By LB THAPA in Bandipur FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Bandipur has attracted more domestic and foreign tourists today than it would in the past. A hilltop settlement, Bandipur is a perfect destination for those visitors who prefer peace, nature and tranquility.
Bandipur is about 148km away from Kathmandu and 80km from Pokhara. To go to Bandipur, a sharp turn should be taken from Dumre bazaar to scale rising mountains. An 8km long serpentine road from Dumbre bazaar passes through several jagged turns to reach Bandipur. More we rise with each turn; the better view unfolds before our eyes.
Bandipur should not be compared with Thamel of Kathmandu and Lakeside of Pokhara. Bandipur is different in the sense that this old town has not been polluted by the meddling crowd, dance bars, and gazal nights. The town is quiet and therefore those tourists who like no cacophony will always find Bandipur a perfect place.
In the past, more people would visit Bandipur every day as the town was the district headquarters of Tanahun district. But, after the construction of Prithvi Highway, the district headquarters was shifted from Bandipur to Damauli. As a result, the business in Bandipur sharply plummeted. Gradually Bandipur lost in oblivion for some years. But when Nepali tourism began attracting visitors, gradually more domestic and foreign visitors started visiting Bandipur…and now the trend is on the rise.
There are some quality hotels and a few resorts in Bandipur, which offer comfortable stay for the visitors. So, budget tourists and luxury tourists both can enjoy comfortable stay in Bandipur. However, Bandipur is a small town which lies in hilltop. The only problem is that the town does not have enough space to expand further.
The town is located on a hill and behind it has a huge sloppy cliff. Due to its difficult geographical condition, Bandipur has limited option to grow further. In the meantime, construction of buildings on the sloppy mountains could be extremely hazardous as last year’s earthquake has taught a costly lesson. Some ravaged buildings in Bandipur are the testimony to the fact that no further risk should be taken by constructing buildings on the sloppy areas.
Hikmat Pun, a retired Indian army man, has recently repaired his ancestral home which was damaged by last year’s earthquake. “We have been living in Bandipur since the time immemorial. What I know is that my ancestors served the early Malla kings of Bandipur.
After Bandipur was annexed to Gorkha kingdom, our ancestors stopped serving in the army. However, you can see my ancestral home which windows and doors bore the marks of excellent wood crafting on pillars, windows and doors. My grandfather told that Bhaktapur artists had made designs on every piece of wood in our house”.
The good thing about Bandipur sightseeing is that most of the fine places are located in nearby distances. The town is so small that no taxi service has been felt necessary. In fact the entire Bandipur is a treasure trove where the visitors can feast their eyes on nature’s splendor, which are scattered everywhere. There are some places of worth visiting indeed.
The Khadga Devi temple is different than other temples. The temple is opened only once a year on the seventh day of the Dasain, the biggest Hindu festival. Unlike other temples, there are no idols of any gods and goddesses inside the temple. There is a sacred sword instead. Though there is no concrete evidence but it is said that a cosmic power had given the sword to Mukunda Sen, the king of Palpa (1518-1553 AD).
Bindhabasini temple is located in the main bazaar area. This temple is built in pagoda style, which resembles the temples built in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. Mahalaxmi temple is also located on the main bazaar, nearby the Bindhabasini temple. The temple attracts more tourists for its rich architecture show. The temple’s struts and tympanum are decorated with brilliantly carved mythical characters. Unfortunately, the original statue of goddess Mahalaxmi was stolen and now there is a replica of the original idol.
Tundikel is a wide open area from where tourists can have beautiful view of Himalayas. Some famous mountain peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Langtang, Manaslu and Ganesh Himal, among others can be seen from Tundikhel. From here one can also see the peaks of legendary Gorkha Palace and famous religious pilgrimage Manakamana temple.
The most thrilling place in Bandipur is Purano Kot also called Gurungche Hill. During the time of Malla kings, this peak had a fort from which the soldiers would keep an eye on the entire territory of Bandipur. There are stone steps leading to the peak of the hill. After walking about 30 minutes one can easily reach the peak of the hill. Most of the tourists to Bandipur walk up to this hilltop to see morning sunrise. The flat area on the peak allows the tourists to walk around and have a great panoramic view around Bandipur.
For the visitors who have taste for literature and books must visit Shree Padma Library. This library was first established during the Rana regime and it has still been serving its purpose. The library has accommodated several old and new books.
There is no doubt Bandipur is replete with natural beauty with ancient history of worth seeing places. However, looking at several monuments and the places of touristic interest, it is very clear that the concerned authorities responsible to promote tourism in Bandipur have done almost nothing.
Temples and ancient houses are in dilapidated condition. Almost 90% or even more old houses need immediate facelift, but the concerned authority has not felt it necessary yet. Except the main street the other streets are in bad condition. Looking at the condition of those streets, it can be easily understood that those streets must have not been repaired since years.
If local administration and private tourism entrepreneurs want to pull more tourists round the year, then they must work hard to promote tourism in Bandipur before it is too late.
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