Historical review of natural and cultural heritage of paradise Pokhara
Gehendra Man Udas ‘Pokhareli'(phD)
Pokhara valley is located in the central part ofqqqDEZCX3335RS1 Nepal. Its elevation ranges from less than 600m (as the lowest) at Bhimad to 1,300m (as the highest) at Kharapani. The valley slopes from North-West to South-East. Consequently, all the water drains out through Seti river stream towards South-East. Regarding the formation of Pokhara valley on the basis of the “Plate Tectonic Theory,” it is accepted that by 180 million years ago, lava came up between the plates pushing them apart. “Pangoea” first split into northern part (Gondana) with “Tethys Sea” in between. The two land masses continued to split forming the present continents. Of these drifting continents, the Indian plate moved towards the Asian Plate. As per public display of Annapurna Historical Museum located in Prithvi Narayan Campus in Pokhara the Himalayas were formed in this way.
Gurung (1969), referring to the work of Swiss geologist Tony Hagen, mentions that the valley is formed after the upheaval of Mahabharata Range as a form of the tectonic depression and later filled by materials downward by surface outflow of surrounding mountains. Gurung (1969-70) further reveals that the central part of the valley floor was filled by glacio-fluviatile deposits of Late Pleistocene glaciations over the former tectonic depression. The adjacent tributaries of trunk channel wave were dammed by Seti valley Train, and numerous lakes were originated’ (Gurung 1969 as cited in Paudel 1988, p 92).
The nature of Pokhara has exposed the unique panoramic view of snowcapped mountains, lakes, georges of seti river, caves, green hills, and waterfalls, which make the visitors the visitors quite fascinated. Similarly, from historical, religious and cultural points of view, pokhara is enriched with temples and monuments, monasteries and stupas along with other interesting and important spots which provide both knowledge and recreation. The unlimited blending of both natural and cultural attractions in Pokhara has made this place one of the most favorable tourist destinations, which is often admired as the paradise in the earth. From the natural aesthetic perspective, Pokhara is known as ‘Hanging Paradise on Earth’ (Shakya 1995, p 1). Its glimpse can be viewed in figure 2.1.
Besides the enormous potentials of natural and cultural heritages as marked in figure 2.1, the vicinity of Pokhara valley offers visitors both short trekking and longer trekking to Mustang, Manang, Baglung, Myagdi and Annapurna Base camp in the hilly and the Himalayan regions. These trekking, no doubt, are enjoyable, romantic and recreational while watching and snapping the enchanting views of natural boon and cultural vividness. However, the principal focus of this chapter is to shade light on the natural and cultural heritages in Pokhara and its historical context. All information of this chapter is derived from the review of literature and the first hand observation of the author who is himself the native of Pokhara.
2.2 Natural heritage of Pokhara
Pokhara occupies the overall pretty heritage of nature, which is the clue of prime attraction for tourists from all over the world. Table 2.1 offers the list of such natural heritages with their key features at a glance.
Table 2.1 Key natural heritage as the center of attraction for tourist in Pokhara
|List of the Panoramic Nature||Location||Tourist attractions as viewable and enjoyable|
|Mount Fish-Tail and Annapurna range||North from Pokhara||Georgeous view from Pokhara, sunrising and sun-setting.|
|Fewa Lake||Lake-side, Baidam towards the Southern Flank of Pokhara Valley||Boating, Kayaking, strolling, swimming, shopping, hiking, viewing Mount Fish-Tail’s and Annapurna’s wonderful reflection from dam site in Fewa Lake|
|Beans Lake||About 15 km away from the Mahendra-pool town to the east||Birds watching, swimming, fishing, hiking, horse riding, boating etc.|
|Rupa Lake||About 15 km away from the Mahendra-pool town to the east||Hiking, swimming, fishing, horseriding, boating, birds watching etc
|Seti River George||To the north of Mahendrapool and 1km away from the bazaar.||Amazing view of Seti river flowing down below. old and real k.l. Singh bridge can be sighted on the left adjacent to it. It is the first cement concrete bridge in Pokhara, built in 2014 B.S.|
|Bhim Dhunga||To the north of Mahendrapool town, in the premises of Prithvi narayan Campus, Bagar.||Giant and amazing igneous and granite mixed rock-shaped round like a huge glove. There is Annapurna Natural History Museum at hand|
|Mahendra cave||Batulechaur, Pokhara-16, to the north on 6 km away from Mahendrapool bazaar.||Adventurous and curious walking in the cave.
|Bat’s cave||In the vicinity of Mahendra cave-about 5 minutes walk from the Mahendra cave towards right.||Scaring and frightening but adventurous experience inside.|
|Patale chhango (Devi’s-Fall)||12 km from Nahendrapool city and 2 km from Lake side. Gupteswar cave is very near in walking distance.
|Lovely rain-bow can be seen in the water vapour rising from the waterfall, exacting, and romantic and ever enjoying feeling.
|Kaski-Kot (Kaski-Fort) Hill- Top||Situated on the north west side of Pokhara valley.||Historical place. Many snow clad mountains can be viewed, Pokhara valley can be sighted to a close distance.|
|Sarang-kot Hill-Top||Situated on the north west side of Pokhara valley.||Historical place, Many snow clad mountains can be viewed, Pokhara valley can be sighted to a close distance, Paragliding, hiking.|
|Foksingh Hill-Top||4-5 km south of Airport||Can be viewed Fewa Lake, pokhara valley, snow-clad mountains, landing and taking off of plains|
|Kahun Hot-Hill-Top||Situated on the North east side of Mahendrapool town||Forked summit of Machhapuchhre and other Himals can be seen. Mahendrapool town can be viewed closely.|
|Pangdurkot Hill-Top||About 30 km west from Pokhara||An idyllic spot with green forest for birds watching, hiking. Mainly a historical place that gives knowledge related to Kaskin Principality.|
Source: Compilation by author
The natural heritage of Pokhara with their historical appraisal is highlighted in following paragraphs.
- a. Mount Fish-Tail and Annapurna
One can view Fish-Tail and Annapurna Mountains to the north-west from different spots of Pokhara. Annapurna Mountain (Himalaya) range stretches west-east and is divided into Annapurna (I) 8091m, (II) 7937m (III) 7575m (IV) 7535m. Machhapuchhre (Fish tail Mountain) is in the middle of the range with the elevation 6998m from sea level (NTNC 2012). Machhapuchhre is a glorious natural heritage of Pokhara. Its local name is Machhapuchhre because of its forked summit looks like the tail of a fish. One can view this fish-tail shape from Sarangkot, peace stupa and other points too. It is still a virgin Mountain.
If you are flying to Pokhara, Machhapuhhre welcomes you with broad chest and georgeous look to you the moment you step down at Pokhara Air Port. If you are travelling on a bus or by car along the Prithvi Highway from Kathmandu, you can see it after passing Damauli. It’s an eye opening picturesque view to look at Machhapuhhre from a distance. The feeling is as if Machhapuchhre is watching you raising its head high in the sky. When you look at Machhapuhher’s image within the Fewa Lake, it becomes a unique experience of romance for you. At the moment of sunrise and sunset it looks like gold and other time silver, especially in moonlight.
- b. Fewa Lake
Fewa Lake is the biggest lake in Pokhara. The picturesque image of Machhapuchhre Himal and Annapurna range can be seen reflected in the Fewa Lake, which is very unique.
The surface area of the lake is about 4.43 km The maximum depth is 12.30m and the average depth 11.71m (Lamichhane and Upadhyay 2006). The lake has about 51.9 million cubic meters average volume of water (Lamichhane 1998 as cited in Lamichhane and Upadhyay 2006, p 49). The shape of the lake is elongated North-West to east south with irregular width at different points. There is tinyisland in the middle of the lake where Barahi (the Hindu Goddess) temple is located. On the Southern side there is a luxurious green forest where one can reach by boat. Boats are available at the bank of Barahi Baidam. Similarly, on the north-east side of the lake there is Baidam Bazar, now called lake-side. It is a tourist market where tourists from different countries can buy souvenirs including antiques.
- c. Begnas Lake
This is the second biggest lake in Pokhara valley. It is about 30 km east from Fewa Lake and about 15 km from Mahendrapool bazaar (city). Unlike Phewa Lake its shape is almost round. It is surrounded by hillocks and greeneries except to the south which is the entrance to the lake. Its area is 3.73 sq km (Lamichhane et al. 2009). There are lodges, hotels and restaurants for the visitors and small local bazaar for shopping of local souvenirs and essential goods. The spot is and idyllic place for peace and tranquility.
- d. Rupa Lake
There is a long hillock ridge called Rupakot extending from south to north-east. On the northern side of the ridge, there is Begnas lake and on the southern side of it, Rupa lake. From a few spots, one can see both lakes at the same time standing on the ridge. Rupa extended from east to west with narrow width. Its total area is 1.15 sq km. The shape looks like a serpent. It is said that this lake looks like a lizard changing its color from red, blue, green to different colors. People say that there are many medicinal plants in the vicinity (Shakya 2012).
- e. Seti River George and K.I. Singh Bridge
Seti River is fed by snow of Muchhapuchhre and Annapurna Himal. Seti (means white) river elusively strange. Somewhere it flow through unseen channels, somewhere open and somewhere creating very deep Georges. It gives exciting feeling to anyone when he/she look down to the George from the top of the cliff. There are many deep Georges made by Seti River, such as George below K.I. Singh Bridge, George below Mahendrapool, George below Chinese Bridge, George below Chor Sangu near Air Port. Among them the George of Seti river which is quite visible just below the K.I. Sing Bridge, looks exciting and adventurous to watch. One can look down the turbulent river flowing very clearly while watching from the bridge about 300 feet below. On the left side, while crossing the new bridge towards Gurkha Memorial Museum, there is the old K..I. Sing Bridge made of cement concrete. It is the first concrete bridge constructed in Pokhara.
- f. Bhim Dhunga
There is graniteingnious, huge black rock like a big globe about 8m high and with circumference of 26m. The stone lies in P.N. Campus complex, in Pokhara. This rounded rock is called locally Bhim Dhunga. This is the biggest rock in Pokhara valley. Bhim is one of the brothers of Panchapandav mentioned in Hindu legend belonging about 1500 B.C. The local people narrate a myth that the rock was thrown by physically mightiest Bhim. So it has its name as Bhim Dhunga. Dhunga in Nepali means rock or stone. Local people have established a deity called ‘Kali’ on the spot. So it is also called ‘Bhim kali’. Actually, the geographical legacy is that this huge rock had been carried down from the Vicinity Mountains during glacial period by moving glacier. Such igneous stones are found in other places also, such as Chiple Dhunga, lying on the road side of Mahendrapool bazaar and other places too. Mr. Krishna Prasad Poudel, a geographer, observers that the very Bhim Dhunga with rounded shape, near P.N. Campus office at Pokhara also might have been rolled down by catastrophic outburst (Paudel 1988).
- g. Mahendra Cave
Before the visit of late king Mahendra in the year 1960 AD, this cave was just a bat’s cave because the bats used to flutter around the cave. But after the visit of the king, local people named it as Mahendra cave, thinking that the king would donate more money to develop the park. But it didn’t turn into reality.
This place is located in the north of Pokhara sub-metropolitan city which comes under the ward no 16. It is 6 km from Mahendrapool bazaar and connected with city bus service as well as accessible by bicycle along the black-topped road. It is exciting to view the nature’s creation. Apart from, Gupteswor Cave, there are many other small caves in several other places of Pokhara where some of the tourists visit.
The caves are generally found in limestone region, for instance, Mahendra cave. Before this cave was physically disturbed, one could enjoy the different shapes of lime stone, some projecting downward from the ceiling and some upward from the ground. It gives a strange and exciting feeling while you watch it. The writer has experienced such shapes while visiting the cave. But now-a-days, it has been disturbed by people. After entering through the big mouth-like opening of the cave, then walking ahead about 50 feet to the left, a little hole appears from where the light can seen just entering through it, which remains more exciting. Through the hole one can scroll out slowly. On the right, the tunnel of the cave continues ahead about 100m. Actually, the trip gives adventurous experience and enjoyment.
- h. Bat’s Cave
with its name as Chamero Gupha in Nepali, Bats’ Cave is the popular name in English. This cave is in Batulechaur which is about half kilometer walk from Mahendra cave. It is still a popular and adventurous cave to get into. The natural phenomenon of this cave has attracted thousands of bats as they feel no disturbances inside.
people with the sense of adventure usually enter inside with torchlight. The visitors must be cautious, since the cave is not yet equipped with electricity, and that path is also full of sharp stones. The water dripping from the ceiling makes the path damp and slippery. When one is very near to the mouth of the cave, he/she can hear haunted sound inside the cave.
The area of the Bat’s Cave is 10m depth and 6m height along with its 135m length. There is small stream flowing deep under the rock. At the far end of the cave there is small narrow hole. However, the cave at its center is amazingly spacious. There are large boulders cut out of solid rock. Standing on the boulder you can look round the cave. In the middle of it you can see hundreds of bats hanging from the ceiling. Walking through the darkness, lighting a torch light and finding the exit is indeed toughest but adventurous. If one is not courageous enough, they had better not enter the cave (Thapa 2010).
- i. Devi’s Fall
It is a nature-made hole in Chhorepatan, very near about 2 km away from the Fewa Lake and Lakeside area. Actually, the over-flowed or excess water of Fewa Lake is drained out through this hole and water runs underground to a distance of about one km away from Chhorepatan. Eventually, it mingles with the small rivulet called Phusrekola downwards the site. The hole is about 20 feet in diameter and 50 feet deep. A big flow of water speedily flowing down into the mouth of the cave exposes lovely rainbows flickering unsteady into the water vapor. Then the big mass of water flows invisibly and vanishes below the hole which provides extremely exciting and pleasant feelings.
Its local name is Patale chhango. The very name Patale chhango in Nepali has become popular among the tourists and tourism operators as Devis fall. The word “Patale” certainly derived from the Nepali word ‘Patalo’ means shallow or it can be named from the religious word “Patal” means beneath the world. “Chango” is the Nepali word for a water fall. But after the miserable death of tourist by slipping into the water fall, its name has become popular as ‘Devi’s Fall’. The story of her death goes as following:
In 1961, a Swiss couple were having bath just to the side above the waterfall with their dog. Around 2 pm, when the Watergates of the Fewa dam were opened as usual, the overflow of the rushing lake water approached them. It is believed that their dog saw the rushing flood from the distance and barked loudly. However, the couple couldn’t pay any attention to the mere sound of the dog. In the twinkling of eyes the rushing water approached them and swept away the lady down into the hole. However, her husband surveved (Shakya 2012).
- j. Hill-Tops
The contrast land setting with the plains, small hills and hillocks on the shadow of towering mighty Himalaya range is the great virtue of natural heritage in Pokhara. The beautiful vision of the Himalayan range is the prime attraction of these hill tops. Each of these hill tops is accessible up to the peaks by surface transport or two to five hours of trekking or pony trek.
Some of these hilltop destinations are full of ago (farming) and cultural activities. There availability of home-stay tourism with rural tourism activities in the surrounding villages of these hilltops. Some of the major hill-tops are highlighted in succeeding paragraphs.
- k. kaskikot
There are many hill tops from where enchanting and romantic views of Pokhara valley, green forest, gorgeous and sky-scraper snow capped mountains and beautiful lakes can be seen. Kaskikot hill top is one of them. Kaski is the name of the place and ‘kot’ means ‘Fort’ in Nepali language. About the derivation of the name ‘Kaski’ there are two versions. According to one version, ‘Kaski’ is the name of a costume which is worn by Tamu (Gurung) indigenous people, from the waist to the knee, now known as ‘kacchad’ by distortion. It is associated with a Petty king or chieftain who belonged to Tamu aborigine at the start of the settlement in Kaski. This gives the historical fact or source of the name Kaski. Another version is from Hindu legend or fiction. According to the fiction, a sage called Kashyap had meditated in that place. So the name Kaski is given to this Hill Top (Subedi 2004, p 27). There is a saying ‘Ghale Mari Shahi Rajaya’ still in the tongue of the local people, which means killing Ghale (We) chose Shahi (Shaha). This is the political and historical information about the Kaskikot Hill-Top (ibid). By the name of Kaskikot, the whole place is named with the word Kaski (Niraula 1986). Kaski is the ancestral state of the Shaha kings of Nepal whose capital was Kaskikot about 1650 years ago.
There is black-topped road up to Sarankot and fair weather road from Sarankot to Kaski Hill-Top (Kaskikot). On the other side, via Hyanja to Naudanda, there is another pitch-road and then fair- road to reach to Kaski Hill-Top. From Bindabasini Archal Bot via Sarankot, it is a good trekking to reach upto Kaski Hill-Top. It Can be done in one day. There are hotels and restaurants to rest in Kaski kot Hill-Top.
From Kaski-Hill Top, the visitors can enjoy the panoramic views of Machhapuchhre, Annapurna and Dhawalagiri Himals as well as Pokhara Valley, far and wide. It is most beautiful to watch especially in a clear full-moon night. At the time of rising sun in the morning the entire Himalaya range looks bright in golden color. The visitors realize the direct existence of divinity while watching the beauty of nature.
About the name of Saranagkot, there are two historical sources. “Sarang” is a traditional dance related to fighting and war. Men dance with swords in their hand by beating a drum. In Sarangkot (Sarangkot-fort), military guards lived during the period of Shaha kings who had palace in Kaskikot (Niraula 1986). Those militaries who stayed in Kaskikot used to visit Sarangkot everyday dancing ‘Sarang’ and returned to Kaskikot every morning (Subedi 2004). Thus the Hill-Tip’s name is Sarangkot. Another historical source of the name ‘Sarang’ means high station according to the Kirat (Rai-Limbu) language. Kirats are the indigenous people of Nepal and speak Tibeto-Burman language still today. Thus the place became Sarangkot (Bista 1983, pp 12-14).
Sarangkot is a very interesting and beautiful spot. It’s very windy place which provides cool and exciting experience. From Sarangkot Hill-Top, one can watch the panoramic view of Machhapuhhre, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Ganesh Himals along with other tourist spots like Panchase, Swargadwari and even the historical palace called Shreenagar of Palpa. Since the Hill-Top lies on the north-west direction of Fewa Lake, from where lake starts, one can have the full view of the whole lake and almost all the valley of Pokhara.
From Sarangkot one can make a trekking trip to Kaskikot and then to Naudanda and back to Pokhara by bus. It is a lovely place to watch sunrise and enjoy the early sun shine on Himal turning into golden color. Now a days, it has become very popular as para-gliding center with the 5000 feet elevation. It has been an international para-port.
It is a hill station about 4-5 km south of Pokhara Airport which lies in Nirmal Pokhari VDC. It is a beautiful ridge, especially rich from topographical point of view. From here, the view of whole Pokhara valley can be viewed together with the Fewa Lake and surroundings. One can also enjoy the fantastic view of the sunrise and full moon-light especially from here. In the moon-light the shining of snow-clad mountains and dazzling Pokhara valley with lights is the most alluring and pleasing to the visitors. Watching the landing and taking off of the planes in the airport from Foksing is another most pleasant scene. The Foksing is also a place for one-day short trekking.
It is not fort (kot) for military purpose or station. It was a fort for animal sacrifice in festivals like Chaite Dashain and Bada Dashain. Sacrifice of male animals like buffalo, sheep, goat and also the birds like pigeon, duck, rooster, to goddess Durga Bhagwati is supposed to be a way to make her pleased.
From the point of view of tourism, Kahunkot is a joyful spot to have panoramic view of the snow capped mountains, hills and evergreen natural forests. One can see the forked summit of Machhapuchhre and other Himals, from the peak. It is very near to Mahendrapool bazaar. From Kahunkot most part of south-western valley and almost all part of northern valley of Pokhara can be seen. From the peak, Mahendrapool bazaar area and its vicinity sights seems very close. In Kahunkot there is a tower constructed to have a good view of the surrounding areas. It is also a spot for short trekking. The tower and its summit can be viewed clearly from Mahendrapool bazaar also.
The historical meaning of Pangdurkot is not only interesting, but also associated with natural beauty. The indigenous people like Gurung, Magar, Rai-Limbus, Newar, Tamang, etc. Who are the Mangolian origin speak Tibeto-Burman language as their mother tongue. Thus according to Tibeto-Burman language ‘Pang’ means ‘House’ and ‘Ding’ means ‘Sun’ or ‘Sunlight’. From pangdur hill-top, the sunrise view can be watched clearly. So its name at the beginning ‘Pangding’. Later, it has become Pangdur kot (Bista 1983, pp 12-14).
Pangdur is 30 km west from Pokhara valley. This kot can give historical information of the time before the political and geographical unification of Nepal. In other words, it gives the information of the time when there were 24 and 22 states in western Nepal. There are still the remains of a fort made of stone wall on the top of the hillock. It has 200m circumference about 3m (8 feet) height and 1m (3 feet) wide, during the period of 22 and 24 states Parbat, one of the 24 states, used to attack the adjacent state Kaski. Because of this reason Pangdur was a fort (kot) of which remains are still available in Pangdur hill-top.
Anadu Hill-Top is situated in the western part of Pokhara valley and south-western side of Fewa Lake. Its height is 1,100 m from the sea level. In summer season this place remains the most cooling spot for the visitors who feel too hot around the lakeside area. In winter, it has direct sun-shining for the whole day and visitors can enjoy the warm sun with fantastic views of vivid sights.
The visitors can view many more snow-capped mountains from the hill-top of Anadu than any other hill-top stations of Pokhara. The different parts of locally named Himalayas like Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Machhapuchchre, Himchuli, Himal and Hati Sunde (elephant trunk shaped), Rakanoyar, Glacier Dome, Manapathi, etc. can be recognized from Anadu hill-top. In clear weather, Larke and Ganesh Himal also appear to the view. Fewa lake with the small Barahi temple (island) can be viewed like a ocer-looking bird from very near. Besides, almost all sights of Pokhara valley and green landscape of hills and hillocks can be overlooked from the Hill-Top like a hanging Paradise below the visitors’ eyes. There is a peace stupa constructed in memory of the Lord Gautam Buddha, the peace preacher of the world. One can enjoy peace having inspiration from the peace stupa and viewed the natural gift around.
This Hill-Top is more than 12 kms away from Mahendrapool city. There are 4 routes to the hill-top. One can reach to Chhorepatan, near Devi’s Fall by city bus and then walk gently up hill. While walking, one can enjoy a real village life and its culture as well. The second route is the most exciting one. One can hire a boat from Barahi Fewa bank and reach to other (opposite) side of it, enjoy with boating. Then walk up-hill which takes less than an hour inside the forest. This walk is refreshing and recreational too. The third route is from just below Fewa dam and above Devis-Fall. There is a very short suspension bridge at the bottom of the Ranivan. From there starts a very gentle uphill walking. While walking starts through the Ranivan forest, one can hear the melodies of different birds. It takes about two hours walk to reach the top. The fourth route starts from kalimati of Pumdi-Bhumdi village Development committee. It is the shortest route to walk to Anadu Hill-top enjoying the sceneries of village green fields.
Ghandruk Hill-Top is about 6500 feet above sea level, and it is the last boundary of Pokhara valley in the north-western direction. The specially of this hill-top is that one can see the other side or back side of Machhapuchhre Mountain very closely. Another specially is that tourists can have hospitable and homely enjoyment at Home-stay hotel in Ghandruk. Down the hill-top one can view the terraced landscape with greeneries and foot hills. The visitor can also enjoy the sight of the beautiful, gorgeous flow of Mordi River. If one has never seen a mountain stage of river, then it would be an ever-lasting memory in his life.
2.3 Cultural heritage of Pokhara
As like natural heritage, Pokhara is also a tourist destination which is full of cultural heritage. These heritages are added attractions over natural heritage and can offer memorable experience for tourists in Pokhara. There are religious sites as well ethnic group-based cultural heritages in Pokhara.
2.3.1 Religious sites based cultural heritage
Table 2.2 below offers a quick look of the various religious sites based cultural heritage in Pokhara. This would be followed by their detailed description it the succeeding paragraphs.
Table 2.2 Key cultural heritages of tourist attractions
|Names of the Shrines||Name of the locality||Distance from Mahendrapool town approximately||Related Religions|
|World peace Stupa||Anadu hill||About 10km. There is boat service from Fewa lake, lakeside||Buddhist
|Gupteswar Mahadev||Chhorepatan very near from Devis fall||About 12km||Hindu|
|Bindyabasini||Moharia Tol, Var patan||2 km||Hindu|
|Bhairav Temple||Bhairav-Tol (bazaar)||1 km||Hindu|
|Dharmasheela Buddha vihar||Nadipur, ward No. 3||5 km||Budhist|
|Karmadubgya Chokhorling Monastery||Jyakot Danda Matepani||2.5 km||Lama Buddhist|
|The Jangchub Choeling Monastery||Hyanja Tibetian Refugee Camp||12 km||Tibetan Buddhist|
|Jame Mosque ‘A’ (Maszid) ya Aksa||Miya-Patan, Kundahar||2.5 km||Muslim|
|Nepal Christain Church||Ramghat-Ranipauwa||1.5 km||Christian|
Source: Compiled by author
Details descriptions of the site based cultural heritages are highlighted below.
- a. Tal-Barahi Temple
‘Tal’ means lake and ‘Barahi’ is one of the names of an imaginary goddess name which is named after the Hindu god ‘Baraha’. It is located on the tiny island of about 1.5 ropanis (763km2) in the middle of the Fewa Lake. It is 3 km from the Mahendra-pool city and lies to the southern end of Pokhara valley.
There is fantastic story about the origin of the lake and Barahi goddess. One evening, an old woman came to settlement to pass the night. She went on begging shelter, but nobody gave her shelter, instead the wicked people of the settlement let their dogs chase the woman away. At last she came to the end of the settlement, where poor and old couple lived in a thatched hut. The couple gave her a shelter to pass the night and also offered half of their millet bread (a kind of pan-cake) which was cooked for their evening meal.
Early in the morning just before the day break, the guest woke up the settlement will change into a big lake. She gave them a parcel which looked like a bundle and also asked them to leave their hut immediately. Following her advice, the couple walked away to the hill to the south of the settlement. When they reached to the top of the hill, it was quite a bright day. From the top, as the couple looked to their settlement, it was already changed into a big lake and there was only their hut remaining on the lake. I remember this story told by my grandparents and remember the thatched hut when I visited in my childhood about 50 years ago. It may not be the same thatched hut, but there was a very small about 10’x10′ sized hut made of stone and mud. I also remember the goddess Barahi was not a carved statue, but only a small stone raised like a nose.
There is similar type of fantastic story, but told in a little different way. shakya (1995, p 73) has said that goddess Barahi in an old woman’s form visited the village begging alms from door to door. People who gave her alms were told by her that a few days later, a flood would sweep away the village and that place would turn into a huge lake. People who took her prediction seriously, moved to another place for safety. Certainly, the situation turned into as she had said. It rained heavily for over a week and the village was swept away by the flood. At the same time a part of a hill, where at present the Fish-Tail Lodge is located slipped down and blocked the river. Thus the Lake Fewa came into being.
Whatever may be the fantastic story, the geographical reality was that there was a very big and deep depression on the ground which was filled gradually by rain, flood, and spring water and in course of time this changed into a lake especially around Barahi Temple and its north side where the rivulets like Harpan khola (river) and Andheri Khola (river) in the north deposited water in the lake. These two rivulets drained all the water in Fewa Lake which was brought by seasonal streams like Beran Khola during rainy season.
Later, Pokhara started to be an attractive place for tourists from abroad and other parts of Nepal because of the development of fast-growing means of transportation and communication. People of Pokhara constructed pagoda style temple on the spot of old, Barahi Shrine. As a cultrural heritage, Tal-Barahi is very auspicious and important shrine for Hindus and unique for foreigners too, especially in observing the people who gather and worship the goddess. The uniqueness for the tourists is the sacrifice of animals and birds in the shrine of the goddess. People make lots of sacrifices during the festivals like Chaitya Dashain and Bada Dashain. On other days also people come to worship and sacrifice animals and birds to please the goddess. They believe that the deity fulfills their whishes. There occurs a great fair in the full moon day just after the Bada Dashain festival.
- b. World peace stupa
Peace stupa is situated on the plain land of 21.5 Ropanies, on the apex of Anadu Hill-Top, just above Fewa Lake on the southern side of it. Its height is 1100 m from the sea level. Before the construction of the peace stupa, the land was covered with forest and greeneries.
The history of the peace stupa starts from Japan, the country that suffered the Atom-Bomb blast in the Second World War The preacher of Buddhism and peace, Nichidatsu Fuji, the chairman of Nipponazam Myhaji of Japan, began constructing the World peace Stupa in the year 2030 B.S. (1973 A.D.) But the government authorities of Kaski District demolished it using military in 2031 B.S. (1975 A.D.).
However, after the successful people’s revolution in the year 2046 B.S. (1989 A.D.), which was against the despotic Panchayat (party less) system, the reconstruction of stupa was considered. The new government of multi-party system gave permission to rebuild it in the year 2046 B.S. (1990 A.D). Accordingly, the Peace stupa was erected having 115 feet high and 344 feet circumference. Hidico Moriyaka Sony of Nipponzan Myohoji has contributed from the beginning until the accomplishment of stupa. The stupa is painted white to symbolize peace and tranquility.
The existence of this symbolic peace on this beautiful place of Pokhara spreads fragrance of perpetual peace, pronounced by Gautam Buddha. This is the first-ever made Vishwa shanty Stupa (World Peace stupa) in Neapl of such kind. The prayer hall is named after Nipponazan Myohoji. According to the brochure Published by The World Peace Pagoda (stupa) committee in Pokhara, there are two storied guest house and Bihar to provide rest to the Bhikshhu and pilgrims.
This is a holy and pious place for Buddhists as well as peace loving people. Four majestic statues of Buddha are placed at four directions. The eastern and front side of the stupa is occupied by majestic, splendid statue of Buddha’s, wheel of Dhamma from Japan. In the western side the meditative statue of Buddha is erected from Sri-Lanka; the northern side has 6 feet tall grand statue made of metal from Thailand, and in the southern side has the metal statue reflecting the birth of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha. There is golden pinnacle of 20 feet high 13 segments and at the apex a crystal stone from Sri-Lanka is placed.
Sitting at the lap of the World Peace stupa and viewing scenes of mindblowing mountains as dhawalagiri, Machhapuchchre, Annapurna etc, seem so close as if the mountains are personally whispering some words to us. At the same time, thinking of the images of Buddha, one can realize peace and tranquility in his mind. Many people on Buddha’s birthday come to the stupa to worship Buddha and enjoy and enjoy the scenic mountains, forest, and Fewa Lake. So, peace stupa has presented itself as both natural and cultural Heritage of Pokhara.
- c. Gupteswar Mahadev
Gupteswar Mahadev Shrine lies just below, underneath the Patale Chhango (Devi’s Fall) in Chorepatan. Actually it is a huge, round shaped cave, perhaps made by the waterfall. The water vanishes in the cave, perhaps made by the waterfall, Devi’s Fall. The water vanishes in the cave through a natural tunnel and merges in a rivulet called Phushre khola about a kilometer away from the site. The huge cave inside is made of enormous blocks of rocks only. The visitors can see the awe-inspiring Devi’s Fall falling down into the cave with a roaring sound. The cave is dark even in the day time and slippery too. So the Managing Committee of Gupteshwar Mahadev has managed railings, flights of stairs and light for the convenience and safety of the visitors. During monsoon from July to September, because of heavy rainfall, the cave or Gupteswar Shrine is unsafe to visit.
- d. Bindyabasini Temple
This temple is in Moharia Tol, the old bazaar side of Pokhara. Perhaps, it is the most popular Temple in Pokhara after Barahi Temple of the Fewa Lake. It is situated on a flat ground of about 5 Ropani areas on top of the mountain shaped mound. There is grove of big trees which provides quite sacred environment of spiritual feeling while having rest over there. This temple looks Shikhar style architecture which is traditionally and locally popular in Pokhara.
Bindhyabasini goddess has eight arms holding different weapons in each hand. She is regarded as the Hindu goddess Bhagawati. Every year in Chaite Dashain and Bada Dashain there is crowd of people who come to worship by sacrificing innocent animals and birds on the name of holy work. Besides Dashain, on other occasions also people come to worship for sacrificing animals and birds. The devotees put Tika (red mark) of blood of the sacrificed animals on their fore-head and pray to fulfill their inner wishes. They believe that the goddess fulfills their wishes. Besides, People come to celebrate wedding also, especially in wedding seasons. So visitors can enjoy the scenes of wedding ceremony and worshipping rituals.
Nobody knows who and when the goddess was established on the top of the mound. People creating its history think that there lived some type of indigenous people. In their social development stage, they believed in some super-natural power and worshipped it which continued in the time to come. Later Kulamandan Shaha (jagati khan) ruled in Kaski as a state, defeating the aborigine Ghale ( Gurung) Chieftain. “Ghale Mari Shaha Rajayo” (“killing Ghale Shaha reigned”), a local saying, gives the sources (Subedi 2004, pp 25-77). Since then the Shaha Kings ruled in Pokhara valley till the Last king of kaski state Siddhinarayan Shaha, the 9th generation of kulamandan Shaha was conquered by the politically and geographically unified Nepal during the regencies of Rajendra Laxmi (the Regent) of her child king, Rana Bahadur Shaha, the 13 generation of kulmandan shaha (see Annex 2.1) in 1842 B.S. (1786 A.D.). However the story of Bindhyabasini Statue of today is related to last king of kaski Siddhinarayan Shaha. The story goes as follows:
According to the legend, king Siddhinarayan dreamt that a female deity of Bindhyachal Parbat (mountain) in India, asked him to take her and place in on a fine, raised rock somewhere in his state, from where Snowcapped Mountain could be seen. Believing his dream, he went with his attendants to fetch the deity. So he brought the present statue made of fine rock. The attendants and porters who carried the statue had a rest on the place where Bindhyabasini temple lies now. After the short rest, they tried to carry the image, but they could not lift it even an inch. According to another source, king Siddhinarayan asked some masons to make the statue (Subedi 2004, p 30). Thus, the statue was established over there and worshipped by many religious people, especially Hindus coming from India well. It is locally said that the statue was brought from Bindhyachal Parbat (Mountain), because of which the name is Bindhyabasini. Besides Bindhyabasini, there are other images of Hindu deities which give a complete religious environment.
- e. Bhadrakali Temple
This temple is situated on the top of very small, hillock. This hillock was also formed by natural power at the same when Talbarahi island and Bidhyabasini hillock were formed. The temple is constructed at the height of about 250 feet. There are flights of stairs to reach to the temple. It’s a fine visit through a thick forest.
Bhadrakali is also the goddess Bhagawati. So people sacrifice animals and birds to please the goddess Bhadrakali and expect that the goddess will fulfill their wishes. There is Ganesh Temple as well. So these two deities are worshipped by the Hindus. Many people come to this place for wedding ceremony as well. They believe that blessings of Ganesh and Bhadrakali bring happy and long conjugal life.
- f. Bhairav Temple
The shrine where the 12 masks of twelve deities are kept and worshipped is in the Bhairav Top (locality), a part of old bazaar of Pokhara sub-metroppolitan city. It is called temple, but does not look like a temple; rather it is a house. The identity of this temple is that twelve male persons wear different traditional dresses and put 12 different kinds of mask on their faces and dance with beating of Mridanga (a traditional musical instrument which looks like giant Madal). In Newari language, it is called ‘Khin’.
The shrine and deities have historical value. It is related to the indigenous people, Newars of Kathmandu valley, especially Bhaktapur district. Some Newars from Bhaktapur came to Pokhara more than 200 years ago as traders. They settled in Pokhara permanently and continued to worship the 12 deities regulary as their ancestral deities from Bhaktapur. They perform the dance, popularly known as known as Bhairav Dance. The dance is performed with Newari ritual songs playing Mridanga. The dancers do not feel tense or exhausted, even if they dance for a long time.
The Bhairav Dance used to be publicly performed once in every twelve years. Now, it is performed after each six years. This dance is publicly performed at the beginning of winter season usually in the month of December or January and continues for four months. The specialy of the performance is that it commences in the evening, lasts whole night and ends next day morning. People enjoy a lot watching and worshipping the deities dancing, item and moving in a procession along the road while going to the inviting house and back from the house to its own shrine in Bhairav Tol. It is a very pleasant moment to watch the dance and procession, as it is the heritage of the Newari Culture.
- g. Dharmsheela Buddha Vihar
This vihar lies in the center of Pokhara sub-metropolitan city. From Mahendra pool bazaar, it takes a 15 minute walk to the north-west. The vihar is the first Buddhist institution ever established in Pokhara. Actually, the vihar and its ritual and cultural environment are simple, based on real life with humanitarian philosophy. Actually, Mahayan and Bajrayan Buddhist sects are familiar over here than Therabad Buddhism which is based on reality and humanity.
The vihar’s name is after the name of Anagarika Dharma Shella who struggled for the freedom and equality against the totalitarian rule of former Hindu government who ruled this nation according to the caste system and cultural discrimination. It seems that the vihar was established around 1996 B.S. (1939 A.D.) in an area of about 1.5 Ropanis. The vihar is enriched with very fine metallic images and also terracotta images of Gautam Buddha. There is a georgeous statue of Buddha given by Thailand, which is really appealing.
Now the vihar is attracting many visitors and tourists day by day and earning popularity among the populace of Pokhara.
- Karmadubgyu Chokhorling Monastery
It is situated on hillock called jaykot Danda (hill) in Kahunkot Village Development committee, east-ward of Mahendrapool bazaar (city). It is five kilometers far from the city.
Visitors can drive to the Monastery or one can walk from the bottom of the hillock through the winding and fair weather road to the monastery or reach by climbing the stairs passing through the green trees.
The Monastery was started to construct from 1954 and completed in 1961. The area is about 10 Ropanis. The walls of the Monastery are painted with Buddha’s symbols in Tibetan art. A huge statue of Buddha in meditating posture flanked by Guru (teacher) Rimpoche and Karmapa is really an awesome sight. About a hundred students and Lama Guru reside there for learning and teaching Lamaism, the Mahayan Buddhism (Subedi 2004).
- i. The Jangchub Cheling Monastery
After the occupation of Tibet by China in 1951, thousands of Tibetans fled from Tibet following their religious, leader, Dalai lama, the ruler of Tibet. Many of them took shelter in Nepal as refugees. A group of them settled in Hyanja, the northern end of Pokhara valley. It is about 12 km from Mahendra pool town on the Highway to Baglung (Pokhara-Baglung Highway). They established this Monastery to perform Tibetan Buddhist rituals, ceremonies and spiritual rites. Dhalai Lama, their holy king who is still residing with his followers in India named the Monastery as “Jangchub Choeling”.
It is another eye-catcing spot for the visitors and an auspicious icon for Tibetan refugees to watch and prey the seven-feet tall metal statue plated by gold. Hundreds of other small statues of Buddha are placed on either side of the big statues. Similarly, the walls are decorated with paintings related to Buddhist ceremonies, rituals and culture. It is very attractive, fascinating and heart-moving scene which creates the peaceful environment around the Monastery as it is surrounded with natural forest with the enchanting views of Machhapuchhre and Annapurna Himalaya. Here, one can learn the Tibetan Buddhism and its culture as well as Tibetan life style without visiting Tibet. Besides, this Monastery (Gumbal), there is another Tibetan refugee monastery in Chhore-Patan, Called “Tashiling Monastery.”
- Jame Mosque ‘A’ (maszid) ya
According to a gentleman, Abdul Kuran of Miyan-Patan, who claims to have studied Kuran and heard about Muslims in Nepal and settlement of Muslims in Pokhara, this Mosque is the oldest in Pokhara. But he does not know the date of establishment of the mosque. He says, what he heard from forefather and elderly people is there was a thatched house at first representing a mosque at the place where two storeyed pakka building (Mosque) has been constructed now. Muslims of Miyan-Patan used to pray (recite) Namaj in the thatched house. Later, they built stone and mud house as mosque in place of thatched house. Now in the modern time, they erected the tine, colorful two strayed Mosque. Now a days, there are two other prominent mosques in Chipledhunga and Nayan bazaar, very near, about ½ km from Mahendra-pool bazaar.
The biggest and holiest performance in Mohammadaism is reciting Namaj (pray) which is held every day, five times, between 12.30-1.30 P.M on Friday it is done with more participants. This Jame Mosque reflects the Muslim life and culture. An imam is the highest authority of the Mosque. No Muslim can do anything without the permission of Imam. Muslims of Miyan-Patan used to play Hidas (a performance) in a procession of gathering, holding swords and Lathis (long and thick stick and other weapons) from the Jame Mosque which ends in Ramghat. This no longer exists in practice for some decades.
So far I studied in history of Gorkhali King, Prithvi Narayan Shaha, at the start of his campaign for unifying Nepal politically and geographically into one state, he had brought 3 Muslims from Banaras to manufacture weapons and to train the soldiers. The 3 Muslims were Shokha Jabar, Bekha Sing and Mohammad Taqui (KC 1992). My logic is that the Muslims of Miyan-Patan are from the generation of those 3 Muslims brought by Prithvi Narayan Shaha. The base of this logic is the Muslis of Miyan-Patan are called “Churauta” derived from the Nepali word “Chura” which means wrist bangle. From my very childhood I had seen both male and female Muslims selling and putting Chura on women’s wrists as their traditional profession. The name churauta was not applied to other Muslims whose ancestors were the Kasmiri Muslims who entered Nepal for the first time for trade in 13th century. Hence the Churauta is the particular name in western Nepal given to the Muslims of Miyan-Patan. Another base of the logic is that Gorkha was much nearer from Pokhara than Kathmandu on foot. Pokhara’s climate is not as cold as Kathmandu. It is rather more pleasing than Kathmandu. So the Muslims of Gorkha were more attracted to Pokhara than Kathmandu. According to Mr.Abdul Karim, their forefathers had got land as Birta (land given by the government as Contribution) in Kundahar and Ramghat. The Birta was called Karbala in Muslim language. All these bases logically show that the Muslims of Miyan-Patan have their ancestor in Gorkhali Muslims.
- Nepal Christian Church
The seed of Christianity was shown in Pokhara in 1952 with the (Bagar) Tundikhel. Now it lies in Pokhara sub-metropolitan city, ward No1. This hospital was locally popular as ‘Shining Hospital’. Nepal Christian Church at Ramghat is the oldest Church established in 1969 B.S. (1913 A.D) very near to Western Regional Hospital, Pokhara. It has already celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. There are two other main Churches. They are Nayan Gaun Nadipur Church and Lamachaur Church. In addition to these, several Churches have into existence in almost all wards of the sub-metropolitan city and other places of Pokhara.
After the popular movement of 2062-2063 B.S (2006-2007 A.D), Nepal has been declared a secular country. Since then Nepal has not been a Hindu Kingdom or Hindu Nation. Because of the declaration of Hindu Nation in the 2047 B.S (1991 A.D) constitution or before the popular people’s movement Hindu religion had suppressed other religions. Even the Buddhist religion which had already spread before the introduction of Hindu religion in Nepal and is believed to be in religious tolerance with Hinduism was dominated and discouraged by the Hindu conservative society and government. So we can guess what might have happened to Mohammadaism and Christianity. But after the declaration of secularism, all the religions in Nepal got emancipation from the rule of suppression and oppression of Hindu religion. Thus, Christians also enjoyed freedom of religion as the other religions. One encouraging example for Christianity is that, even Nepal government has accepted to give equal rights and even donation to all Christians in Nepal. The point number 4 of the historical agreement signed between Federation of National Christian, Nepal and Nepal Government on 2068/1/18 (May 1, 2011) reveals about this similar status to Christians like other religious communities (Parajuli 2012). So the number or population of Nepali Christians is growing in leaps and bounds.
The attraction of Christian religion is that it does not believe in social discrimination such as caste system, untouchability and gender inequality, which are fundamentals of Hindu religion. Praying in front of the God’s son, Jesus Christ is the most important culture of Christianity.
2.3.2 Ethnic communities based cultural heritage
At first, Pokhara was inhabited by Mongol aborigines like Gurung (Tamu), Magar, etc who spoke tibeto- Burman languages. They settled in hills like Kaski-kot, Sarang-kot, Pangdur-kot, Arghaun-kot, etc. around the vicinity of Pokhara valley. They had their own culture and tradition, and language and history. But they were either lost or modified lost or modified because of Hinduisation during the Hindu rule of 22 and 24 petty state rulers in western Nepal. The Chhetri Kings and their followers (Brahmins), who were Hindus, had come to Nepal seeking shelter during the Mugal rule in India.there are proofs of the existence of the aborigines, Ghale (Gurung) Chieftains, as they were dignified in social development.
These aborigines followed Buddhism together with their nature worshipping religion since Buddhism was the first religion to enter throughout the country. The history says Gautam Buddha with his disciples had come to Nepal to introduce Buddhism after getting enlightment.
After the political and geographical unification of Nepal by the then Shaha Kings of Hindu origin of Gorkha state, Newars from Kathmandu valley came to Pokhara to trade and settle down especially in the plain area of the bazaar of Pokhara valley. Since then, Newari culture and traditions mingled with those of Hindus and spread in Pokhara. By that time, the Muslims whose ancestors were brought from Banaras (India) by the king Prithvi Narayan Shaha had also settled in Pokhara, especially in a small area known as Miyan-Patan. since then, Muslim culture and tradition also came into existence in Pokhara simultaneously.
In 1952 a hospital was run by Christian Missionary in old Tundikhel, now Pokhara Sub- Metropolitan city, ward No.1. Consequently, Christians also started to settle in Pokhara. So, Pokhara has been a cradle of the four religious people and their culture at present. Parajuli (2004, p 27) authenticates the mixture of the ethnic groups in Pokhara as ‘the population of Pokhara is made up of numerous ethnic and caste groups, a number of classes and creeds as well as linguistic heterogeneity.’ Yet the important and remarkable point is that there was no confrontation in the name of religion so far. General people of Pokhara, irrespective of their religions, are more social in their social life. Although their culture, such as festivals, ceremonies and rituals are different, they willingly take part in each other’s ceremonies and functions, except by those who are very conservative. Such conservatives are very few in number. People think their social life is very important more valuable than their religious traditions.
Other important aspects are their customs (dresses), eating things, and eating habits. There are not only people of different religions but also of different races and castes. They have their own social, cultural aspect which they regard as more important for their social life than their religious practices. They are very hospitable towards their guests, friendly towards their fellow people and respectful to the visitors. These are some of the examples of social culture and social habits of the people of Pokhara.
Regarding their dresses and ceremonies, we can say, it is a colorful rainbow. Different races have different dresses and way of celebrating their festival and rituals. To enjoy these colorful occasions, one has to visit different localities in different times or seasons. There are many ethnic groups. Among them, the following are more prominent and impressive in Pokhara valley.
- a. Gurung (Tamu)
Gurungs migrated from surrounding hills into Pokhara valley in earlier period. Now there is a lot of Gurung settlement in Pokhara bazaar. By birth they are Buddhists. They have their own Pachchu (Lama priest) who is a Buddhist. But because of both pressure and attraction of Hinduism, many of them follow Hindu religious festivals and traditions like Dashain, Teej and married women use vermilion powder on forehead. They also celebrate Buddhist rituals as well as their own festivals like Lhosar (New year) and T’hoten. Gurungs are popular as brave soldiers by the name of ‘Gurkhas’ in British Indian armies. Many of them still join Gurkha army in the foreign countries.
- b. Brahmin and Chhetry
Brahmins and Chhetris are originally Aryan and Hindus who entered Nepal from India. They left India because of the Muslim Mugal’s invasion in India. Pokhara is inhabited by large number of Brahmins and Chhetris who have their own cultural festivals.
- c. Magars
Gurungs, Magars, Sherpas, Rai-Limbu, Newars, etc are indigenous ethnic groups originated from Mangolian ancestors who speak Tibeto- Burman language in one or other way. Magars, although originally Buddhist, follow Hindu tradition after coming in contact with Hindus. Along with Buddhist and Hindu tradition after coming in contact with Hindus. Along with Buddhist and Hindu tradition, they have their own culture and tradition, developed in course of their social shaping.
- d. Newars
Newars migrated to Pokhara valley from Kathamandu valley as traders after the political and geographical unification of Nepal. Some of them are Hindus and some Buddhists. Accordingly, they follow the culture of Hinduism and Buddhism. By profession, they are traders. Earlier Pokhara city was mostly populated by Newars. In other words, Newars established the Pokhara city. They also established their own ethnic culture and tradition, which were brought from Kathmandu valley with them. Among various cultural ceremonies, Tayamacha dance, Bhairav dance, Gaijatra, Bagjatra, etc. are colorful and enchanting when performed.
- e. Thakalis
Thakalis came down to Pokhara from Thakkhola, the northern mountain region, especially from Kaligandaki River base. At first were seasonal traders, because of which some of them settled down in Pokhara bazaar. Now there are lots of Thakalis who have god houses and buildings in Pokhara bazaar. Their profession is mostly trading. They are Buddhist by birth and follow Buddhist tradition and rituals with their own tradition like Toronlho, Festival of archery, etc.
- f. Rai-Limbus (Khambus)
Although in history, there is mention of Rai-Limbus in Pokhara in earliest period, dating back to political and geographical unification of Nepal, they were not pre-known in Pokhara as settlers. But now, after the construction of the Highways, Rai-Limbus also came to Pokhara in search of jobs. Some of them have settled permanently in Pokhara valley. Although they follow their Mundhum religion and traditions, they are very close to Buddhism. Now days, Pokhara valley has become a melting pot of other ethnic groups and people from Tarai region, and even from India who have come to do jobs.
- g. Gaine (Gayak) community
Gaine means one who sings in Nepali terminology. Now days, they like to be called as Gayak. Either Gaines or Gayaks are the traditional professional singers. Their native locality is in pokhara 16, Batulechaur, next to the Maternity Child Community Friendship Polyclinic (Pokhara-Komegane), on the way to Mahendra cave. They entertain the travelers, singing songs about the history, social events and incidents which reveal the story of joys and sorrows of the people. They play music on the local musical instrument called Sarangi which produces heart moving melodious music. Very often, the visitors can encounter them with smile and singing songs along with the Sarangi in tourists’ destinations like lake side, Sarang kot hill top, Airport and Mahendrapool bazaar.
2.3.3 Cultural festivals and ceremonies
A number of varied ethnic communities have their own various cultural festivals which they celebrate at certain time with differential ways. Table 2.3 offers a comprehensive list of such festivals with their names, celebration times, celebrating ethnic groups and their actual ways of celebrations.
Table 2.3 List of cultural and religious festivals as added attractions for tourism in Pokhara
|Name of the festival and celebrations||Approximate date of celebration||Who celebrates||How celebrated|
|Nepali New Year Day||First day of Nepali month Baisakh (Middle of April)||Almost all of the populace||People put on new clothes, eat delicious food and wish prosperous life to each other.|
|Mother’s Day||Middle of April||Almost all of the populace||Offer good food to mothers and beg blessings. Persons whose mothers have already died pay homage to them.|
|Buddha Jayanti||Full-moon day April-May||Almost all people of Pokhara, especially the Buddhists||Grand procession goes round the city with banners, slogan for perpetual peace, carrying Buddha’s statue and picture on a chariot.|
|Asar Pandhra||During last week of June||Almost all people, especially the farmers.||Celebrated planting paddy, playing with mud and eating Dahi-cheura (yogurt and dried rice)|
|Rakchhya Bandhan||Full moon Day, August||All people celebrate generally||Brahmins and Chhetris wear sacred cotton string especially made for that purpose. Other people celebrate eating Quanti (mixed food with different cereals.)|
|Gai-Jatra||From next day of Rakchha bandhan up to Krishnastami||Mostly Newars, sometimes other ethnic groups also||Decorated cows with Tayamacha dances are taken around the Pokhara town praying eternal happiness to the departed souls of the family members.|
|Naga Panchami||July-Aug||Hindu families celebrate||The sacred image Naga (snakes) are stuck on the doors and worshipped with a belief that there would be no harm to the family.|
|Krishanstami||August||Mostly Hindus and some other religious people.||Grand procession goes around the city acclaiming god Krishna and singing his songs, carry krishna’s images on a chariot.|
|Father’s Day||August, September||Almost all people||Offer good food to father and get blessing. Persons whose fathers are already dead pay tribute to them.|
|Teej||September||Mainly the Hindu women||Women wear new red saris and perform dances in groups publicly wishing and praying their husbands’ long life.|
|Bada Dashain||October, continues for 10 days||All the Hindus of Pokhara||Animal sacrifice to goddess Durga (Bhagavati) is the most prominent. Every yard of the temple of Durga can be seen offering blood of animals. People get tika and blessing from their elders and eat meat and enjoy.|
|Kojagrat Purnima||Full moon-day October||Almost all people come to celebrate in Barahi Temple, Fewa lake||There occurs a great fair in Fewa lake side. people enjoy different kinds of swings and watch boating competition.|
|Tihar||October-Novermber continues for 3 days||All people celebrate||This festival goes on for three days. At the evening all houses are lighted with lamps and candles. People worship the goddess Laxmi for Prosperity and wealth. They celebrate Mhapuja (especially Newar) and Bhaipuja|
|Tamu Lhosar||Last week of December||Gurung (Tamu) people celebrate as the New year’s day.||There occurs a great fair in lakesides especially for the foreigners or tourists.
|International New Year Day||1th January||Everybody celebrate especially the youths and hotels in Lakeside. There occurs a great fair in Lake side especially for the foreigners (tourists)||Gurungs celebrate it with great enthusiasm and express best wishes to all. Conduct a grand procession which goes around Pokhara Bazaar.|
|Maghe Sakranti||First day of the month of Magha (middle of January)||All people celebrate||People eat seasonal fruits especially yam, ghee and molasses. khichadi (rice cooked with pulse and a little ghee) is the especial meal of that day.|
|Basanta (shree) Panchami||Last week of Jan-First week Feb.||Although a Hindu festival, almost all people celebrate||People visit the Saraswati temple (worship the goddess of wisdom); especially students worship for success in exam. From this day summer starts and spring ends; also called Basanta Panchami.|
|Shiva Ratri||February-March||Hindus gather at shrine of Shiva and celebrate||In different communities, people make bonfire in the evening. In every shrine of Shiva, people offer puja to Lord Shiva.|
|Holi||March Full-moon day||All people except Muslims and Christians.||This celebration is very colorful, different kinds of colorful powders are blown in the air and also smeared on the faces singing holy songs.|
|Chaite Dashain||Last week of March or First week April||Only few hindus especially Brahmins and Chhetris celebrate as their culture.||Eat delicious food; some people do sacrifice at the Bhagawati Temple as they do in Bada Dashain.|
2.4 Museums as heritages of natural and cultural importance
There are a total of five museums in Pokhara. Two of them have the collections of natural and cultural heritages, whereas the rest three house collection of the cultural heritages of different ethnic groups of pokhara. Table 2.4 offers the highlights of these museums.
Table 2.4 List of museum with their key information
|Names of the Museums||Location||Distance||Days of opening||Contact telephone number|
|Annapurna Natural History Museum||Bagar, inside then prithvi Narayan Campus Premises||1.5 km. from Mahendra-pool bazaar||All days except Saturday and public Holidays 10 a.m.-5 p.m||061-431102|
|Western regional Museum||Naya Bazaar Down Town from Mahendra-pool||About 15 minutes walk from Mahendra pool||Daily except Tuesday 10am -4pm||061-520413|
|Gurkha Memorial Museum||Deep, near K.I. sing bridge. Towards North from Mahendra pool.||About 2km from Mahendra-pool and 15 minute walk from Prithvi narayan Campus.||7 days a week 8am.-4:30pm.||061-441762|
|Gurung Ethnographic Museum||Ramghat (Sakti ghat) on the bank of Seti river,||Downtown from Mahendra-pool, 1km. away across the bridge on Seti river and some steps up the hill road, then down towards the left.||All days 9am-5pm||525406|
|International Mountain Museum||Ratopahiro, Gharipatan||About 1.5 km South from Pokhara Airport, Gharipatan.||Everyday 9am-4:30pm||061-460472|
Source: Compiled by author from various Sources
The succeeding paragraphs are provided with details descriptions of these museums from historical perspectives.
- a. Annapurna Natural History Museum
This Museum is the ever the first established museum in Pokhara. It was established by a lady, An American Peace Corp volunteer named late Dorothy Mierow in 1965 A.D. It is in prithvi Narayan Campus Complex. Mierow’s long stay in Pokhara helped this Museum grow continuously. She had an interest to promote wildlife like insects, plants, birds and butterflies found in Nepal to provide learning opportunity to visitors. She was also encouraged by the collection of large varieties of butterflies collected and presented by a British Entomologist named Colin Smith.
A collection of almost all of Nepal’s 640 species of butterflies is demonstrated in the Nepal collection. Besides butterflies, there are collections of interesting dragonflies and varieties of plants, birds, animals and information of culture of the people of the western region, especially hill and mountain region.
A total of about 70 plants and 150 birds of the regions are stuck on plywood strips and charts on the wall. According to the Annapurna Natural History Museum, there are 56 birds skin to study for the students of ornithology which were donated by Dr. Bab Fleming Sr. Some of the rarest birds like vulture, kande Bhyakur (Indigenous bird of Nepal), etc. are kept here. Butterflies as well as moths which are found around the Annapurna ranges are collected. However, the collection of butterflies of different kinds such as banded afol, sesabita, Medobya, etc. are dominating in the exhibition. So, the Museum is also named by visitors as Butterfly Museum. About 90 animals’ life-sized pictures on plywood and cement reliefs are depicted. Since 1988 A.D. (Thapa 2010) Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has handled and monitored the Museum.
There is very good Western Regional Library next door to it. There is a room allocated to ACAP in which the tectonic block theory of moving continent and rising mountains like Mahabharat including Himals and formation of valleys like Pokhara are explained to visitors. In this room, there are many samples of different rocks and fossils like ‘Saligram’ a king of igneous rock, and many other minerals. Some of these are donated by the Geology Department of Colorado College.
The museum is worthwhile to visit and learn about nature’s creation. This Museum lies in the perimeter of Prithvi Narayan Campus in Bagar Area which is 3 km from the Mahendra pool town. There are eye-catching, beautiful painted, 10 pillars which represent a man and a woman from mountain or Himalayan region, Tarai region, and Newar farmers from Kathmandu Valley (Hill region), Brahmins of hills and Tibetans at the entrance of the Museum building. Such images welcome you with their fashionable cultural costumes, when you step up to the entrance of the Museum building.
- b. Regional Museum
This Museum stands as the second oldest museum after the Annapurna natural History Museum in Pokhara Valley. It is in Naya bazaar, an old bazaar of Pokhara, and main walking route to Tarai. It lies about 15 miutes walk from the city centre of Mahendra-pool bazaar. It was inaugurated on 15 February 1985 bylate king Birendra. Now it is looked after by Nepal Government. It has 23 ropanis area surrounded by stone cemented wall.
According to the authority of the Museum, the government of that time planned to establish Regional Museum in each 5 development Regions. Accordingly, 3 regional Museums were established in Dhanakuta, Surkhet and Pokhara, the Regional Headquarters.
Pokhara Regional Museum instituted to represent the Western Region composed of 3 zones and 16 districts. Thus, the Museum is thought to be the storehouse of all artifacts related toart, architecture, science ,culture, history and archaeology which carry an academic value. It represents geographically all those 16 districts, which include the following features:
- Historical, anthropological and social identities of different ethnic groups.
- Artifacts used by those ethnic groups.
- Rituals, practices, objects and procedure.
- Their ethnic practices and professions which are not practiced now, such as Ghumauro Ghar (round house), bamboo Hukka (Habblable) and bamboo kokro (cradle for babies).
The displayed objects are traditional metallic and wooden utensils and dishes; gold, silver and brass jewelaries; agricultural and fishery tools; clothes, traditional hunting weapons etc. It displays large collection of ethnic costumes, musical instruments, manuscripts and coins. There are two dummies- one depicting a Hindu wedding practice and another is a dead body, preparing for funeral ceremony. Both are worthwhile for the visitors. Besides these, there are other dummies which represent the life style and culture of different races and castes like Thakali, Tharus, Newars, Brahmins, Gurung, Magars, Damai (tailor), Kamis (black smiths) and Gaines (singers).
There are photos and pictures of dances such as Sorathi dance belonging to Gurung (Tamu) race, Bhairav dance belonging to Newar, Teej dance belonging to Brahmin and Chhetri, etc. In this way, the Western Regional Museum of Pokhara has become a vivid source of information and Knowledge for the visitors, scholars and sociological researchers. “The Regional Museum yet has to expand more”, say the authority of the Museum, “to fulfill the objectives of it, and they are under the planning.”
c. Gurung (Tamu) Ethno-graphic Museum
This Museum stands on the third position for being established in the chronology of the history of museum in Pokhara. It was established on the bank of Seti River in the year 1990 A.D. by the effort of Tamu Pay Lhu Sangha (association). The objective of the establishment of the Museum is to preserve and develop Tamu (Gurung) history, language, culture and costums as well as Bonism, which has been followed by the indigenous people, Tamus, as their own ancestral religion. In this context, the Museum has been a great work to make anyone learn about the Tamu people’s life style and history.
Inside the building, a visitor comes across dummy of a Tamu lady weaving a piece of cloth on a unique, traditional handloom. It is so attractive and fascinating that one does not like to turn his eyes away from the sight. Weaving cloths in such typical handloom is a traditional occupation of tamu ladies. There are various exhibitions to present the Tamu lifestyle in paintings, posters, dummies and collection of costumes, ornaments of gold and silver such as Dhungri and Naugedi. There are dummies of Lamas (the priest of Tamu society) performing different rituals during birth, wedding, death etc. Besides, there are the display of bows, arrows and quivers which were used by their forefathers in hunting for defending themselves in their settlement from the attack of the enemies. The most valuable collection is the manuscript written in special paper made by then using chemicals.
Thus, apart from the native or domestic tourists, the Museum welcomes a great number of foreign visitors. The museum is also invaluable for the researches as well as visitors who like to enjoy the different life style and culture of Tamu Communities. The Fascinating attraction of the environment around the Museum is the turbulent flow of Seti River through a vast open sandy area and the mouth of the George where the river enters and disappears.
D. International Mountain Museum
The International Mountain Museum (IMM) is the largest and most sophisticated modern type of Museum. It is unique of its type in the word. It was initiated in 1996 A.D. by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) (Khatiwada and Kshetry 2004).
The beautiful architecture in the huge complex exhibits the perfect landscape. There is a grand Museum Hall. The total area of the IMM is six hectors. Actually, the idea to establish IMM in Pokhara was the inspiration of all those mountains of Pokhara that attract the people of the world. The great attraction are the skyscraper snow-capped mountains and maundering, evergreen coniferous forest, hills and hillocks covered with dense forest and varieties of biodiversities which suit to enjoy days and weeks’ long tracking in those areas. These are the motivations to open the IMM where the visitors can get information about all these objects and know how to visit those spots, where to visit and when to visit the areas in Pokhara. From the Museum premises one can view the panoramic mountain peaks of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna.
Thus the aim of International Mountain Museum (IMM) is to provide enjoyment along with knowledge of wonderful natural heritage and cradle of cultural heritage of Nepal especially Western Region. There are exhibitions of mountaineering history and its methods as well as entertainment and knowledge of mountain geography, ecology and culture of people living in the regions. They are displayed in splendid photos, pictures and charts. The management committee has also managed a documentary show for the visitors. So the IMM in Pokhara is an especial tribute to mountains and people living in mountain and hilly regions. It also provides knowledge to the visitors who wish to go for adventurous trekking in those areas, who want to study and explore something about mountains (ibid).
The main Museum has the following halls where things are displayed artistically and beautifully so that the visitors can enjoy both researchable knowledge and information.
- The Hall of the Himalaya
The geography of Himalayas, their peaks, flora and fauna, indigenous ethnic diversity and life style has been displayed in this Hall.
- The Hall of International Mountains
This Hall is allotted to display the planning of the knowledge and information about the mountains and the peaks of the world.
- The Hall of Expedition
There are the displays of the history of mountaineering expedition together with the equipment and development of mountaineering techniques that are used.
Could develop into a quality oriented destination rather than a price-oriented one.
- The Hall of Fame
This Hall exhibits the tributes to famous Mountaineers who performed record breaking events with courage, energy and willpower. There are also the displays of famous discoveries, researches and explorations.
- e. Gurkha Memorial Museum
” Gurkha” is the term for Gurkhali warrious since the start of political and geographical unification of Nepal, which was launched in the year 1801 B.S. (1745 A.D) by Prithivi Narayan Shaha. Internationally the word ‘Gurkha’ becomes popular for the first time, for the bravery, courage and undying spirit of war and dedication to their duty during Anglo-Nepalese War 1814 to 1816 A.D. Latter, British Government started recruiting Nepalese youth with the name of ‘Gurkha’ and sent them to fight in the First and Second World Wars. Since then, Gurkha became popular in every nook and corner of the world for their bravery, courage and sense of responsibility. Gurkha Memorial Museum represents glimpses in detail in different medium to the satisfaction of the visitors.
Its short history starts from Lainchaur, in Kathmandu. Gurkha Memorial Trust (committees) decided to establish Gurkah Memorial Museum. So, the Working Committee decided to manage the Museum in 1996 A.D. in Lainchaur under the Chairmanship of Capt. Eknarayan Gurung. Latter in the year 2001 A.D., the Museum was shifted to Pardi, Pokhara, in the complex of the Hotel Nature Land hiring a house there. The motive to move the Museum to Pokhara must be that the largest numbers of Gurkhas belong to Pokhara and its vicinity. On 9th July 2005, this Museum again moved to its own building in Deep, Pokhara sub-metropolitan city ward no. 16, in the north of K.I. Singh bridge, in the complex of British Camp.
The Museum lies in one hour’s walking distance from Mahendra Pool city centre and about 10 km from lake-side. There is a regular city bus service from lake-side to Gurkha Memorial Museum. From its vicinity one can enjoy watching the deep George of turbulent Seti River about 300 feet below the new bridge. There is old K.I. Singh Bridge on the left when you are crossing the new bridge towards the Museum. The Museum’s doors are open for 7 days from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
The aim of the Museum is to maintain the ever-lasting history and memories of Gurkha with their bravery medals such as Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for exceptional bravery in the battle field. Thirteen Gurkhas have received this glorious medal.
There are five galleries which contain the displays of the following;
- Historical Gallery in Ground Floor
It contains the photo-display of the history of the Gorkhas from Anglo-Nepalese war in the year 1814-1916 AD to present days. Together with it, there are the displays of different war and fighting sounds, managed in different color of light. It is very interesting to watch and hear them.
- Gorkha Infantry Regiments gallery in First Floor
It has the display of historical photos of the old and new British Gorkha Regiments, platoons divided after the independence of India and formations of the infantries since then.
- Gorkha Specialist Corp Unit Galley in Second Floor
It has the displays of the history of platoons working in British Singapore and the detailed information of warning times and normal situation till today. It also contains the communication devices used in military as well as the sounds of military march pass.
- VC Room in the Second Floor
There is a 29 inch big Telivision (TV) screen on which the documentaries about Gurkhas are shown. This show is managed only for those visitors who come in group.
- Other displays and Library in the Second Floor
There is a library in the second floor. Different models of Khukuries (traditional Nepali knife) which the Gorkha had used are displayed together with the souvenir items along with the names of the contributors and photographs who helped and donated money to establish the Museum.
To summarize the display, there are displays with realistic sound in background, military uniforms with medals, hundreds of photographs of individual Gorkha regimental history, souvenir shop, genuine Gorkha Khukuries, Nepali ornaments and books on Gorkhas. There a documentary film is shown on T.V. which is especially designed for a large number of school children. Beautiful mountain top views from the top of the floor of the building, a unique venue of seminar etc. can be interesting, informative and enjoyable for the visitors.
Pokhara is one of the most pleasing and scenic destinations due to both natural and cultural beauties. The whole range of description the historical review of natural and cultural heritage of Pokhara as mentioned in this chapter above provides enough realization about Pokhara as an hanging paradise. Paradise is the place which is unique, uncommon and has the most alluring objects to observe, feel and realize. Although nobody has seen or been to paradise, but people talk about it as a divine place where one can enjoy eternal life with all sorts of happiness. Same kinds of happiness with divine feeling are offered to the visitors by the natural boons in Pokhara.
Pokhara owns natural beauty creation. The turbulent flow of Seti River, somewhere vanishing underground and somewhere running in a very narrow George is breath-taking to watch. Similarly, water-falls jumping down from an amazing height, beautiful rainbows, fast flowing streams through mountain steps, luxuriant green forests with varieties of birds and their fascinating maledicts, crystal clear lakes with glittering waves, magnificent and panoramic Himalaya and their skyscraper summits, all of them offer the most lovely sceneries to the visitors. While taking bird’s eye view from the mountain flight, one can realize these blessing of Nature in Pokhara simultaneously.
The ranges of descriptions throw some important light on the historical background of cultural heritage in Pokhara. There are temples belonging to Hindu religion, stupas and monasteries belonging to Buddhist religion, mosques signifying Muslim religion and Churches belonging to Christian religion. Pokhara is the configuration of varied ethnic groups from Mountain and Terai regions of Nepal. There are multi religious, multi traditional and multi cultural human beings who represent all ways of life. Nevertheless, all religions and their people live in harmony and observe religious tolerance.
No doubt, the blending of the best of nature, culture and people make Pokhara a hanging paradise on the earth.
Chronology of Shaha King of kaski, Lamjung, Gorkha principalities and politically, and geographically unified Nepal.
|Lamjung||Gorkha||Politically and Geographically unified Nepal|
|Kulmandan Shaha (jagati khan)
Pratap Shahi (jasmat Shahadev)
|Ashobrahma Shaha (Youngest son of Kulmandan Shaha)
Youngest son of Ashobrahma Shaha)
Dalanmandan Shaha (Dambar Shaha)
Prithvi Narayan Shaha
|Prithvi Narayan Shaha
Pratap Sing Shaha
Rana Bahadur Shaha
Girban Yuddha Bikram Shaha
Rajendra Bikram Shaha dev
Surendra Bir Bikaram Shaha dev
Tribhuvan Bir Birkram Shahdev
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shadev
Birendra Bir Bikram Shahdev
Deependra Bir Bikram Shahdev
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shahdev
Nepal Became Republic in 2007
Resource : Tourism in Pokhara , Issues,Trends and Prospects for Peace and Prosperity (2013) Published by,Pokhara Tourism Council,South Asia Regional Coordination Office of NCCR North-South and Nepal Center for Contemporary Research, Kathmandu