Pokhara is a popular place to relax and unwind but after visiting Bandipur Nepal I can’t recommend it more. Bandipur trip was one of a kind; you get surprised the most when you expect the least. A beautiful hilltop town has preserved its cultural heritage which today attracts tourists both local and foreigners.
Bandipur lies around 150km westwards of Kathmandu and 80km eastwards of Pokhara. When you want a break from a long bus journey of Kathmandu and Pokhara, a stop at Bandipur is advised.
We took a tourist bus in the morning from Kathmandu and around 5 hours later we reach Dumre. On Prithivi Highway or Kathmandu Pokhara Highway, terraced farmland, meandering river, and few stops with bazaar entertained us. We took a taxi to Bandipur from Dumre Bazaar and our car left us at the entrance of Bandipur. After being in the chaotic capital, Kathmandu, I was glad to know that the main street or Bandipur Bazaar as they call it, is a vehicle-free zone. It seemed like an ordinary hilltop settlement but as I walked around the town of Bandipur opened up only to mesmerize me. A walk in the cobblestone streets of Bandipur felt like strolling in a European street. The main street has buildings with balconies, colorful flowers along with a front porch seating area. A porch is a perfect place to sip a drink of your choice and chat or simply relish the view.
When merchants from Kathmandu valley especially, Bhaktapur migrated to Bandipur they brought their architectural beauty along. I have been to Kathmandu so I wasn’t overwhelmed by the architecture of Bandipur. However, I got more time to observe the intricate designs of the buildings in Bandipur filled with 18th-century architecture. I cherish the experience more as there were no vehicles or passersby to disturb me. I wonder how such a charming place remains lesser-known.
On suggestions of locals, we visited a Buddhist monastery, Tudikhel, Thani Mai Temple and Tin Dhara. The main attractions of Bandipur lie in the close proximity of the main bazaar. There are markings but when in doubt ask friendly locals the way to your desired location they are happy to help.
I will always remember this walk to the Buddha Monastery. We took our own sweet time to reach the monastery chatting and enjoying the walk in this town. The golden statues of Buddhas were glistening and the light from butter lamps was adding to the luster. I always look forward to experience tranquility in a monastery and I was happy to feel the same here. From the vicinity of the monastery, you can see the town of Bandipur spreading in front of you below.
We returned to the main street of Bandipur for some snacks. When in Bandipur, I recommend you try sel roti which is made fresh in front of you. Sel roti is a deep-fried rice flour delicacy similar to doughnuts in shape but drastically different in terms of taste and texture. You can easily locate the local shop selling the sweet treat on the main bazaar itself.
Tundikhel is a famous vantage point in Bandipur for mountain views. From here, you can see a series of stunning mountain ranges including Fishtail, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, and others, on a clear day. We stood in the big ground of Tundikhel waiting for sunset that must have been bustling with the traders bargaining for the best price of an item centuries ago. Do you know that Tundikhel was once a place to trade where goods from India and Tibet were put on display? Once a significant place, Tundikhel is a playground for children and also has football posts for local games.
I enjoyed the sunset for Tundikhel leaving orange streaks along with approaching twilight. For me, Bandipur is emblematic of Newari town far from Kathmandu and is much cleaner and peaceful. At that moment, I felt some places are better left lesser-known. Had it been more popular I doubt my experience would have been as wonderful as it was!
Bandipur is a Newari town so you ought to find scrumptious Newari food items. Food is an integral part of the Newari culture. You will find meat items cooked in different styles and tempered with a nice blend of spices. Also, a vegetarian can try out different dishes made of potatoes, lentils, soya bean, and others. Talking about other food items you will find a menu similar to other places in Nepal.
The next day, we woke up early in the morning to catch the sunrise from a hill-top temple with a view. An ascending path took us to the vantage point in Gurungche Hill in around 30 minutes. Towards the edge of the hill, there is a small temple of goddess Thani Mai. A cool breeze was touching my face as I watched intersecting jade color hills popping up in the blanket of clouds. More than the sunrise this view is imprinted in my memory. Pictures don’t do justice to the amazing Bandipur. After my failure in capturing the awe-inspiring view, I sat down on a bench to cherish the view in front of me. Indeed, it was the best decision.
The last stop on this Bandipur trip was Tin Dhara. It’s basically water spout where you will see locals carrying out their daily chores. Tin Dhara translates into 3 water spouts but there were more than 2 spouts that were added later. Similar to the water spouts in Kathmandu, it has stone carvings and you can see serpent head in these five water spouts.
On this trip, I gave Siddha Cave a miss. The second-largest in South Asia and largest cave in Nepal is approximately 440 meters deep and 50 meters high. The interior of the cave is formed from stalagmites and stalactites and hundreds of Bats live in this cave. It is a popular day hike when in Bandipur but I would rather choose to enjoy the mountain views from the hilltop. With many delightful memories to treasure lifelong, I took a last look at the stone-paved street from our hotel room balcony before leaving for Pokhara.
I would highly recommend you to stop at Bandipur when doing three popular city tour of Nepal. You can either do a one day trip to Bandipur or stay overnight in this beautiful hill town. It’s the best way to break a long bus journey between touristy cities of Nepal, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan.
If time doesn’t constrain you from extending your trip then you must stay at hilltop settlement of Bandipur for a night. Also, balance your travel with a visit to Bandipur when in Nepal for your adventure holidays.