Pokhara: A Tale of Nature's Splendor in Nepal's Heartland

Against the breathtaking backdrop of the Annapurna and Machapuchare mountain ranges, Pokhara is a jewel in the heartland of Nepal. This enchanting city, often hailed as the tourist capital of Nepal, is a testament to nature's splendor. Pokhara beckons adventurers, cultural enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike, offering a harmonious blend of mesmerizing landscapes, thrilling activities, and a rich tapestry of culture.


Getting to Pokhara

Pokhara is about 126 miles / 204 km away from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. The most common route is a picturesque drive from Kathmandu, traversing diverse landscapes and several local settlements. 

As you traverse the winding roads that lead to Pokhara, the anticipation builds, and the scenery evolves from the bustling urban landscape of Kathmandu to the tranquil rural vistas. The journey offers glimpses of terraced fields, quaint villages, and the occasional fluttering prayer flags, providing a prelude to the natural spectacle awaiting visitors in Pokhara.

For those seeking a quicker option, domestic flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara offer a breathtaking aerial perspective of the Himalayan peaks. The 20-minute flight saves time and also treats travelers to awe-inspiring views of the majestic Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges, setting the tone for the adventure ahead. Pokhara Airport is the second busiest airport in Nepal after Kathmandu Airport. From 1 January 2023, the third International Airport of Nepal has opened in Pokhara. However, the old airport is still operational for limited flights.

As you step into Pokhara, you will feel the air with the promise of adventure and the serenity of pristine lakes. Phewa Lake, with its crystal-clear waters mirroring the majestic peaks, sets the stage for a journey into nature's embrace. The city's allure lies not only in its panoramic views but several experience opportunities it offers.

History of Pokhara

“Pokhara” comes from the Nepali word “Pokhari” which means pond. It rightly captures the city with several ponds or lakes. Pokhara also lies on the old trading route between China and India. In the 17th century, Pokhara was a part of Chubise Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal), annexed by Prithivi Narayan Shah (King of Gorkha) in 1786. Prithivi Naryan Shah went on to conquer several other smaller kingdoms to form the modern Nepal.

Records indicate that the first settlement in Pokhara occurred in the 14th century when the King of Kaski established his winter capital at Batulechaur on the northern side of the Pokhara Valley. The population slowly increased, and the last King of Kaski brought sixteen Newar families from Kathmandu Valley. In the early days, Pokhara was inhabited by Brahmin, Chhetris, Dalits, Gurungs, and Magars, and these ethnicities still form the majority of the population. There is a sizeable Newar population, and the Gandharvas (a musician tribe) have settled in the Batulechaur area in Pokhara.

After the annexation of Tibet to China, many Tibetans fleeing Tibet used Pokhara as a transit point, and even today there are four Tibetan camps here. The Siddhartha Highway opened in 1968 and connected Kathmandu to Pokhara.


The altitude rise from Pokhara is very steep and rises from 1,000 to 7,500 meters in a mere 30-kilometer distance. In fact, within 56 km of Pokhara lie three of the ten highest peaks in the world, namely Annapurna (8,091m), Dhaulagiri (8,167m), and Manaslu (8,163m). As a result, Pokhara receives one of the highest precipitations in the country, and the rain drains to the Seti Gandaki River.

The land under Pokhara is quite porous, and as a result, there are at least nine caves open for exploration. These caves include Balkailasheshwor Cave, Bat’s Cave, The Crazy Cave, Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, Mahendra Cave, Siddheshwor Cave, and Western Power Station Cave.

Pokhara is also known as the city of lakes due to the presence of at least nine freshwater lakes, including Phewa, Rupa, Begnas, Maidi, Gunde, Neurani, Khaste, Dipang, and Kamalpokhari. The reflection of the mighty Himalayas in the lakes of Pokhara is a sight to behold. The area around Phewa Lake is known as Lake Side and is a major tourist hub within Pokhara. 

The religious dimension

Humans are religious by nature. Hence, it is no wonder that there are several places of worship in Pokhara. The major temples are Tal Varahi Temple, Bindyabasini Temple, Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, Radha Krishna Shanti Ashram Lame Al, Bhadrakali Temple, Bhimsen Temple, Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple, and Akaladevi Temple. 

Among these temples, the oldest is the Bindyabasini temple, belonging to the goddess Bindhyabasini (an Incarnation of goddess Kali). Another famous temple is the Tal Varahi Temple, which lies on the small island of Phewa Lake. Legend states that the first King of Kaski, Kulmandan Shah, built this temple after seeing a dream, in which the goddess Durga instructed her to build a temple for her. The first Church in Nepal - Nepal Christiya Ramghat Church - was also established in Pokhara.


Pokhara has a subtropical climate with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 °C in summer and −2 to 15 °C during winter. Though Pokhara receives the highest precipitation in Nepal, the valley does not receive any snowfall.


Military Connection

Pokhara houses the Western Division headquarters of the Nepalese Army. In addition, there are the Indian Army and the British Army pension and recruitment centers within Pokhara. Many youths grow up seeing military establishments and serve in the armed service in Nepal, India, and Britain. Pokhara is home to the highest number of Gurkhas, who predominantly belong to Magar and Gurung ethnicities. 



Pokhara is the second most populous city in Nepal. As many as 14 newspaper dailies are published here. All major national dailies published in Kathmandu are distributed here. Several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) serve this beautiful city. 



Pokhara sits surrounded by the Annapurna and Machapuchare mountain ranges. As the sun casts its golden hues upon the majestic peaks, the city wakes up to a visual symphony that transcends the ordinary. Whether shrouded in mist or standing boldly against the azure sky, these mountains define the city's skyline, offering a perpetual spectacle that captivates the hearts of all who behold them.

If you are in Nepal, you must visit Pokhara. Pokhara is also the gateway to several Annapurna region treks, including Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, and Annapurna Sanctuary treks. It also provides you with much-needed comfort after a tiring trek.