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Amazing Vistas : A Road Trip To Pokhara

Think of Pokhara and it’s highly likely that you are immediately hit with the thought of a thrilling roadtrip to the serene Lakeside town. There is no doubting that the Prithvi Highway to the region boasts of one of the finest stretches of mountain roads in the country. Of course, to add to the exciting drive/ride is the tempting prospect of later relaxing in the middle of the Fewa Lake on a boat, holding on to a chilled bottle of your favourite beer and enjoying magnificent views of the Machapuchre mountain range. Or if you are more of the adventure seeker, there are a host of thrilling adventure activities lined up from the likes of Paragliding, Ultralight Flights, Skydiving, Zip-Lining, Canoeing, etc. to fulfil your every whim. Pokhara is situated just 200 kilometres west from Kathmandu and is well connected by road and also by air. Pokhara can be easily reached in 5-6 hours by road or in just about 30 minutes by airplane from Kathmandu. Pokhara has a pleasant climate and can be visited any time of the year.

 

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Now roadtrips are what we live for and any excuse to be away from office and out on the road has us raring to go any given day. So when Tata Motors Nepal offered us to visit Pokhara on not one, but two of their Tata Vista D90 hot hatchbacks, we instantly got hold of the keys. Powered by a 1.3 litre Quadrajet diesel engine that puts out 90bhp of power and 200nm of torque, the Tata Vista D90 is one of the fastest and most stylish hatchback currently available on sale in Nepal. It makes for a potent tool to attack the highway with its perfect combinations of eye-catching looks, torquey performance and frugal diesel consumption. Already impressed with the Vista D90 when we had it over for our test review, the roadtrip ahead definitely looked exciting.

 

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To make the best of the day, we skipped our regular late morning wake-up rituals and hit the road at the crack of dawn. It turned out to be a good idea as we managed to avoid the notorious traffic jam from the valley exit point at Nagdhunga till Naubise, though it was still a bumpy ride with the 20km downhill stretch beaten and broken down as usual. However, the comfortable cabin of the Vista D90 and the 2-din touchscreen multimedia stereo system ensured that our spirits weren’t dampened. The multimedia controls on the steering further ensured that we were tuned to our favourite sound tracks at the flick of a button, without any need to divert attention away from the road ahead. As soon as we crossed Naubise, we gave the hot hatch the pedal to the medal. And run did the Vista D90, showing speeds in excess of 100 kmph easily without much stress and whenever the roads allowed.

With the enthusiastic driving that the Vista D90 allowed, we managed to complete the 200kms drive to Pokhara from Kathmandu by early afternoon. We then straight away headed to the Pokhara Thakali Kitchen for lunch. This cosy eatery located besides Trek- O-Tel Hotel is a highly recommended place if you seek for a great Thakali set meal in a neat and clean ambience. Ever since we have been a regular here whenever in Pokhara, it has never disappointed. After having our fill of the excess helpings of the meal, we drove off towards the Waterfront Resort at Pamey, which is just a few minutes’ drive from the touristy hustle bustle of the Lakeside. The Waterfront Resort lies on the tranquil rural northern shore of the beautiful Fewa Lake and with the supremely comfortable, air-conditioned rooms, each with a lake-view balcony, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

 

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The weather wasn’t really at its best and the customary view of the Machapuchre mountain range was a forbidden sight with the skies overcast with the hazy winter fog.

Pokhara also boasts of plenty of other tourist attractions like the Fewa Lake. Begnas Lake, Rupa Lake, Taal Barahi Temple, Davis Falls, Bat Cave, Gupteshwor Cave, World Peace Pagoda, Tibetan Refugee Camps, International Mountain Museum, etc. But having already seen most of this beautiful lake city on previous visits, we preferred to laze around the hotel premises and relax before setting out for the evening fun at the popular Busy Bee Café in Lakeside. This roadtrip also being AutoLife magazine’s 2nd Anniversary celebration outing, we made the best of the night, with the drinks and food flowing in till the closing hours at the pub, over some good music played by the in-house live music band.

The next day, the man above had heard our desperate prayers. We woke up to clear blue skies with one of the best mountain views we had ever witnessed in any of our trips to Pokhara. So over the fine buffet breakfast at the Waterfront Resort, we decided to drive towards Dhampus for better and closer views of the mountain ranges. Dhampus is a small ethnic Gurung village strung out along a ridge and boasts of fantastic panoramic views of the iconic Machapuchre along with the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Himchuli and Lamjung Himal mountain range. Situated at an altitude of 1750m above sea level, it lies at just some 30kms drive from Pokhara. After a fast 23km drive along the scenic and open Pokhara-Baglung Highway, we reached Phedi village and took the roughly 7km off-road detour for Dhampus. Since none of us had ever driven up here before, we were not really sure if the off road ahead could be navigated by the Vista D90. But the Vista D90 being the kind of car that provokes your adventurous side, we took the leap of faith. Unfortunately, the road did not turn out to be in our favour; not really the kind where you would actually prefer taking a hatchback or sedan. However, not the ones to give up, we still pushed the D90 to carefully ride over the uneven obstacles and the turbocharger would spool out enough juice from the motor to trundle past some of the steep inclines. After the moderate off-road driving through sparse villages and short stretch of woods, a close face-to-face view of a long range of mountains greeted us on our arrival at Dhampus. It was a pretty sight to witness the panoramic views of the various mountain ranges from such a close distance, what easily felt like just at a stone’s throw. All that effort seemed worthwhile after all!

 

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We then explored around Dhampus for a while and returned back to Pokhara. After another heavy bout of lunch at the Pokhara Thakali Kitchen, it was time to unwind. And what better way to do it than hiring a spacious paddle boat with a good stock of chilled beer to boot and making merry in the middle of the massive Fewa Lake, soaking in the majestic views of the Machapuchre range. But ironically, a couple of hours later, all that wishful thinking didn’t turn out to be our best ideas when we had to literally paddle-rush back to the shore to attend the call of nature due to the excess consumption of beer. Nevertheless, it was a good idea while it lasted! Done with the boating fun, we returned back to the Lakeside area and just wandered around the area aimlessly for a while. As the evening closed in, we headed towards the Damside area which is popularly known for their various local Pork barbeque joints. After a good barbeque meal, we frequented the Busy Bee yet again for the customary evening round of drinks and called it an early night. It had been an amazing day, with a good drive experience backed up by the majestic scenic views.

 

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The next day we made a very quick morning start for the return trip back to Kathmandu. With the roads literally empty in the wee hours of the morning, the Vista D90 raced ahead effortlessly and we managed to cover up the 200km distance pretty soon. Only to find ourselves back in the disappointing everyday hustle bustle of the notorious traffic chaos in the capital! Phew…

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