Renowned for its breathtaking beauty from the Himalayas to tranquil lakes, Pokhara inspires everyone who visits this natural paradise.
There are few cities in the world that are encompassed by such remarkable natural beauty as Pokhara is. Sprawled along the Pokhara Valley in the Gandaki Zone of central Nepal, Pokhara stretches from the shores of Phewa Tal filled with local fishermen and their brightly painted boats to the foothills of the mighty Annapurna Himalaya.
Throughout the city there are magnificent views of the Annapurna Range, which is dominated by Machhapuchhre (also known as Mt Fishtail) due to its proximity to Pokhara as well as Annapurna South, Hinchuli and Annapurna I-IV. From the hilltops around Pokhara such as Sarangkot the panorama extends all the way from Dhaulagiri (8,167m) in the west to Manaslu (8,156m) in the east. Pokhara is the only place in the world where you can enjoy the magnificent views of 8,000m peaks while sitting below 1,000m.
Lying 200km west of Kathmandu, Nepal’s second largest city has long been a part of important old trading routes between India and Tibet as well as Kathmandu and Jumla. From medieval times when it was a part of the Kingdom of Kaski, Pokhara was inhabited mostly by the Khas people, who are now known across Nepal by around 300 different caste surnames. Many of the Gurung and Magar communities later migrated from the high Himalayan foothills when the British set up an army recruitment camp in Pokhara, where Gurkha soldiers are still being recruited today. In the late 1950s there was an influx of Tibetan refugees and by this time Pokhara had become an ethnically and culturally diverse city.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the first trail of Westerners, the hippies, made their way to the city even more mystical than Kathmandu, coming from overland explorations of Asia to the laidback, peaceful setting of the lakeshore. In 1977, the Annapurna region was opened to Western trekkers for the first time and since then the tourist industry has boomed in Lakeside to become one of the major tourist hubs in Nepal.
With its many restaurants, hotels, cafés, bars and shops that now line the Lakeside strip for several kilometres, Pokhara is the perfect place to relax and re-energise after a long trek or journey. It won’t be long though until you’re ready to get back into action as Pokhara’s huge adventure sports industry beckons you to experience the thrill of flying with the birds, rafting down wild rivers or leaping into a 70m free fall. If a rush of adrenaline isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of yoga, massage and meditation retreats and therapies to choose from and for those interested in the rich history and culture of the people of Pokhara and the Himalayas, head to one of Pokhara’s many museums or visit the medieval temple Bindhyabasini Mandir in the Old Bazaar and Barahi Mandir on the island in Phewa Tal.
These days Pokhara is bustling with a huge variety of people of all ages, cultures and interests but no matter how different our passions might be, we are all drawn to this magical place by its stunning natural beauty and the inspiration it gives us to do what we love.