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Greater Pokhara : Brief Introduction

By-Mahendra Shrestha

1. Among the 75 districts existing in Nepal, Kaski district is supposed to be an important district. Kaski district is beautiful, lovely as well as historical. Kaski is the origin of Shah Dynasty which reigned in Nepal for more than 250 years. King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified Baise-Chaubise (22-24) states into the nation of Nepal, is also of progeny of King Kul Mandal Shah from Kaski. This district is even known as the district of diversity. Natural, geographical, linguistic, and cultural as well as many other diversities are available here. In this district made up of Himalayas, hills, lakes, streams, rivers, plains etc, there is one Sub Metropolitan City and one Municipality. Here it is said “Greater Pokhara” integrating all the landscapes of these two municipalities (Pokhara/Lekhnath) and about 10 VDCs of the district. The Pokhara valley has extended to the area of around 850 square kilometers.

2. If we observe the ancient and medieval history of Nepal, the residence of majority of people was limited to the hills and mountains of the district. The valley area of Kaski district which is called Pokhara and Lekhnath Municipalities these days had quite less human inhabitance until before 6-7 decades.

Census Data of Pokhara

Census Date Population Number of Houses
Around 1951 AD 3755 1000
Around 1961 AD 5413 1200
Around 1971 AD 20611 3768
Around 1981 AD 46641 8373
Around 1991 AD 95268 20270
Around 2001 AD 157055 28667
Around 2011 AD 256422 45000

3. The history of relief feature of Pokhara valley seems to have been during the period of 11000 to 700 years before. It is considered that the Himalayas and hills were formed in Tertiary era some 6 million years ago. The landscape of Pokhara is found changed due to greater changes of the same Himalayan ranges lying in the northern part of Pokhara valley. Pokhara valley was immersed into water many years before (about 700 years earlier) as there are hills surrounding the lower part of Pokhara Valley in the middle. Himalayan ranges of northern part are progenitor of rivers. Geographer/scientists at national and international level have mentioned that Pokhara valley was immersed into water from rivers generated by melting Himalayas and glaciers. In the course of time, Pokhara valley came into existence when the water drained out from Bhimad area lying in the south of Pokhara valley after having change in geographical condition.

4. Valley area underwater in ancient age appears as many ponds after drying out later. It seems that Pokhara got its name from Pokhari (pond) being the valley of many ponds. There were dozens of ponds in Pokhara valley even before 6-7 decades but at present many of them have been disappeared. While talking about the current situation, there still exist a lotus blooming pond and eight numbers of lakes having different sizes. Pokhara valley is the place having famous and many lakes in the same location in the country of Nepal. Therefore Pokhara valley is also called the city of nine lakes.

5. Pokhara valley is the region of rapid development. There were nearly 1200 houses and approximately 6 thousand populations in Pokhara while collecting data for the first time in 1961 AD. People residing at hills didn’t like living in the lower part of Pokhara. Malaria epidemic had a great effect in Pokhara valley until before 5-6 decades. Ruling system of Ranas also affected here. Only with the advent of democratic rule and management after the end of Rana regime, there began the increase of human settlement and trade-business in Pokhara valley. After the operation of Siddhartha Highway (1968) linking Pokhara with Sunauli and Prithwi Highway (1971) linking Pokhara with Kathmandu, Pokhara valley started to step over greatly. After accessibility of transport, extension of relation with the capital, people from surrounding villages of Kaski and neighboring districts began descending. When Pokhara was proclaimed as headquarter of district and western region in 1975, it became the focus of all. Until 1965-70 AD, trade sectors of Pokhara were Bagbazar, Mohariyatol, Ramkrishna Tol, Ganesh Tol. Earlier Batulechaur was considered to be trade area. During 1960-65 AD in the area of currently popular trade centers of Mahendrapul, Chipledhunga, Prithwichowk, New Road etc had nothing except some houses sporadically. Most of those areas had bamboo shrubs and farms where cheetahs and jackals used to howl even in the day time. Likewise six decades ago there were no any lodge, hotel, restaurant, tours and travels in Lake Side Baidam which is believed as the tourism hub at present. Currently Pokhara valley has improved the state in an unbelievable way. Pokhara valley remained in parochial state has got to develop as Greater Pokhara, Metro Pokhara coming in to latter decades.

6. Pokhara valley is blessed land and paradise of nature since the prehistoric period. Pokhara could also be said the treasury of Himalayas, Hills, rivers, caves and lakes. Pokhara valley is well decorated by beautiful Fishtail mountain, Annapurna Himalayan range, Fewa lake, Rupa lake, Maidi lake, Nyureni lake, Khaste lake, Begnas lake, Gude lake, Dipang lake, Sarangkot, Kaskikot, Kahun, Jaykot, Gyarjati, Armala, Kristi hills of greater heights, Seti Ganga, Kali, Yamdi, Mardi, Harpan, Bijaypur rivers flowing with rippling sound, temples and hermitages including Sri Bindyabasini Bhagawati temple, Sri Bhadrakali, Sri Talbarahi, Sri Bhimkali, Sri Japlpadevi, Sri Bhairab, Sri Bhimsen, Sri Guptakalika Bhagawati, Sri Akaladevi manifested as holy places infused with Goddess’ special power (Shaktipith). Not only this, Pokhara is the multilingual and multiethnic nodal town. Therefore Pokhara valley is also marked as the city carrying the distinct cultural identity. This valley is described even as the city where all ancient, medieval, modern types of language, religion, custom, tradition, practices are found.

7. Pokhara valley is mainly the tourist city. As there are innumerable gorges, lakes, rivers, caves, hills, Himalayas, rural surrounding and trekking sites in this valley as per the interest of tourists, this valley has become the center of tourism. It is found that in the ancient period many sages, ascetics, monks travelled in this area for religious purpose and wrote travelogues, books freely praising about this valley, hence the importance and glory of this valley has been found quite clear since the earliest time. After the successful scaling of more than eight thousand meter high Himalaya (Annapurna First, 8091 m) for the first time in 1950 AD by the team of world mountaineers Morris Herzog and Louis Mesnar, Pokhara and Annapurna Himalayan Range received worldwide coverage. Pokhara valley and Annapurna area got to be the center of attraction for the humankind. This valley raised to the peak also for the reason of being gateway to Muktinath Dham, Galeswor Dham, Upper Mustang, Lomanthang etc.

8. This city had begun earning foreign currency after 1960 AD along with the arrival of foreign tourists in Baidam (Lake Side) of Pokhara. Currently well managed Baidam Lake Side was not managed then. There were no any lodge, hotel, restaurant in Lake Side during 1960 for tourists. Original and old houses of local inhabitants were the preliminary residence of foreign tourists. There used to be problem of food and shelter for foreign tourists due to the hesitation toward them, religious discrimination, food habit, living style, culture and social intolerance. Slowly with the economic prosperity, development of consciousness, expansion in the importance of hospitality to the guests etc. today’s modern and well managed Lake Side was built up gradually. Once upon a time (1970-80), Pokhara was vibrating even due to the wide arrival of Hippies known as baggy tourists. Government itself imposed restriction upon those tourists when there seemed malignancy and unnatural activities of Hippies. Little by little, the arrival of gentle and better foreigners grew up. This trend grew and flourished so much that presently there is hardly possible condition of enduring the guests during October/November for the hotels, lodges, resorts, guest houses of Pokhara valley with the capacity for daily twenty thousands of tourists.

9. Pokhara valley is the city carrying a short history. Its citizens had not received the facilities of electricity, water, telephone, school, college, hospital etc. until before 6-7 decades. There was the situation of going to bed swiftly after dinner in the dusk. All had no capacity for small oil-lamp or lantern. There were no taps in houses. For drinking water, city dwellers used to fetch water from nearby lake, pond, well, brook or river. There was not even the facility of telephone that lies under the minimum communication service. For reading and writing, there were no any schools or colleges. Those eager ones used to learn at home from master/spiritual teachers and Pandits (scholars) coming after a few studies in India. There were no dispensaries and hospital facilities. Lives were sustaining only on the mercy of Ayurvedic medicines of Vaidyas or magic (witchcraft). There were no modern factories/industries – businesses either. All used to remain busy in agricultural production. It could be said that there was no practice of consumption by purchase until seven decades ago. That time, religious cultural activities were good. People had more interest in the tasks like building temples, conducting festivals, chanting of mantra and hymn, performing traditional songs and dances. Besides that, in the condition of being disgusted and bored for a long time by the Rana rule, witty and liberal people used to get involved into political and social activities for the purpose of removing the absolute and monopolistic rule of Ranas at that time. For the reason of success of struggle to achieve democracy, Pokhara valley marched ahead in the path of development and prosperity steadily after 1950.

10. Yesterday’s undeveloped and compressed Pokhara valley has now reached in the developed and conscious condition. The age of small oil-lamp and lantern has been almost ended. Currently there is no need for the city dwellers to fetch water from well, cesspool, well, stream, lake. The tap water has reached nearly all houses. Communication and technology has set a breakthrough and as a result, telephone, mobile, computer, internet etc. have become the subjects of everyone’s access. Kaski district and Pokhara valley is considered as the strong area of those going for foreign employment and earning from abroad (remittance). Hence, economic prosperity has increased and due to its access and effect, it is found that many people have happy life standard. Pompous show, custom, ornaments seen during each of the feast and festivals, luxurious ways of celebrating holidays, use of household physical commodities, car, bungalow etc. are the measuring scale of it. None is lacking the light of education. Hundreds of good schools and colleges are being operated. Dozens of hospitals, nursing homes, poly clinics, Ayurvedic hospitals, dispensaries, pharmacies, high level diagnostic laboratories have been already established.

11. Greater Pokhara, where not dozens and hundreds but thousands of shops have been opened, has the condition of one and all types of items and pleasures available. While talking about Pokhara valley, it is estimated that there are nearly 80-90 thousand houses. This valley has been very close to each city, nook and corner of the world. Being the center of tourism, five star hotels to medium type of lodge, hotel, guest house, resort to adjust thousands of tourists are available here. Restaurant, bar, pub, discotheque, live music restaurant, dance bar, tours and travels, trekking company, trained guides, trekking equipment shop, dozens of tourist buses, massage center, spa, cyber café are ready for the service here. Three highways including Prithvi Highway joining the capital Kathmandu, Sidhartha Highway joining Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini and Baglung Highway to depart for abode of Muktinath, Upper Mustang have linked Pokhara valley. Therefore, this valley has easy facilities of plane flights, bus, taxi etc.

12. Greater Pokhara is mainly the area where one can have trilling journey and sufficient amusement. Rural trek can be done in dozens of areas. Pokhara falls within the best paragliding spots the world. Pokhara is wonderful also for thrilling experience of zip line, bungee jump, rafting, kayaking, boating, fishing, horse riding, cycling, shopping etc. Dozens of supermarkets, shopping malls have been already established. Pokhara valley is supposed to the best destination for activities like feast and festivals, literature, art, music, sports. Likewise, Pokhara valley is considered as the capital of multi-language, multi-culture and diverse traditions.

13. Blessed by geography and nature, everyone is found praising Pokhara valley saying it the most beautiful, attractive, eye-catching, stimulating etc. Among who praises, are the ancient sages, world trekkers, international geologists, kings-emperors, prime minister, president, billionaires or general public from various countries. None can deny this truth.  It is not that Pokhara valley is mentioned only for natural and geographical point of view. Many physical infrastructures have been added in this valley. Manipal Teaching Hospital, Gandaki Teaching Hospital, International Mountain Museum, Gurkha Memorial Museum, Annapurna Museum and Butterfly Museum located inside it, Regional Museum, Pokhara Regional International Airport marching ahead to under-construction process and roads linking with each VDCs added in the later period are quite remarkable. Over all, these are the development achievements of Greater Pokhara.

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