VISITING THE WORLD PEACE PAGODA IN POKHARA
OUR GUIDE TO VISITING THE SHANTI STUPA IN POKHARA
Overlooking the enormous Lake Phewa – and the small town of Pokhara – the World Peace Pagoda is on everyone’s must-do list when visiting the Pokhara valley. Not just an impressively massive Buddhist stupa, the shrine is a vantage point with incredible views of Pokhara city and the Annapurna mountain range.
Come here on a clear day and it is one of the best viewpoints in the entire Pokhara valley.
You’ve probably seen it up on the hill, surrounded by lush, green forest and a few unaffordable, luxury resorts. From down by the lakeside, it appears only as a small stupa. It looks high, but not too high. But, the walk is a tough one.
The walk up from the lake shore is the longest, taking around 45 minutes up steep steps. Come from the opposite side of the hill it is perched on for a shorter, easier walk (around 10 minutes).
HEIGHT – 115 feet
WIDTH – 344 feet
HEIGHT ABOVE SEA LEVEL – 1100 metres
BUILT ON – 12 September 1973
WHERE? – Anadu Hill, Pokhara
ENTRANCE FEE – FREE!
WHAT IS IT?
The Pokhara World Peace Pagoda – or Shanti Stupa – is the first World Peace Pagoda built in Nepal. It is one of 71 such pagodas worldwide, and now stands with the rest as a symbol of world peace. Built by Buddhist monk Morioka Sonin in 1973, the stupa has now become a tourist attraction as well as a monument.
WHERE IS IT?
Perched on a high ridge, on the southern side of Lake Phewa, Pokhara.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
There are a few options for getting there. The most popular seems to be to drive (a scooter or car) or taxi. The drive is around 30 minutes on a paved road from Lakeside, followed by a 10 minute walk up to the stupa.
The next most popular option is to get a small boat over from the shore of Lakeside. There are several ‘boathouses’ selling tickets to the stupa. The prices vary on where you get the boat from (prices are slightly higher in the north of town) and whether you get a: boat with driver, without driver, and if it is a return trip.
The price for a 2 way trip to the stupa and back is around 1300 rupees. One way is around 850 rupees.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
Sunrise or sunset, or early morning. The air is clearer in the morning and there is much less chance of cloud. We went up at around midday and unfortunately, the views of the Annapurna mountain range were obscured by a LOT of cloud. To avoid this, come early in the day.
Also, weekends tend to be a lot busier. So, if you’re looking for a more peaceful experience (or just want to get those Instagram shots with no one else in the background), then we would recommend skipping it on a weekend.
IS IT WORTH IT?
The short answer: yes. Despite the difficult walk, we think the view and the stupa are very rewarding.
If you’re in Pokhara, this is a must visit attraction. The views of the Annapurna range are outstanding, as is the stupa itself. I would only recommend missing the Peace Pagoda if you’re very, very short on time, as the views from Sarangkot are equally – if not more – impressive.
IS IT DIFFICULT?
We took the trail up from the lake, and we felt that the walk up there was slightly strenuous. But, if you’ve come to Nepal to trek, you should be more than used to walking on this kind of terrain. The steps are steep and can get slippery when wet (it can be wet even if it hasn’t rained), so some caution is required going up and (especially) down. It’ll take at least 45 minutes to get to the top, and more if you move a little slower (maybe allow at least 1 hour to include small rests).
We would recommend giving the walk from the lake a miss if you’re old or not physically fit. Maybe take a taxi and walk from the other side. The walk from the paved road is only 10 minutes.
IS IT SAFE?
We read a lot of concerning information online before we visited the Peace Pagoda.
While we can only comment on our personal experiences, we did feel safe on the walk up to the stupa. If you are on your own, we can see how it could be an intimidating experience. The trail is very heavily forested, and there is not a great deal of people going up or down, so there can be long stretches when you’re alone. As usual, do your research and travel in groups or with a guide when necessary.
Would we recommend this trip? Yes.
Would we do it again? No. – Once is enough. The view is nice and it is a very peaceful and beautiful place, but one visit is enough to get the most out of it.
What would we do differently?
#1 – If we were to do it again, we would not take the return trip on the boat. The trip takes around 20 – 25 minutes in either direction, and you will get 2 hours once you are there. As it takes 45 minutes (walking at a decent pace) to get to the top, and the same (maybe a little less if you’re good on your feet – the path is very uneven and slippery when wet) to get back down again, this doesn’t really leave enough time for exploring at the top. We would have liked a little longer to absorb the peaceful atmosphere and maybe get a coffee and explore a little.
#2 – Another thing we might do differently: we would get the boat from the southern part of Lakeside. This is just because neither of us particularly enjoy being on boats, and this would have made the boat ride a lot shorter (our boat trip was around 30 minutes each way). This isn’t important if you like boat rides. In fact, if you do enjoy being on small boats, this is probably a better option!
OUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
LAPTOP – Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch
SMALL CAMERA – Olympus OMD- E-M10 Mark II
ZOOM LENS – Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm Lens
DSLR BODY – Canon 60D
WIDE ANGLE LENS – Sigma 10-20mm Lens
DRONE – DJI Mavic Pro
ACTION CAMERA – GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition
MICROPHONE – Rode VideoMicro
CAMERA BAG – Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW II