Before the construction of the Prithvi Hwy, getting to Pokhara involved a 10-day pony trek, with numerous deadly river crossings along the way. When the Swiss explorer Toni Hagen visited in 1952, he found ambling buffalo carts and streets lined with brick Newari houses. Hints of this time can still be seen in old Pokhara, just north of the Mahendra Pul bazaar.
Aside from the odd explorer, the first Westerners to reach Pokhara were hippies in the 1970s. With its lakeshore setting, laid-back pace and plentiful supply of marijuana, Pokhara made a perfect endpoint for the south Asian overland trail. From these barefoot beginnings, it developed rapidly. By the 1980s, it had transformed into a modern mountain resort, with hundreds of hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.
Today, Pokhara is basically Thamel by the water, but you only have to wander north around the lakeshore to find the peaceful idyll that first attracted people here in the 1970s.