Until the road was built from Kathmandu as late as in the 1960s, Pokhara needed at least two weeks to trek from Kathmandu, with several river crossings along the way. Since the 1970’s, hippies and tourists have been drawn to the beautiful and peaceful lakeside town. With views of the Annapurnas looking down over the town, Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty.
Pokhara lays on a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valiant warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurial skill.
The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalaya rising behind them create the ambiance that has made Pokhara such a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. Tourism focuses on the districts of Damside and Lakeside (or Pardi and Baidam, in Nepali, respectively). These two areas, packed with hotels and restaurants, are a few kilometers southwest of the main Pokhara bazaar.
Phewa Tal is Nepal’s second largest lake and you can walk or cycle around it, fly over it, paragliding off the hill at Sarankot or take a boat across it, to hike up to the World Peace Pagoda on the other side and admire close up views of the of the Annapurna Massif. Mountains you can see include Machhapulchhare (or Fish Tail Mountain) with its distinctive shape (6,997m), Hiunchuli (6,441m), Annapurna I (8.091m), Annapurna III (7,555m), Annapurna IV (7,525m) and Annapurna II (7,937m).
Temples Worth visiting in the older part of town are Bindhyabasini and Bhimsen temples. Bindyabasini was founded in the 17 th century and is sacred to Durga, worshiped here in the form of a saligram (ammonite fossil). Bhimsen temple is a two hundred-year-old shrine to the Newari god of trade and commerce, decorated with erotic carvings. The surrounding square is full of shops selling baskets and ceramics. Barahi temple is situated on an island in Phewa Lake, accessible only by boat. Near the royal palace, it was founded in the 18 th century and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
World Peace Stupa On a hill overlooking Phewa Tal from the south is the World Peace Stupa (at 1,113 m) built in 1996. Splendid views of the lake, across the city and of the snow peaked mountain ranges of Manaslu, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himal can be seen from here and it makes a good hike up from the lakeside.
Museums There are several museums, such as the International Mountain Museum, Gurkha Museum and Pokhara Regional Museum. The Gurkha Museum focuses on the history and achievements of the famous Gurkha regiment. The International Mountain Museum is all about the mountains of Nepal and the mountaineers who climbed them. Original gear from many of the first Himalayan ascents, displays on the history, culture, geology and flora and fauna of the Himalaya, the museum offers a comprehensive history of mountaineering in Nepal. The Natural History Museum is devoted to the natural history of the Pokhara region, while the Pokhara Regional Museum looks at the history and culture of the Pokhara valley. A small but interesting Tamu Kohibo Museum focuses on the culture and customs of the Gurung (Tamu) people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Pokhara Valley, who follow a mix of animist, Shamanistic and Bonist beliefs that were brought from Tibet before Buddhism.
Devi’s Falls , located near the Tashling Tibetan Refugee Center is close to the GupteshworMahadev Cave and are all worth a visit.
Maybe the best viewpoint of Pokhara is Sarangkot (1,600 m) and Thulakot (where four lakes Phewa, Begnas, Khaste and Dipang and whole Annapurna range can be seen) to the west of the city. Footpaths and a road lead almost to the top of Sarangkot with an excellent view of the mountains and the city.
The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime temperatures hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season lasts from mid-June to mid-September and is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country. Best time to visit is between October and April.