The World Peace Pagoda is a popular destination southwest of Pokhara, situated at an altitude of almost 1000 meters. Visitors can enjoy views of the Himalayan peaks, as well as Phewa Lake and Sarangkot Mountain. To reach the World Peace Pagoda, you can take a taxi from Pokhara, but you still have to walk a bit to reach the pagoda and its main viewpoint. Alternatively, you can rent a bike or a motorbike and brave the steep and rocky roads. Or you can do a panoramic hiking loop as I did: hike for two hours from Pokhara Damside, along a trail through the forest, and go down to Phewa Lake along the Stupa Walkway.
From Lakeside, all local buses go to Damside Road. When the bus I was on passed the famous German Bakery, a good landmark, I knew it was time to get off and start walking. It was easy to spot the brilliant white pagoda uphill and head towards it.
There were not many tourists in the area and local people could guess easily where I was going. I followed their generous indications and, in a couple of minutes, I reached the footbridge over the Pardi Khola (river). After crossing the bridge, the trail splits – the way to the right climbs steeply, following some stone steps, while the way to the left goes up more smoothly and is suitable for bikers, too.
I spotted a group of trekkers and joined them. We passed a small brick temple on the left and climbed up the regular steps that marked the ‘good way.’ The footpath brought us to a viewpoint over Phewa Lake, from where we had a good view of Damside. We continued west along the ridge and ignored other trails that appeared at the sides. The trail had many ups and downs, sometimes with stone steps, and eventually climbed steeply to the left before reaching the crossroads with the World Peace Stupa Access Road.
Once we found ourselves in a populated area, several lodges and cafes welcomed visitors to enjoy the panoramic view while having coffee or tea. A new large dirt road followed the ridge up to the pagoda, where a mass of tourists was walking clockwise around the central stupa. Japanese Buddhist monks constructed the stupa in 1973 to promote world peace. Its brilliant white color creates a serene and tranquil atmosphere. There, I stayed for at least an hour and looked around in amazement at the surrounding landscape. I had both panoramic views of the local villages on one side and of the great Himalayan peaks, from Dhaulagiri to Machhapuchhare and Annapurna II.
As more and more people came uphill, it was easy to spot the walkway going back down to Phewa Lake. The footpath starts just below the terrace of the stupa, and descends steeply along a paved path with cut stone steps. After passing through the forest, the trail passes close to some local households and lodges with large terraces overlooking Phewa Lake. Blooming trees cover the walkway further on, and soon the pathway reached the small bay of Pumdi Bhumdi.
At the bay, several boatmen waited patiently next to their colorful boats. The boat trip crossing Phewa Lake from Pumdi Bhumdi bay to Phewa Ghat lasts up to half an hour, and it is a good opportunity to enjoy the sight of Himalayan peaks reflecting on the water. It is also a relaxing way to end a hiking day and a panoramic loop at the World Peace Pagoda.
Hiking to the World Peace Pagoda is a good warm-up if you’re going into a longer trek around the Annapurna Region. The round trip gives a real insight into how a Nepali trek looks like and trains you up for the long steep slopes of the more challenging Himalayas.