Pokhara is Nepal’s second city it is situated in the western part of Nepal and surrounds the beautiful lake Phewa it takes around six hours by road or twenty five minutes by air.There are some fantastic views of the Annapurna range from Pokhara it would be very difficult to find a town with such a mountain backdrop anywhere else in the world. The town is an ideal base for preparing for your trek in the Annapurna region or resting up afterwards.
Over the past few years Pokhara has gained a reputation for being a fun city full of opportunities to participate in adventurous pursuits.Paragliding is now a well established activity from the top of the hill at Sarankot along with Micro light planes and just recently this year zip lining has been introduced. Add to this some of the more leisurely pursuits Pokhara is known for such as boating and sunrise mountain views visits to caves and gorges it is not surprising that it has become a very popular destination for tourists.
Lumbini the birthplace of Lord Buddha is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site situated in South West Nepal It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddharta Gautama who as the as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinaga, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. Buddha lived at Lumbini until the age of 29.
Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple, and others under construction. Also located here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he too had his first bath, as well as the remains of Kapilvastu palace. At other sites near Lumbini earlier Buddhas were according to tradition born, achieved ultimate awakening and finally relinquished earthly form.
In 1896 Nepalese archaeologists (Khadga Samsher Rana) discovered a great stone pillar at the site attributed to Ashoka. It is believed that the pillar was established by the great King Ashoka in about 345 BC. Records made by the Chinese pilgrim Faxian were also used in the process of identifying this religiously acclaimed site.
Present day Lumbini:
Lumbini was made a World Heritage Site in 1997 it was specifically nominated for the international World Heritage program.The present Lumbini is divided into a ratio of 1:3 which means it is 3 km long for every 1 km wide. In total it’s 2 km by 6 km
The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built there are no shops, hotels or restaurants. It is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone.The eastern having the Theravadin monasteries, the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.
The holy site of Lumbini has ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Ashokan pillar and the Mayadevi temple, where the precise place of birth of Buddha is located. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.
The site in recent years has grown and become more significant as a site for holy pilgrimage, perhaps due to people of the developed world seeking another other way to fulfill what for many have become rather meaningless lives. Each year Mongolian Treks and Expedition make our own pilgrimage to Lumbini if you would you like to know more please make contact.
Gorkha is situated 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meters it is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal’s ruling royal family now deposed. Gorkha is only 18 km up a paved road off the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way or better still a night stopover to or from Pokhara provide insights into Nepal of a very different kind.
This small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop fortess, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term “Gurkha” evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.
Gorkha’s centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Mansalu range.
Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled street market place where by people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples near about, but not much. Yet, it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista of the quiet charm that soaks a typical hill village of Nepal.
Gorkha Durbar is the main attraction of Gorkha, an hour steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithvi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort, and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.
Gorakhnath Cave, ten meters below the palace’s southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorkhanath. The cave is is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.
Gorkha is also an alternate starting point for a few trekking routes in the region. Gorkha-Trisuli is an easy three day walk along unspoiled Nepali country side. One can also walk a long day’s walk to Besishahar, which is the usual starting point for Annapurna region.There is also a six day easy trek to Pokhara where you are unlikely to see any other tourist you need to camp but there are places for provisions along the way and if you have the time it is a great way to get to Pokhara.
Chitwan National Park
A jouney to Chitwan National Park in the Terai provides visitors to Nepal with a very different experience compared to the more familiar vision of Nepal.It is where you discover that a country known for its beautiful mountains has so much more to offer, perhaps not surprising when you realise that at Chitwan you are only 150m meters above sea level with the highest place on earth being only 100 miles away to the north.The southern part of Nepal provide a wholly different experience and many people say that a visit to Nepal remains incomplete without seeing the beauty of the Terai.
Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and it provides a great wildlife experience for anyone interested in animals birds or nature with its rich and diverse range of flora and fauna.It is home to a vast variety of wild animals including the One Horned Rhino and The Royal Bengal Tiger.Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park and there is a huge range of butterfly species already recorded.
The place gets steamy from March-June with peak temperatures reaching 43°C in the shade. Short grass makes Feb-May the best game-viewing season, but the autumn months are gorgeous, with Himalayan views, and in winter (December-January) Chitwan is pleasantly warm compared to Kathmandu. The monsoon season (July-August) is intense with pounding rain, swollen rivers and luxuriant vegetation. While the rain isn’t constant the humidity is all pervasive.
There are basically two choices either you take a more exclusive package inside the park itself of which there are only seven and all activities including elephant riding canoeing nature walks and birding are conducted by the lodge you are residing at.The luxury lodges in Chitwan provide quite an exquisite experience. Swimming pool, cocktail bars, safari ambience, organized game spotting trips, orientation by trained naturalists. Alternatively you can stay at Sauraha a small town nowadays that has developed on the edge of the park where there are many hotels and resorts type facilities of varying standards and you enter the park on a daily basis.