An ancient treasure of Nepal, the hilltop settlement of Bandipur is a place where it seems as if time has stood still. Once a bustling trading point for Newar traders during the 17th century, it sits regally 1,005 meters above the ground, and has been able to keep its traditions and cultural heritage intact through all these years. Only recently opened for tourism, Bandipur is refreshingly devoid of tourist development, and is certainly a destination off the beaten trail that warrants a visit.
Trudging through its rugged streets, one will immediately notice the charm of simple rural living in this remote village. It's not unusual to see farmers tending their fields and selling produce at the markets, children running around and playing, mothers weaving baskets and clothing, as well as livestock wandering all over the place. One can really feel like being transported back through centuries. The highlight in Bandipur, however, is still its collection of temples, monuments, sacred caves, and unique Newari-style architecture that makes it seem almost like an open-air museum.
Tourists are often found clambering up the mountains surrounding Bandipur, where they will be greeted by a bird's eye view of the Himalayan fortresses and lush fields upon reaching the summit. One may also try trekking to the nearby caves considered as holy by the locals - such as the unique Pataali Dwar, known as the "Gateway to Hell" and the Swargadwari, which is called the "Entrance to Heaven." In addition, there is the Gadhi, a fort built on a hilltop whose trenches and walls have survived the test of time.
Bandipur doesn't lack in temples, either. Probably the most revered is the Khadga Devi Temple, said to possess a sacred sword that was a gift of god Shiva to King Mukunda Sen, who once ruled over the land. Just don't try to look at it, because it is believed that anyone who gazes upon it will meet instant death. Quite predictably, the sword is covered with cloth. There is also the Bindebasini Temple, an example of Newari architecture at its finest. It contains an idol of the goddess Durga, in whose honor the so-called Bisket Festival is celebrated every April. Finally there is the Mahalaxmi Temple, a pagoda-style structure built as a monument to the goddess of wealth. Those who have dreams of getting rich should probably visit it.
Places to see in Bandipur
Khadga devi Temple:
Considered as one of the holiest temples in Bandipur, the Khagda Devi Temple only opens its doors to devotees and worshipers once a year. This happens during the Hindu festival known as Dasain on the day of Phulpati. A unique feature of this temple is that no images and no statues are found inside the temple; instead, there is a rather imposing sword wrapped in cloth.
According to legend, the sword found in Khadga Devi Temple was given to the king of Palpa named Mukunda Sen by Lord Shiva. A more interesting legend about the sword goes that when a person stares at the sword, he or she will suffer a violent death by vomiting blood soon afterwards. Although there has been no account of this happening, the sword is still wrapped in cloth, just to make sure.
Found in the main bazaar area of Bandipur, the Bindebasini Temple was built according to the pagoda style. Inside the temple, travelers will find an image of the goddess known as Bindebasini on the main altar since the temple is dedicated to her. Aside from the main image, several other goddesses appear within the temple.
Perhaps it is best to visit the Bindebasini Temple during the New Year celebration of Bikram Sambat. During this time, the statue of Bindebasini is pulled on a chariot throughout town.
Maha Laxmi Temple
An interesting note about the Mahalaxmi Temple is that its architecture shows that it dates from the medieval period in the style of a pagoda. The temple is found to the southeast side of the main bazaar. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of the same name.
Inside the Mahalaxmi Temple, travelers will find several ornaments and decorations such as figurines of gods and goddesses along with Bhimsen and other mythological creatures. Sadly, the original image of the goddess Mahalaxmi which was enshrined in the temple was stolen; hence the image seen today is a new one.