As the New Year 2016 gets closer, Pokhara is out on the streets, partying. The festive season — Christmas, the Lhosar and the New Year — seems to have given a boost to the Lake City, whose mainstay of the economy — tourism — had seen not-so-encouraging times, what with the mega quakes and the blockade causing a decline in hotel bookings and more.
Pokhara itself did not suffer much damage during the April 25 and May 12 disasters, but as the whole country witnessed a decline in tourist arrivals, there was no question of Pokhara remaining immune to the slump.
The festive mood has given rise to hope that tourism will bounce back. It has also given the city another excuse to do what it is best at doing — party harder — and better.
Let’s hope that the New Year bringd more cheers to people of this beautiful city where you get to see majestic peaks like Annapurna, Machhapuchhre smiling from your hotel windows behind the outcrop of concrete buildings and lush green jungles. It is the sight to behold
As the headquarters of the western development region, Pokhara gives different districts a platform to promote themselves. For instance, at one stall at Gaurighat, on the banks of the Fewa, two young girls were performing a beautiful dance, beckoning people to visit Parbat, a district in the Dhaulagiri zone, highlighting its features such as a unique suspension bridge, the cable car connecting the district with neighbouring Baglung and its hydropower potential. The bridge is located at a vertical distance of 157 metres from the mean water level at the river. According to locals, who yours truly met during a recent journey to Parbat, this is the greatest vertical distance between the river and the bridge.
At the same platform, popular folk singer Badri Pangeni was scheduled to belt out popular numbers later on.
At the other venue pretty close, young artists were belting out popular English numbers and rocking Pokhara, much to the merriment of foreign tourists and local aficionados of foreign music.
Beautiful lights, tough ordeal
New Year can be a perfect opportunity to boat around Pokhara’s peaceful lakes, though it will be wiser to learn your swimming lessons and learn the basics of boating first, if you have not already. Boat owners provide you life jackets, but what if your boat overturned somehow and rescue got delayed? You can of course remain afloat but the cold gets you in the event of a delayed rescue. That’s no rescue at all, isn’t it?
These are the occasional thoughts that came to my mind while boating around the lake.
We somehow came to the shore, thanks to Komal Dulalji, who was on board with me — giving me the opportunity to capture the partying city’s lights and majestic Himalayas, while on board.
Dulalji, too, had his fears (Or maybe, just maybe, he was kidding). On the long journey in which the shore seemed to be nowhere near, Pushpaji had a question: What if the earthquake strikes? Neither I nor he had an answer.
Crocodiles were another of Dulalji’s fears, though I was pretty sure there were no crocs in these waters. Now about the detour, again: For about 20 minutes, we were following our friends on another boat closely. The detour began as we decided to make it to the Tal Barahi Temple.
On the long journey in which the shore seemed to be nowhere near, Pushpaji had a question: What if the earthquake strikes? Neither I nor he had an answer.
With collective efforts to reach the shore not making much headway, I gave up boating. Thanks to Captain Dulalji’s navigation skills, we reached the shore half an hour later and I heaved a sigh of relief (Dulalji was calm and composed all through the ordeal. That’s the mark of a mariner, I guess.).
It was not the point from where we had begun our journey, but we had found land somehow. The captain wanted to reach the point of departure, but I was not taking any chances. So, we parked the boat, anchored it (Is it the right word? I know not, for it is uncharted waters for me), handed over the life jackets to the police rescue team at Gaurighat and, after watching the city in groove for about half an hour, returned to the hotel, tired to the bone.
In search of a story
Fewa always beckons me and so does the Tal Barahi Temple temple in the middle of it. The views of city lights from waters flowing in poetic waves melt my heart. Lush green jungles call me. Beautiful views of Himalayas draw me into this lake. And there’s no question of me not heeding this call.
During this trip to Pokhara and beyond, I had multiple assignments: One of them was writing and I ended up writing mostly about myself. Hope Pokhara forgives me for this, knowing full well that my feeble words cannot capture its boundless beauty.