Bandipur

Located at a height of 1030m, Bandipur offers unique view of Himalayan range and hills with its terrace fields. As you enter Bandipur, you are suddenly transformed to a serene environment that is rejuvenating yet exciting. Due to diversity of ethnic groups living in Bandipur, it celebrates a wide variety of feasts and festivals. Among which the festival of Khadga Devi is widely celebrated. Traditional dances are also popular in Bandipur. The most popular dance is Chutka mainly performed by Gurung girls in traditional dresses while men sing along the tambourine. Other popular dances are Sorathi and Ghatu. Ghatu is performed in Baishak Purnima where unmarried girls dance to the songs of married women. Besides cultural experience, various activities await you in Bandipur. The Newar community lives in the main Bandipur Bazaar while the original Magar and other ethnic groups live in surrounding hills.

Bandipur is also a gateway to the famous Annapurna trek. With a wide variety of guest houses, hotels and human resource including guides, Banidipur proves to be one of the most potent touristic areas.

History

Bandipur was urbanized in the early 19th century when Prithvi Narayan Shah completed his conquest of Kathmandu Valley.  The resident settlement of Newars moved out to establish trading posts in the nearby hills and mountain where this village became a trading post between Tibet and India. Along with their trading skills Newar businessman from other parts of the country settled here, the Newars from Bhaktapur bought with them their culture and craftsmanship which flourished this mountain village.

During the 1800s, the Bandipur bazaar established itself as a major hub where all goods were carried on the porter back and through the stone paved way. Traders from all over came in to do business. Herbs, animal skin and horses came in from Tibet, while traders from India came with tobacco, glassware and kerosene.

All this changed after the construction of the Prithvi Highway which bypassed Bandipur. The vibrant city lost its glory where the new highway turned its business transit route to another location. Today Bandipur is slowly and steadily trying to establish itself as a tourist destination where efforts are being done by all stakeholders.

Location

Bandipur is located 27.56N and 84.25 E at an elevation of 1030m. It is approximately 700m above the Marsyangdi River valley. Bandipur is situated 143 km to west of Kathmandu and 80 km to the east of Pokhara.

Getting Around

Bandipur is on a high ridge 8km above Dumre Bazaar. It is 143 km west of Kathmandu and 70km from Pokhara. You can take a bus or hire a vehicle to reach Bandipur. If you take a bus from Kathmandu to Bandipur then you need to stop at Dumre from there you can take a bus or jeep to Bandipur. Jeeps can easily rent from Dumre Bazaar. For adventure enthusiast, there is a historical trail at Dumre Bazaar that takes you through the pristine jungles of Bandipur. This trail was the only way to reach Bandipur before urbanization. If you are a hiker or adventure seeker then travelling through this historic route and take pleasure of the surrounding is a added bonus. The trail starts at the eastern end of Dumre Bazaar and end at Tundikhel in Bandipur. After you reach Bandipur, you can either walk around or hire a cycle as it is strictly a no vehicle town.

Attractions

Stone paved with traditional Newari cribs the Bandipur Bazaar is the main market square. With traditional style of slate roofs, intricate wood and door carvings, Bandipur make you feel home with its cozy and warm presence. The bazaar rounds up many temples and historical buildings of great significance are magnificent.  The main town square hosts major ceremonies and festivals of Bandipur. Teen Dhara is a three stoned water spout on the eastern side of the town and it is a popular picnic spot and has restaurants and guest houses nearby.

A short walk to the north of bazaar takes you to Tundikhel which is a hub of outdoor activities for all ages. This was originally developed as a military parade ground but later turned into a promenade along with other outdoor sports.  You can get breathtaking view of the Himalayas and the winding Marshyangdi River from this place during the sunrise and sunset. Another interesting place to enjoy the view of mountain and bazaar is the Thani Mai hill to the west end of the town. It is a 20 minute walk up a hill. Sunrise and sunset from this hill top is scenic and heavenly.

The caves of Bandipur hold religious significance for the locals and are filled with natural artworks created by the stalactites and stalagmites. The Siddha Cave which was discovered in 1987 is probably the biggest cave in the Himalayan Region. The cave is more than 220m in length and 50m in height. To reach here you have to walk half an hour hike from Bimal Nagar, sleepy little highway town. You can also continue your hike from the cave to Bazaar enjoying the natural flora and fauna. Likewise, the Gadhi is a fort sitting on top of a hill on the northeast of Bandipur. From here you can get amazing views of the Himalaya. The trenches of the fort are still visible which lies rusted and least bothered.

Bindebasini Temple is a pagoda style temple situated in the heart of the bazaar. It is the perfect example of Newar craftsmanship. Bindebasini is regarded as an avatar of Goddess Durga.  Especially during the Bisket Festival, a mid-April celebration, the idol is taken on a tour of the town accompanied by a traditional band which is very exciting and interesting. Amongst numerous temples Pharpani Mahadev is yet another attraction that is crowded with Hindu pilgrims and is located 15 minute walk to the north of Bandipur Bazaar. Inside the cave there is a waterspout where the different forms of god are worshipped.

Similarly, Padma Library is a historic library established in the year 1945 which serves the normal public and a must place to visit in Bandipur.

There are numerous adventurous activities available in Bandipur. One of the famous activities is hiking along trails that take you through tribal villages.  Paragliding from the hills of Bandipur gives you the bird’s eye view of the entire region. You can enjoy the hills, river and mountain views while gliding in the sky. Another exciting activity in Bandipur is rock climbing on the cliff above Bimal Nagar. Bandipur is also a pleasurable destination for cycling enthusiast. You can either cycle the 8km road from Dumre or bike around Bandipur town enjoying and celebrating the richness of tradition.

Accomandation

Hospitality is the key of the Bandipur people where people are greeted and treated with respect in accordance to their cultural and traditional beliefs. The tradition of welcoming guests as God’s is still practiced here where you need to be prepared for the luxury.

Old Inn is a restored Newari house with eleven rooms located in the center of Bandipur. The house is like entering an earlier age with the low ceilings and architecture. The décor of the Inn is also very ethnic with local artifacts and furnishings. The rooms are elegant and clean and the staffs are incredibly nice. The facilities are shared but plenty. All meals are included which you can enjoy in the terrace overlooking the mountains.

Gaun Ghar is an eco friendly hotel and is one of the first buildings to be restored in Bandipur. The building was restored from a rundown building to its original Newari style. All the food served in the hotel is locally grown and organic. Energy and water usage in the hotel is also kept to a minimum.

Bandipur Mountain Resort is located around 5 to 10 minutes walk from the Bandipur Bazaar, it offers magnificent sunrise views over the Himalayas. The views of Annapurna, Manaslu and Langtang from the hotel rooms are breathtaking. The resort is set among the sal trees and the historic Tundhikhel is right in front of the resort.

Places to eat

Ke Garne Café: Ke Garne in Nepali means what to do? It is located on the main square and is a perfect place to drink tea or coffee while you enjoy the view from the terrace.

Bandipur Café: This is a local restaurant located on the square offering a selection of Indian and Nepali food.

Notes:

There is an EU funded information center on the main square. Guides can also be arranged for a day. While guides are highly useful and informative, it is better to buy a map and roam around Bandipur