I don’t know how to begin and from where to begin. This trip will be forever etched in my memory whenever I think of Pokhara.
Four classmates from my university (3 Indians and one Nepalese) had planned to visit Pokhara for a few days, starting March 20th. I happened to pass across them. They told me about the trip and the Nepalese guy asked me to join. As we have known each other for almost 2 years and are good friends, he said I would be a good company to him.
I was immediately tempted by this unexpected proposal, which would break the monotony of my student life (same daily schedule, hostel to class and vice versa, late work in my small room, no outings) and – above all – would enable me to escape Allahabad’s scorching heat.
I needed permission from SEA for the travel costs (to be kept minimal) and I got it! It was my first “long” trip with friends since my arrival in India in July 2016. I was full of joy and gratefulness to become – for a few days – like a domestic tourist dreaming to visit all the nice places in Nepal.
On departure day, another Indian student – a recent friend of mine – decided to join the group. So, the 6 of us left at 10pm for a 17-hour bus drive, hoping to reach Pokhara at 6-7pm the next day.
The journey’s beginning was terrible. One of the bus’ tyres got punctured on mid-way to Gorakhpur, our first destination. There were no repair workshops around. Therefore, the driver continued. He didn’t listen to passengers’ requests to stop. The bus started shaking like a train dated-back to ages and thudding sounds were heard. Dust and smoke emerged. The driver finally pulled over to let other vehicles pass. The outer layer of the tyre had peeled off. Someone managed to remove that portion. Again the driver started on. The bus moved normally for a few minutes and again the same noisy and trembling conditions occurred. We were quite pissed off and anxious. At some point, we thought the bus would wreck. The sound was unbearable.
While everyone was unease and panicking, one guy remained totally unaware of the situation: he was in deep sleep and snoring all the time : that was really incredible!
After over 2 hours of this horrible condition, we finally got the tyre changed in a repair outlet and we reached Gorakhpur with a 3 hours delay. An additional 2-hour journey helped us cross the Indo-Nepal border. From there, to save some time and escape the heavy traffic, we hired a van and took an alternate route. The road was steep, narrow and difficult, but I was home!
I was overwhelmed by the magnificent landscape, fresh air and pleasant weather. I wished I could stay there forever. The beauty of Nepal, which they visited for first time, fascinated our 4 Indian friends. Later, we started talking about paranormal activities and stories we heard from our relatives. It was pitch dark outside and the environment was calm, giving perfect platform to put forward thrilling and horror stories. I enjoyed those exchanges a lot, as it helped to pass time and get to know each other better. Finally, we reached Pokhara at around 11pm, after a 23-hour journey!
Pokhara is the 2ndlargest city in Nepal and one of the most famous tourist destinations, with stunning views on the Annapurna snow-filled mountains (8,000-meters high peaks), Sarangkot tophill, Phewa Lake, Mahendra Gupha limestone cave, Devis waterfalls, Peace Stupa, etc. The Seti River, meaning “White River”, as it mixes with white clay in monsoon, is also one not to be missed. All sorts of adventurous activities (treks, paragliding, ultra-light plane, rafting, bungee jumping, etc.) are offered to even better enjoy the landscape.
On our first day, we decided to cross the Phewa Lake with a boat to get to the World Peace (Shanti) Stupa. Life jackets were on, so we pulled off our craziness and spent around 2 hours swimming, forgetting about the time.
Then, there was a 20-30 minutes steep climb, which turned out to be a terrible ordeal for one of us: he was out of breath, sweating, stopping for rest and about to give up at several spots. I helped and cheered him up all the way to the Stupa, that we reached 10 minutes before closing time. He was so thankful and so happy to be there to admire the panoramic view of the Annapurna range, Pokhara city and Phewa Lake.
Two of my batch mates, who are part of the college photographer club, showed how to capture artistic views with their digital cameras. I suddenly came across 2 Nepali friends that are final students in my university: they had just finished a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and had come to rest at the Lakeside. It was good to talk with them about their experience.
On the way back from the Stupa, 4 of us rushed down to the boat, urging us to speed up. I had to calm them down, as I had to help again our corpulent friend who was slipping and panicking on the slope. Then, we had to paddle the boat back – all at the same pace, which is quite tough when you have no habit of it. As it was pitch dark with no sign of boats and people around, we couldn’t figure out the port and we sailed to the wrong target at first. After several calls and flash signals, we managed to get to the right location and… were strongly reprimanded by the boat owner.
On second day, we went to the Sarangkot Hill to see the sunrise. It was necessary to be there on exact time not to miss the view. We made it perfectly on that day! Otherwise, we – late sleeper students – barely see any sunrise. International and domestic tourists were all set to admire the sight and were patiently waiting. With my mobile, I captured a few shots of this spectacular scenery, including the one with the 2 dogs, which made my day.
On the third day, we were to retrace on our path to our campus. This time, we took the direct road to the border and – as expected – we got stuck in the traffic. At some point on that road, a fool had set a wildfire on a very steep area (where landslides often occur) and a big rock was about to tumble down. Our vehicle was just below it and there was a light traffic ahead. The conductors and people around halted and cleared the way for us to skip the danger. We heard the stone rolling down behind us after few seconds. Once again, we escaped a major peril!
After another tyre puncture with the van, a 3-hour wait at the Gorakhpur bus station and a 9-hour bus drive, we reached our respective rooms around midnight.
Though the journey was much longer, painful and perilous than planned, long-lasting memories were created. I realized how enjoyable it is to travel with friends and being able to share both adverse and pleasant events with them. I learned a few things more about photography and wondered how thrilling it would be to try paragliding, bungee jumping or flying on ultra-light plane. I also strengthened the friendship bond with the guy I helped at the Stupa: he continued to thank me for many days after our return, saying « I would never have made it without you! ».
From the core of my heart, each time I am back in my country, pure happiness overwhelms me. I wish Pokhara welcomes me back again one day.