The World Peace Pagoda in Nepal is separated from the city of Pokhara by altitude and by water. To get up to the World Peace Pagoda, or Shanti stupa, you need to cross a lake and climb, climb, climb! It's over 350 meters - over 1000 feet - above Phewa Lake. Getting to (and back from) the Shanti stupa makes a nice half day trip out of Pokhara, if you can bear to leave all those little cafes and eateries behind.
There are plenty of little boats and boatmen that can take you across the lake. It's a pleasent trip that takes about 20 minutes. You can enjoy views of tree-clad hills and smooth water, and enjoy the gentle sound of a paddle dipping in and out of the water. It's almost hypnotizing.
The boatman drops you off at the bottom of Ananda Hill and this is where you need your walking legs. It's all uphill from here!
If you've already done some trekking in or around Pokhara, then this climb won't be too troublesome. It's steep in places but it probably won't take you more than an hour to get to the top. You walk along a well-marked path, mostly through light woodland. You'd be wise to take a drink of water as you can soon build up a thirst, especially if it's a warm day.
At the top of the path, you're in no doubt where the Shanti stupa is - it's a big white painted blob that lies at the end of a surprisingly long and flat approach. You might find, like me, that the stupa is a lot bigger and chunkier than it sometimes looks in photos. I'd first seen the stupa returning from another little trip out of Pokhara (to the mountain viewpoint at Sagarkot). It appeared then as a white beacon surrounded by trees, like a space observatory occupying a prime spot on a mountain ridge. It looked very different up close.
The stupa seems slightly neglected - nothing a lick of paint wouldn't put right - and it lacks the elegance of some of the other large stupas in Nepal. The stupa has two levels, connected by great flights of steps. The four golden buddha statues that are set on the upper level are extremely graceful yet the stupa itself is not. But, luckily, the stupa is not really the reason to come here - the stupa is the excuse, the focus of the journey.
Why Visit? The real reason to visit the World Peace Pagoda at Pokhara are the views! I was fortunate to be there on a clear, sunny morning and I walked on from the stupa and found superb views: look down on Phewa Lake, look across over Pokhara, look towards the great mountains of the Annapurna range, and be amazed.
Have you done the climb up to the World Peace Pagoda at Pokhara? What did you think of it? What would you say to someone who asked you what it was like?