Located west of Kathmandu with a prime position near the foothills of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas, Pokhara is a popular destination for tourists and trekkers alike. It is also home to a number of interesting sights and museums of historic importance that we had the chance to explore during our time there.
At the time of writing, 1 GBP = 158 Rupees.
Getting around Pokhara
Pokhara is not an extensively large city and there are public buses that run through many areas that tourists would frequent. However, these buses are often overcrowded to the point that people literally hang from the doors as the bus drives around. Unless you’re prepared to travel in this fashion, you’d probably end up waiting for three or four buses before you’d find one you can board. Furthermore, many of the tourist spots are spread across the extremes of the city, making it more difficult to reach on foot.
Taxis cost usually in the region of 300-400 Rupees per journey meaning costs can soon mount up. If however you arrange to hire a taxi for the entire day (we paid around 2500 Rupees for this), you are likely to find this a worthwhile investment and you move from location to location at your own pace and when you’re ready. This is the method we adopted and think it was definitely the right decision, ensuring we could see all we wanted to see whilst not feeling overly rushed around.
Admission: 30 Rupees
Our first stop at around 7:00 am, we were some of the first visitors allowing us to benefit from unobstructed views of the falls in full force.
Named after a Swiss lady who fell to her death into the river, these waterfalls were ferocious during our visit after heavy rain the previous evening. The spray from the falls cast a fine mist across the ground as the water swarmed through the gulley below us. Being a somewhat religious site, there was a good fortune well for those with a good aim when throwing coins and a curious photo posing area (I don’t know how to describe it any other way).
Given the early hour, the array of tourist shops were still closed but certainly would welcome any expenditure should you wish to partake!
Admission: 50 Rupees
Located on the opposite side of Pokhara from Devi’s Falls, Mahendra caves are both a subterranean exploration and a religious shrine. Descending beneath a light stream of water, you can explore this limestone cave with ease, taking care only not to slip on some of the wetter rocks. At the end of the cave is a small simple shrine.
Admission: 100 Rupees
Once home to thousands of resting bats, the population has now decreased significantly here but it nonetheless interesting to visit and see the small animals hanging from the roof of the cave above you. Getting down to the cave involves some careful descents along staircases and slippery rocks, so stout footwear is a must!
Admission: 200 Rupees + 20 Rupees camera charge
For anyone with an appreciation of military history, the Nepalese-native Gurkhas need no introduction. A force of volunteers that have and continue to serve in the armies of the United Kingdom and India, Gurkhas are synonymous with courage, dedication and ferocity in battle.
This compact but extensive museum documents the creation of the Gurkhas within the armies of the British Empire, their role in conflicts up to the present day and the heroic feats of the soldiers. This museum is a must for those with an interest in military history or want to learn more about what many Nepalese men consider a highly competitive privilege to achieve.
Seti River Gorge
Admission: 25 Rupees
Beyond the beauty of this valley which is the deepest gorge in Pokhara, this is also the location of an aqueduct that carries fresh and icy cold mountain water to the city via underground tunnels. Walking across the aqueduct above the deep gorge below and dunking your hand into the cold mountain water is a must, especially after a heavy rainfall the night before when the aqueduct flows full!
Located on the top of one of the hills that overlook the city, the Peace Pagoda was built by a Japanese activist as part of a global campaign to promote peace and cooperation following the atomic attacks of World War Two.
With breathtaking views of the Annapaula range when conditions allow and the beauty of Pokhara below, this location is a must for those seeking peace and solitude – if only for a little while – whilst exploring this diverse city.
International Mountain Museum
Admission: 400 Rupees
With its reputation as the home of the Himalayas, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the International Mountain Museum (IMM) is located in Nepal.
The expansive exhibition hall has a two-fold mission: to showcase the different cultures around the world that have grown up around mountain ranges and to explain the development and conservation of the mighty Himalaya range itself.
Combining extensive displays of clothing and traditional items, the cultural display shows the similarities that exist between mountain communities across the world, including far flung places such as Japan, Taiwan and Slovenia. In addition, a detailed gallery shows the many mountain tribes of Nepal and how their lifestyles have developed independently despite their close coexistence.
The mountain displays document in pictures, videos, models and text the top ten peaks in the world, how and when they were conquered and the risks still faced by explorers today. Additionally, the challenges faced today such as climate change and pollution of Mount Everest are explored in depth, alongside a discussion of the action being taken to preserve these places for future generations.
We are currently exploring the opportunities for volunteering in Nepal thanks to the support of VPO and will be blogging and vlogging about the projects, the people and the country throughout our time here. By doing so, we hope to encourage others to come to Nepal and make a difference themselves in a sustainable and appropriate way.