An ancient natural fortified market town, Bandipur is a jewel often overlooked by tourists visiting Nepal. Bandipur is Nepal’s best kept secret which still gives that rare hint of being discovered for the first time. Don’t miss its eagle nest location, idyllic farms and orange groves.
After catching all the live action of Indra Jatra, we the team of bloggers were suppose to head towards Pokhara from Kathmandu but my meeting with the owner of Dwarika Chenn, lead me to change this plan a bit. All in good faith and thankfully my blogger friends were enough supportive of this slight change in the itinerary. He introduced me to Bandipur but what got me intrigued was when he mentioned that it is one of UNESCO world heritage town of Nepal. Offcourse, it is nothing like that but I am still enough grateful to Sagar that he directed us to a place which so well preserved and ignorant to regular visitors.
Our plan was to stop at Bandipur for Breakfast but what we saw left us awestruck and we spent next 3 hours exploring the place at its best. Cleanliness, happiness, positivity and the tranquillity bestowed us and we made a promise that we will come back
Bandipur is a winding fifteen minute drive from the highway town of Dumre, part way between Kathmandu and Pokhara. As we were heading towards this small town, the scenic vista and the lush green patches on route was constantly reminding me of Kinnaur Valley. Infact, every bit of it. No road ran through Bandipur until 2003, and the flag-stoned market is still traffic-free. The vehicle needs to get parked 1 kilometre before entering this small town, a welcome reprieve in otherwise crowded Nepal.
The small town of Bandipur preserves the capital city’s Newari culture in its utmost form. The Newars are Nepal’s historical ‘inhabitants and that is the reason why the majority of its distinctive architecture reflects its style. Bandipur’s red-brick mansions, courtyards and bronze ornamentation give an idea of what the Newari towns of the Kathmandu Valley would have looked like during the older times before it got bombarded with shops and tourists.
Though a part of these buildings resembles the French colony of Pondicherry and have a very European feel to it. Some of these houses have been renovated and turned into accommodation for tourists wanting to break up the journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara
Emergence of Bandipur
Bandipur was originally part of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun, ruled from nearby Palpa (Tansen), but Newari traders flooded in after the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah. It was also the richest center because they had connections to Tibetan trade routes through the Himalayas.
In the 1800s, Bandipur grew in wealth as traders came from Tibet with musk pods, mountain herbs, animal skins, and horses. Calico, tobacco, glassware, and kerosene came in from British India. However, when Nepal opened their doors to the world in the 1950s, Pokhara with its airfield began to gain importance, and in 1972 the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway by-passed Bandipur.
But I would rather say that road’s re-alignment was indeed a blessing in disguise. While many Newar hill towns lost their shine and distinctiveness after joining the highway grid, Bandipur retained its originality. Because Bandipur’s merchant class had built sturdily, their buildings have stood firm and are used today once more to house shops, cafes and lodgings.
There is not much to do in Bandipur, other than take leisurely walks, but that is its attraction. The more we got inside this little town, the more we fell in love. A part of Bandipur also reminded me of Kinnaur Valley and Pondicherry
Things to do at Bandipur:
If you are someone like me, the best we could do is- doing nothing at all and just take a chair and pull back to enjoy the nature in its utmost glory. On a clear day, few of world’s highest mountains are visible from Bandipur including Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. But since it was the monsoon season, the ranges were cloud laden, leaving me yet again to crave for them more
But having said this, we did visit few attractions at Bandipur
Khadga Devi Temple: A wide flight of stone steps leads up the hillside to this barn-like temple, which enshrines the sword of Mukunda Sen, the 16th-century king of Palpa (Tansen) and we were told that it was a a gift from Shiva, the blade is revered as a symbol of Shakti. It also said that the one who would touch or see this sword will die immediately and the reason why it has kept covered. Though we couldn’t either see the sword nor got an opportunity to touch it as the temple doors were closed. But what I loved the most about this temple was its hiking trail and the pristine surroundings.
A Cave and Monastery: The cafe where we stopped also told us about a cave and a Monastery after hiking up a bit from Khadga temple. Though we couldn’t find anything but the scenic vista on the way had us senses filled.
Tindhara: Tin- Dhara which translates to three taps is the local washing area, where locals bathed and washed clothes under ornate stone spouts. It was natural water source body which was used by the Newar community during their settlement at this place. Tin-Dhara has intricately carved scupltures
Tundikhel: On the top of a cliff to tile north-east of Bandipur town, there lies an open air field, from where visitors can view the surrounding mountains as well as the Marshyangdi Valley.
Despite its proximity to the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, Bandipur escaped with only minor damage, though a number of village houses collapsed.