Bandipur was once a prosperous trading centre, as its charming buildings with their neoclassical facades and shuttered windows, will attest. Originally a simple Magar village, Newars from Bhaktapur settled here in the early nineteenth century, taking advantage of its malaria-free location to develop it into an important stop on the India-Tibet trade route. While the other trading posts of the Nepali hills have modernised, Bandipur retains its age-old cultural activities. It still has its temples, shrines, holy caves, innumerable festivals and a Newari architecture that harks back to the Kathmandu Valley of old.
Bandipur is situated on a ridge above the highway town of Dumre, and presents sightseers with a heady mix of history, architecture, incredible views, awesome caves and unspoiled landscapes. Located at an altitude of 1,030 m, Bandipur has been described as a natural view tower, providing a spectacular panorama of the entire Annapurna Range plus the peaks of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu (above 8,000 m) and Langtang to the Marsyangdi valley, which is below 500 m.
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 that reflects the refined civilisation of the Kathmandu Valley. Bandipur remains very much a living community – as you wander around the narrow streets, you’ll see farmers tending market gardens, women carrying baskets of freshly cut fodder, children stacking cobs of corn on wooden stakes, and goats, buffaloes and chickens wandering around as if they owned the place. Bandipur is also a great place for adventure sports like paragliding, caving, rock climbing, rafting and hiking.
Sights & Activities
Bandipur Bazaar The heart of Bandipur is the medieval-looking Bandipur Bazaar that sweeps in a gentle curve along the top of the hill in an east-west axis. The stone-paved main street is lined with compact town houses with ornate windows and doorways and roofs of tin or slate. All along the street, a covered veranda extends in front of the rows of houses providing shade in summer sun and mansion rain.
Tundikhel, a field to the northern end of Bandipur’s main bazaar, is an excellent vantage point for viewing the Marsyangdi Valley (below 500 m) and the magnificent Himalayan Range (above 8000 m) in a single frame. It includes the spectacular peaks of Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Langtang, Manaslu and Ganesh Himal, among others. The legendary Gorkha Palace and the famous Manakamana Peak are clearly visible from here. Other sights include Bimalnagar and Dumre Bazaar.
Thani Mai (Purano Kot), originally a fort, lies at a distance of about 500 m to the west of the main bazaar. It takes about twenty minutes of easy and gentle climbing to reach the top. There is a small temple nearby containing a number of old statues. Next to it stands a newly built temple of Thanithan Mai. The local people believe that praying to the god Mahadev at this spot during a drought will bring rain. Since this spot lies on a hilltop above the bazaar, it provides stunning views of the mountains and the bazaar especially at sunrise and sunset.
Exploring the Siddha Cave Bandipur’s hillsides are dotted with caves, often carrying religious significance for the locals. The must-see destination here is the Sidhha Cave discovered only in 1987. Rich in stalactites and stalagmites, it is said to be the largest cave in the Himalayan region. Siddha Cave is situated just above the cliff of Bimalnagar, from where it is a 30-minute climb.
For more information on sights and activities in Bandipur, please take a look at our
Complete Overview Sights & Activities
Going To Bandipur
Besides the ‘normal’ way to go to Bandipur (from Pokhara or Kathmandu to Dumre Bazaar – Bandipur Bazaar) there are two other routes to get there; via the Ancient Route or Siddha Cave.
Ancient Route If you are adventurous, then the hike through the historical route, made famous by the song “Bandipure Uklai lamo” by late poet king MBB Shah, will take you about two hours. It ends in Tundhikhel, and a short five-minute walk will take you to the heart of Bandipur: Bandipur Bazaar.
Siddha Cave If you want to take the less travelled route to Bandipur with the visual delights of the caves and the Bandipur hillside, then this route is highly recommended. It starts from Bimalnagar and takes you past the Siddha Cave; probably the biggest cave in the Himalaya, and will get you to Bandipur in about an hour and a half.