– ‘ No , we dont wanna see anymore tourist spots. Please take us to World Peace Pagoda’ . Madhushree told the guide driver .
This was the inception of our visit to the World peace Pagoda at Pokhara. Local sight seeing at Pokhara normally covers the places which may not be very interesting considering the natural beauty that Pokhara has to offer .
We went to Gupteswar Mahadev cave , Devi falls , Tibetan refugee village and others, however our homework and help of lonely planet focused us on World Peace Pagoda .The sky was overcast . Although diffused lighting is best for a photographer but planning a visit with a 2 year old son is a bad idea and we definitely realised it later.
There are several ways by which one can reach the World Peace Pagoda or Shanti Stupa . We took the safest way . The tourist car dropped us at the base of the stairs and the guide instructed us to walk up the stairs .
Balanced on a narrow ridge high above Phewa Tal, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Nipponzan Myohoji clan monk Morioka Sonin ( Buddhist monk from Japanese origin) with support from local supporters . The entire initiative was led by Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of Nipponzan Myohoji clan of Buddhism who is famously known as the initiator of constructing Peace Pagodas across the world. During the construction phase there had been many disruptions from Nepal Government and it was not officially passed by Nepal Govt till 1992 and in October 1999 it was formally inaugurated .
Shanti Stupa in Pokhara is the first world peace Pagoda in Nepal where the only other being the one in Lumbini . Its one of the main tourist attractions of Pokhara at 1100 mtrs above sea level.
The cab driver placed us at somewhere around 900 mtrs above sea level. The balance had to be climbed up by stairs. We reached there climbing almost 200 stairs – wish we had known this when we started . While climbing up, at every landing one gets amazing view of the valley around. By the time we reached the entrance, we were totally breathless from climbing the stairs and the amazing view it provided us. A proud father wants to mention here that the 2 year old Tugga for once didn’t ask to lift him up and rather insisted that he climbs the stair on his own. We didn’t allow him is a different story altogether .
Situated at 1100 metres above sea level, the Pagoda is 115 feet tall and 344 feet in diameter and one of the major tourist attractions of Pokhara. It has got two tiers for tourists and religious people to circumambulate and the second tier consists of 4 statues of Buddha gifted as souvenirs from Japan , Sri Lanka , China and Lumbini Nepal .
The weather god was not on our side that evening, otherwise the place which is an attraction for its view of the Annapurna range of Himalayas disappointed us . It was overcast sky and we did not manage to get any view of the range. Clouds looming in thick and fast, we had to abruptly end the visit at World Peace Pagoda as Tugga was also getting cranky .
It then started . Small insignificant drops of rains which looked ominous . We rushed out and by the time we were out of the World peace Pagoda the drops were large and with bigger density . The cover for the camera bag became the temporary cover for Tugga and we rushed . Dilemma was to undertake the journey down or wait for sometime . Easier was to wait for sometime so that the rain subsides . We entered the Cafe at the entrance of World Peace Pagoda.
I don’t remember the name of the cafe but I remember the 1 hour that we spent there . I do remember the smiling lady who owns the cafe – who was once a school teacher in a nearby school in the hills . I remember the view of rains on Phewa lake . I remember the random design the raindrops created on Phewa Lake like a child playing on his own. .
I remember the taste of the hot chocolate and the sandwich ( although they sell beer but we had to take the journey down ) . I distinctly remember the tourist from London who was making everyone in the cafe sign a local picture post card in their own national language. After loads of pictures here and there ( I didn’t want to stop ). We wanted to freeze the memory with the 3 of us together in a frame . I meet the globe trotting couple Lance And Hazel . Lance was kind enough to capture 3 of us together .
With no signs of rain stopping, we had to take the call . So it was a non stop run with the camera bag cover acting as Tugga’s cover and Madhushree carrying my camera bag . The first taste of adventure between the father and son , where I constantly kept on telling him to hold the cover tightly as I rushed down the stairs and he sensed that it was no nonsense time and obediently listened to me.
We reached our cab safely and that was good bye to the World Peace Pagoda . I complained that the weather god was not on our behalf but I realised later that rainfall is also his way of letting one know that there are moments to cherish beyond sunrise and sunset . Yes I enjoyed an hour of beautiful rainfall at 1100 metres with my two most loved ones around and World Peace Pagoda at the backdrop and Phewa Lake giving us company from far.
Tips for travelers and photographers –
1. On the Internet you will read everywhere that there have been reports of mugging on the trekking route so its better to be careful while taking that route . However while climbing the stairs its absolutely safe.
2. Wide Lens is the key here, so carrying a wide lens for your camera is absolutely necessary .
3. No matter what, spend some time at the cafe at the foothills of the World Peace Pagoda Pokhara – enjoy the experience.
4. Wishing you all the luck for either Sunshine or sunset as we couldn’t catch either.
5. Your travel gears and outfit should be keeping in mind the physical activities involved.
Wanna explore more Nepal through my camera ? – Here you go
Thamel – A Shoppers Paradise (read it here)
Swayambhunath – An afternoon spent (read it here)
5 places you must visit in Kathmandu with your camera (read it here)