I left Kathmandu behind and hit the road to Pokhara, to the second largest city of Nepal. Distance in between these two cities is just 200km. But due to the unpaved and unimproved narrow roads of the country this bus journey takes around 8 hours! If you choose not the tourist but the public bus which is cheaper, get prepared for an adventurous journey. These buses are quite old, so crowded and at the same time you need to close your ears because of the extremely high sounds of the Bollywood movies shown on tv screen. Good news, the road goes along a magnificent lush valley with a strong river flowing next to you in most parts of the road. Anxiety may arise as proceeding just next to deep cliffs. But you can put all these aside and enjoy the view (above).
Pokhara is a beautiful city located by Phewa lake (above). From the north part of the city great Himalayas start to rise up. After my days in chaotic Kathmandu I was so pleased to come to this laid-back charm.
Pokhara is the major tourism hub in Nepal therefore it has many accommodation and food options. Yes it is touristy but it also has a unique quality that offers calm niches as well. I spent almost all my time at the peaceful lakeside.
This place is a heaven if you want to just stop and rest for a while. It has such a charm that makes you stay more than you predict. I spent many days taking long walks near the lake, climbing up and down in the surrounding hills. Lakeside is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. Watching the amazing sceneries of the lake and mountains enhance the peace within.
In Pokhara when you want to be in solitude that’s easy. Or when you want to socialize, there are many options of nice and cosy cafes around the lake. If you are here for trekking, you can meet many like-minded people. Because Pokhara is the gateway to the world-famous treks in and around the Annapurna range of Himalayas. You can swap information with these trekkers about the details of the routes.
There are also many trekking agencies that provide maps and information for the trekkers. And Pokhara has many shops that sell cheap but quality outfits and equipments for your trek.
One of the must see places in Pokhara is World Peace Pagoda that is located on top of a hill on the southern part of the lake. In order to reach there you take a boat and cross the river. Then you start climbing up the hill.
You climb up through a dense forest (above) seeing the magnificent sceneries of Pokhara and the lake behind you. The area has a humid subtropical climate that is home to lush green vegetation.
When you eventually reach the top you come across with the World Peace Pagoda (above). This Buddhist pagoda was built as a symbol of peace.
This hilltop provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Annapurna range, Pokhara and Phewa lake (above). At the base Pokhara has the altitude around 800m above sea level. In this region the mountains rise very quickly and within 30 kilometres the elevation rises from 1,000 to 7,500m!
Another magnificent spot is Sarangkot hill that is on the north part of the lake. As I was about to start a trek in Himalayas I used this hill as a training area. With a quite tough climb of 800m you can reach Sarangkot. On your way you pass by some little villages that give you an idea about the simple rural life of Nepalese people (above).
Sarangkot has a spectacular panoramic view of Himalayas and Pokhara city. The Annapurna Range with three out of the ten highest mountains in the world; Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu can be seen from this point. These are around 8000m peaks. The Machhapuchhre, also known as Fishtail (6,993m) is the closest peak to the city. In the picture above it is the one in the middle with a remarkable sharp edge. Sarangkot is also one of the best paragliding venue on the globe.
Pokhara hosts many places that offer yoga, meditation and massage sessions. I really enjoyed a sound therapy session that I had taken from a Nepalese musician. He used many singing bowls in different sizes and interesting instruments in order to create different frequencies to heal the body and mind. At the end of the session I was totally with a light and warm energy in and around my physical and energetic body. The musician told me how to choose the best singing (Tibetan) bowl for myself.
After China invaded Tibet in 1950, many Tibetans took shelter in Nepal. Pokhara is home to thousands of Tibetan refugees and four main refugee camps; Tashi Palkel, Tashi Ling, Paljorling and Jampaling. These camps were originally meant to provide temporary shelter to Tibetan refugees but have turned into permanent settlements. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, you can visit one of these camps.
Refugees are not allowed to legally work or own a land where they can cultivate food. Therefore you see many refugees who sell souvenirs in the lakeside to make their living.
I enjoyed each and every day in Pokhara peacefully. More I explore through travelling more I learn to surrender and trust to what comes along. I start to hear more clearly what my heart is tellling me, I start to sense my intuitions more clearly. I am getting prepared physically and mentally to the trek I am about to begin in Himalayas. And after finishing the trek it will be awesome to come back near this beautiful lake to chill out and rest.