An ancient natural fortified market town, Bandipur is a jewel often overlooked by the tourists visiting Nepal. The town of 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.
The town of Bandipur was introduced to me in a casual conversation that I had with one of my local friend from the Kathmandu city of Nepal, just when we finished attending one of the most prominent festival of Newari community of Kathmandu called Indra Jatra, which is where I could also catch a glimpse of the Kumari goddess of Nepal for the first time. So far in all my previous visits to Kathmandu city, I hadn’t got the chance to meet the living goddess of Nepal but it was during Indra Jatra that I could actually get a glimpse of her and could see her from really close 🙂
Our original plan post attending the festival of Newari community was to head to Pokhara but it was this conversation with my friend that led me to change the plan a bit and I decided to break the journey between Kathmandu city of Nepal and Pokhara. I am really glad that I decided to take a hault at the town of Bandipur because every second that I spend here was very much worth it
Bandipur: The Most Beautiful Newari Town of Nepal
The town of Bandipur in Nepal is a winding fifteen minute drive from the highway town of Dumre, which is between Kathmandu city and Pokhara. Honestly, if you ask me I feel that Bandipur village is one of the most beautiful town of Nepal which preserves the Newari culture in its utmost form. Newar community are the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and its surrounding areas, the touch of which can be prominently seen in the architectural buildings of Nepal. With time though some of these buildings are renovated and designed into new patterns which means that the country is losing its charm of tradition.
Walk through the streets of Bandipur and I can ensure you that this Newari town of Nepal still gives that feel of its bygone era, through its red-brick mansions, courtyards and bronze ornamentation that are nothing but a reflection of the older times of Kathmandu city. Though, the buildings at Bandipur are renovated and turned into guesthouses to serve the tourists but the locals here ensured that this cute little town of Nepal doesn’t lose its shine and everyone gets to experience the traditional Newari culture, same for which Bandipur town is known. Though personally, I thought that the construction of these buildings resembled the French colony of Puducherry, which has got a very European feel to it.
The Emergence of Bandipur Town in Nepal
Bandipur Town was originally a part of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun, ruled from nearby Palpa (Tansen), but Newari traders flooded the area, after Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley. Bandipur valley was considered the richest center because it was connected to the Tibetan trade routes through the Himalayas and therefore many Newari traders would stop here
During the 1800s, town of Bandipur grew in wealth as the traders came from Tibet with musk pods, mountain herbs, animal skins, and horses. Calico, tobacco, glassware, and kerosene came in from the British India. However, when Nepal opened their doors to the world in the 1950s, Pokhara with its airfield began to gain importance. In 1972 the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway by-passed Bandipur which I feel was a blessing in disguise as the place was able to preserve its traditional charm. While many Newar hill towns lost their shine and distinctiveness after joining the highway grid, Bandipur retained its originality.
There was no road that ran through Bandipur village until 2003, and the flag-stoned market here is still traffic-free. The vehicle needs to be parked a kilometre away in a dedicated area, before entering this main town of Bandipur. Indeed, a welcome reprieve in the otherwise crowded cities of Nepal. I guess that is the reason why the air of Bandipur smells so pure
What are the Top things to see in the town of Bandipur, Nepal
There isn’t much to do in the town of Bandipur and shouldn’t do anything here ideally except relaxing because it is that kind of a place. On a clear day, few of the world’s highest mountain are visible from Bandipur including Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. Though I haven’t had been this lucky to see them for real in all my visit to this ancient Newari town but here is an ultimate travel guide to explore Bandipur of Nepal
Khadga Devi Temple: An uphill walk of ten minutes from the main town of Bandipur, will take you the Khadga Devi temple which enshrines the sword of Mukunda Sen, the 16th-century king of Palpa (Tansen). It is said that this sword was gifted to the King by the Lord Shiva and therefore it is revered as a symbol of Shakti.
It also said that anyone who would either touch or see this sword in real will die immediately. This is the exact reason why it is kept covered. Though, I couldn’t see the sword as the temple doors were closed but what I loved the most about this temple was its hiking trail and the pristine surroundings amidst which it is built.
Meditation Cave and Unnamed Monastery: About thirty minutes uphill hike from the Khadga Devi temple, will reveal a cave which is said to be the meditation center for the saints. To reach the cave there are thousands of stairs which shall take you there but take taxi on the return since it will take a lot of time to get back. There is also an unnamed monastery in Bandipur which is still under construction
Tindhara: Tin- Dhara which translates to three taps is the local bathing and washing area however, I spotted nearly five taps here which were intricately carved with the sculptures of various deities which lends an idea that this place was restored as it. Historically, Tindhara was a natural water source body which was used by the Newari community during their settlement at this place.
Tundikhel: On the top of a cliff to tile north-east of Bandipur town, there lies an open air field, from where the visitors can view the surrounding himalayan ranges as well as the Marshyangdi Valley. We hiked up but since the sky remained clouded, we couldn’t spot anything
The local temples, houses and Market area: The walk inside the main town of Bandipur is a lot in itself. There are local temples that can be visited here or the artistically designed houses by the locals or the fun conversation with them. There is a lot that you can do inside Bandipur incase you do not want to visit the tourist sites
The vehicle needs to be parked a kilometre away in a dedicated area, before entering this main town of Bandipur
Bandipur gets a little cold during the night therefore carry the light woolens during the summer months (April-September) as well
I would personally recommend booking your meal with the guesthouse where you will opt to stay because I wasn’t impressed with the restaurant food
Despite its proximity to the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, the town of Bandipur escaped with minor damage, though a number of village houses collapsed but a visit to this beautiful town of Nepal remains a memorable experience
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