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We are the least active people, my husband and I. But if you’re in Pokhara for 9 days and you don’t go on a hike, then you’ve not experienced anything in life. So we gathered all our courage and decided one morning to go see the World Peace Pagoda or Shanti Stupa from up-close. At first, it was just about reaching there, finding out what the place is all about really. But then neither of us wanted to do things that are very touristy, if you know what I mean. We would chill everyday at the lakeside from where we had a clear view of the Stupa. From where we sat, it looked quite tiny sitting at the top of the hill, watching over the lake. And the path towards it seemed serene. So we decided to level up our vacation and do something neither of us had done before: Go hiking!
World Peace Pagoda or Shanti Stupa
A Peace Pagoda in general is, as the name suggests, a symbol of peace. Most of the peace pagodas in the world have been built under the guidance of a Buddhist monk, Nichidatsu Fujii. It was after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Fujii decided to built these pagodas around the world to promote peace and tolerance.
There is much of a history behind the building of the pagoda in Pokhara, all of which you can read on the internet.
At the Peace Pagoda in Pokhara, you can enjoy serene views of the Himalayas, the Pokhara lakeside and city area. You can sit back, meditate, walk around and take gorgeous photographs.
How to Get Here
There are two ways you can reach the Peace Pagoda: 1) Easy Way. 2) Hard Way
The Easy Way:
The easiest way to reach the stupa is to get a taxi from wherever you are staying. It would take you up hill and drop you at the foot of the stupa from where you will have to climb several stairs and reach to the top level where the stupa stands. This is less tiring for you, especially if you are going here with kids or the elderly. Although, I would not recommend even the stairs for the elderly as there are several flights of stairs. When we visited the stupa for the second time, we followed this way and it was still physically challenging.
The Hard Way:
The hard way or the fun way to reach the stupa is on foot! Because the place is very touristy and has got not much to do, therefore the best way to enjoy the trip is to hike till there. The trail is beautiful and so refreshing. Perfect way to connect with nature and your soul 🙂
To start the hike, you will require to get a boat ride from the main lakeside which will drop you to the foot of the hill from where you will have to follow a marked pathway in order to hike to the top.
But just a warning that this hike is not for the fainthearted. If you are physically active, then you are good to go. But if you aren’t (just like me), that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. It’ll just take you a little longer. Locals told us that the hike is 45 minute long, but it actually took us 1 and a half hour to reach the stupa as we took several short breaks in between to catch our breath and to hydrate.
Things To Do at the World Peace Pagoda
There is not much to do here unless of course you have hiked which is all sorts of fun. There are a couple of restaurants from where you can grab a bite, but if you come here from the hiking trail, you won’t find them along the way. They are mostly on the other side – the side where the taxi drops you off. We were pretty lost at one point after reaching the top, we couldn’t find the main entrance to the pagoda. Fortunately, there was a Chinese couple hiking in front of us whom we followed and found the gate.
You can mostly just look around and take photos over here. On a bright sunny day you would be able to see stunning views of the Pokhara city and Phewa Lake from the top! You can also have a clear view of the Himalaya (subject to weather conditions) specially the Fish Tail Mountain. When we visited, the weather was quite hazy so the view wasn’t that clear. However, when we went there again on a better day, my heart literally dropped a beat upon seeing the snow-capped Himalayas! ❤
Before You Go…
- For the hike, the pathway is simple, but could get slippery if it has rained.
- Where there are two pathways, there would be a sign displaying the way to follow so watch out for that.
- If you plan to hike, then there are, if I can recall correctly, 1 or 2 shops along the way selling water and drinks. But it’ll be better if you take some along.
- If you follow the path from where the cab drops you off, then you would find several restaurants and souvenir shops along the way.
- If you plan to hike, ride a boat in approximately NPR 1000 (roundtrip) to cross the lake and then start the hike from there on wards. Do let the boat man know that you want to go to the Peace Pagoda so that he drops you off at the correct spot across the lake.
- Invest in good quality hiking footwear or you’ll have painful feet afterwards.
- Do NOT walk on the edge of the pathway as there is a fairly good chance of falling down. On our way back, I felt my feet hurt on the stone walkway as there is pressure on your toes, so I decided to walk on the sandy part of the path (which also happened to be at the edge) as it felt softer on my toes. My foot slipped and I fell. I could have fallen into the pit on the other side and could have badly injured myself or even die, but I guess God decided I was supposed to live more. Thank you, God.
- We were told that there is another route for the hike that can be taken from damside and that this route is longer than the one you follow from the lakeside.
- Go on a sunny day with blue skies and less haze to catch breathtaking views of the Annapurna Mountain range.
- Start your hike in the morning to return before dark as it is not recommended to walk the pathways after sunset due to safety reasons. I think the stupa also shuts down after 5 pm.
- It will be better if you hike in a group or at least with a partner.
- Shoes are not allowed on the main pagoda.
- Taking photographs is allowed. Who would ban this given the stunning views after all!
- Wear sunscreen. Most definitely!
- Although every other tourist here is making a lot of noise, I would encourage you to respect the place for what it is worth and embrace silence 🙂
All pictures are my own work, unless otherwise credited. If using any of these photos for your own purpose, please give proper credits to my blog.