The road to Pokhara

The road to Pokhara
Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara, Nepal

In the 5 hours driving from Chitwan to Phokara, I got to see small towns, villages and the roads that wind through the mountains. The scenery was beautiful. I saw where the Seti River and the Trishuli River merge to form the Narayani river (that flows into India) and was surprised by the disparity between the water colour of each… considering they’re fed by either springs or the pristine mountain ranges. Fast Fact – “Seti” means “White” in Nepali. These rivers are most popular with foreigners and white water rafting enthusiasts alike. Rocks from the river beds are also mined and used for gravel and other purposes. I’m in Pokhara! Home to around 300 thousand people, Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal.. It’s by far the sleepier of the cities and towns I’ve been in. My afternoon consisted of sight seeing. First official sight for the afternoon – The World Peace Pagoda, a massive Buddhist stupa perched on the top of a hill on the southern shores of Phewa Lake. The stupa is 115ft tall and sits 1100 meters above sea level. Slipping my shoes off, I ascend the stairs of the shrine and proceed to walk clockwise around the base of the massive white bell stupa (Worship of a stupa consists of walking around the monument in the clockwise direction). The shrine is the perfect vantage point, offering views of Phewa Lake, Pokhara City and on a clear day like today, the snowy Annapurna ranges. I relished the climb to reach the shrine and now, I was relishing the views. It’s is the 71st peace stupa of its kind to be built. These peace stupas can be found all over the world. Although the structure itself isn’t typically beautiful, it’s what it symbolises and stands for that is beautiful. World Peace. White stupas of hope scattered across the globe for what seems like an unattainable goal in the world we live in today. Something I haven’t been able to ignore on my journey, is the amount of alcohol advertising and propaganda everywhere. Posters are plastered and hand painted onto the sides of houses, shops, fences, walls and even random large rock faces in the middle of no where…. Is this what the inside of an Aus boozers/ Homer Simpson’s mind looks like? It’s a wonder the Nepali manage to stay sober and upright…. Or maybe they’re not so impressionable to advertising? Second sight – The Gupteswor Mahadev Cave. One minute I was on the street and the next, at the top of spiralling, stone, stair cases that wind down to the entrance of the cave. The limestone cave is considered to be 599 years old and legend has it, as locals went deeper into the cave, they found an idol-like object resembling Lord Shiva that had formed. In 1992, the object was recognised as Lord Shiva and the site formally consecrated, with a statue of Lord Shiva being installed at the mouth of the cave. The cave is around 50 meters long, narrow, damp and dimly lit by a string of electric, hanging lights (electricity often cuts out so its not uncommon to be standing around in the dark). Droplets of water seep through the limestone, staining the cave walls and dripping onto its inhabitants (me)… The cave isn’t accommodating for people who are…. Well… generous of height or width (tall/ obese people, this will not be a good time for you unless you enjoy crawling on wet rocks). Half way into the cave, to the right of me, there’s an area where people have assembled piles of rocks – biggest to smallest. I’ve seen them everywhere.. Even in Australia but in the part of the cave, there were dozens of them. At the end of the cave, is a large cavern (tall/ obese people friendly space). From this cavern of darkness, you can see daylight shining through a crevasse in the distance, revealing a sliver of Devi’s Falls. Devi’s Falls is accessible via the opposite side of the street from Gupteswor Mahadev Cave. This is a one stop tourist spot with little travel required between these two sites. 10 minutes later, I’m on the other side of the street, at Devi’s falls. Known as Patale Chhango to locals, the falls are fed by water from Phewa Lake. On 31 July 1961, a sudden flood of water surged through from Phewa Lake causing the unfortunate drowning of a Swiss tourist. At the request of her husband, the falls were named after her. Whilst both the cave and falls are nice, when you picture caves and waterfalls, you’d envision them hidden away… in the wilderness…. but the town of Pokhara has literally built over and around the cave and Devi’s Falls. Unfortunately, this means both sights haven’t been spared from man made pollutants and litter. The markets around the two sites are reasonably priced 🙂 A short drive and I’m at Phewa Lake. I’ll be row, row, rowing my boat to the island in the middle of the lake.. With the assistance of a local boy, together, we row a boat to the island where the Barahi Temple sits. Paddling over, the boat boy said, “your row is very powerful – how often do you go boating at home?”. #sherowsbro #doyouevenrow If only he knew when I go “boating” in Australia, the boat has a motor. He was up Phewa Lake with only a paddle #punnintended. The reason I wanted to visit this temple so badly? To flex my rowing muscles of course! Joking. I’d done some reading (in the whole week before I booked and left Australia for this trip) and saw that it was a temple dedicated to female force, Shakti. Shakti is the Hindu mother goddess who is the origin of universal creativity and power. I’m all about the worship and celebration of woman and creativity! Entering the tiny temple: Shoes off – check Offering to shrine – check Bow/ touch shrine & make wishes – check Get blessed by the man in the small temple – check! (Getting blessed involves a red, powdered substance being smudged in the middle of your forehead). Travelling between the sights, I observed many working women…. Let me tell you, they’re not working the streets, they’re working the fields… And even the building sites. This is where Beyonce gets the inspiration for her songs. Many fields/ rice patties are etched into the mountainous terrain and inaccessible with machinery. Ox and Buffalo drawn carts are used instead, with a lot of physical labour going into farming and general day to day life. To say the Nepali are hard working people, is an understatement. Rice fields are planted in May June July and harvested in December. The remaining of months of the year, the fields and patties are planted with crops of corn, wheat, potatoes, barley and mustard seed. Oil from the mustard seeds is extracted and used for cooking. No olive oil here. Pro’s of Nepal – it’s almost impossible to not eat organically as most farmers have no money for pesticides and preservatives.

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