Pokhara

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Pokharā, Nepal
पोखरा
City
Top: View of the Annapurna Range from Pokhara; Center: Panorama of Pokhara; Bottom from left: Pokhara Valley, the Talbarahi Mandir in Phewa Tal, World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara.
Top: View of the Annapurna Range from Pokhara; Center: Panorama of Pokhara; Bottom from left: Pokhara Valley, the Talbarahi Mandir in Phewa Tal, World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara.
Motto: Clean Pokhara; Green Pokhara
Pokharā, Nepal is located in Nepal
Pokharā, Nepal
Pokharā, Nepal
Location in Nepal
Coordinates: 28°15′50″N 83°58′20″E / 28.26389°N 83.97222°E / 28.26389; 83.97222Coordinates: 28°15′50″N 83°58′20″E / 28.26389°N 83.97222°E / 28.26389; 83.97222
Country    Nepal
Development Region Western
Zone Gandaki Zone
District Kaski District
Incorporated 1962
Area
 • Total 55.22 km2 (21.32 sq mi)
 • Water 4.4 km2 (1.7 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,740 m (5,710 ft)
Lowest elevation 827 m (2,713 ft)
Population (2013)    
 • Total 264,991
 • Density 4,800.56/km2 (12,433.4/sq mi)
 • Ethnicities Khas (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri & Dalits), Gurung, Magar, Newar, Thakali
 • Religions Hinduism, Buddhism
Time zone GMT +5:45
Postal Code 33700 (WRPD), 33702, 33704, 33706, 33708, 33713
Area code(s) +61

Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City (Nepali: पोखरा उप-महानगरपालिका Pokhara Upa-Mahanagarpalika) is the third most populous city of Nepal with an area of 55.22 km2 and a population of 264,991 inhabitants.[1] The city is located approximaely 200 km west of the country's capital, Kathmandu.[2] It serves as the headquarters of Kaski District, Gandaki Zone and the Western Development Region.[3] Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal. Three out of the ten highest mountains in the world — Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu — are within 30 miles (linear distance) of the city, so that the northern skyline of the city offers a very close view of the Himalayas.[4] Due to its proximity to the Annapurna mountain range, the city is also a base for trekkers undertaking the Annapurna Circuit through the ACAP region[5] of the Annapurna ranges in the Himalayas.

Pokhara is the largest tourist city in the country, home to great Himalayan trails, residence of a large number of British Gurkha soldier. This makes Pokhara the most expensive city in the country, with the Cost of Living Index of 95.[6]

Geography[edit]

Pokhara is in the northwestern corner of the Pokhara Valley,[7] which is a widening of the Seti Gandaki valley that lies in the midland region (Pahad) of the Himalayas. In this region the mountains rise very quickly[8] and within 30 km, the elevation rises from 1,000 m to over 7,500 m. As a result of this sharp rise in altitude the area of Pokhara has one of the highest precipitation rates in the country (3,350 mm/year or 131 inches/year in the valley to 5600 mm/year or 222 inches/year in Lumle).[9] Even within the city there is a noticeable difference in rainfall between the south and the north of the city, the northern part of the city situated at the foothills of the mountains experiences proportionally higher amount of precipitation. The Seti Gandaki is the main river flowing through the city.[10] The Seti Gandaki (White River) and its tributaries have created several gorges and canyons in and around the whole city which gives intriguingly long sections of terrace features to the city and surrounding areas. These long sections of terraces are interrupted by gorges which are hundreds of meters deep.[11] The Seti gorge runs through the whole city from north to south and then west to east and at places these gorges are only a few metres wide. In the north and south, the canyons are wider.[12]

In the south the city borders on Phewa Tal (4.4 km2) at an elevation of about 827 m above sea level, and Lumle at 1,740 m in the north of the city touches the base of the Annapurna mountain range. 3 eight-thousand meter tall peaks (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu) can be seen from the city.[13] The Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) with an elevation of 6,993 m is the closest to the city.[14] The porous underground of the Pokhara valley favours the formation of caves and several caves can be found within the city limits. In the south of the city, a tributary of the Seti flowing out of the Phewa Lake disappears at Patale Chhango (पाताले छाँगो, Nepali for Hell's Falls, also called Davis Falls, after someone who supposedly fell into the falls) into an underground gorge, to reappear 500 metres further south.[15][16] To the south-east of Pokhara city is the municipality of Lekhnath, a recently established town in the Pokhara valley, home to Begnas Lake.[17]

Climate[edit]

The climate of the city is sub-tropical; however, the elevation keeps temperatures moderate: summer temperatures average between 25 to 35 °C, in winter around - 2 to 15 °C. Pokhara and nearby areas receive a high amount of precipitation. Lumle, 25 miles from the Pokhara city center, receives the highest amount of rainfall (> 5600 mm/year or 222 inches/year) in the country.[18] Snowfall is not observed in the valley, but surrounding hills experience occasional snowfall in the winter. Summers are humid and mild; most precipitation occurs during the monsoon season (July - September). Winter and spring skies are generally clear and sunny.[19]

Climate data for Pokhara (1960-1980)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.0
(71.6)
28.2
(82.8)
33.1
(91.6)
37.4
(99.3)
35.0
(95)
33.4
(92.1)
32.4
(90.3)
32.4
(90.3)
31.0
(87.8)
29.8
(85.6)
27.0
(80.6)
23.3
(73.9)
37.4
(99.3)
Average high °C (°F) 18.8
(65.8)
21.2
(70.2)
26.4
(79.5)
29.8
(85.6)
29.6
(85.3)
29.6
(85.3)
29.1
(84.4)
29.0
(84.2)
27.8
(82)
25.6
(78.1)
22.8
(73)
19.5
(67.1)
25.8
(78.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.6
(54.7)
13.6
(56.5)
19.2
(66.6)
22.6
(72.7)
23.8
(74.8)
24.8
(76.6)
25.0
(77)
25.0
(77)
24.0
(75.2)
21.2
(70.2)
16.8
(62.2)
13.3
(55.9)
20.2
(68.4)
Average low °C (°F) 6.4
(43.5)
6.0
(42.8)
12.0
(53.6)
15.4
(59.7)
18.0
(64.4)
20.0
(68)
20.9
(69.6)
21.0
(69.8)
20.2
(68.4)
16.8
(62.2)
10.8
(51.4)
7.1
(44.8)
14.6
(58.3)
Record low °C (°F) 1.8
(35.2)
3.0
(37.4)
5.0
(41)
6.0
(42.8)
8.0
(46.4)
12.0
(53.6)
13.0
(55.4)
13.8
(56.8)
15.9
(60.6)
10.4
(50.7)
4.0
(39.2)
3.9
(39)
1.8
(35.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 26
(1.02)
25
(0.98)
50
(1.97)
87
(3.43)
292
(11.5)
569
(22.4)
809
(31.85)
705
(27.76)
581
(22.87)
224
(8.82)
19
(0.75)
1
(0.04)
3,388
(133.39)
Source: Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial[20]

History[edit]

Bindhyabasini Temple in the evening
Phewa lake in 1982

Pokhara lies on an important old trading route between China and India. In the 17th century it was part of the Kingdom of Kaski which was one of the Chaubise Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal, चौबिसे राज्य) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty.[21] Many of the hills around Pokhara still have medieval ruins from this time. In 1786 Prithvi Narayan Shah added Pokhara into his kingdom. It had by then become an important trading place on the routes from Kathmandu to Jumla and from India to Tibet.[22]

Pokhara was envisioned as a commercial center by the King of Kaski in the mid 18th century A.D.[23] when Newars of Bhaktapur migrated to Pokhara, upon being invited by the king, and settled near main business locations such as Bindhyabasini temple, Nalakomukh and Bhairab Tole. Most of the Pokhara, at the time, was largely inhabited by Khas[24] (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri and Dalits), the major communities were located in Parsyang, Malepatan, Pardi and Harichowk areas of modern Pokhara and the Majhi community near the Phewa Lake.[25] The establishment of a British recruitment camp brought larger Magar and Gurung communities to Pokhara.[26] At present the Khas, Gurung (Tamu) and Magar form the dominant community of Pokhara. There is also a sizeable Newari population in the city.[27] A small Muslim community is located on eastern fringes of Pokhara generally called Miya Patan. Batulechaur in the far north of Pokhara is home to the Gandharvas or Gaaineys (the tribe of the musicians).[28]

The nearby hill villages around Pokhara are a mixed community of Khas and Gurung.[29] Small Magar communities are also present mostly in the southern outlying hills. Newar community is almost non-existent in the villages of outlying hills outside the Pokhara city limits.

From 1959 to 1962 approximately 300,000 exiles entered Nepal from neighbouring Tibet following its annexation by China. Most of the Tibetan exiles then sought asylum in Dharamshala and other Tibetan exile communities in India. According to UNHCR, since 1989, approximately 2500 Tibetans cross the border into Nepal each year,[30] many of whom arrive in Pokhara typically as a transit to Tibetan exile communities in India. About 50,000 - 60,000 Tibetan exiles reside in Nepal, and approximately 20,000 of the exiled Tibetans live in one of the 12 consolidated camps, 8 in Kathmandu and 4 in and around Pokhara. The four Tibetan settlements in Pokhara are Jampaling, Paljorling, Tashi Ling, and Tashi Palkhiel. These camps have evolved into well built settlements, each with a gompa (Buddhist monastery), chorten and its particular architecture, and Tibetans have become a visible minority in the city.[31]

Until the end of the 1960s the town was only accessible by foot and it was considered even more a mystical place than Kathmandu. The first road was completed in 1968 (Siddhartha Highway)[32] after which tourism set in and the city grew rapidly.[33] The area along the Phewa lake, called Lake Side, has developed into one of the major tourism hubs of Nepal.[34]

Temples, gumba and churches[edit]

There are numerous temples and gumbas gumba in and around pokhara valley. Many temples serve as combined places of worship for Hindus and Buddhists.[35][36] Some of the popular temples and gumbas are:

  • Taal Barahi Temple (located on the island in the middle of the lake Phewa)
  • Bindhyabasini Temple
  • Sitaladevi Temple
  • Mudula Karki Kulayan Mandir
  • Bhadrakali Temple
  • Kumari Temple
  • Akalaa Temple
  • Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple
  • Matepani Gumba
  • World peace pagoda
  • Nepal Christiya Ramghat Church, established in 1952 (2009 BS), in Ramghat area of Pokhara is also the first church in Nepal.[37]

Location[edit]

Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) mountain, 6993 meters

The municipality of Pokhara spans 12 km from north to south and 6 km from east to west but, unlike the capital Kathmandu, it is quite loosely built up and still has much green space.[38] The valley is approximately divided into four to five parts by the rivers Seti, Bijayapur, Bagadi and Fusre. The Seti Gandaki flowing through the city from north to south divides the city roughly in two halves with the business area of Chipledunga in the middle, the old town centre of Bagar in the north and the tourist district of Lakeside (Baidam) to the south all lying on the western side of the river.[39] The gorge through which the river flows is crossed at five places: K.I. Singh Pul, Mahendra Pul and Prithvi Highway Pul from north to south of the city. The floor of the valley is plain, resembles Terai due to its gravel-like surface, and has slanted orientation from northwest to southeast. The city is surrounded by the hills[40] overlooking the entire valley.

Phewa Lake was slightly enlarged by damming which poses a risk of silting up due of the inflow during the monsoon.[41] The outflowing water is partially used for hydropower generation.[42] The dam collapsed in 1974 which resulted in draining of its water and exposing the land leading to illegal land encroachment; since then the dam has been rebuilt.[43] The power plant is about 100 m below at the bottom of the Phusre Khola gorge. Water from Phewa is diverted for irrigation into the southern Pokhara valley. The eastern Pokhara Valley receives irrigation water through a canal running from a reservoir by the Seti in the north of the city. Some parts of Phewa lake are used as commercial cage fisheries.[44]

Most of the tourists visiting Pokhara begin and end trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang. The tourist district is along the north shore of the lake (Baidam, Lakeside and Damside). It is mainly made up of small shops, non-star tourist hotels, restaurants and bars. Most upscale and starred hotels are on the southern and southeastern fringes of the city where there are more open lands and therefore unhindered view of the mountains. To the east of the Pokhara valley, in Lekhnath municipality, there are seven smaller lakes such as Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake. Begnas Tal is known for its fishery projects.[45]

Purano Bazar, Nalakomukh, Pokhara, Nepal
Radhakrishna Temple, Bindhyabasini, Pokhara

Tourism and economy[edit]

International Mountain Museum at Ratopahiro, Pokhara

After the annexation of Tibet by China leading to the Indo-China war in 1962, the old trading route to India from Tibet through Pokhara became defunct. Today only few caravans from Mustang arrive in Bagar. In recent decades, Pokhara has become a major tourist destination in the world.[46] in South Asia mainly for adventure tourism and the base for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek. Thus, a major contribution to the local economy comes from the tourism and hospitality industry.[47] There are two 5-star hotels and approximately 305 other hotels that includes five 3-star, fifteen 2-star and non-star hotels in the city.[48]

Many medieval era temples (Barahi temple, Bindhyabasini, Bhadrakali, Sitaldevi, Gita mandir temple, Bhimsen temple) and old newari houses are still a part of the city (Bagar, Bindhyabasini, Bhairab Tole, etc.). The modern commercial city centres are at Chipledhunga and Mahendrapul (recently renamed as Bhimsen Chowk).

The city promotes two major hilltops as its viewpoints to view the city and surrounding panaroma, World Peace Pagoda built in 1996 across the southern shore of Phewa lake and Sarangkot which is located northwest of the city. In February 2004, International Mountain Museum (IMM)[49] was opened for public in Ratopahiro to boost city's tourism attractions. Other museums in the city are Pokhara Regional Museum, an ethnographic museum, Annapurna Natural History Museum[50] which houses preserved specimens of flora and fauna, and contains particularly extensive collection of the butterflies, found in the Western and (ACAP) region of Nepal; and Gurkha Museum featuring history of the Gurkha Soldiers.[51]

Since the 1990s Pokhara has experienced rapid urbanization and as a result service and industries sectors have increasingly contributed to the local economy[52] overtaking the traditional agriculture. The major contributors to the economy of Pokhara are manufacturing and service sector including tourism; agriculture and the foreign and domestic remittances. Tourism, service sector & manufacturing contributes approximately 58% to the economy, remittances about 20% and the agriculture nearly 16%.[53]

Military[edit]

Pokhara region has a very strong military traditions with significant number of its men being employed by the Nepali army.[54] The Western Division HQ[55] of the Nepalese Army is stationed at Bijayapur, Pokhara and its Area of Responsibility (AOR) consists of the entire Western Development Region of Nepal. The AOR of this Division is 29,398 km2 and a total of 16 districts are under the Division. The population of the AOR of Western Division is 4,571,013. Both British Army and the Indian Army have regional recruitment and pensioners facilitation camps in Pokhara. The British Gurkha Camp[56] is located at Deep Heights in the northeast of the Pokhara city and the Indian Gorkha Pension Camp[57] is in the south-western side of the city, Rambazar.

Hotels and Lodges[edit]

There are more than 250[58] tourist category hotels and lodges in Pokhara of which two are ranked 5-star. Some of the major hotels are:

  • Fulbari Resort
  • Fish Tail Lodge
  • Fewa Prince
  • Waterfront Resort
  • Shangri-la Village Resort
  • Hotel Pokhara Grande
  • Hotel Fewa Holiday Inn
  • Gantavya Resort
  • Castle Resort
  • Hotel Barahi
  • Fairmount Hotel
  • Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Atithi Resort & Spa
  • New Pokhara Lodge

Education[edit]

The post higher secondary level educational institutions in Pokhara include Pokhara University,Prithivi Narayan Campus, Pokhara University, IOE Western Region Campus,Gandaki College of Engineering and Science,[59] Pokhara Engineering College,[60] Institute of Forestry - Pokhara Campus,[61] Pokhara Nursing Campus affiliated to the Tribhuvan University[62] and Manipal College of Medical Science[63] affiliated to Sikkim Manipal University, Kalika Campus, JMC (Janapriya Multiple Campus), Gandaki College of Medical Sciences, Mount Annapurna Higher Secondary Boarding School etc.

Hospitals[edit]

  • Manipal Teaching Hospital
  • Western Regional Hospital
  • Fishtail Hospital and Research Centre FHRC (www.fishtailhospital.com.np)
  • Himalayan Eye Hospital
  • Fewa City Hospital
  • Charak Hospital
  • Gandaki Medical College and Teaching Hospital
  • Metro City Hospital
  • Sahara Hospital
  • Namaste Hospital
  • Sewa Hospital

Transportation[edit]

Public transit: Pokhara has several bus routes, mainly running the length of the city from north to south as well as east to west as well to the nearby villages and towns. The public transport mainly consists of buses, vans (locally known as micro-bus) and metered-taxis (frequently meter rule is ignored and meter tampering is common, so the locals almost always bargain with the driver before riding the taxi).

Intercity connections: Pokhara is well connected to rest of the country through permanent road and air links. The main mode of transportation are public buses and the Purano Bus Park is the main hub for buses plying country wide. The all-season Pokhara Airport with regular flights to Kathmandu, Mustang are operated by various domestic and a few international airlines. Construction of a new international airport started 2009 in the southeast of the city.[64] Flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara take 30 minutes. Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines and Simrik Air fly from Kathmandu's domestic terminal and they can be purchased online from Nepal Domestic Flights.

Rivers and lakes in and around Pokhara[edit]

Barahi Island Temple, Phewa Lake (फेवा ताल), Pokhara
One of the many gorges formed by the Seti River in Pokhara

Pokhara valley is rich in water sources. The major bodies of water in and around Pokhara are:[65][66]

A. Lakes

B. River

  • Seti Gandaki (Seti Khola)
  • Bijayapur Khola
  • Yamdi Khola
  • Fedi Khola
  • Kau Khola
  • Fusre Khola
  • Bagadi & Gaduwa (flows to Seti river)
  • Harpan Khola (main source of Phewa laka)
  • Pani Khola
  • Kali Khola
  • Bhalam Khola
  • Bhurjung Khola

Sports[edit]

Paragliders over Phewa Lake, Pokhara

The sporting activities are mainly centered in the multipurpose stadium Pokhara Rangasala (or Annapurna Stadium) in Rambazaar. The popular sports are football, cricket, volleyball, etc. The Sahara Club is one of the most active organizations promoting football in the city and organizes a South Asian club-level annual tournament: the Aaha Gold Cup.[67] Additionally, the Kaski District Football Association (KDFA) organizes Safal Pokhara Gold Cup,[68] which is also a South Asian club-level tournament and ANFA organizes local Kaski district club-level Balram KC memorial football tournament.[69] There are several tennis courts and a golf course[70] in the city. Nearby Sarangkot hill has developed as a good attraction for adventure activities such as paragliding[71] and skydiving.[72] The Pokhara city marathon, high altitude marathon are some activities attracting mass participation.[73] Adventure sports such as base jumping, paragliding, canyoning, rock climbing, etc. are targeted towards tourists.[74][75]

Himalayan Vulture in Pokhara
Egyptian Vulture in Pokhara

Music[edit]

The universal instruments used in Nepalese music include the madal (small leather drum), bansuri (bamboo flute), and saarangi. These instruments are prominent features of the traditional folk music (lok gít or lok geet) in Pokhara, which is actually the western (Gandaki, Dhaulagiri and Lumbini) branch of Nepali lok gít. Some examples of the music of this region are Resham Firiri (रेशम फिरिरी)[76] and Khyalee Tune (ख्याली धुन).[77] The lok gít started airing in Radio Nepal during the 1950s and artists such as Jhalakman Gandharwa, Dharma Raj Thapa are considered pioneers in bringing the lok git into mass media. During early and late 1990s, bands from Pokhara like Nepathya started their very successful fusion of western rock and pop with traditional folk music.[78] Since then several other musical groups in Nepal have adopted the lok-pop/rock style producing dozens of albums every year. Another important part of cultural music of western Nepal, and hence Pokhara, is the Panché Baaja (पञ्चे बाजा), a traditional musical band performed generally during marriage ceremonies by the damaai musicians.[79] The musical culture in Pokhara is quite dynamic and in recent years, Western rock and roll, pop, rap and hip-hop are becoming increasingly popular with frequently held musical concerts; however, the traditional lok and modern (semiclassical) Nepali music are predominantly favored by the general populace. More musical concerts are held in Pokhara than in any other city in the country.[80][81]

Media[edit]

Media and communication were quite limited until the 1990s.[82] However, in the following decade there has been a proliferation of private media in print, radio and television. There are 17 privately owned local FM stations in Pokhara valley; an additional 4 FM stations from Kathmandu have their relay broadcast stations in Pokhara, making a total of 21 FM stations.[83] Among them there are five Community radio Stations, They are Himchuli FM - 92.2 MHz, Gorkhali Radio -106 MHz, Samudayik, Radio Sunaulo F.M - 107.2 MHz and Radio Gandaki 90.2 MHZ. There are two local television stations: GoldenEye Television and Gandaki Television. Approximately 14 national daily newspapers, in Nepali are published in the city[84][85] along with several other weekly and monthly news magazines. All major national newspapers published in Kathmandu have distributions in Pokhara. A number of online news and entertainment-based websites are also based in Pokhara.[86][87]

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