From here on, the snow clad high altitude Annapurna range joined hands with Trishuli to be our companion all along. Every click on the odometer got us closer to the mighty Himalayan ranges. We were so engrossed in admiring the beauty around us that we did not realize we had reached Pokhara.
Pokhara is where the mighty mountain peaks play hide and seek with you, one minute you view them and the next minute they are hidden behind the clouds. Though the city is one of the most important ones in the tourist radar, it is not as chaotic and crowded as Kathmandu. Phewa lake dominates Pokhara, around which the entire city is built. There are truck loads of options to stay at the lake side in Pokhara. However, we headed to the dam side which is more calm and peaceful.
Star attractions of Pokhara are World Peace Pagoda, Davis falls, Gupteshwor Mahadev Caves, Phewa Lake, Begnas and Rupa tal.
Like every off road of Nepal, a steep partly paved and unpaved road leads you to World Peace Pagoda. From the bike park, it is only a couple of minutes hike and you reach the Stupa. This is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal. One can catch stunning views of Phewa lake & the City from here. The complex houses a Japanese Buddhist Temple as well, which is worth a visit.
En-route Peace Pagoda is Davis falls and Gupteshwor Mahadev Caves. Davis falls has a tragic story behind it- in 1961 a Swiss tourist lost his life here and the falls were named after him. The stunning fact about this place is the water disappears into a tunnel after reaching the ground. It is even more flabbergasting to hear the water gushing but not being able to view the path that it takes to reach the tunnel. No wonder it is called as Patale Chango (underground falls) by the locals. The source of the water is Phewa lake and it channels down into a naturally formed cavern- Gupteshwor Mahadev Caves.
Crossover to the other side of the road and diagonally opposite to Davis falls, you will find the entrance of Gupteshwor Mahadev Caves. Head down a fleet of spiral staircase and you enter a cave that is believed to be 500 years old and the largest in South Asia. Mid way you can spot a naturally formed Swayambhu Shivling. As you approach the other end of the cave, you can hear water rumbling inside the caves. We were very excited and curious to see the Davis falls. When it seemed like one mystery was solved, an even more perplexing one popped up. Ideally there should be a huge water body at the end of the falls, but surprisingly we saw very little water at the end of the cave. We stood there admiring the mysteries of nature.
Phewa Lake: This massive water body attracts hordes of tourists and the charming little boats lined up were too inviting that we hopped onto one and headed to another attraction on the lake - The Varahi temple. This two storied Pagoda styled temple can be reached only by boat. From here, you have a beautiful view of the World Peace Pagoda. This serene lake is so soothing to the heart and soul that one invariably sits there and soaks in the beauty around. You can even rent a boat for the entire day and row around as far as you wish.
Begnas & Rupa Tal: Only 11 km from Pokhara in the town of Lekhnath are these two magnificent lakes. These lakes receive only a handful of tourist footfall when compared to Phewa. Hence, a calm and serene atmosphere is guaranteed. The reflection of the icy peaks on the still lake add more magic. One can sit here for hours together and travel into the oblivion. We preferred this place over Phewa lake for boating as there are way lesser boats in the lake at any given time. However, the restaurants around the place serve substandard food and should be avoided.
It surely is blissful to wake up early in the morning and walk around the lake covered with misty clouds and get a chance to see locals fishing in the lake. We saw a father teach his son the techniques of fishing and at the same time teaching him one valuable lesson of life- patience. The one who waits patiently gets rewarded in the end. You can also cycle around the lake if you wish to. Also, with many paddy fields around the lake you may treated to a lot of egrets flying around and pretty much settling around those fields.
If you are looking for adventure or an adrenaline rush, Pokhara will definitely not disappoint you. You can head to Sarangkot for Paragliding. This is the launching spot for para gliders and offers spectacular views of the Annapurna Range. You have lot of other activities as well such as hiking, trekking. The sunrise and the sunset views from Sarangkot are picturesque.
The best place to treat yourself will be the 'German Bakery.' This place is a food lovers paradise- the pastries are sinful, the Swiss apple pie and hash brown potatoes are to die for. The ginger black tea compliments their food really well. It would be a great idea to head to this place for breakfast and evening bites. The one place in Pokhara that you should definitely not miss.
We checked into Hotel New Nature Land at dam side, this budget hotel offers good rooms, satellite TV, 24 hr running hot water, WiFi, exclusive parking. Their service is good and location is excellent. The hotel is just a kilometer away from the lake but miles away from the chaos and hardly any distance from other attractions. The views from the corner rooms and the balcony are scintillating.
In Lekhnath town, we checked into Grand Hotel Begnas, a budget hotel that offers spacious rooms, WiFi, clean sheets and views of Begnas lake and mountain peaks. Their service is decent but the food is terrible. With the same amount of cleanliness and space but with lot a better views at an even lesser price check out the 'Day break Lodge and Restaurant.'
Next stop Lumbini.