a multi-coloured wall of oranges, grapefruits, pomegranates and other marvels of nature a few happy fruits which after passing through the squeezer turn into delicious, sweet, appetising, natural, healthy, noble (oh, a long time to list all the adjectives which can be bestowed on this wonderful substance) nectar, served mostly in ecological glass.
Pokhara is primarily a point on the road in the direction of the beautiful Annapurna massif, but also in the city you will find several places worth visiting. Not without reason, Pokhara is regarded as the best place to relax in Nepal. After returning from the mountains, tired of lugging heavy backpacks, here you will find a peaceful haven giving a rest. You can cycle around the lake, sail a boat, order a massage or sit in some taproom and, sipping a beer, you'll enjoy a peaceful view of the lake Fewa.
The tradition of building stupas in the world peace (the word shanti in Sanskrit means peace) was started in 1947 Nichidatsu Fujii, by a Buddhist monk from Japan. Peace Stupa was built on the hill Ananda at 1,100 m above sea level in Pokhara. The first stone of the foundation, along with the Buddha's relics, was placed in September 1973. Unfortunately the building was destroyed before finished it. The second time the cornerstone was laid in May 1992 and the grand opening of the temple took place on 30 October 1999.
Peace Stupa is 35 meters high nad about 33 meters diameter. On the second floor there are niches with statues of Buddha brought from different corners of the earth for Stupa. At the front it stands a Buddha Dharmachakra Pravatan, made in Japan. At the north it stands Buddha Mahaparinirvana imported from Thailand, at the west it is Buddha meditator from Sri Lanka, and from the south Buddha Siddhartha, made in Nepal. Each statue represents an important event connected with the life of Buddha and is located in the place in which it happened.
In the front of the Stupa there is located a tomb of a Japanese monk whose anti-Buddhist extremists killed during erecting the building.
In that, the stupa stands on a hill on the southern shore of Lake Fewa (Phewa Tal), it is easy to see her and find a way. In good weather it offers a great view of the city and of course the proud peaks of the Himalayas. It is worth to go there in the morning, and if the weather will be kind to you, you will remember this panorama for a long time.
[Supplemented by Andrzej Żarczyński.]
Close to Peace Stupa a deep karstic sinkhole called Devi's Waterfall is located. Apparently, very interestingly presenting itself during the rainy season but during the dry season there were also a lot of visitors here. Waterfalls are located at the main street, so you can visit them on the way back from the Peace Stupa in the direction of Lake Side.
On the way we also pass the entrance to the limestone caves Gupteshwor Mahadev, which are open for the public. The stalactites and stalagmites located in the cave apparently resembled gods to the local people, perhaps because of that the entrance to the cave looks a bit like a religious building.
Located at an atitude of 742 m above sea level, Lake Fewa (Phewa Tal) is probably the most famous lake of Nepal. It is about 5 km long and 2 km wide and covers an area of 4.4 km², making it the second largest lake in Nepal after Rara. From the west, the Harpen River (Harpen Khola) flows into it. On the south side rises the hill on which stands the Peace Stupa. On the lake there is a very small island, on which there is even smaller Varahi Hindu temple (Varahi Mandir) dedicated to the goddess Varahi Bhagwati.
To reach the island, you can buy a ticket and be transported by one of many little boats setting sail every few minutes. The ticket clerk told us that the cost of this pleasure is 500 Rs per person, which seemed to us heavily exaggerated. It is possible, moreover, that the price was calculated specifically for tourists. So we gave the ticket a miss, and walking along the shore, after a little time we found a few canoes and a lady who offered us one of them at a price of 300 Rs per hour. In that time, we will manage to sail to the island and back, and even sail out a little further into the lake.
The biggest attraction of Pokhara are definitely the surrounding peaks of Annapurna and Machapuchare. They can be admired from afar, but you can also arrange a few-day trekking and look at them from close-up. If this idea comes to your mind spontaneously, in Pokhara you will buy everything you will need, and not only sleeping bags or clothes, but also all possible medicines (without prescription!) and maps, which are offered in local bookshops in a large amount. And comfortable beds, tiled bathrooms with warm water, masseurs, barbers, laundries ready to refresh our underwear, and travel agencies which will organise rafting or take us on safari wait for tired hikers returning from the mountains.
The cows wandering lazily on the edge of Fewa Lake have neither chains nor a drover... They go where they want. They are holy. Children play without care entirely. A very young boy is training jumping into water from a half-turn. Apparently satisfied with himself, in his birthday suit, again and again he is falling into the lake with a splash. He is smiling at us. He doesn't look like anything wrong was happening to him. And my kid, going to kindergarten in the morning, is not happy, surely, though he has clean clothes and a guaranteed day care of professional and very nice staff.
The lake means for us sailing, rowing, swimming, sunbathing, in one word, recreation. Here the lake is primarily a place where washing and morning toilet are done. Two women immersed knees-deep in the water are bathing, washing their beautiful, long, black hair, and one another's backs. A little farther somebody is fishing, while we are observing everything from a wooden shelter on palings, lazily sipping a beer called Nepal Ice.
Swings are high and built of bamboo and a piece of string. Set somewhere on a hill behind the trees, they look spectacular. Children seem to fly in the air, almost in the sky, and I have not seen parents chasing their kids away. Our swings are stunted and expensive. There are specially designed playgrounds which are built from a Swedish wood, but small children can’t be there without care anyhow... Everything is unsafe in our country.
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