There are places where one can gaze at the reflection of the paradise on earth. Pokhara is such a valley in Nepal where Phewa Lake, secluded by the Sarangkote Hills, carefully embraces the reflections of silver crowned Annapurna range in an sublime tranquility. The snow covered Machchhapuchrey can be distinctly observed from there. It stands apart among the mountain ranges because of its unique semblance with a fish tail. However, we were not blessed enough to experience such a magnificent sight as the peaks were covered with the veils of clouds. So leaving our expectation of experiencing such a blissful scenery and we tried to spend some amusing moments boating on the lake to uplift our disheartened spirit.
We had arrived Pokhara at 5 o'clock in the morning. That day because of a sudden strike all the shops were closed, thus all our activities were cancelled. We reschedule our itinerary and decided to visit the Stupa as suggested by the boatman while we were floating in the lake.
The Stupa, the shrine of Japanese Buddhist, symbolizes Universal-Peace. Situated at the top of a hill it is about five miles away from the lake. We took the direction and ventured for Stupa wasting no moments.
We had to walk about three kilometers to reach the base of the hill as there was no transport facility available due to the strike. After two and half kilometer uphill trek we reached the summit of the hill where the Stupa is situated. On the way we came across the daily chore of pahari-people who resided there. Their diverse lifestyle really drew our attention. What touched our heart was the tender smile on their innocent faces. I felt like they have mastered the art of living a happy and content life amidst the hardship.
It took us three hours to climb the top. Standing high above the Pokhara valley, the marble white shrine as if announces the command of divine peace in the immutable silence. A bird's eye view of Pokhara town surprised us. Like a sparkling ribbon a stream adorns the valley. We guessed it to be Sweti Gandaki or some of its tributary. An hour or two we spent there to soak our weary souls in the beatific atmosphere before the dusk gradually covered the valley in the veil of darkness.
Next morning, we went out at 4 o'clock to enjoy sunrise from Sarangkote. Although the weather was unfavorable for such an event as it was already drizzling our spirits made us move ahead. By the time, we reached the viewpoint of Sarangkote, we found it crowded with drenched tourists. To avoid the unpleasant situation, we wandered around the village of Sarangkote. On the way to the guest house we visited Vindhabasini temple. One can spot many temples of Neya religion near the old market of Pokhara. Among them, Vindhabasini is the most revered and a live deity of Sarangkote. Every Tuesday and Saturday local people visit the temple with their offerings and animals are ritualistically sacrificed to appease their Goddess.
Among the noteworthy places to visit near Sarangkote are - Devi Falls or Chhashna Falls, Gupteswar Mahadeb Temple, Mahendra Caves, Mahendra Pool, Barahee Temple, Mountain Museum. We started by visting Mahendra Pool. It was a place from where we could clearly watch the canyon and gushing flow of Sweti Gandaki, the most significant river of Pokhara.
Devi Fall surprised us with its unique character. At some part of its natural course it becomes invisible and flows as a subterranean river. It reappears again near Mahendra Caves. Inside the cave we paid our visit to Gupteswar Temple. The cave is adorned with Stalactite and Stalagmite formation. At the end of the caves, suddenly a glaring flash of light drew our attention. Through a chasm on the wall the waterfall giggles out mischievously after a good play of hide and seek. It was a spectacular scene which would remain afresh in our memory forever.
We headed towards the Mountain Museum for our next visit. The museum which comprises four exhibition halls was set up over a large tract of land. The largest of them was in the basement and was reserved for the exhibition of the culture and lifestyle of Himalayan tribal communities. Their apparels, household items, ornaments, musical instruments were furnished along with a vivid description of their culture and heritage. The second hall was decked with the beautiful photographs of the significant peaks of the Himalayan range especially those which have the height of above 8000 meters. Some information was also provided along with the photographs. The mountaineering equipments and dresses were on display in the next hall. The last hall was dedicated only for Everest expedition. The museum was surrounded by some rare trees like Rudrakh and Camphor.
At last, we visited Barahee Temple located on an island over the Phewa Lake. A thousand vibrant pinnace (small boat) is ready to take the devotees at the feet of the Goddess Barahee, an emanation of the Supreme Mother. Numberless pigeons convey you the silent words of peace as soon as you enter the temple courtyard. A mystical serenity covers the atmosphere. The small wooden temple has a similarity with a Pagoda. The golden pinnacle of temple burns like a fire of Knowledge, Strength and Truth. Paying our homage to the Goddess, we finished our sightseeing.
One may visit other places like Muktinath keeping Pokhara as a centre. Pokhara valley is also the gateway of Annapurna base camp. For those who love adventure, paragliding at Pokhara shall surely present them a breathtaking experience. If anyone wishes to see how the Northwest Himalayan ranges looks from an angel's eye one can book a flight ticket on Everest Airways.
Finally, it was time for departure. Even when we left, the mountain ranges were still covered with clouds and the magnificence of Nature remained in dark. Maybe, nature is trying to hold back its majesty so that we can strive again and again for beholding her entrancing beauty. We think this urge may one day reward us with an experience truly fascinating. As if Mother Nature was trying to give us this lesson from this experience in Pokhara. With an aspiration of beholding the splendor of Himalaya we bade adieu to Pokhara with a discontented heart.