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 Chaubisi Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty. 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.
Pokhara was envisioned as a commercial center by the King of Kaski in the mid 18th century A.D. 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 Pokhara, at the time, was largely inhabited by Khas (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri and Dalits),gurungs,magars.. At present the Khas, Gurung (Tamu) and Magar form the dominant community of Pokhara. There is also a sizeable Newari population in the city. 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).
The nearby hills around Pokhara are surrounded by Gurung villages with few places belonging to Khas community. 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, 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 Palkhel. 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.
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) after which tourism set in and the city grew rapidly. The area along the Phewa lake, called Lake Side, has developed into one of the major tourism hubs of Nepal.
Places to Visit in Pokhara
Near Bat Cave is the underwhelming Mahendra Gufa, the first large cave to be discovered in Pokhara. The first 125m of the cave is lit only to reveal dusty vandalised limestone formations, some revered as Shiva linga.
This small, 200-year-old, two-tiered temple is dedicated to the Newari god of trade and commerce. It’s decorated with erotic carvings, and the surrounding square hosts shops selling baskets and ceramics.
Bindhya Basini Temple
The ancient Bindhya Basini Temple sits atop a small hill in Old Pokhara. Founded in the 17th century, the temple is sacred to Durga, the warlike incarnation of Parvati, worshipped here in the form of a saligram
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
Across the road from Devi’s Falls, this venerated cave contains a huge stalagmite worshipped as a Shiva lingam. The ticket allows you to clamber through a tunnel behind the shrine, emerging in a damp cavern adjacent.
Seti River Gorge
The roaring Seti River passes right through Pokhara, but you won’t see it unless you go looking. The river has carved a deep, narrow chasm through the middle of town, turning the water milky white in the process.
World Peace Pagoda
Balanced on a narrow ridge high above Phewa Tal, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organisation.
Located just north of Mahendra Pul, near the KI Singh Bridge, the Gurkha Museum celebrates the achievements of the renowned Gurkha regiments.
Pokhara’s most famous Hindu temple, the two-tiered pagoda-style Varahi Mandir stands on a small island in Phewa Tal, near the former Ratna Mandir (Royal Palace). Founded in the 18th century, the temple is dedicated
International Mountain Museum
This expansive museum is devoted to the mountains of Nepal, the mountaineers who climbed them and the people who call them home
Also known as Patale Chhango, this waterfall marks the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground.
Phewa Tal is the travellers’ focal point in Pokhara, and is the second largest lake in Nepal. In contrast to the gaudy tourist development of Lakeside, the steep southwestern shore is densely forested
Begnas Lake is a freshwater lake in Pokhara Lekhnath Metropolis of Kaski district of Nepal located in the south-east of the Pokhara Valley. The lake is the third largest lake of Nepal and second largest, after Phewa Lake, among the eight lakes in Pokhara Valley.] Water level in the lake fluctuates seasonally due to rain, and utilization for irrigation. The water level is regulated through a dam constructed in 1988 on the western outlet stream, Khudi Khola.