One of the oldest townships in western Nepal, Palpa’s Tansen is blessed with natural beauty and rich culture. The town, which was part of the ancient Sen Kingdom, came alive after Rana rulers brought Newar artisans from Kathmandu and Lalitpur to work in the city.
Many would think that the Newar community’s presence is limited to Kathmandu Valley only, but Tansen is one other place where it is thriving. The narrow alleys, which bear names like ‘Ason’, ‘Basantapur’ and ‘Makhan Tole’ are all reminiscent of t he gallis with the same names in the capital. The names give any visitor to this place clues to understanding the origins of the inhabitants of the city.
Here we look at seven reasons why Tansen is one of the must-see places in Nepal.
Tansen offers some magnificent views of the surrounding hills. The city is located south-west of Pokhara, and the Himalayas are a rare sight for anyone. But once you see the lush-green forests and the different shapes of the hills, you don’t miss the Himalayas. Everywhere you go, you want to click photos!
Dhaka clothes and accessories
Palpa’s Dhaka weaves have become synonymous with the place. Although Dhaka weaves were first used only to make topis, the cloth now finds use in many many things ranging from ties to bags and kurtas. The variety of Dhaka you get in Palpa is simply mind-boggling. You are sure to be spoilt for choices!
The Newar houses
Although much of the old settlement of Tansen has been replaced with concrete, there are a good number of traditional houses in the city that retain their old charm. A walk through the city’s Newar quarters takes you back to the heyday of the community.
Before Dhaka became popular, it was the karuwa (a traditional Nepali drinking pot) that was synonymous with Palpa. A hand-made karuwa is heavy, lustrous and shiny. Local artisans say the art is now limited to just three houses. That makes karuwas all the more exclusive.
The town, according to local folklore, was once famous among tuberculosis patients. It is said that fresh air from the salla trees on the hills helped cure the disease. Today, the trees provide fresh air for people of major cities around Nepal who have had it with dust and smoke. Another reason to head to Tansen!
Many people would think that to travel on hilly roads, like the ones in Palpa, one would need a good sturdy SUV. But you won’t see that many SUVs on the hills. You’ll be surprised to see how this Maruti Alto treads on the treacherous road, especially outside Tansen.
At the end of a long day of walking around, there’s just the right place in Tansen to enjoy a good plate of momos. If you are from Kathmandu, you’d know what ‘Nanglo’ means for momo lovers. If you do not want to get to adventurous with the food, you could head to Nanglo for dal-bhat or that fancy chicken sizzler.
There are more than half a dozen buses, big and small, that go to Palpa from Kathmandu everyday. Just go to New Bus Park in Gongabu, and book a seat. The best time to travel is at night if you want to avoid traffic jams on the congested highway. The journey takes around 10-12 hours.
Places to stay
Palpali Chhen, Hotel Indreni, Hotel White Lake and Hotel Crown are some of the big names in Tansen. They offer bed and breakfast at reasonable rates. There’s also an option of ‘homestay’.
View the location on map:
(Opener): The reconstructed Palpa Durbar.