A glowing chapter was added to the history of the Himalayas on May 19, 1975, when Junko Tabei became the first woman ever to reach the top of Mount Everest, the highest place on earth. Many more women have climbed Everest since then; however, Junko Tabei is the name that always comes to the forefront when talking about women and mountaineering. Therefore, it was a great honor to have such an esteemed personality, along with 20-times Everest-summiteer Appa Sherpa, inaugurate the soft launching of the International Mountaineering Museum (IMM) in Pokhara in May 2002.It was a great occasion for the ‘Lake City’, which, although full of many charms, could now boast of having a wonderful museum as well.
Located near the Himalaya Eye Hospital, to the south of the airport, the museum perfectly attenuates the local ambience. ‘Local ambience’ should be taken in the architectural and environmental context, Pokhara being a city in which most buildings have a uniqueness; built as they are using rocks and shale stones. This architecture alone would be enough to endow the city with its own identity. However, it, like IMM, is but a small part of the whole when talking about Pokhara.
Pokhara has more going for it than most cities around the globe. Still and all, the Fishtail Mountain (Macchapucchre Himal) could be said to be its greatest asset, just as Mt. Everest is of the whole country. Towering over the city, this mighty snow-covered peak glints a shiny silver at the crack of dawn, and there is nothing like sitting on the terrace of your hotel with a mug of hot coffee in hand, and watch it change color with the rising of the sun. Indeed, the nearness of the mountain is what will grab you first, it’s a special thing with Pokhara; while the city has temperate weather all year-round, the mighty Macchapucchre is clad in snow all the time, yet it seems to be so near, so near…
Then, there’s Fewa Tal, a large-sized lake that is so beautiful, it will take your breath away. You’ll find quite a number of gaily colored wooden boats most times on the lake before evening falls, when all, without fail, head for the shore as the wind is likely to rise then, making it risky to be on the lake. However, aside from the dusk, boat riding on Fewa Tal is a great pleasure, one that you’ll want never to end. It’s a lot of exercise as well, what with all the paddling, but then, why don’t you paddle to the other side where a row of nice eateries await you with chilled beer and fried fish? You can also visit the temple on the lake and perhaps take a swim while you are at it.
Oh yes, there’s a good reason why Pokhara is touted as the ‘Lake City’. Okay then, now lets see what else Pokhara has in store for you. You must not miss the opportunity of exploring Mahendra Gufa,a cave in the mountainside. Its dark and dank depths are of course not suitable for claustrophobics, but for the more average Jane and Joe, it can be quite a thrilling experience, especially as the dim lights along the walls inside the cave are apt to shut down unannounced for one reason or the other. Now, imagine yourself treading on rocks, surrounded by an inky blackness. A torchlight should be your best friend then, but the deeper you are, the more you’re gonna worry about the batteries dying out as you slowly and carefully make your way over the rock-strewn path to the entrance, the torchlight beam literally cutting a hole in the pitch-black surroundings. Thrilling? You bet.
Pokhara’s Davis Falls are also quite an attraction, what with its cascading waterfalls and all. The closer you get to it (and you can get quite close), the more terrifying it becomes, and you’ll surely not want to go any closer. Well, after all this, it would be nice to sit down and take in a steak or two, what say? So, off you go to Lakeside, a longish row of hotels, restaurants, and shops of all kinds near the Fewa Tal. It’s actually a tourist’s paradise, what with all the international cuisine you can get there, not to mention all sorts of souvenirs and books, as well as pretty good accommodation facilities. It also needs to be said that you might possibly bump into a friend from some part of the globe around this place, it being somewhat of a congregation site for all tourists.
Now, coming to some manmade wonders, some great adventure activities are being conducted regularly in Pokhara, specifically from Sarangkot (1,592 m). Paragliding, parasailing, ultra flight—take your pick. All three are guaranteed adrenaline boosters. You might be familiar with the first two, what about the third? Well, ultra light aircrafts can carry two passengers at a time. You can fly up to 5,000 ft for 15 minutes over Pokhara at 50 to 90 km/hr, or you can fly close to mighty Macchapucchre, in which case it’s a 30 minute flight at 90 km/hr. You may also opt for a one-hour flight that goes up to 12,000 ft (at 90 to 130 km/hr) and get a bird’s eye view of the entire Annapurna Range.
Having said all this, is it an exaggeration to say that Pokhara is more than just a lovely city? That it is the answer to the nature-lover’s dream? That it is a city that beckons and ignites the spirit of every adventurer?