What would you want your next mountain break to have? A lakeside evening? Meditation in the valley? A hint of adventure? Nepal offers all of this and more. Nepal is a heaven for getting some laid back time. People are super friendly and welcoming. There is an earthy charm in the air of the cities swarming with adventurers who want to scale the heights of the Himalayas.
Nepal was hit by an earthquake in 2015 which caused massive destruction. Despite that, the people of this country built themselves up with great spirit. Of all the cities in Nepal, Pokhara offers all you expect from an ideal mountain retreat. On one hand you can explore the Annapurna circuit and do the whole 15 days trek and on the other, you can follow your yoga ritual by the lakeside surrounded by lush green mountains. Being one of the least affected by the earthquake, this city also presents you with bustling nightlife and world cuisine.
Fast Facts about Pokhara
Location- Central Nepal
Summer Season: May-June (15-30 degrees C) | Rainy Season- July-September | Winters- December-January (0-17 degrees C)
Cuisine- Nepali and Thakali. Italian, Vegan, Mexican also available
Famous for- Annapurna Circuit Gateway
1. The Mountain flight
Pokhara has its own charm. It combines modern world pub/bar culture with the spiritual old town vibe. You’ll arrive Pokhara in style on a mountain flight after watching beautiful mountains on the right from Kathmandu. The condition of the flight may make you jittery. The airplanes are 20 seaters, mostly a decade old, driven by some really chilled out pilots. I took Simrik Airlines from Kathmandu to Pokhara. It was an hour-long flight. The flight offers some marvelous views of snow peaked mountains on your right. There are some airlines that offer larger flights but are less frequent, Buddha Air is one such example which you can opt for if small planes are not your thing.
Once you arrive in Pokhara you can also enjoy a closer view of the valley by taking an ultraflight with Avia Club Nepal, but make sure to book it in advance.
Trivia– Kathmandu to Pokhara flight booking can be done on the spot during off season from July to October. Online portals might give you high prices. Take ample lay over between domestic and international flights as flights get delayed quite often. We learnt it the hard way and missed our return flight to Delhi and stayed back in Kathmandu Thamel area for another night of fun and frolic. But that’s a story for another blog.
2. The Yoga Culture
There is no place better in the world where you can practice Yoga with trained Yoga teachers amidst the mountains. There is a special Singing Bowl Meditation session which is conducted by many centers along the lake. We did it at Atmashree Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Happy Village. One has to climb up a little on the hill to get there from the main road beside the lake. It is run by 2 brothers who are trained in Yoga from India. One single session for a person was worth 1000 Nepali Rupee. Singing Bowls are metal bowls which produce a ringing sound when touched in circular motion on its rim. The sound produced has soothing effects on our mind and is believed to heal certain ailments in the body. To know more visit our detailed blog on Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation in Nepal
3. Adventure Activities
Pokhara is the gateway to 15 day long Annapurna Circuit trek. Ideal season is February to April and October to December. The trek starts from Besisahar/Bhulbhule which is a 4-5 hours journey from Pokhara. You can book a local trek group in Pokhara which can arrange a tourist bus to take you to Besisahar. The trek will take you through Annapurna National Park hopping between small villages and Thorung La Pass. A small detour on the way would also give you the amazing vistas of Tilicho Lake. The trek is graded as moderate and it is recommended to undergo some cardio training before embarking on the hike.
Apart from the trekking trails, Pokhara also offers Paragliding activities all year round. One can book these activities from the shops in the local market beside the lake.
4. The hip bar culture and food scene
Pokhara has an amazing lakeside pub culture. Since its economy is mainly run by tourism, they are targeted for foreign tourists with menu ranging from continental, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Indian. For best Indian food, I would recommend Byanjan and for Italian Café Concerto on the lakeside. For the bustling nightlife, there is Busy bee, known for its live music. If you have a rental bike, you can visit Krazy Gecko and Gusto beside lake for getting some party scene under the trees.
5. Sunrises and Sightseeing
Pokhara, though a small town, amazed us by its lively streets filled with hippie tourists and small boutique shops. You can stroll besides the lake Phewa and take a boat ride. There is a World Peace Pagoda on the hill top on the outskirts of the city. You can take a local taxi or a bike rental to reach there. We skipped Davis Falls as it is just another touristy and crowded place. You can take a bike on rent and go to Sarangkot and witness beautiful sunrise behind the mountains. Sarangkot is a small village 30 mins away from Pokhara which offers beautiful golden snow capped mountain view during the daybreak.