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Global Warming

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Sea of tranquillity

Posted by: NTN  | Date: June 28, 2010

While a break from our incredibly expeditious lives is essential, we seem to fret too much about getting away to ‘something’. No need to bother with complicated plans and difficult journeys when all you need to do is get on the road. And for those of us who do not have the luxury of long breaks, there is Zen’s gift to humanity—Bandipur.

A small town nestled amongst the green hills of western Nepal, Bandipur is just the natural stimulation one needs to come back and survive a little more of our cumbersome urban lives. To be fair to Bandipur, it is more than just a weekend retreat, as it offers visitors everything from history and natural beauty to a rich culture and even some adventure. In addition, the weather is great all year long as Bandipur is neither too hot nor too cold. 

Having lived most of my life in big cities, I have come to appreciate small towns with quiet lives. And even though Kathmandu is not as burdensome as many other big cities, the bustling metropolis does make you want to run away sometimes. So, if you feel the need to escape the chaos of a city life, then think of Bandipur.

As you pull into the lovely and quaint Bandipur bazaar, you realise why this place is an example for hill stations not only in Nepal but the rest of South Asia. All automobiles, regardless of the number of wheels they pollute with, are banned from the bazaar area. So once you de-board, you are let into a

pedestrian-only bazaar where you can walk around carelessly without the fear of being overrun by a speeding vehicle. The bazaar is lined up with charming houses built in Newari architecture style. This is also where you can find accommodation which ranges from the fancy yet traditionally-designed hotels to the more-modest homes of local residents which can be rented out for small sums.

The bazaar is the starting point for all your expeditions around Bandipur. It’s a great place to end the day as well with an agreeable meal, some easily available local aila and the brilliant Bandipur sky teeming with millions of stars. The bazaar is never short of aila, of conversation, or a chess challenge, and is at its best when all three are teamed together. During monsoons, the best thing to do is to sit in one of the cafes and watch the storm approach the town through the adjacent hills.

The bazaar is also where one gets the first glimpse of the proud history of this town. Originally a small Magar village, Bandipur was settled by Newars from Bhaktapur in the early 19th century as they fled Kathmandu valley while it was being invaded by Prithvi Narayan Shah. Newari traders took advantage of Bandipur’s malaria-free location to develop it into an important outpost on the Tibet-India trade route. It continued to be an important town during the Rana regime and was even given ‘special permission’ to establish its own library which still sits pretty in the bazaar. In the 50’s, the town began to lose its importance after malaria was eradicated in the Tarai and people started migrating to the fertile plains. In the 60’s, the district headquarters was moved to Damauli, but the final blow came in 1973 when the Prithvi highway gave Bandipur a miss. Local historian Krishna Pradhan recalls how, isolated from traffic, businesses started shifting downhill and Bandipur almost turned into a near ghost town.

From the main bazaar, one can move out on different trails that meander through the hills to old temples, outlying villages, a silk farm and the author’s personal favourite one that leads to Tundikhel. The last trail leads to a great vantage point north of the bazaar from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayas including the spectacular peaks of Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Langtang, Manaslu and Ganesh. Locals insist that on a clear day one can even see the legendary Gorkha Palace and the famous Manakamana Peak. If you are photography-enthusiast, set up camp at the look-out point in Tundikhel and click away. Rest assured that you would end up spending hours as the Himalayas and stunning views of the Marsyangdi valley below can never be clicked enough.

On a pleasant day, set out to explore the less-travelled trails of Bandipur. A leisurely trek will take you around the beautiful hillsides and bring you to the Siddha cave. The directions are well marked and there will be numerous opportunities to stop for chats and photographs. Once you have explored the caves, you could either walk back uphill or continue downhill to the highway and get a bus back to Bandipur.

The best thing Bandipur offers to a traveller is the tranquillity and beauty of its pristine hills. There are numerous spots dotting the hillside where one could go read or relax and feel close to nature. These experiences recharge you like no spa or massage will. One such excellent setting is at Purano Kot, which was originally a fort and lies about 500 m west of the main bazaar. An easy 20-minute walk gets you to the top of this hillock which has a couple of small temples as well. This old fort is a strategically-located spot that delivers a peaceful environment along with breathtaking views. It is the kind of place that can inspire great poetry or prose. Other such sites include the one at Gadhi, ruins of an old fort predating the Prithvi Narayan Shah period.

Located at a convenient distance from major cities, Bandipur is a perfect getaway where you want to go and do nothing but get a fill of natural sounds and sights. Doing nothing was never this refreshing!
Menon is an occasional and reluctant traveller who loves the hills.
Source: Kantipur



mission eco trek: thamel , kathmandu | 2010-07-22 12:21:33

Mission Eco Trek has been organizing Trekking and tour in Tibet since many years. We specialize in the Tibet Overland Tour. On our Tibet Overland Tour, the entire group tours led by our highly experienced guide. All the permits, entry fees, bed and breakfast on the Tibet Overland Tour are provided. We stay in lodge on the Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Tour. The Tibet Overland Tour takes 08 days, with s

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