Bandipur – A Living Museum
Me and Manish, we are in love with a small village nestled along a high ridge above Dumre, and not only we have included a short stay in Bandipur in many of our tours, but often when we decide to escape the chaos of Kathmandu, we take our bike and go to spend a few days there.
Bandipur is a real national treasure and an open-air museum of Newari culture and customs. This village was originally part of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun and was an important stop along the commercial route between India and Tibet.
The journey from Kathmandu to Bandipur is not very long, it takes 3 – 4 hours to reach Dumre and then half an hour to go up to the village of Bandipur. From Kathmandu, the buses to Pokhara stop in Dumre and then you can take a taxi, a jeep, or a minibus to reach the village.
Once you arrive, you will be pleasantly surprised that cars, bikes, and scooters are strictly prohibited to enter the village. You can, therefore, spend whole days walking through the town and the surrounding Magar villages.
In Bandipur, there are some interesting temples to see, among them the Bindebasini Mandir, covered with ancient carvings and consecrated to Durga, and the Khadga Devi Mandir. This squat building, shaped like a barn, holds the sacred sword of Mukunda Sen, who during the XVI century was the king of Palpa. Once a year, during the Dasain festival, the sword is carried to the main Bazaar and washed with the blood of a sheep.
It is very relaxing and pleasant to walk through the Balabazaar, an amazing gallery of ancient shop-houses, once inhabited by Newari cloth merchants, and through the narrow streets, where you can see farmers taking care of their gardens, women carrying baskets of freshly cut grass for the animals, children piling cobs of corn on wooden frames and chickens clucking.
Another easy walk is the one which is 30 minutes takes to the silk factory, where silkworms are bred.
Another gem of Bandipur is Tundikhel, the ancient parade ground, which opens onto a ridge from the flat top. The view of the Himalayas from here is breathtaking. Go there at sunset when the setting sun dyes the tops of pink and golden shades.
If you have more time to spend, it is very interesting to visit the famous Siddha Gufa, which is said to be the largest cave in Nepal. The entrance is narrow but leads to a big vaulted room, where many stalactites and stalagmites are found. It is advisable to be accompanied by a local guide.
The medieval aspect, the many interesting walks, and the chance to get to know closely the rural life of Newari farmers make Bandipur a lovely place and a must not be missed.
Gau Ghar: a wonderful Newari house completely restored for a stay full of refinement and good taste. The breakfast on the panoramic terrace alone is worth a visit to Bandipur.