Monday, June 29, 2015

Nepal: Pokhara II

Pokhara is known as the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit.  Its popularity stems not only from its natural beauty, but also from its position as the starting point for many treks through the mountains and villages of the Annapurna Conservation Area.  Three of the ten highest mountains in the world -- Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu -- lie in this range, within 30 miles (as the crow flies, not as the hiker hikes!) of Pokhara.

Lacking time for a proper trek, we settled for exploring the region through day hikes from Pohkara.  A short 3.2 mile hike from Lakeside, starting with a relaxing boat ride across Phewa Lake, leads up to the World Peace Pagoda. 

Pokhara's World Peace Pagoda, also known as Shanti Stupa, is one of about 80 Peace Pagodas built worldwide.  Most have been constructed by the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist order, which started building peace pagodas in response to the devastating aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  They aim to spread the message of world peace to all people. 

The white, two-tiered Peace Pagoda stands 115 feet tall and 344 feet in diameter.  The second tier displays four statues of Buddha, presented by four different countries.  Sitting at the top of Ananda hill, the World Peace Pagoda offers beautiful views of Pokhara and the surrounding area.   

While our hike up involved mostly stairs, we took the longer route down.  Scattered houses dotted the bright green, terraced slopes of rice paddies.  The path down also took us past Devi's Falls and the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave -- post coming soon!

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