Nepal: Beyond the Himalayan Mountains
* Nearby, is the Swayambunath Stupa situated atop a hill offering a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. * On the road between Pokhara and Kathmandu is the Manakamana Temple of the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. It used to take approx 3 hours to climb up the mountain but thanks to the govt initiative, the temple is accessible by a 3 KM cable car ride. It offers the most picturesque views of the countryside and is in itself an unprecedented experience one would never forget. The cable car ride is highly recommended.
* The Taal Barahi temple, the Bindhyabasini temple and the Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave Temple are some of the major temples in Pokhara. The Barahi Temple is situated in the middle of the breath-takingly scenic Phewa Lake.
National Park The Chitwan National Park (NP) is the first NP established in Nepal. Activities like Jeep Safari, Elephant back ride safari, canoeing are offered. There is a well maintained Elephant and Gharial breeding centre inside this NP. Deer and Rhinoceros can be spot in abundance. The approx. one hour Elephant back ride safari is a must do activity. Many lodges/resorts/restaurants are lined up along the boundary of the NP which is divided by the Rapti river. One needs to Kayak through the river to get into the NP.
Phewa Lake The beautiful city of Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations and a base for trekkers taking the Annapurna range. It is also one of the costliest cities in Nepal. Hire a boat to go up to the temple. The Phewa Lake is also famous for the reflection of the Annapurna range in its clear waters.
Davis Fall Davis Fall, also known as Underground Waterfall is situated opposite the Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave Temple. The water from this waterfall falls almost 500ft and enters the cave through a small inlet. It is possible to climb down the caves but make sure to have a guide along. The Davis Fall is a magnificent site and best visited during monsoons when it is at its full force.
International Mountain Museum A must visit attraction in Pokhara is the International Mountain Museum. It covers the history of mountaineering to the present day scenario. Various tools and equipments like climbing gear, camera, cookware are on display. An short film about the flora in Himalayas is played at regular intervals in the AV room. Drive up to Sarankot for a beautiful sunrise over the Annapurna ranges
Everest, up close A trip to Nepal will always be incomplete without Mt. Everest; don’t be disappointed if you can’t climb. A few thousand bucks, lots of courage and luck will take you up as close as possible to Mt. Everest. National airlines like Buddha Air and Guna Air run Mountain Flights to tourists who can’t make it to the top of the world. The 16-seater plane provides a cockpit view and a certificate to show off of not only Mt. Everest but the entire Himalayan range. What better way to bring back memories!
- Indians do not require a Visa to travel to Nepal. A Passport or Election Card is sufficient to show the authorities.
- The weather is more or less the same as Northern India.
- Many major establishments accept Indian currency but it is illegal to carry denominations of INR 500 and INR 1000. (Please do not keep any cash / other valuables in your Check-In luggage)
- Language is not a problem. Most speak Hindi.
- The tourist area of Thamil in Kathmandu has some great things to buy. Right from shawls to hiking gear, everything is available.
- In Pokhara, the Lake Side offers a relaxed environment to shop. You will find many stores selling antiques.
*This article first appeared in Sakaal Times.
*Opinions and Pictures unless otherwise mentioned are mine.