Sight Seen : Twin Valley Nepal - Tibetan Settlements

Pokhara - Tibetan Settlements

Many of the Tibetan refugees who hawk souvenirs in Lakeside live in the Tibetan refugee settlements within and around Pokhara.

The largest settlement close to Pokhara is Tashi Palkhel, about 5km northwest of Pokhara at Hyangia, on the road to Baglung. With prayer flags flapping in the breeze in the rocky valley, it genuinely feels like you’re in Tibet. The colourful Jangchub Choeling Gompa in the middle of the village is home to around 200 monks. Try to time your visit in the afternoon to experience the rumbling of monks chanting and horns blowing during the prayer session (held 3.30pm to 5pm).

Masked dances are held here in January/February as part of the annual Losar (Tibetan New Year) celebrations.

To reach the gompa you have to run the gauntlet past an arcade of very persistent handicraft vendors. A ‘tashi delek’ (a greeting in Tibetan) will win many smiles here. Nearby is a chörten piled with carved mani stones bearing Buddhist mantras and a carpet-weaving centre, where you can see all stages of the process and buy the finished article. If you’d like to spend the night, Friend’s Garden has spartan rooms and a restaurant serving Tibetan food. A few other hole-in-the-wall restaurants, such as Rita’s (no English sign), serve excellent thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) and momos (dumplings). You can reach Tashi Palkhel by bike, bus, taxi or foot.

About 3km south of Lakeside, on the road to Butwal and near Devi’s Falls, is the smaller settlement of Tashi Ling. Near the entrance of the camp is a small open space where handicraft purveyors set up stalls and entice visitors to part with cash. There’s also a small carpet factory and showroom. A smaller settlement, Paljorling, resides in the city centre near Prithvi Chowk.