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Exploring Bandipur

Nepal day eight

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In Bandipur

I slept well in our cosy, comfortable, dry bed! But Bandipur wakes early and therefore so did we. At around 5.30 someone rang the bell at the small shrine immediately opposite our room on the main street - several times and loudly. Someone else (or maybe the same person?) coughed long and loud. Footsteps sounded on the wooden stairs of the old building, and cockerels crowed. I gave up trying to sleep and dressed roughly to go outside and see what the mountains looked like in the early morning light. I was too early however, but returning thirty minutes later I found the light much better, although without the warm glow I'd hoped for.



Early morning mountain views

By7.30 we were both up and ready for breakfast. It was cold this early in the day so we wrapped up in jackets to sit outside with, we hoped, that amazing mountain view. But while we'd been showering and dressing cloud had descended on Bandipur and we could see nothing! At least the breakfast was good, with muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruit, omelette, toast and marmalade. Even the coffee was decent!

One of the waiters promised that the cloud would be gone by around nine, so we decided to use the time until then to catch up on messages, sitting downstairs with a view of passers-by on the street outside. The WiFi worked much better than yesterday, so by the time the sun had pretty much burnt off the cloud (just after nine, as the waiter had promised), we were ready to go out.

The main street of Bandipur, known as the Bazaar, has been described by Lonely Planet as a ‘living museum of Newari culture’. The former merchants’ homes lining the main street date back to the 18th century. Today many have been converted into guesthouses and cafés, but in a sympathetic way that preserves their historic structure and charm. A covered veranda extends along almost the entire length of the street on its northern side. At either end a few streets lead off, up and down the hillside, before the town peters off.

We strolled along one of the streets leading off the Bazaar, taking photos as we went, of course. I was fascinated by the small shops and the various goods on sale.






On the streets of Bandipur

We passed a small temple. Next-door was a house, its door open. A woman sat stringing garlands, her radio playing a haunting Hindu chant.


Stringing marigolds

Then we followed the steep stone steps down to Mahalaxmi Temple. On our way down we had to manoeuvre around a small delivery van unloading piles of gas canisters on to the path. This was clearly the closest the driver could get to the recipient houses. From here the only route was on foot.

The path to the temple

As we arrived at the temple an elderly woman was doing some tidying up. Through sign language we established that it was OK for us to come inside the surrounding fence and to take photos. When we had finished she employed more sign language to indicate that we should make a donation, although whether it was to her or to the temple I have no idea! Either way, she seemed more than happy with the 100 rupee note we handed her (about 65 pence), just as we were happy with the photo opps.



Mahalaxmi Temple

Of course the climb back up was equally steep, and by the time we reached the top I was ready for a break. I got a great espresso in one of the main street cafes while Chris enjoyed a refreshing orange juice. While we drank we marvelled at the strength of the local women carrying the heavy gas canisters and other goods using a strap across their foreheads. These mountain people are tough and strong!



Traditional carrying method with head strap

We dropped off the warm layers we no longer needed in the now hot sun, then had another walk to another temple, Khadga Devi. The views of the mountains as we climbed the hill were marvellous.

The view from the path to the temple

There was no one at this temple to ask permission or to request a donation; we had it to ourselves. The temple seemed newer, or perhaps more thoroughly restored, than those elsewhere in town, but there were some attractive details. If you compare the roof decorations with those on Mahalaxmi you will see how much newer and cleaner these are. Personally however, I liked the greater character that age gave to Mahalaxmi!

The path to the temple, and a door detail


Roof details

After taking some photos we climbed a little further, but there was construction work making the track dusty, and the sun was getting hot. Besides the views, although great, weren't very different from those a little lower down.

The view from the path above the temple

So we retraced our steps and sought out lunch in a café/bakery back on the main street. Sandwiches and a cold drink refreshed us, so afterwards we checked out some shops. Chris bought a backpack to replace the one he'd brought with him, as the strap had broken, and I bought a couple of scarves as Christmas presents. Incidentally the backpack purchase was achieved through one of the easiest bargaining exercises we’ve ever engaged in. The seller quoted 9,000 rupees which I quickly calculated as around £60. Chris gave a firm no and before he could even give a counter offer she came back with a revised demand for 1,000 rupees. So that’s a 900% reduction without any effort at all!

After lunch we walked in the other direction along the main street, taking photos there and on one that branched off down the hill a short way. I spotted two of the women we’d watched carrying the gas canisters, now enjoying a very well earned rest.

In front of one of the town's small temples

Temple details


Door details

Time for a rest

Time for a chat

Time to play

We then split up. Chris wanted to explore a little further, while I fancied a relaxing afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of the town, sorting photos, writing some notes and reading a little. The veranda of the hotel was a perfect spot in which to do this, but first I had to check out the view at the rear again.

Late afternoon view

In the evening we went out for a beer, sitting outside one of the bars to watch the world go by. But we ate dinner in the hotel as a) the people there seemed keen that we did so one night, and b) it sounded good value. And it was - 1,000 rupees, about £6.50, for generous dal bhat and a dessert of vanilla ice cream with chocolate brownie. And they looked after us well, decorating the table with the flag of Nepal and the Union Jack (a French couple eating at the next table of course had the Tricolour). A good end to our day in Bandipur.

Dal bhat

Flags on the table

Posted by ToonSarah 18:49 Archived in Nepal Tagged mountains people architecture temple views hotel nepal details costume street_photography

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Hello, Sarah! All's well that ends well! Thanks for sharing your great memories of your splendid stay in Bandipur - an epitome of Nepalese life!

by Vic_IV

Thank you Vic - yes, very genuine daily life here!

by ToonSarah

I love all your mountain photos. This looks like a very interesting place to visit.

by irenevt

Thank you Irene - I loved Bandipur, it felt very authentic (but then so did all of Nepal, even the more visited destinations)

by ToonSarah

If you don't count the early morning ruckus this is the kind of day I would have loved, exploring new places on a relaxing pace! :)

I really like your photos with the people, they make your blog very vivid! :)

by hennaonthetrek

I need mind the early noise too much Henna - I tend to be quite an early riser, especially on holiday!

by ToonSarah

My gosh, the dal looks delicious and makes me get hungry!

by Ils1976

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