'No lake, no lakeside' cried a big and bold sign as we entered the outskirts of Pokhara. The heart gave a tug and the mind thought illogically if the lake had dried up or got demolished or simply got converted to 'plots for sale'! City of three lakes cried another sign as we passed what looked like a granite quarry set on the banks of the Gandaki (must be) river. I wondered lamely if the granite is being 'harvested' (for lack of a better word, sigh!) from the river as part of a de-slitting process or if the reserves are being used up for 'economic development'. Clearly it was the latter as we came across more of those harvesting (!) sites and construction stones stacked on top of each other ready to be transported. Now the sign slowly made sense. Just like Bangalore, the citizens of Pokhara must be trying to save the Phewa lake (though am not sure from what exactly as most of the town is literally centered around the lake, whether as an attraction or as a pivot point of business). The mind didn't want to dwell on the unpleasant thought any longer - is human greed becoming bigger than the Himalayas themselves?
And that's the thing about being a tourist. One doesn't want to worry about pollution (the abundant smokers all around trying to pump in some nicotine to the deprived mountain air!), use of plastic (not really possible to carry water for the entire trip or risk drinking water from the tap so one is forced to buy that fresh Muktinath mineral water, sigh sigh), or taking that extra long hot shower (one has a target to finish a shower under two minutes back home so doesn't one deserve one good shower on a vacation at least? Not to mention that it might very well be the last shower for the next week as we head up the mountains with no bathing on plan...sigh, sigh, sigh). Fortunately before the sighs got longer and I set off on giving up on the entire human race, the bus grind to a final halt at the Pokhara lakeside bus stand.
Our cute little owner (which I will discover later) of the Lotus Inn where we had a booking had sent a cab and the driver of the said cab was running from bus to bus with my name written on a placard. Ha, what welcome, what pride, the mind was well pleased! And as luck would have it, we discovered that the tourist department that is in charge of issuing the permits required to trek in these regions is open on Sundays too! Oh, what delight, what joy! More so as the officials on duty took all of five minutes to give us that permit after checking the necessary details. If not the lake, Pokhara at least has a great tourist department.
A quick check in, chatting with the owner and a brief shower (yes, brief) later, we set off to see the acclaimed beauty (or not) of the Phewa lake ourselves. My vocabulary fails me as I try to capture the beauty of the greenness that was the lake. Lush green mountains, an emerald green lake reflecting the mountains, a blue sky with whiffs of pure white clouds here and there, and some fresh (albeit the nicotine, ahem) breeze that gently caresses you it's welcome - really, what more could one ask for? A little magical drizzle perhaps? Well we got that too as we set off a lakeside jaunt up the pretty walkway holding our umbrellas quaintly trying to soak it all in. Let my words not let you down.....let my pictures do the talking here. Please do take a look.
Oh, before I wind up for the day, let it be on records that I ate an authentic Nepali thali (alas, very much like an Indian everyday lunch affair consisting of Rice, mixed veg curry, fried Potatoes (man, the Nepalese sure are fond of their Potatoes though I must admit they spice it up quiet nicely), dal and some sweet curd (Grrrr.. my South Indian taste buds can never accept a sweet curd...Grrrr). Oh, did I mention that I had the thali at an 'authentic pure vegetarian marwadi' mini-staurant? Well, ya I did and we discovered that the pure Veg staurant might possibly be sharing it's kitchen with a hotel next door which may or may not be promising to be pure vegetarian (I didn't notice, sorry!). So much for local cuisine!