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Updated: September 2013. Click on an image to see the FULL size with a caption. My Rating Scale: ***** Must See, **** Recommended, *** Good, ** See if you have time, * Skip
Pokhara is Nepal's second largest city. I have travelled through Pokhara on my way to Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu more than five times. Usually I only stop for a night and move on. I finally stayed for a day and really enjoyed the city, especially the morning sunrise mountain views from Sarangkot.
Imagine a perfect triangular mountain, capped by snow and buffeted by the icy winds of the Himalaya. Imagine a millpond calm lake, perfectly reflecting the snowy peaks. Now imagine a village on the lakeshore, thronged by travellers and reverberating to the sound of 'om mani padme hum' from a hundred shops selling prayer flags, carpets, masks, singing bowls and CDs of Buddhist mantras. That's Pokhara.
Nepal's second city, at least in tourist terms, Pokhara is the end point for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek and the starting point for a dozen more treks through the mountains of the Annapurna Range, including the perennially popular Jomsom Trek and the equally dramatic (but less busy) trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary. It's unashamedly touristy, in the Thamel mould, but the setting is spectacular - the perfect pyramid of Mt Machhapuchhare looms high above Pokhara, reflected in the placid waters of Phewa Tal.
For many travellers, Pokhara represents a last chance to stock up on creature comforts before hitting the mountain trails. For others, it's a place to enjoy a steak dinner and cold beer after weeks of daal bhaat in the hills. Even if you aren't a dedicated trekker, there's plenty here to keep you busy. Pokhara has numerous museums and there are some fascinating caves, waterfalls and Tibetan villages in the surrounding hills.
For the adventurous, travel agents in Pokhara offer a slew of adventure activities, from trekking and microlight flights to river rafting and jungle safaris. Paragliding from Sarangkot viewpoint has to be one of the most thrilling experiences in the subcontinent. Alternatively, bring a good book and spend your days reading in a café overlooking languorous Phewa Tal.