The second largest city in Nepal, Pokhara has a lot to offer in terms of scenic landscapes. The Annapurna range in the backdrop is the jewel of the city. Also known as the 'gateway to the Annapurna circuit', Pokhara is the city people rest at before embarking on their tedious trail of the Himalayas. The city is home to some picturesque lakes, and is, therefore, also known as the 'City of Eight Lakes'. Another fascinating feature of the city is its sloped terrain and the terrace made out of it. The misty Himalayas which can be seen from all over the town provides breathtaking sights.
1. Phewa Lake
Location: This stream-fed lake is situated in the south of Pokhara Valley, almost in the centre of Pokhara city.
Highlights: The Tal Barahi Temple is located in the centre of the lake, and attracts a large number of Hindu devotees every year. The eastern banks of Phewa lake are known as the Lakeside which has numerous restaurants, cafés, shops and hotels.
Cost: A boat ride across the lake with an informative tour guide costs around NPR 500. However, if you simply want to stroll along its banks, you can do it for free.
Best Time to visit- September to November is a good time to visit when the skies are clear, enabling you to see the Fish Mountain Tail. Also, boating closes at around 6:00 PM so make sure you have enough time to adore the lake's beauty.
2. Kahun Danda
Location: This enchanting hill is located at the height of approximately 4750 feet in the north east of Pokhara, about two and a half hours from Mahendrapool downtown.
Highlights: The main attraction here is the hiking activity which has recently begun. Hikers enjoy the panoramic beauty of the hills along with the cultural vibrancy of the nearby villages. Another attraction here is a tower on the northern slope of the hill from which you can spot the bright Rhododendron Forest. (Rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal). The celestial rays of the rising sunbathing the Annapurna range is a sight to behold. The Tiger Top is another place from where you can adore the beauty of this hill.
Cost: A private trek in Kahun Danda costs around NPR 6750 per person. This includes the services of a tour guide, lunch at a nearby eatery and local public transportation. Similar types of packages are offered by various local travel and trekking agencies.
Best Time to visit: A good time to visit the Kahun Danda for a hiking trip is between October and April.
3. World Peace Stupa
Location: This beautiful stupa is located at the top of Amanda hill in Pokhara.
Highlights: Shanti Stupa is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal and seventy-first pagoda built by Nipponzan-My'h-Ji in the world. Its second tier has statues of Buddha, depicting the incidents in his life. These include the 'Dharmachakra Mudra' from Japan, Bodh Gaya from Sri Lanka, Kushinagar from Thailand and Lumbini from Nepal. It is about 7 kilometres from Mahendrapool, the business hub of Pokhara.
Cost: A boat ride from the lakeside costs around NPR 500, along with NPR 20 for life jacket. You will then have to follow the trail upwards leading to the Pagoda. Alternatively, you can also hire a taxi which usually charges NPR 500-800. The taxi will drop you within 10 minutes of the Stupa. If you are travelling on a budget, then you can take a minibus from Lakeside to Chhorepatan (past Pardi Bazar) for a fare of NPR 5. Follow the trail uphill, and you will reach the Pagoda.
Best Time to visit: The Shanti Stupa is open to the public on all days between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM.
4. Sarangkot Viewpoint
Location: The viewpoint is located in the northeast region of the city and is about 5 kilometres from the Lakeside.
Highlights: The entrancing sunrise and sunset is the centre of attraction at Sarangkot Viewpoint, and sees the largest crowd of tourists at dawn and dusk. The interplay of iridescent hues of lilac, delicious orange and celestial golden creates a spectacular scenery during sunrise and sunset. Sarangkot is also the best site for paragliding in Nepal.
Cost: Everyone visiting the viewpoint needs to pay an entry fee of NPR 50. To view the surroundings from a higher platform, you need to pay an additional NPR 100. The taxi from the Lakeside usually costs around NPR 2000 (a round trip including waiting at the top).
Best Time to visit: The viewpoint is open from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The best time recommended is early in the morning, particularly at dawn, to witness the scenic sunrise. You should try to reach the viewpoint by 5:00 AM when golden strips of sunlight begin to crack through the peaks.
5. Devi's Falls
Location: This charming waterfall is located about 2 kilometres south-west of the Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway.
Highlights: Do try your luck at the wishing well here by throwing a coin. The area also has sculptures of Nepali people dressed in traditional attires which serves as a good photo point. The main attraction, however, is the Gupteshwar Cave.
Cost: The entry fee for the falls is NPR 30. A public bus from the Lakeside costs around NPR 25 to NPR 30. Taxis usually charge NPR 250 to NPR 500.
Best Time to visit: The fall is open to tourists on all days from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM. However, the best time to visit is between June and September, when the water is at its full force.
6. Matepani Gumba
Location: The monastery is located on a small hill in the east of the city about 5 kilometres from downtown Pokhara.
Highlights: The monastery is an ideal vantage point to adore the beauty of the Pokhara valley. The mural paintings on the walls is a major point of attraction. The colossal statue of meditating Buddha painted with different colours is really a charmer. Other beautiful statues include those of Guru Rinpoche and Karmapa. The idols here are as tall as about 11 feet.
Cost: Entry into this monastery is free of cost. The monks welcome every person, irrespective of his nationality or race with open arms. A local bus usually charges NPR 25 to NPR 30.
Best Time to visit: A good time to visit is at around 2:30 PM or 3:00 PM to hear the Ramas or monks chanting.