Bandipur is a living museum of Newari culture – and a beautifully preserved hilltop village where time seems to stand still. Its traditional houses and cobblestone streets overlook the Marsyangdi valley with the Himalayas in the distance.
For centuries, it was an important stop on the India–Tibet trade route – until the Kathmandu-Pokhara road was built, bypassing Bandipur. However unlike most trading posts in the Nepal hills, Bandipur has retained its age-old cultural attributes – temples, shrines, sacred caves, innumerable festivals, and a Newari architecture that harks back to the Kathmandu Valley of old. While the Newars are predominant in Bandipur, the Magar and Gurung ethnic groups inhabit the hillsides growing rice, millet, corn and mustard on terrace fields.
This hilltop settlement is located at an elevation of 1030m on a mountain saddle, 143km to the west of Kathmandu and 80km to the east of Pokhara. It can be visited in day, but we recommend at least one night to really soak up the atmosphere of this unique place.
Things to do while you are in Bandipur
Take a stroll through the beautiful streets that are blocked off to traffic. View the centuries-old houses, drink a cup of coffee or try some sweet deep-fried dough. Wander down some of the smaller streets leading off the main street to see more of the daily life.
Siddha Gufa is a subterranean wonder, with huge stalagmites, unique rock formations, pits dozens of feet deep, and a thriving population of bats. The cave is 50m-high and 437m-deep, making it the biggest in Nepal. Besides the guided tour of the cave, you can also abseil through a hole in the cave’s roof.
Thani Mai Temple & Viewpoint
This is a small shrine located on a hill at the western end of town. It’s a bit of a climb – but there are stairs – and it should take about 40 minutes to get to the top. The blessing of the goddess is not the only reward for climbing there; the hilltop offers a sweeping view of the mountains and the valley below. Definitely the place to go for sunrise or sunset.
A lovely example of Newari architecture, this small and two-story Durga temple adorns the eastern end of the main street.
For a glimpse of the silk-making process, head down the road to the silk farm.
There are a couple of paragliding flights a day from Bandipur, offering the chance to enjoy the sunset from the sky.