Pokhara is a major tourist hub, with most attractions concentrated in the vicinity of Phewa Lake.
See the top sights around Pokhara through our eyes:
From the outset you should know that we are not very big fans of Pokhara City. It is the gateway to incredible treks in the Himalayas and as such it has become a very touristy place. Tarmacked roads, European standard hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants, somewhat pushy sellers and pricey souvenir shops, are a whole world away from the authentic Himalayan villages, where innocent children roam and people work in the fields. It felt completely surreal and out of tune with the rest of Nepal, yet it is worth a short visit.
We were there for a total of six nights translating to two full days before our trek and two full days after. In hindsight, two full days would have been enough for us to see the top attractions without spending too long.
Tal Barahi Temple
Tal Barahi Temple is situated on a small island in the middle of Phewa Lake and it is a short boat ride away from the peer at Lake Side. It is an interesting place where our senses were overwhelmed, with the sound of bells ringing and crows calling, the intense smell of incense and the sight of people wearing their Sunday best, with flowing saris, perfect suits and adorned with blessings on their forehead.
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave and Davis Falls
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave and Davis Falls are two very close attractions. In fact, the same river flows between one attraction and the other.
Gupteshwor is an interesting place, with an iconic staircase leading down to a cave. We were really not impressed by this cave, perhaps because scaffolding blocked the most interesting part of it or maybe because we had been expecting something like we had seen in Vietnam’s Paradise cave. However, it is an annex to a school and entry fees go towards funding it, so it is worth a visit.
Davis Falls is a nice place but a bit bland when compared to other stunning places in Nepal. There is a waterfall guarded by railings, where people hang out, take selfies and spend a few minutes.
The World Peace Pagoda is a serene place with a unique setting. We listened to the Japanese Buddhist monk chanting Ba Ba Naaaa Naaa over and over again. Looking over Pokhara city and feeling a truly universally unifying ambience. From here all the world seems really at peace. We headed down to the water banks of the lake, a cup of our beloved Nepali tea, and we caught a boat across to lakeside pier. It was a nice boat ride, though we should have been a bit more adventurous and rowed across ourselves.
We visited Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, Davis Falls and World Peace Pagoda in one day, all on foot, and it is definitely doable. First we walked from lakeside to Gupteshowr Mahadev Cave, then across the road to Davis Falls and then up to the World Peace Pagoda through the back passage. Finally, we went across Phewa Lake to Pokhara Lakeside by boat.
World Peace Pagoda
From Davis Falls we headed up to the World Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa), through the back passageways. It was a nice hike up, but we clearly remember how tough we found this walk. At the back of our minds was the daunting question “if we are finding this so hard, how on earth will we manage the trek which is coming up tomorrow?” By the way, this was all worry for nothing, because we did fine in our trek.
After a lot of huffing and puffing, Noel’s fall along the side of the valley, which could have had much worse consequences, and a lunch of momos in one of the restaurants at the top, we arrived at the World Peace Pagoda.
Bengas Lake is a shortish bus ride from Lakeside, Pokhara. We took the public bus which leaves from near the pier on Phewa Lake and enjoyed the drive along authentic streets, whilst listening to traditional Nepali music. The bus dropped us just across the street from the Lake. We walked along the water’s edge and feeling lazy after our twelve-day trek, we opted for a two hour boat ride, listening to the water gently gliding on the wooden oars whilst admiring birds and houses across the serene lake.
We remember fondly a Buddhist ceremony, where monks and an extended family chanted ‘oh mani pande hum’ together, at the water's edge and then released two large tanks full of small fish into the lake. We had lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the lake, visited a momo place near the bus stop (where the owner showed us how he did his own recipe of momos) and headed back to lakeside by bus.