More adventures, opera and shiny summits

Pokhara is a region in Nepal known mainly for two things: the beauty and the breathtaking view of the Annapurna Himalayan range. So naturally we had every intention of seeing them. The thing of it is, the majesty can only truly be appreciated when it is perfectly clear, which is usually a small window before and after sunrise. After this, the clouds begin to roll in. The first day we were there we did not plan to go see them, but we woke up and the sky was perfectly clear; something that had not happened for about a month in Pokhara. With such volatile weather and the possibility that the sky would not be clear again, we high tailed it to the viewing location. Unfortunately the clouds had already started rolling in but we were able to see the majority of the range for a brief amount of time. Later on we decided that, since we missed the sunrise, we would try agairower next day if the weather was clear. Except, at the end of the day, long after sunset, we realized we had not informed the tour company of our intentions which meant we had no transportation for 5am. I secretly hoped that the mountains would be covered, as some consolation for the fact that we couldn’t do the sunrise trip.

Well, they weren’t, but it was beautiful to see again. And this time I had woken up earlier than the day before, so there wasn’t a cloud in the sky yet, and I managed to get some fabulous pictures from the hotel roof.

The two days we spent in Pokhara were really fun and I really enjoyed the things we did. Pokhara really is extremely beautiful, with hills surrounding the valley, the Himalayas in the distance, and a series of lakes connected by natural canals.

The first day, after Sarangkot (the viewing spot for the mountains), we went to a very famous cave in Nepal called Mahendra. The cave is like any other cave but what makes it so special is that, at the end of the cave, there is a natural rock formation that STRONGLY resembles an elephant. The elephant is significant because, in the Hindu religion, one of the important gods is Ganesh, who has a human body but the head of an elephant. Naturally, this caves very famous and quite holy for Hindus. Next we went to the bat caves, which I refused to go into because bats freak me out but everyone else had fun. And came out really dirty.

The second day, we went to the mountain museum, which is full of information all about the Himalayas, ranging from the mountain tribes, to the geographic data and formation story, to information about the first climbs on each mountain along with all the major expeditions worth mentioning. It even includes the fauna and flora and the endangered species that can be found there. The information was extremely interesting and I’m glad we did that because I have been interested in information about the Himalayas but I’ve never done any research. I guess I always forget. So it was nice to get a crash course. Afterwards we checked out Devi’s Falls, which was powerful gush of water between two hills, that fell into a narrow space made all the more majestic by the closeness of all the greenery, which was stark against the flushing white water. It was small but so beautiful and very powerful.

Even after all this however, I was determined to see the Himalayas at sunrise, and so was everyone else, so we made a plan to wake up early and see the sunrise before leaving Pokhara this morning. At 5 o’ clock this morning, we were in the bus, all packed up to leave Pokhara, on our way to probably one of the most gorgeous views in the world. But this time, we didn’t go to Sarangkot. We went to another location that was actually on the way out of Pokhara. But none of us knew where we were going, including our bus driver.

So we’re driving and driving, on this road, that is barely a road, and the sun is slowly rising. Eventually the sun gets to a point where I start freaking out that were going to miss the view of the mountains at first light and I can’t figure out why were still driving but we haven’t reached yet. Eventually the road starts sloping downhill and we decide something is wrong. Luckily for us, in the middle of nowhere, on this deserted road, there was a lady who we asked about the location.

As it turns out, we had passed it about 15 minutes back. After jumping back in the car and driving to the correct location we had to climb to the top of the hill. A very very high hill. The hike was not easy and air was way thinner than I’ve ever had to breath. 5 minutes into the hike my lungs were on fire, and I was walking at a normal pace. I could barely breathe because it hurt so much to inhale. Everyone else on the other hand, excluding Carrie and EW ran up the hill. I have no idea how they managed that. They’re superhuman, I’m convinced.

After about 20 minutes of stopping and walking a few feet and stopping again, I made it to the top. Well, I’m here to tell you, it was totally worth it. There are no words to describe the view. But I took tons of pictures, so I don’t have to try. We caught the sun still on the mountains and it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I’m so glad that we made the effort to make sure we saw the mountains at first light. After seeing them the previous mornings, I had to make sure I saw them at sunrise, and thankfully, everyone else was on the same page.

But the day didn’t end there. We then stopped at Marakamana, the holiest place in Nepal. It’s considered so important and holy because, throughout history, people who have gone into the temple and made a wish has had their wish come true. Apparently, if works best when you go to the temple three times and make the same wish. We actually had to take a very long cable car ride to the top of the hill that the temple is located on but the view going up was gorgeous. When we arrived at the temple the first thing I thought was ‘that’s it?’ because it was so small and simple. Because of how important it is, I was under the impression it was going to be a majestic temple. Then came the second disappointment: only Hindus could go inside. This made a lot of sense though, considering it the most holy place in Nepal. We didn’t stay very long and soon we were heading to Kathmandu, with no intention of stopping, except for lunch. Between waking up at 4 and hiking that hill, and then Marakamana, we all fell asleep for the better part of the drive back to Kathmandu, waking up only for lunch. But, the exhaustion was well worth it. Pokhara and the return to Kathmandu was amazing and I’m very happy we did it.

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