Wednesday, February 4, 2015


By Sabin Chakradhar

Bandipur is a small town in Nepal located 143km west of Kathmandu and 73km south of Pokhara. This town is said to be established by the newar community of Bhaktapur, during the 19th century. When malaria was the epidemic in Nepal, the tradesman of Bhaktapur, found Bandipur to be an ideal location for settlement as this place was free from malaria and situated in India-Tibet trade route. This town flourished during the Rana regime (1846-1951 AD) in Nepal, and was also permitted to have its own library at the time when common people of the country were not allowed to be educated. But later in the 1970’s when the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway was constructed, Bandipur was left unattended, neglected and isolated at the top of the mountains. The town then started to decline, people started to leave the place and it turned into a small ghost town.

Bandipur was established by the people from Bhaktapur community, so the craftsmanship, skills and cultural heritage is much like the Bhaktapur. The cultural heritage and identity of the town was on the verge of extinction when the road was constructed in 1998 A.D. linking Bandipur to Kathmandu–Pokhara highway which revived the town once again. In 2000 A.D. the government granted budget for the renovation of the old library, the Padma Library, which motivated the residents to develop the towninto a tourist hub. Though some of the houses in the outer core are still in pretty bad shape, most of the houses along the main roads are renovated and adapted to use as restaurants and lodges for tourists.

A distinctive feature of buildings in Bandipurs’ main street is a covered veranda extending along almost the entire length on the northern side. Most of the buildings still have small shops in them on the ground floor facing the street (like buildings in Bhaktapur). Floors of the main streets are paved with the slate slabs due to which the vehicles are not allowed inside the main street. Brick manufactured from local clay is use as the main building material along with the finely chiseled stones to make close fitting blocks for foundation and local clay tiles for roofing materials. Wood is used as the structural members such as beams, posts and strut to supports overhangs. These wooden elements are decorated with an array of detailed relief carving. Some of the unique and elaborate carvings can be seen on the windows grills, eaves, doors, Struts etc.  Most of the houses in this town are 3-4 storied, maintaining the skyline of the town.

The major market of Bandipur is the Chadani chowk which has stone paved streets and is lined with around 340 traditional houses. It hosts the historic Bandipur library and a temple at the centre. Tundikhel lies just a mile away from this main chowk and offers fantastic panoramic views of the mountain ranges. Also the other hill Gurungchae, which takes about 30 minutes’ walk uphill offers stunning view of the market especially during sunrise and sunset. Bandipur is also famous for an adventurous hiking trip of 90 minutes downhill to Siddha Gufa, which is known as largest cave in Nepal. Due to the geographical features and the budget issues, the hiking trail is not well developed. It gets slippery and dangerous to pass during the monsoon season. Another interesting location to visit in Bandipur is the magar village which can be accessed within an hour, towards the west of bandipur. The main attraction of this village is the round house of Magars. This area is untouched by the modern development and reflects on the rural lifestyle of Nepal. Besides these, there are also numerous hindu temples to visit in Bandipur.

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