Bandipur has an altitude of 1,030 m, and is situated in the Mahabharat Range in Tanahu District of Gandaki Zone. It is 143 km to the west of Kathmandu, 73 km to the south of Pokhara, 70 km to the north of Chitwan and 8 km from Dumre Bazaar on the Prithvi Highway (Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway).
Bandipur is a picturesque town nestled in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, a land as famous for its natural beauty as for the hospitality of its people. Bandipur lies midway between the capital Kathmandu and Pokhara, another popular tourist destination.
Situated on a hilltop above the highway town of Dumre, Bandipur captivates the visitor with its cultural appeal and pristine scenery. This Newar town has maintained its age-old flavour, and presents sightseers with a heady mix of history, architecture, incredible views, awesome caves and unspoiled landscapes.
Bandipur has been described as a natural view tower; indeed, one can enjoy a spectacular panorama of the entire Annapurna Range plus the peaks of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang from here. Apart from the stunning views of the Himalaya and the Marsyangdi Valley, a visit to the town is an opportunity to get a close look at Newar cultural life.
If you drive up to Bandipur, at the top of the hill where the motor road ends, you will be greeted by a neighborhood lined with historic Newar houses. This is the main Bandipur Bazaar (Map). Modern, but with its traditional values still intact, it presents a potpourri of old houses, temples of great religious significance and historical architecture. This medieval-looking quarter is the heart of Bandipur. As with Newar towns elsewhere, Bandipur also boasts year-round festivals and a plethora of other cultural shows.
The main market square stands in testimony of the trade routes that once passed through here, and the enterprising merchants who carried on the trade. Picture long lines of laden coolies plodding up from the plains to head for the Himalayan passes. Bandipur’s residents still recall those glory days and talk fondly about its fascinating cultural history. The town square is also where the major ceremonies and festivals are held. It is still an important commercial center, although things are slower now than when Bandipur was the district headquarters.
Temples and other places to see around Bandipur Bazaar
The temple of Khadga Devi is one of the most revered temples in Bandipur, which is belied by its look of a residential house except for the finial. This temple is opened to devotees only once a year on the day of Phulpati during the Hindu festival of Dasain. The shrine does not contain any statues of gods or goddesses, but a Khadga, a sacred sword wrapped in layers of cloth. Legend has it that if anyone looks at it, he or she invites instant death by vomiting blood. According to another story, the relic was a present from Lord Shiva to Mukunda Sen, king of Palpa (1518-1553 A.D.). The Khadga is worshipped as a symbol of the female power, hence the name Khadga Devi, which means goddess of the sword.
This temple is located in the main bazaar area and is constructed in the pagoda style. An image of the goddess Bindhabasini is enshrined here. It also contains statues of other goddesses. During the New Year celebrations of the Bikram Sambat, the image of Bindhabasini is put on a chariot and pulled through town amidst other revelry.
This temple lies to the west of Bandipur Bazaar. According to folklore, people would place 12 eggs inside the temple and cover it with straw and a brick before the start of the planting season. If the eggs kept fresh after one year when they were uncovered, it meant that there would be a good crop the following year.
This temple is located to the southeast of the main bazaar. Its architecture shows it to date from the medieval period. The temple is in the style of a pagoda. The struts and tympanum are adorned with figures of Bhimsen and various mythical creatures. The original statue of the goddess Mahalaxmi, however, was stolen, and it has been replaced by a new one.
This temple lies to the east of the main bazaar area. Statues of the god Harihar and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are installed inside.
Hiking around Bandipur
Ramkot is a two-hour walk to the west of Bandipur. It is an easy hike passing through Muchuk Village from where you can also visit Mukundeswari. Ramkot is a typical Magar village with traditional round houses.
Ramkot is untouched by modern development and offers an opportunity to experience the lifestyle of rural Nepal. From here, one can go on to Chabdi Barahi, which can be reached after two hours of easy hiking.
Mukundeswari lies at an altitude of 1,830 m. It is about a two-hour walk to the west of Bandipur. The place looks like a gallery of ancient weapons and other antiquities as swords of different shapes and sizes lie scattered all around.
Chabdi Barahi is a four-hour walk to the west of Bandipur. This pilgrimage spot can also be reached by road from Damauli. Devotees sacrifice pigeons and various other animals to the shrine here.