Nothing will prepare you for the magnificence you will witness when you finally reach Palpa. A visit to Palpa will leave you wanting to travel more within Nepal to experience all the richness it has to offer. Though the major attractions of Palpa is the ancient culture, and excellent mountain views, its Newar charms and distinct medieval feel will leave you mesmerized.
It is said that the migrants from Kathmandu Valley, especially the Newars, played an important role in enriching the architecture and culture of Tansen, and the evidences of that can still be seen today in many nooks and crannies of this charming little town. Cobblestone streets with wooden Newar-style houses, the architecture of Tansen will make you feel like you have stepped into another era altogether.
And itâ€™s not only for its charm that you must visit Palpa. This place boasts of a rich history because Tansen was once the capital of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun that was one of the most powerful kingdoms in Nepal. Later, Tansen was reinvented as a Newar trading post on the trade route between India and Tibet. Another lesser-known fact is that the most popular hand-woven cloth of Nepal that the Nepali topi is made from â€“ dhaka â€“ comes from this region. Tansen bazaar is often filled with dhaka fabrics and weavers working hard on their looms. Itâ€™s a sight to behold.
The natural and scenic beauty of Palpa is another thing to marvel about. Perched high above the Kali Gandaki River between Butwal and Pokhara, Tansen, on clear days, will offer you spectacular views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, Gauri Shankar and various other peaks. At Shreenagar you will get a 360-degree view of hills surrounding Palpa and beyond.
How to get there
Palpa is easily accessible by road. The total road distance from Kathmandu to Tansen is about 300 kilometers, and the journey, at a moderate pace, takes around 11 hours. Bus fares are inexpensive and you can easily board buses or microbuses at the Old Bus Park of Kathmandu. You can take your own vehicle if you prefer to driver or have a local travel agency arrange hired vehicles for you, though this option might prove to be a little expensive.
For those of you who love Pokhara and donâ€™t miss a single chance to visit the lakeside, you can go to Pokhara and stay there for a few days and then head to Tansen.
Alternatively, you can take another route through Chitwan, Butwal, and then finally reach Tansen, which is about 40 kilometers north from Butwal. From Pokhara, you have to travel for another 125 kilometers west. Regular buses to Tansen are available from both Butwal and Pokhara. It will take one hour to reach Tansen from Butwal and around six hours from Pokhara.
Things to do in Palpa
This quaint little town has so much to offer and you will be left speechless when you choose to visit its historical sites. From old buildings to fascinating natural wonders, there is a lot you can enjoy at Palpa.
Stroll along the Tansen Bazaar
This is where you can see Rana buildings, Newar-style houses, carved windows and pagoda-style temples in what is probably the highest and one of the busiest bazaars in Nepal.
Admire the Palpa Ranighat and Tansen Durbar
Built in 1892 by Rana Bada Hakim Khadka Shamser in the memory of his wife Tej Kumari, Palpa Ranighat is often called the Taj Mahal of Nepal. It is set on a massive rock-bed at the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. You can view its stunning palace garden, stonewalls, and a small shrine once here.
At the center of the town lies the 64-room governorâ€™s palace, a representation of the arts and crafts of ancient Palpa. The importance of Tansen Durbar falls right after the Singha Durbar of Kathmandu. It is the heart of Palpa, attracting both local and international tourists to this beautiful hill. On January 31, 2006, Nepalâ€™s Maoists launched attacks in
Tansen with no apparent reasons. They fought with local authorities and bombarded many old buildings, including the palace that had housed government offices. Many historical buildings, including the Tansen palace, were destroyed and are in the process of being reconstructed.
Make a day trip to Tanahu
Tanahu is a beautiful hill town that is located only about 32 kilometers southeast of Tansen, and is linked by a road. It is a favorite nearby destination of Tansen town. Tanahu offers beautiful natural forests, farmlands and views of the mountains and valleys. One can visit the Rambha forest, Rimbha Lek and Kaaude and Hatti ponds.
Trek to Bhairabsthan
This is a must, even if you are religious or not. After a short trek to the Bhairabsthan temple, you can view the Himalaya, including Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Machhapuchhare and witness various cultural attractions as well. The temple has a huge trishul and many devotes visit the temple every Saturday and Tuesday. People sacrifice animals and offer grains and fruits to appease the Hindu God Bhairab, the Nepali God of Destruction.