Nepal

Bandipur: A Slice of Europe in South Asia

The beauty of Nepal truly is something to behold. On our second visit to the country, Lynette and I wanted to make sure that we saw at least one new place. After our epic trek to Annapurna Base Camp and Mardi Himal, we decided to stop in the hilltop village of Bandipur on our way back to Kathmandu.

Getting to Bandipur

We took a local bus from Pokhara to the highway town of Dumre. Dropped in the main bazaar, we began to seek out the cheapest option (other than walking!) to reach the village, which involves a steep and winding ascent.

After lots of pointing and gesturing, we found a bus. We loaded our bags onto the roof, found a seat and waited… and waited… and waited. After 10 minutes I went to investigate what the hold up was and found out that the bus wasn’t leaving for an hour!

We had left Pokhara early so that we could get to Bandipur and have the afternoon to explore. Therefore, after some haggling, we found a taxi and were off without delay, leaving the bus behind. After a long, meandering climb up into the rolling green hills, we reached the main bazaar of Bandipur.

Click to read our Insider’s Guide to Pokhara!

Our Accommodation in Bandipur

We stayed at a very nice, family run place called Samira Homestay, named after the owner’s youngest daughter; it was conveniently located on the main road. Our room was basic but spacious and clean with an en-suite bathroom. The hot water shower was a little temperamental but we got there in the end!

We were offered a complimentary chai upon our arrival, which we gladly accepted. Once we had unpacked and settled in a little, we still had plenty of time to get out and see what we had come to see!

Why is Bandipur Special?

The village of Bandipur is a wonderfully peaceful place. No vehicles of any kind are allowed in the main bazaar or onto the cobbled streets, which makes it much more pleasant to walk around. With cute little gift shops, restaurants and cafes along the length of the bazaar, which have outside seating, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a European town and not in South Asia!

With only a handful of sights, all within walking distance, you could easily see Bandipur on foot in one day. But this place is more about enjoying the relaxed, quiet vibe of the place, sitting with a chai and watching the locals go about their daily lives… so that’s exactly what we did! We instantly loved the village and were glad that we had made the decision to spend a few days here.

The streets and houses in Bandipur were so different from what we had seen before in Nepal, built in the typical Newari style. Thankfully though, the options for decent chai and our favourite Nepali staple of dal bhat were plentiful so there were no worries about things not being available or at European prices!

DSC07451
Nepal with a European Vibe

Following the 2015 earthquake, the village escaped with only minor damage; a few houses did, however, collapse. Evidence of the earthquake was in the wooden struts that were holding up buildings and in the small piles of rubble that were still lying around.

With the lively community spirit and with the help of the adventure company Himalayan Encounters and the Bandipur Social Development Committee, most of the ancient buildings and architecture have been pulled back from ruin. Work was, however, still in progress during our visit.

What to see in Bandipur

The sights of Bandipur are few in number but are well worth seeing. The Bindebasini Temple, which lies at the northern end of the main strip, is an ornate temple dedicated to Durga.

A short walk to the east takes you to the small Newari-style Mahalaxmi Temple, which is a peaceful spot in which to contemplate it’s existence all those centuries ago, before the village became what it is today.

DSC07461
Bindebasini Temple

A little further away, a wide set of stone steps lead to the barn-like Khadga Devi Temple. Here, the sword of Mukhunda Sen is enshrined. The blade is revered and was allegedly a gift from the Hindu god, Shiva, to the king. Once a year, during the Dasain festival, the blade gets a taste of sacrificial blood.

A green plateau, the Tundikhel, which is off the main bazaar and up a slight incline, makes for stunning morning or evening views of the surrounding mountains, such as Ganesh Himal (7406m) and Manaslu (8162m). This large open area was once used as a parade ground for Gurkhas serving with the British army and, before that, a trading ground for people from India and Tibet.

Thani Mani Temple, atop Gurungche Hill, is another viewpoint accessed by a flight of uneven stone and gravel steps. It’s a good half hour climb but the views of the surrounding area and the village below make it worth the slog.

There is also a cave in the hills around Bandipur, Siddha Gufa, but from what we’ve heard it’s a bit of an arduous trek through unsteady terrain, so we decided to leave it unseen.

Being the adventurous types that we are, Lynette and I saw all of these sights on the day we arrived. We could easily have left the next morning and made it to another place, but we decided to stay another day.

Hiking to Ramkot Village

On the full day that we had, we decided to go on a half-day hike to the village of Ramkot, a small village on the outskirts of Bandipur with traditionally built round-houses.

We could easily have made it there ourselves but the people at our homestay insisted that we take a guide. They were genuinely concerned for our safety, and for the safety of any other foreigners wishing to see the village, due to the fact that there had been a fatal accident involving a foreigner just three months prior to our visit.

The young solo traveller was found dead three days after leaving for Ramkot, having taken a wrong turn and fallen down a steep ravine. Ever since then, signs have been put up everywhere to make sure that guides are hired. So we agreed to let the owner’s son take us.

It’s a pleasant hike to Ramkot with sweeping views along the way; unfortunately there is only one round-house remaining in the village as modernisation has made way for new homes. Spending a day in the beautifully quiet Nepali countryside was exactly what we needed before we hit the chaos of the capital.

Our time in Bandipur came to an end but we were ready to leave and move on to our final destination; we left feeling glad that we had seen a different side to Nepali life and were happy to have met the warm, friendly people of Bandipur.

We would highly recommend spending a day or two chilling out and enjoying the relaxed vibe and beautiful scenery of this remarkable hilltop village.

Looking for a break from the mountains of Nepal? Don’t miss a visit to Chitwan National Park in the Terai region!

3 thoughts on “Bandipur: A Slice of Europe in South Asia”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s