Driving up the winding roads higher into the hills, you can see Bandipur has a very unique location, perched high on a ridge above the town of Dumre. The old Newari town of Bandipur seems to be caught in a time warp, it’s as if nothing has changed for a hundred years and it was refreshing.
Hopping off the bus at the top of the town we walked down to the town centre. The streets here were completely closed off to traffic which makes Bandipur a relaxing town to visit. The views of the surrounding valleys were spectacular. Tiered rice fields covered the mountain sides and while Bandipur has really opened its doors to tourism, you could see that this was not a tourist trap town. The renovated old style Newari buildings lined the cobblestone paved streets giving the distinct feeling you had stepped back in time.
Our guesthouse was in a traditional red bricked Newari building right in the centre of town and the terrace at the back offered stunning views of the valleys. We set off exploring the town. Heading down winding lanes, children continually approached us saying “one photo”, and after the photo was taken they would get extremely excited to see themselves on the camera screen. Everyone here was so friendly and making our way to the Tin Dhara we stopped talking to people as we passed.
We reached the Tin Dhara, the local washing area, where locals bathed and washed clothes under ornate stone spouts. A walk back up the hill and we passed the Khadga Devi Temple which hosts a sword, supposedly given to an old King by the Hindu god Shiva. The weapon is taken out once a year to be used in sacrificial ceremonies.
Tundikhel, the viewpoint at the northwest of town was our next destination. We arrived to see the local boys playing soccer on the large flat area at the viewpoint and with two games going on it was much busier than we had imagined it would be. The left hand side of the soccer field was lined with five huge fig trees where we took our seats to watch as the sun slowly sank behind Gurungche Hill in the distance. Two young sisters and their aunt came over talking to us and after the sun disappeared we walked back to the town together chatting about this and that as we went.
On the way back to town two children ran up to us with their arms up and we picked them up, spinning them around, much to the kids delight. As I turned around, midspin, I heard screams and a gang of five or six kids came running excitedly down the hill wanting to be lifted up and spun around too. We stayed playing for a while and as a group of older German tourists came up the hill we took our chance and made our escape as we sent the kids running to them.
Back in the town centre, the street was lined with candles on tables and the temples were also lit by candlelight. Dinner on the square had to be the Nepali staple of Dal Baht given our traditional surroundings and as usual, it didn’t disappoint.
The following morning we got a ride back to Dumre in a jeep and waved down a tourist bus heading for Pokhara. When the unreasonable conductor wanted us to pay the full fare from Kathmandu, even though we were more than halfway along the route, we refused and got off the bus. As luck would have it a local Pokhara bound bus passed by in no time and we waved it down. The typical white-knuckle journey began; bouncing, swerving and racing at high-speed we left Bandipur behind, headed back to Lakeside, Pokhara to prepare for the Annapurna Base Camp trek.