Bandipur Tour

Bandipur was established as a funnelling point of trade by Newar traders from Bhaktapur in theKathmandu valley after it had been conquered in 1768 by Prithvi Narayan Shah. They took advantage of its malaria free location to develop it into an important stop along the India-Tibet trade route. With them they brought their cultural heritage and architecture which basically has remained unchanged to this day.

Originally a simple Magar village in the early 19th. Century Bandipur developed into prosperous trading centre and a community with town-like features: substantial buildings, with their neoclassical façades and shuttered windows and streets paved with slabs of silverish slate. Bandipur had its heyday in the Rana times (1846-1951), when, as a measure of its power and prestige, it was granted special permission to have its own library (still existing).

In the 1970s, trading fell into a steep decline with the construction of the Kathmandu – Pokhara highway. For technical reasons it was logically built in the Marsyangdi valley, leaving Bandipur isolated up on the mountain. In addition to that, as a result of its poor accessibility, Bandipur lost importance because the district headquarters of Tahahu were moved to Damauli. The tradesmen of Bandipur were forced to move down to Dumre and many even left for the Terai; Bandipur turned a semi-ghost town. The population declined considerably. On two occasions Bandipur has witnessed some turmoil. The people were not easily and readily sidestepped by the construction of the road and fought for a different route in the planning process. In the 1970s, when the first demonstrations for democracy took place in Nepal, the people of Bandipur stormed the little garrison. Several people were killed and the soldiers fled. Again, when the district headquarters were to be moved, the people demonstrated and occupied the administration. The civil servants fled during the night. Even the king was flown in by helicopter to calm the situation. However, the decline of the little town could not be reverted. Some relics of its wealthy past remain. Although many houses are in bad repair, the typical Newari architecture is preserved. A distinctive aspect of Bandipur’s main street is a covered veranda extending along almost the entire length on the northern side. Most of the buildings still have little shops in them. The slate slabs in the main street have been destroyed by heavy vehicles, for which they were not made, but they can still be made out along the edges and in the smaller alleys. The library still exists and was carefully renovated in 2000. Another relic is a soccer-field-sized Tundikhel to the northeast of Bandipur and the villages importance as centre for schools for the surrounding villages.

Location

Bandipur is located at 27.56 N, 84.25 E and an elevation of 1030m on a mountain saddle (Mahabharatrange) approximately 700m above theMarsyangdi RiverValley, 143km to the west ofKathmanduand 80km to the east ofPokhara. Since 1998 it is connected by a 8km access road from Dumre (Kathmandu-Pokhara highway). Until then there was only an unreliable road, in monsoon usually not accessible or only by tractors. The mountain saddle, just 200m long, is barely wide enough to accommodate the main street lined by 2 3 storey buildings on either side. At the backsides of these houses the mountainsides steeply descend and the gardens are only accessible by stairs.

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