An an­cient, nat­u­ral, for­ti­fied mar­ket town, Bandipur is a lit­tle jewel of­ten over­looked by tourists vis­it­ing Nepal. It is Nepal’s best kept se­cret, and still pro­vides that rare ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing dis­cov­ered for the first time. This small town is ap­prox­i­mately 150 kilo­me­tres from Kath­mandu en­route to Pokhara. It pro­vides an un­ri­valed view of the Hi­malayan panorama and over­looks the Marsyangdi river val­ley and high­lights the Ne­wari cul­ture, once vi­brant in Kath­mandu but now rarely vis­i­ble, in its au­then­tic form. One of Nepal’s bestkept towns, it is home to the Ne­wari peo­ple and a liv­ing mu­seum of Ne­wari cul­ture – a beau­ti­fully pre­served vil­lage crown­ing a lofty ridge, its main street lined with tra­di­tional row houses. Time seems to have stood still here, al­though it has taken a lot of ef­fort to pre­serve this magic while de­vel­op­ing the town as a des­ti­na­tion. Derelict build­ings have been re­born as cafes and lodges, and tem­ples and civic build­ings have been pulled back from the edge of ruin. With its at­trac­tive 18th-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture, pedes­trian zone and out­door din­ing, it has a dis­tinctly Euro­pean feel. Its ea­gle nest lo­ca­tion, idyl­lic farms and or­ange groves make it a stun­ning des­ti­na­tion..

The Ne­wars are Nepal’s his­tor­i­cal in­hab­i­tants, which is why the ma­jor­ity of its strik­ing ar­chi­tec­ture re­flects the Ne­war’s im­print. While walk­ing through Bandipur you can’t ig­nore the red-brick man­sions, court­yards and bronze or­na­men­ta­tion which gives an idea of what the an­cient Ne­wari town of Kath­mandu would have looked like in olden times, be­fore it was over­run with shops and tourists. Many of these stun­ning build­ings have been ren­o­vated and turned into ac­com­mo­da­tion for tourists want­ing to break up their jour­ney be­tween Kath­mandu and Pokhara.

Bandipur is a wind­ing, fif­teen minute drive from the high­way town of Dumre, mid­way be­tween Kath­mandu and Pokhara. It was on a chance de­tour we took on our way to Pokhara that I hap­pened upon Bandipur, en­route to Kath­mandu. What we found was a rev­e­la­tion of Nepal’s best-kept se­crets. Our plan was to halt at Bandipur for half an hour for break­fast but the tran­quil­lity of the place over­took us and we spent the next many hours ex­plor­ing it, not want­ing to leave at all.

Bandipur was orig­i­nally a part of the Ma­gar king­dom of Tanahun, ruled from nearby Palpa (Tansen), but Ne­wari traders flooded in from Bhak­ta­pur and Kath­mandu af­ter the con­quest of the val­ley by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The town was an im­por­tant stop on the In­dia-ti­bet trade route un­til it was by­passed by the Prithvi Hwy in the 1960s. In the 1800s, Bandipur grew in wealth, as traders came loaded 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 its doors to the world in the 1950s,

Time seems to have stood still in Bandipur

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