Nestled in the Annapurna range, the city of Pokhara is every traveller’s paradise. Blessed with lush green forests, stunning landscape and calm lakes, Pokhara is a major tourist hotspot of Nepal. Every year, thousands of visitors both local and foreign flock to the valley to enjoy the hypnotic glamour of nature and a gentle touch of spirituality. To help you explore the city, we have handpicked these 7 most popular places to visit in Pokhara.
1. Davi’s Falls
About 2 kms from the airport are the cascading Davi’ Falls. The falls have been named after a tragic event in 1961 when a Swiss woman (named Davi) drowned and her body perished in the falls while swimming.
The water from the falls does not drop to a river or lagoon; instead, it drops to a pitch dark hole before disappearing and passing through the caves. This lends a mystical charm to this waterfall, making it the most popular tourist attraction in Pokhara.
Every year, thousands of locals and tourists visit the falls for recreation. A wishing well of Goddess Manakamna Bhagwatiand right outside the fall area is a famous attraction. The visitors purchase coins at the ticket counter to make a wish before tossing it into the well, in hopes that their wish will come true. Another popular activity is getting pictures clicked with a model of traditional Nepali house and people donning traditional attires. You can take these pictures with you as a souvenir from your visit.
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.
3. Phewa Lake
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 center of the lake, towards the east is the famous Tal Barahi Temple.
The lake offers many activities to it hordes of visitors. You can sail your way to the temple or explore the lake surroundings by renting one of the vibrant doongas (boats). You may also set on a short trek to the World Peace Pagoda to enjoy the breathtaking view of the ranges. An evening stroll around the lake periphery is the idyllic way to end your day.
4. Pokhara Shanti Stupa
Perched atop a narrow ridge above Phewa Tal 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. Once you reach the hill-top, a stunning view of Himalayas and Pokhara valley greets you.
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. Housing a statue of Lord Buddha is a hall close to the pagoda. This is where the daily Buddhist rituals take place and ceremonies are performed. If you want to study the brilliant pagoda architecture and intimate yourself to the Buddhist teachings and scriptures, a visit to Pokhara Shanti Stupa is a must.
5. Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
Across the road from Davi’s fall, a spiral staircase leads to the entrance of a venerated Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave. The cave is believed to be centuries old and houses a naturally formed structure resembling the Shiva lingam, making it site of religious importance and a tourist hotspot. It is believed to have been discovered in the 16th century after some locals stumbled upon it while clearing some grass.
The entrance of the cave is dotted by many souvenir stalls and a ticket counter. Once you enter, the cave is well lit with a string of lights, but carrying a flashlight is recommended. The Shiva lingam is about 40m away from the entrance point. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, walk further towards the second part of cave beyond the worship site. The path is slightly challenging owing to the rock formations and trickling water. As the end draws closer, you finally get to unveil the mystery of the disappearing waters of Davi’s fall. We won’t ruin the surprise for you though! You have to watch it with your own eyes to see this natural wonder.
6. Shree Gaden Dhargay Ling Monastery
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. Given that you follow the instructions, visitors and tourists are welcome to sit at the hour long prayer ceremony. 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.
7. Jangchub Choeling Gompa
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. However, as the number of devotees grew, young boys were ordained as monks by Dupseng Rinpoche at the behest of their parents
In 1967, His Holiness the Dalai Lama named the monastery. Three years later as a need for expansion was realized, Dupseng Rinpoche moved the monastery to its present location where he planned on constructing a larger building. The plan fell through after his sudden demise. However, over two decades that followed, the structure was further expanded and inaugurated.
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.
A visit to this small monastery is a must if you seek to gain an insight in Tibet refugee crisis and the teachings of Buddha. The monastery also offers peace and quiet for you to collect your thoughts and unwind.
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