Nepal is blessed with an incredible diversity of natural beauty and a consequent opulence of cultural varieties. Places like Gorkha, Pokhara, Tansen, Lumbini and Chitwan can provide a good projection into Nepal's variegated attractions. Pokhara, Palpa and Gorkha are all good take off points for short as well as long haul treks. And Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Budhha, the apostle of peace. Three mountain rivers - the Trishuli, Seti and Kaligandaki used for rafting purpose flow between Kathmandu and Lumbini. Royal Chitwan National park is accessible from these places either by road or on raft as the three rivers merge by the time they get to Chitwan. All these places have basic amenities like road network, electricity, communication and accommodation facilities.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah the great who unified the Kingdom of Nepal during the 18th century was born in the township of Gorkha. The Gorkha Durbar situated on the top of a fortified hill above the township about one hour's walk uphill from the bus station. The Gorkha Durbar also a holy shrine for Goddess Kali, the goddess of valour. There is also a famous cave sheltering the statue of Gorakhnath Baba (sage) on the premises. From the top of the hill above the Gorkha Durbar and from a saddle east of the bazaar, a spectacular view of Manaslu and Himalchuli peaks is possible. On a beautiful ridge south-east of the township of Gorkha lies the holy temple of Manakamana, the goddess of aspirations. It is a famous pilgrimage site for Hindus. Manakamana is 4 hours' walk uphill from Anbu Khaireni on Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway. There are a number of good lodges at the Manakamana hill and the township of Gorkha.
Pokhara is a rare combination of the long arrays of snowclad peaks, crystal clear lakes, turbulent rivers with deep gorges and picturesque villages inhabited by simple and friendly ethnic people. Situated at the lap of the panoramic Annapurna Himal, the climate of Pokhara remains favourable all the year round neither too warm nor too cold. The monsoon rains are strongest during June to August. Other months are relatively dry.
Linked with Kathmandu and the Indian border of Sunauli (in the south) by road, Pokhara has daily regular bus services to and from these places. Besides all major cities including Gorkha within the Kingdom have regular to and from bus services from Pokhara. The 200-km. distance between Kathmandu and Pokhara can be covered by bus in 7 hours. Royal Nepal Airlines, Necon Air, Nepal Airways, Asian Helicopter and Everest Air operate flights daily between Kathmandu and Pokhara. The flight taking only 35 minutes proceeds all along the western Himalayan range which comes to view through the right hand windows of the plane.
The number of accommodation establishments here is second only to Kathmandu. Sprawling over the north and north-east side of the legendary Phewa Tal, west of the airport and the downtown area of Mahendrapul, there are several hotels, lodges and restaurant catering to tourist of various tastes and standards. Pony trekking facility is also available in Pokhara.
The main features of Pokhara sightseeing are as follow:
The moment you step into any part of Pokhara the first thing that takes you to immediate delight is the gorgeous view of the gigantic mountains.Pokhara is infact, the first and foremost convenient point for mountain-oriented sightseeing. Mt. Annapurna, literally meaning the Goddess of Abundant Harvest, lies at a horizontal distance of 40 km. from the valley of Pokhara which is at an elevation of just 900 metre above main sea level.
Here is a clue for identification of mountain peaks visible from Pokhara:
At the extreme left isolated from the massif is visible the peak of Mt. Dhaulagiri I (8167m). In order to have a clearer view of this peak, however,.it is advised to proceed to south-east direction of the valley past the airport. On the extreme left of the massif, the bumpy peak in the foreground is Annapurna South. A little beyond the south peak in the background lies Annapurna I (8091 m.) The most imposing pyramidal peak in almost central foreground is Mt. Machhapuchhre. Slightly east and back of this peak lies Annapurna III which almost looks like the back of a camel.
Between Annapurna III and the next mountain with characteristic rocky right flank which is Annapurna II (7937m.) lies Annapurna IV. Separated from the main massif of the Annapurnas, one mighty mountain appears on the right; Lamjung Himal (6983m). Finally in the east Manaslu and Himalchuli can be spotted. For a long panoramic view of the mountains from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the distant East, you can drive as far as Tutunga behind Institute of Forestry past Ram Bazaar in the south-eastern part of the Pokhara Valley. This view point can also be approached from Pokhara airport by heading south-east parallel to the narrow gorge of the Seti river and finally crossing the river over a natural stone bridge called Dhungesanghu on the left side of Mahat Gauda village.
2. Lakes: Pokhara is a city of fine lakes with crystalline water.
Phewa Tal: The lake in the immediate vicinity of the city is Phewa Tal with an island temple dedicated to Goddess Barahi in the middle. With its serene water reflecting the Annapurna range and a nicely preserved forest on the adjoining southern slope, this legendary second largest lake of the Kingdom remains a major source of attraction for the visiting tourists. This lake can also be enjoyed by swimming.
Begnas & Rupa :These twin lakes lie in the north-east of Pokhara valley about 15 km away from the airport. The road to Begnas follows Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway as far as Sisuwa near the police check post and branches off the road towards north. It is possible to take a bus ride to the damside of Begnas from the city.
A small hill called Pachbaiya which separates the two lakes can be reached in 30 minutes on foot from the Begnas bus stop. From a convenient point on this hill one can overlook the twin lakes on either side. These two lakes provide opportunity for fishing,canoeing,sunbathing and birdwatching.
3. River Gorges:
The Seti river carves a deep course through the city area of Pokhara from Bagar in the north to Sita Paila in the South. The deep gorge can be viewed from any bridge over the Seti river: K.l. singh bridge at Bagar, Mahendra bridge at downtown and Prithivi Highway bridge near the bus park. Looking down these bridges one can see the white turbulent flow of the Seti through an incredibly narrow cannyon about 46 m. below. Another amazing course is carved by Patale Chhango popularly known as Devi's Fall in the southern flank of the Pokhara valley left of Siddhartha Highway. At this point the stream overflowing Phewa lake suddenly collapses and surges down the rocks into a deep gorge, leaping through several potholes before taking a final plunge.
4. Mahendra Cave:
It is another interesting natural site across the Seti river past Batulechaur village in the North of Pokhara valley. It is one of the few stalagmite-stalactite caves found in Nepal. The cave has not yet been fully explored and it may conceal more than the present first galleries. A torchlight is worthwhile to explore the interior.
5. Ram Krishna Tole:
The old bazaar of Ram Krishna Tole and its vicinity provides a glimpse into the traditional ambience of art and architecture of the Pokhara valley. This area with red brick walls, carved windows and tile roofs harbours some interesting temples also.
6. Temples and Monasteries:
Two temples are really worth visiting in the Pokhara area. Bindabasini temple some way between downtown Mahendrapul and Bagar is one of them. The temple is located on top of a beautiful mound overlooking the most popular area of the Pokhara city. The road to Sarangkot starts from the foot of this mound.
The next one is Barahi temple situated on a small island in the middle of Phewa Tal. A stop at this serene temple after a canoe ride is really worthwhile. There is a nice Buddhist monastery on the top of a small forested hill above Matepani east of Mahendrapul. It overlooks the majority of Pokhara area. A little south of this monastery on another small but beautiful hill in a pleasant sylvanic setting lies Bhadrakali temple which is also worth visiting.
7. Tibetan Village:
There are two Tibetan villages in the vicinity of Pokhara. One of them called Tashiling is in the south past Patale Chhango. The other village by the name of Tashi Palkhel is North of Pokhara at a place called Hyangja on Pokhara Baglung Highway. The Tibetan people living in these villages keep themeselves busy by producing and trading in woolen carpets and other handicraft items.
8. Day Hikes:
All nearby hills of Pokhara are equally good for day hikes. Some of the important ones are given below: One can drive uphill for one hour from the foot of Bindabasini temple along a ridge road to Sarangkot.
To Sarangkot: Annapurna range and overlook the valley of Pokhara to enjoy an eye feast of the east. A view tower has been built on the top of Sarangkot hill at an elevation of 1600m.
To Kahun Danda: It is another enchanting hill north of Pokhara and takes about two and a half hours to reach from Mahendrapul. The trail starts from near the army barrack at Phulbari across Mahendrapul and climbs slowly up a slope. The essential view from top of this hill is the panoramic view of the Annapurna range and the flat span of Pokhara valley.
To Phoksing Danda: This ridge south of Pokhara provides an excellent view of the whole Pokhara valley and the long array of snow peaks beyond. The panorama of the mountains visible at a stretch from here includes the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges, Manaslu, Himalchuli and Ganesh Himal in the distant east. The trail to this ridge starts south of the Pokhara airfield, crosses the Seti river near the power house fed by the Phewa canal and climbs up the slope overlooking the valley. It takes about two and a half hours to get to Phoksing Danda from the power house. Morning time is excellent to visit this ridge.
9. Two day's walks:
To Nagdanda: This is the nearest point from Pokhara to view the twin pinnacles of Machhapuchhre which means 'fish tail". The trail is two hours continuation from Sarangkot along the Kaski ridge. Comfortable lodges and camping grounds are available on this saddle overlooking the Annapurna range and Phewa lake. It is now a place on Pokhara-Baglung highway.
To Nuwakot: The hill of Nuwakot 18 km. south of Pokhara at an elevation of 1535 m. encompasses the view of snow ranges from Dhaulagiri to Ganesh Himal. The trail to Nuwakot starts from Chhorepatan in the South of Pokhara valley opposite Patale Chhango. For a direct approach, you can take a ride from Pokhara along Siddhartha highway as far as Phedi Khola and walk uphill for two hours to get to this hill.
Cultural Programme: Some of the bigger hotels of Pokhara feature regular folk dances programme for the pleasure of tourists.
The township of Tansen is among a few towns outside the capital which bears a rich legacy of the traditional art and architecture. Perched on the lap of the spectacular Srinagar Danda (hill) Tansen, commands a gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas as well as the plains of Terai. Located at an elevation of 1310 metres Tansen is a pleasant place to visit during any season of the year because of the world climate. The hill of Srinagar, half an hour's walk up Tansen bazaar at an elevation of 1524 m. is a rare vantage point to view the contrasting manifestations of nature. An incredibly long panorama of the mountains encompassing Kanjiroba, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Langtang Himals at a stretch is visible from here on one hand, while on the other the plains of Madi valley and the bigger terai also comes to distinct view from the same point.
Tansen is a good put off point for short as well as long treks. You can visit some of the beautiful points on the Kali Gandaki river such as Ranighat Palace and Ramdi ghat or the dense and serene woody slopes of Rambhapani and Satyawati lake. For longer treks you can choose any area in Annapurna-Dhaulagiri region such as Dhorpatan, Jomsom, Ghorepani or Annapurna Sanctuary. Tansen also provides opportunity for study of Buddhist culture and the life and culture of Magar tribes.
Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace and compassion. It is 21 km. west of Bhairahawa in Rupandehi district in the Mid-Western terai of Nepal southwest of Tansen. There is an all-weather airport at Bhairahawa for those who want to take a direct approach to this revered place from Kathmandu.
Sacred garden: Lumbini is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists as well as a place of reverence for peacelovers of any religious faith throughout the world. The centre of attraction at Lumbini is the sacred garden with Mayadevi temple depicting the birth of Lord Buddha, the Ashokan pillar pinpointing the place of birth of the Buddha and the Sakyan Tank where Mayadevi, the mother of the Buddha is supposed to have taken a dip before bringing forth the baby. All around this holy site there are remnants of monasteries and chaityas built over the centuries following the Buddha's birth in 623 B.C.
The Master Plan: Presently, work is underway to transform the whole area into an international centre of Buddhist pilgrimage and studies in accordance with a grand master plan designed by Mr. Kenzo Tange, the famous Japanese architect.