ABC Day 01 – Pokhara

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World Peace Stupa

The Tourist Office turned out to be located fairly close to the start of one of the trails that lead to the World Peace Stupa (also known as the Nipponzan Myohoji Japanese Buddhist Temple). The stupa was said to offer good views of the Annapurna range as well as Phewa Lake, so we figured that it would be a perfect warm-up hike. Just be careful if you decide to hike up to the stupa, as there have been reports of robberies along the trail over the years. Please exercise caution and travel in a group if at all possible.

Difficulty Rating : 2.0 / 10.0 (Class 2 - Very straightforward)

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Getting To The Trailhead

The trailhead was located at the World Peace Biodiversity Garden, which was a nursery of sorts for various ficus trees, including sacred figs (Ficus religiosa) and banyans (Ficus benghalensis). Newly hewn stone steps wound their way northwards up the hill and past all the ficus shoots, and gave way to rough steps shortly after. Eagles (Aquila sp.) screeched as they circled around in the thermal convection currents above us, whilst Libellulid dragonflies (Crocothemis sp.) buzzed around us.

After a mere 300 metres, we entered a fern-fringed forest trail that was pock-marked with orchard spiders (Leucauge spp.). The trail branched soon after: the left trail headed up and the right followed the contour. We followed the latter, which emerged onto a rise with a view of the lake that lay just beyond. At the two kilometre mark, the trail switch-backed up the slope and plateaued on a ridge. It then continued on for a while heading west, before emerging out on another, far more exposed, ridge up above.

Just beyond the ridge lay coffee shops that awaited the thirsty and the unprepared, whilst the stairs continued on to the stupa itself. At the top, throngs of tourists were gathered around the railings trying to glimpse a view of the cloud-obscured mountains. Annapurna I (elevation : 8091 m), Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441 m), and Machapuchare (elevation : 6997 m) normally take centre stage on a clear day, with Annapurna II, III, and IV (elevation : 7939 m, 7555 m, 7525 m respectively) located further along the horizon to the right. What was quite clear however was the massive Phewa Lake that lay in front of us, and the tiny buildings of Pokhara that seemed to be haphazardly and almost randomly erected, almost akin to colourful lego blocks.

Lalupate flower, also known as 'Poinsettia' (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

View from the World Peace Pagoda. The shadow of the stupa can be seen on the right.

Next (Day 1) : Pokhara (Part 3)
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