Nepal is a beautiful country with hidden gems full of nature and wonder, each place more beautiful than the last. One such place is Tansen, correct us if we’re wrong, but doesn’t the name itself suggest something classic? Tansen municipality lies in Palpa district, on the highway between Pokhara and Butwal. Located just 75 km far from the city of lakes, this beautiful city can leave one at a loss of words. From an ancient palace to gorgeous handcrafted temples, beautiful hills and cobbled streets, Tansen holds a magic that can hold you captive.
A Brief History of City Tansen
Tansen actually has an interesting history. By looking at its architecture that is full of ancient Newari heritage, one would assume that the place has homed the Newari people for ages. However, Tansen was primarily home to the Magar people. In Magar Language, “Tansen” means “Northern Settlement” thus giving the city its name. It was ruled by the Sen kingdom from the 6th century who came close to conquering Kathmandu in the 16th century before the rise of the Shah Dynasty.
Around the 18th century, Tansen was recognized as a Newari trading post for the trading route between Tibet and India. That was when the Local Magar Kings lost influence. Since then, it has been dominated by the traditional Newari art and architecture. Currently, the city is mostly inhabited by Magar and Newar people followed by other ethnic groups namely Brahmin, Chhetri, Gurung, Limbu, Tamang, Tharu.
Culture & Speciality
Tansen was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list on January 30, 2008, in the cultural category. Tansen sees many festivities throughout the year; the most important being the three-day-long Ridi Mela or Maghe Sankranti. On this occasion, the pilgrims take a dip in the holy Kali Gandaki River and worship the Goddess. The yearly fair that takes place on Shiva Ratri, as well as the Satywati Mela, are also of religious importance.
Apart from the rich culture, Tansen, Palpa is famous for Dhaka. Dhaka is a traditional woven fabric with which the patriotic Nepali Topi (hat), Thaili (women’s purse), and Shawl are made. The city is also famous for traditional metal crafts especially Karuwa (water jug). Also, did you know that the first coffee plantation of Nepal was done in Palpa? One can always buy freshly produced organic coffee here. While sipping on your fresh Palpa brewed coffee, we also recommend you try the famous Jhiniya Roti (fermented rice bread), Batuk (lentil flour patty), and Chukauni (boiled potato and curd).
Tansen — The Perfect Tourism Destination
There are many reasons for you to visit Tansen- the rich culture, laidback lifestyle, the serene atmosphere, and the excellent mountain views can help make your vacation worthwhile. Some of us may only be able to spare a day or two to visit this gorgeous city, which is okay of course, but we recommend you plan for a week’s trip to make the most of your time here.
If you are into hiking, you can walk up to the Srinagar Hill (or drive) and climb the view tower. From the tower, you can witness the snowcapped beauty of Kanjiroba, Annapurna, Langtang, Machhapuchre, and Dhaulagiri in the north as well as the lush green plains of Terai in the south.
A visit to the Rani Mahal is a must. Located on the east bank of Kali Gandaki, Rani Mahal is also known as the Taj Mahal of Nepal which was built by Khadga Shamsher Rana as a symbol of love for his beloved late wife. Every piece of architecture is detailed and it took five years for completion.
Built in a typical Nepali Pagoda Style, Amar Narayan Temple is an important landmark if this place. The wood carvings are marvelous and hold a historical significance. The other attraction sites are Tansen Durbar, Shitalpati, Bhagwati Temple, and Amargunj Ganesh; each of them showcases the best examples of ancient architecture and art.
Summers in Tansen can peak up to 27 degrees and is hot and humid whereas winter falls to 8-9 degrees and is cool, not chilly. Spring (March-May) and autumn (October – November) are pleasant and the best time to visit. Throughout the year, apart from summer, we recommend you to carry a light jacket to keep you warm in the evening.
Transportation & Accommodation
There are several hotels and lodges in Tansen that can suit any budget. If you want to experience the local culture, you can also stay in one of the community homestays. While traditional Nepali food is served most places, some places also offer continental cuisine, if that’s more to your liking.
Tansen, Palpa is easily accessible by road. It is around 8 hours drive from Kathmandu and around 5 hours drive from Pokhara, Lumbini, or Chitwan. You can drive by yourself or take a bus from any bus stop in the major cities.
While planning ahead is always good, we know that rarely happens with trips. Also, trips that you take too long planning have more chances of faltering in the end. So we recommend you plan your trip but don’t fret over it too much. Knowing the destination always helps. It provides you an insight on when to travel, how to travel, and where to stay.
Then comes researching what the temperature is like, booking a hotel, and discussing your trip with friends who have already been there. Make sure your carrier bag is light. Don’t go overboard with packing, it’s always best to travel light. A first aid kit is mandatory and so is a raincoat.
Much can be said about my own experience in Tansen but, truth is, every person’s trip is different which is why I leave it to you, dear reader, to find your own travel story in the beautiful city of Tansen.