|Elevation||1,030 m (3,380 ft)|
|Total Population (2011)||15,591|
|Area code (Tel)||065|
Bandipur is a popular village of Nepal located just 8 kms off Kathmandu – Pokhara highway from Dumre in Tanahun district. It lies almost in the center of Nepal between the highway triangle of Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan. It is also known as Queen of hills due to its beautiful natural environment and heritage. Being a sample village of Asia, this village is a leading example of rural tourist destinations in Nepal.
History of Bandipur, Tanahun
An ancient village of central Nepal.
Bandipur is a group of small villages located on hilly ridges of Tanahun district in the western region of Nepal. These hills, situated at 1000 meters above sea level and close to Indian Gangetic plains (Terai), were good locations with very favorable environment for villages to groom, especially with its own spring water source. Even the name, Bandipur, in ethnic Magar language suggests ‘forest water’.
The oldest villages on the hill top ridges of Bandipur, namely Baralthok, Silthok are of Magar ethnicity. Magar people are one of the ethnic people of hills of Nepal. They ruled most parts of central Nepal from 800 to 1200 years ago, in the name of Bahrah Magarath (12 Magar States), with its capital as Tansing, today known as Tansen in Palpa.
The name of Bandipur village was first recorded in history more than 500 years ago during the times of King Mukunda Sen of Tansing, Palpa. Mukunda Sen became the king after his father Rudra Sen, who had captured the capital from the Magars. Then, Mukunda Sen became a great king by capturing most of the states and even expanding it further, all the way to Koshi river in east. It is mentioned in history that he even attacked Kathmandu, then known as Nepal.
On his way back to Tansing after his great wars, King Mukunda Sen is said to have stayed in Bandipur for some days to rest. One day he was walking around the villages as a stranger and stopped in an old woman’s house for overnight. The old woman offered him different varieties of delicious food. He mixed everything into one and ate. Seeing that, the old woman got angry and told him that he should learn to enjoy the taste of food. Every variety has its own taste. She told him not to be like King Mukunda Sen, who is trying to unite everyone into one.
Hearing this, the King felt bad. He thought he had achieved a great success; on the other hand, it was a great mistake. Legends say that the King repented his wars that night in Bandipur and left his sword in the old woman’s house. He went back to his capital, renounced his throne to his four sons and spent rest of his life in seclusion in Devghat. His kingdom was divided into Palpa (Tansen), Butwal, Tanahun and Makwanpur.
The sword was kept safely by the old woman, if the man returned for it. But, after some time, she started having troubles in her house. So, she called for a Jhakri, Shaman, to check her house. The shaman found that the sword, which belonged to the stranger, was the problem. He said the sword is very powerful and must be taken out of the house immediately with religious rituals. Then a temple was made to house the sword. The sword still exists in Khadga Devi Temple in Bandipur and is worshipped by the ethnic Magar people every once a year during the eight day of Dashain.
Even, half millennia back there were already few villages here in Bandipur. It was already a major trading stop. It is said that there used to be over 11 villages around Bandipur, mainly of Magar ethnic people, even before the unification of Nepal.
During the unification of Nepal, around 250 years ago, Tanahun was under the reign of King Trivikram Sen, descendants of King Mukunda Sen of Tansen, Palpa. In 1745 AD King Prithivi Narayan Shah of Gorkha, neighboring state of Tanahun, started unifying Nepal by capturing Nuwakot, on its eastern borders, and a major Himalayan pass connecting Tibet and Nepal valley. Then, the neighboring and brotherly state of Lamjung ruled by King Bir Mardan Shah attacked Gorkha, fearing its expansion. The Gorkhali army returned the favor by defeating the Lamjung force and capturing the capital.
Now, the King of Tanahun feared that King Prithivi Narayan Shah would attack him as well, even though he was their alley. So, King Trivikram Sen escaped from his capital, Tanahunsur, to Bandipur. The kings of Tanahun had never lost a war on the cliffs of Bandipur. So, the Gorkhali King requested for a peace deal. But, he captured the King of Tanahun in 1756 AD, when they met in secrecy to make the deal. Although, the king and most of the kingdom was captured, Bandipur was not. The prince of Tanahun with his army still held Bandipur from the Gorkhalis.
Then, King Prithivi Narayan Shah with the help of King Ranjeet Malla of Bhaktapur captured other Newari states. And finally, he chased away the King of Bhaktapur and shifted his capital from Gorkha to Nepal in 1769 AD.
Bandipur was not captured by the Gorkhalis during the life of King Prithivi Narayan Shah, not even during the short ruling time of his son King Pratap Singh Shah. It was finally annexed into Nepal in 1782 AD, during the reign of Queen Rajendra Laxmi Devi, more than 25 years later after Tanahun was captured by King Prithivi Narayan Shah.
The modern history of Bandipur started with the arrival of Newars from Bhaktapur. When King Ranjeet Malla had to leave Bhaktapur and go to India in exile, lots of his courtiers and citizens fled Bhaktapur and migrated to different parts of Nepal and India. Among them a small group found Bandipur and started to settle here. At that time, Bandipur was still ruled by King Hari Dutta Sen, son of King Trivikram Sen of Tanahun. Even when the Gorkhalis finally captured Bandipur, the Newars continued to live here.
These experienced traders from Bhaktapur made the most out of the good location of Bandipur. Within a century, and after the Anglo Nepalese War, Newars of Bandipur were becoming one of the biggest traders of this region. Then, Bandipur Bazaar became one of the biggest markets of central Nepal. Bandipur became bigger than ever. It was now the capital of Tanahun district of Nepal.
During the reign of Rana Prime Ministers in Nepal, Bandipure Newars had already started trading with British Raj in India. The new textiles from London were in Bandipur Bazaar. The market prospered more. It even became a center for money exchange for people travelling to India and also a major route for Gorkhali soldiers during World War I & II. The then, prosperity of Bandipur can still be seen in the houses built by the Newar traders in the Bazaar. These houses were built around 100 years ago by Newari builders from Bhaktapur. In its best days, all the houses in bazaar was filled with shops with more than 25 for cloth only. The bazaar became like a modern town with stone paved streets and houses with shops on both ends, filled with crowd of people. The first library outside Kathmandu was allowed to open in Bandipur in the name of the reigning Rana, Padma Sumsher. Bandipur was in its heyday. Later, people of Bandipur were also actively involved in the people’s revolution against the autocratic Rana regime in 1950 AD. Some people in Bandipur were also executed to repress the revolution.
Then, in 1970’s during the reign of King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah, a motorable highway form Kathmandu to Pokhara was constructed which changed the fate of Bandipur. This modern development changed the way people traded and travelled. Due, to its steep hill top location the highway did not come up. So, down went all the business and prosperity. Even, the district capital was shifted down to a highway town. The people of Bandipur did try their best to stop the change and revolted against army and administration. But, the fate of Bandipur was not to change. So, most of the people, especially Newari traders, migrated to other places connected by highways and Bandipur was left isolated on the hill top with a very poor road access. Over a short period of time Bandipur almost transformed into a ghost town from a district capital.
Luckily, when people started migrating from Bandipur, the local administration issued an order against any sale or demolition of the houses. These big houses remained empty for years. Later, it supported for development of schools and hostels. Bandipur started becoming an educational destination for aspiring youth of the region.
At the end of the 20th century, during the Maoist conflict in Nepal, Bandipur suffered again in the name of a revolution. Schools and other institutions were damaged. But, at the turn of the millennium, Bandipur started reviving again as a tourist destination due to its heritage and natural environment, along with one of the best Himalayan panoramas. The immigrated Bandipures living in Kathmandu along with European Aid, started investing in Bandipur. And then, the hostels were changing into hotels.
Bandipur Bazaar is the main attraction of Bandipur with its rich heritage and architecture. The bazaar is like a living cultural museum of Newars that is lost in time. It adorned with age old houses and temples that were crafted artistically by the Newars of Bhaktapur. These houses are built on parallel lines adjoining each other, along a mountain ridge, paved with natural stone slates. This beautiful, clean and well conserved touristic area with many hotels today, was one of the biggest markets of western Nepal, a century back.
Siddha Gufa is the biggest discovered cave of Nepal which lies on the northern cliffs of Bandipur. It is only accessible by a walking trail. It is around 1 hour hike downhill from Bandipur Bazaar and half an hour uphill from the highway at Bimalnagar.
Thanimai Temple on the western hill top of Bandipur Bazaar is a good view point, especially for sunset. Along this ridge, on the western side, lies Muchuk hill top with the royal fort of the Sen kings of Tanahun. There is also a centuries old Mukundeshwori temple on this ridge.
Tundikhel and Martyr’s Memorial Park lies on the northern ridges of Bandipur, next to the cliffs with excellent view of Himalayas and Marshangdi Valley. The ancient trading trail goes down to the northern valley through Tudikhel.
Gadhi, an ancient fort, commanding the best view of Bandipur, along with a Buddhist monastery, Gumba, lies on top of the northern ridge. It is also adorned with beautiful forest called Raniban (Queen Forest), which is also the source of Bandipur’s natural spring water.
Teendhara is an ancient set of stone taps built at the base of Raniban forest to collect the natural spring water. It has been the main source of water for Bandipur since time immemorial. There is also an ancient Shiva temple close to the stone taps. Even today is plays a big role in for the society of bandipur?
Ramkot is an old and well conserved Magar village of ancient Bandipur. It lies at the end of the western ridge of Muchuk hill. It is a full day hike to go there and come back to Bandipur.
Chimkeshwori hill at an altitude of above 2500 m with 360 degree panorama of Himalayas, Hills and even the Terai plains is another major attraction around Bandipur. A Gurung village, Hille Kharka, lies on the ridge of this hill. It’s a two days trip with overnight at the village and sunrise hike up to the top.
Things to do
The best thing to do in Bandipur is to relax and enjoy the cultural heritage and natural scenery of this hill top. After that, hiking around the village is the only way to see the heritage and natural beauty of this place. Siddha Cave, Thanimai Temple, Ramkot, Raniban and the ancient trail are the major hiking trails around Bandipur.
Along with being a heritage destination, Bandipur is good for adventure activities as well. Adventure sports like Caving, Rock Climbing, Paragliding, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Trishuli River Rafting and Canyoning (Waterfall Abseiling) are also operated in and around Bandipur.
Bandipur is easily accessible by road from the major highways of Nepal. It is around 150 kms west from Kathmandu, 60 kms east of Pokhara and also 60 kms north of Chitwan. Although, there are no direct public transportation services form any major cities in Nepal, it can easily be reached by any tourist or public buses between Kathmandu – Pokhara and Chitwan – Pokhara. These busses stop at Dumre, the highway town close to Bandipur. From here, one can easily get regular public buses or taxis to Bandipur. The 8 kms road connecting Dumre and Bandipur is in good black top condition, but goes steep up 500 meters in altitude with many of hairpin bends.
Although, Bandipur is well accessible by road, no vehicles are permitted in the bazaar. So, walking is the only way to see around Bandipur. This has helped to conserve the heritage and maintain peace in the village.