Picturesque Pokhara - Enchanting Nepal Part 2
After some sightseeing and time spent in Kathmandu, it was time to get into depth of Nepal and so were our forthcoming days aiming to get to Pokhara and spend some time there. I hope you all have had an experience of first part of the Nepal trip with the post on Kathmandu. If you haven’t by now, go back and probably you would enjoy this post a bit more with the context from there. Anyway, in short we reached Kathmandu on 29th of April 2014, Amit’s birthday and spent a day seeing around the city. Now the next leg of the journey was a visit to Pokhara. While Kathmandu is like a rushed, populated and metropolitan capital of the country, Pokhara is a getaway scenic city in lap of Himalayas with awesome view of its peaks.
On 31st morning we got up as usual, a bit early because of the excitement of what was in store for us as we get out of the capital of Nepal. Honestly speaking, though Kathmandu was good, we were really looking forward to get out of the city to have an experience of what we were in Nepal for – natural beauty and view of Himalayas, which we hadn’t yet had except for a brief encounter from the flight. So, after another good breakfast at Hotel Indreni, we were all ready to leave for Pokhara when the reception informed us that our driver was there to pick us up. We checked out of the hotel by 9 and proceeded to the car. Shukra (our driver from Kathmandu day tour) was going to take us to Pokhara and his good old Toyota was our ride for this trip. We hopped in and thus began second leg of our journey.
We were driving for about 3-4 hours and it was time for our first break. We asked Shukra to stop for lunch at some good place and he pulled off the road at about 12:30. Our lunch site for the day was Hotel Hamlet, a decent roadside joint in Baireni town, with setup where you enjoy your meal under open sky. We spent just over 500 NPR for a lunch of burger, spring rolls and masala tea. After about an hour we were on the road again enjoying the natural scenic beauty on offer. There were a number of small historic towns on the way which Shukra was kind enough to inform us about. Soon the Prithvi Highway, our 230 km pathway, is joined by River Trisuli which accompanies you for rest of the ride. The highway crosses a series of deep river valleys, rice terraces, rocky gorges and roaring rapids crossed by precarious suspension bridges. We cross Mankamna temple on the way which we would talk about more on our journey back from Pokhara. Alongside these historic places, there are a few modern townships being developed at crossings of the highway with the River.
Another short stop came up at about 2:30 for quick freshening up at a stream of water and was followed by a subsequent stop at Brooking Bridge for some photographs of tempting scenery.
Next morning, we woke up at 6 to enjoy the views and as recommended on a number of Trip-advisor review we moved to the terrace on 4th floor. The view was simply awesome with snow clad peaks in full view. But we weren’t satisfied and wanted a clearer view and hence we moved a floor higher using the iron round about stair and then a bit higher using the makeshift stairs to get to the water tanks top. This was perfect place for a photo-op session and we were onto it. After this, we came down for the breakfast and readied for the day tour of the city. We had a different car today as local people don’t allow outside vehicles to take up their share of tourist revenues and so it was Santro arriving to pick us up. First stop for the day was the Gupteshwar Mahadev Caves (entry fee of NPR 100). The fee may seem a bit high but is truly deserving as it covers a trip down the low tunnel-like cave right where you can see the roaring waterfalls though a crack in the structure forced by annual monsoon water. The view is simply breathtaking and you like to spend some good time there. However, one must realize that the trip down the cave is treacherous and uneven and trip up to exit is tiring at best.
Next as you move out of the cave, right across the road is entry to view the front end of the water spring which we just saw from behind – Devi Falls. It was at this place we bought a Khukhri –a long knife used as weapon by local Gorkha tribe. After this we went for a quick visit to a number of relatively less important points like Shubhadra Chowk, Seti River Gorge and the Mountain Museum. To end the tour we visited the old Pokhara town and after a short hike we were at the Bindya Basini Temple, a 17th century Durga temple worshipped here in form of saligram – an ammonite fossil. It was now time for some rest so the driver dropped us back to hotel and we spent some time resting. In the evening we were again by the lakeside and did a lot of window shopping. After spending a couple of hours at the lake viewpoint, we bought some souvenirs including local tea, Pashmina Shawl and some small items for friends. We ended the day with dinner at Lakeside Restaurant which had its own cultural show on offer which was marginally better than one at our hotel. It was time to sleep early as it was going to be a very early morning next day – just imagine us requesting the hotel reception for a 4 AM wakeup call.