A Beautiful Hill Station in the western part of Nepal- Tansen

TANSEN, PALPA

A Beautiful Hill Station in the western part of Nepal, Tansen is the headquarter of Palpa District. It lies between Pokhara (122 km from Tansen), a famous tourist city and Lumbini (85km from Tansen), a birthplace of Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism. Tansen is only 65 km from Sunauli, an Indian Border.

The town ship of Tansen is among a few towns outside the capital which bears a rich legacy of the traditional art and architecture. Perched on the lap of the spectacular Srinagar Hill, Tansen commands a gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas as well as the plains of Terai. Located at an elevation of 1310 metres, Tansen is a pleasant place to visit during any season of the year.

Tansen is famous for various kinds of handicrafts, textile and organic coffee. Karuwa, a water jug made of bronze, typical Nepali cap & shawl made of Dhaka textile are legendary souveniers from Tansen. Recently an organic coffee from Tansen and its surroundings is getting worldwide attention due to its unique taste. Tansen is also famous for Ginger.

Introduction of Tansen

Tansen, a typical newari town, is the best hill station in the South West region of Himalayan country Nepal. It is the administrative headquarter of Palpa district, one of the 75 districts of Nepal. It lies between Pokhara, a famous tourist city and Lumbini, a birthplace of Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism.

The township of Tansen is among a few towns outside the capital which bears a rich legacy of the traditional art and architecture. Perched on the lap of the spectacular Srinagar Danda (hill) Tansen, commands a gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas as well as the plains of Terai. Located at an elevation of 1310 meters Tansen is a pleasant place to visit during any season of the year. The hill of Srinagar, half an hour’s walk up Tansen Bazaar at an elevation of 1524 m. is rare vantage point to view the contrasting manifestation of nature. An Incredibly Long panorama of the mountains encompassing Kanjiroba, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Langtang Himal at a stretch is visible from here on one hand, while on the other the plains of Madi valley and the bigger terai also comes to distinct view from the same point.

Tansen is a good put off point for short as well as long treks. You can visit some of the beautiful points on the Kali Gandaki river such as Ranighat Palace and Ramdi Ghat the dense and serene woody slopes of Rambhapani and Satyawati lake.For longer treks you can choose any area in Annapurna-Dhaulagiri region such as Dhorpatan, Jomsom, Ghorepani or Annapurna Sanctuary. Tansen also provides opportunity for study of Buddhist culture and the life and culture of Magar tribes.

Tansen is famous for various kinds of handicrafts, textile and organic coffee. Karuwa, a water jug made from bronze, typical Nepali cap & shawl made of Dhaka textile are legendary souveniers from Tansen. Recently an organic coffee from Tansen and its surroundings is getting worldwide attention due to its unique taste. Tansen is also famous for Ginger production.

History of Tansen

The ancient name of Tansen was Tansing. The word Tansing descends from Magar Language. The word “Tansing”means a denser or northern settlement. In past, whole region of Palpa and surrounding districts were dominated by Magar Tribes. Magars are one of the ethnic groups of Nepal having their own language, culture and history and are assumed to be the first settlers in this area.

Before the unification of Nepal there were several small kingdoms and hill states. In this region, they were known as “Barha Magarat”, meaning the twelve regions of Magar. These regions of Magar included Palpa, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi districts of Lumbini Zone and other districts of Rapti and Bheri Zone.

During the invasion of Muslims into India, numerous kings of different states escaped from there to the northern hill areas. Some of them conquered the local kings and established their own estates. The former Sen Dynasty of Palpa, founded by Rudra Sen (1483-1518 A.D.) had its roots in those days. Under the reign of his son, Mukunda Sen (1518-1553 A.D.), the kingdom of Palpa reached its largest expansion and Tansen became its capital. The kingdom Palpa spread as far as the Koshi River in the east, Gorakhpur in the South and Gulmi and Kaski districts in the west and north respectively.

The history of Tansen dates back to the 16th century. Prithvi Narayan Shah, who united Nepal, mother was from the Sen Family. For years the Gorkha and Palpa kingdoms were in alliance and combined they took control of western Nepal. In 1806, Prithivipal Sen, the last king of Palpa, was asked to come to Kathmandu and he was beheaded. Palpa became part of the Kathmandu kingdom afterwards and Tansen became the administrative city for the area.

Climate of Tansen

The climate of Tansen is moderate and charming. The temperature doesn’t rise above 28° Celsius during summer and it doesn’t fall below 8° Celsius during winter. Monsoon arrives here in the summer and it gets very little precipitation in the winter.

Fairs & Festivals of Tansen

As Tansen is home to a number of different ethnic groups, there is at least one fair/festival in a month. Most festivals are based on Hindu or Buddhist mythology. They are celebrated according to the lunar calendar and announced according to the Nepalese months.

Fairs of Tansen

Ridi Mela or Maghe Sankranti:

A 3 day festival, held in January/February at Ridi Bazaar is the main festival of the region. During this occasion, numerous Hindu pilgrims from Nepal and India come to Ridi and take a holy bath in the Kali Gandaki River and worship at Rishikesh Temple. During the fair, the area turns into a huge market of handicrafts and products namely woolen blankets, wooden pots, bamboo products, sugarcane cakes, walnuts and more.

Satyawati Mela: The one night festival is held in the full moon night in Nepali month of Kartik (Oct/Nov) at Satyawati Lake, south of Tansen. The legend says that on this night an old goddess with bad hearing will fulfill the wishes of the pilgrims who circle the lake three times and shout their hopes out to her. People take a holy bath in the lake and sacrifice animals and birds to Goddess Satyawati.

Parvas Mela: The fair is held in Nepali month Falgun (Feb/Mar) on Shiva Ratri, the birthday of Lord Shiva. People come here to worship the god Krishna and Shiva. Animals and agriculture products are exhibited in the fare and best farmers are rewarded.

Lalpati Mela: The fair is held in Holi Festival in Falgun (Feb/Mar) in Lalpati in the centre of Madi Valley.

Rambha Pani Mela: The fair is held in Krishnastami in Bhadra (Aug/Sep) in Rambha Pani, 30 km east of Tansen city. People visit there to worship Goddess Rambha Pani and sacrifice animals and birds to fulfill their wishes.

Festivals:

  • Baisakh Sankranti ,Nepali new year
  • Ram Nawami
  • Matatirtha Aunshi
  • Baisakh Purnima, Buddha’s Birthday
  • Sithi Nakha
  • Rishikeshotshav
  • Tulsi Ropan
  • Guru Purnima
  • Ghanta Karna
  • Pancha Daan, Gunla
  • Nag Panchami
  • Janai Purnima
  • Gai Jatra
  • Ropai Jatra
  • Shree Nagar Ganesh Jatra
  • Bagh Jatra
  • Taksar Ganesh Jatra
  • Bhimnsen Jatra
  • Krishnastami
  • Bhagawati Jatra (Bhadra Krishna Nawami)
  • Kushe Aaunshi ()
  • Amar Narayan Jatra ()
  • Laxmi Narayan Jatra ( Bhadra Shukla Dwadasi)
  • Teej
  • Rishi Panchami
  • Dashain
  • Tihar
  • Maghe Sankranti
  • Chhath Parva
  • Mahakali Bhagawati Yatra, Darlam danda
  • Maghi Parva
  • Basanta Panchami
  • Shiva Ratri
  • Fagu Purnima/Holi, Festival of Colour
  • Chaite Dashain
  • Ram Nawami

Places of Interest in Tansen

Shreenagar Hill:

Shreenagar hill, at 1525 m high, is about an hour uphill from the town center. While climbing this hill, one can not only enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of the Himalayas running from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east, but also get pleasure of passing through peaceful forest, pine plantation and decidious forest with a lot of beautiful rhododendron flowers. There is a statue of Buddha at the eastern end of Shreenagar ridge. It takes about half an hour to reach this statue. Thai monks donated the Buddha statue with the monkey and elephant. It commemorates a part of Buddha’s life. According to the legend, when Buddha was meditating in a jungle for roughly three months, a monkey and an elephant served him in many ways.

Tansen Durbar:

This former palace of the provincial governor was built by then Western Commander in Chief, Pratap Shamsher in 1983 B.S. (1927 A.D.)  in the Rana style and was government office till Maoist destroyed it on 31st January 2006. Its under reconstruction.

Sitalpati

Sital Pati (shady restplace), near Ason Tole, is the most popular square in Tansen. The square is named after the white octagonal shaped building, that lies in the middle of the square. The Sital Pati was built under the order of Khadga Shamsher, governor of Palpa from 1891- 1902. Khadga Shamsher, an ambitious politician, was exiled from Kathmandu after plotting against the Prime Minister.

Baggi Dhoka:

Baggi Dhoka is the gate where the chariots of religious festivals have to pass through. The fine woodcarvings on the buildings on both sides of the gate represent the fine Newari craftmanship. This Baggi dhoka leads to the palace grounds.

Bhusal Danda:

United Mission Hospital is located at Bhusal Danda.

Taksar:Metal Workshop in Taksar

Taksar is another interesting place of the town, where for centuries the famous bronze and brass works of Tansen were produced. One can have a look at how the famous ancient articles such as Karuwa (water jug), Hukka (water pipe), Auntee (jug for Nepali brandy) etc are produced.

Temples/Bihars:

There are lots of pagoda style temples and budhhist shrines in Tansen city. Most popular are :

 Bhagawati Temple

Bhagawati Temple: It was rebuilt by Col. Ujir Singh Thapa, the governor of Palpa in 1815A.D. to commemorate the victory over colonial British Indian Forces. in the battle front of Butwal. The large temple was damaged by the devastating earthquake in 1935 A.D. Then it was renovated in the present size which is comparatively very small than the previous one. In the vicinity of Bhagawati Temple, there are three small temples of God Shiva, God Ganesh and Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. In the month of August every year, a chariot procession of deities is taken out throughout the town with military honour to observe the historic bottle.

 Amar Narayan Temple:

It was built in 1807 A.D. by General Amar Singh Thapa. According to a legend, a holy spring (lake) is hidden under the three storey pagoda style God Narayan (Vishnu). temple. The erotic carvings on the wooden structures are very remarkable. The temple is surrounded by one meter wide stone wall locally known as the Great wall of Palpa. In the vicinity of the temple, there are two temples of God Shiva and Vishnu Paduka.

Amar Ganj Ganesh Temple: Before building the Amar Narayan Temple in 1807 A.D., Amar Singh Thapa had built this temple of God Ganesh. The temple bears the same style and character of Amar Narayan Tempe. The rest house of the temple that has space to shelter thousand people has been converted into a school. Within its premise, there is a temple of Bhairab called Batuk Bhairab. The mask of Bhairab which is worshipped here was snatched away by the King Mukund Sen from Kathmandu.

Siddhi Binayak Temple: The temple of God Ganesh call Siddhi Binayak is situated at the slope of Shrinagar Hill. It is said that the sculptors who came here from Kathmandu to build the temple of Amar Narayan, carved the figure of an elephant on a big stone and gave the shape of God Ganesh, whose head according to mythology was replaced by the head of an Elephant after he was beheaded by his own father Lord Shiva..

Laxmi Narayan Temple: The temple of God Narayan (Vishnu) constructed in Nepalese Pagoda style is situated in Basantpur. Three main Hindu Gods namely Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the protector) and Shiva (the destroyer) are worshipped in this temple. In the month of August/September, an annual festival is held here.

 Bhimsen Temple

Bhimsen Temple: Built in a pagoda style, the oldest temple in town is the temple of Bhimsen. According to the ‘Mahabharata’ Bhimsen is the strongest hero. Though he is not a god, Newars worship him like a god for the protection of their property and on business journeys. The temple lies in west of Sitalpati.

Buddhist Shrines: Ananda Bihar and Maya Chaitya Bihar are the two main Buddhist shrines in Tansen. ‘Bihar’ is a sacred place where Buddhist monks live and meditate.

Getting There

 By Air – Though there is no direct flight to Tansen,  visitor who wants to avoid long vehicle ride can take a flight  from Kathmandu either to Bhairahawa and take a bus up to Tansen (64 km/2hours drive) or to Pokhara, from where Tansen can be reached in 3 hours drive.. Since there is no direct bus service from Bhairahawa airport to Tansen, bus has to be changed  in Butwal.

By Road From Kathmandu (306 km)

There are lots of direct bus and van services from Gongabu Bus Park, Gongabu and Sundhara, near to Central Post Office. Buses and Vans leave Kathmandu early in the morning and in the evening. Or you can hire a vehicle from hotel or travel agencies. Its around 7 hours drive. (306 km)

From Pokhara (122 km)

Only one direct Daily bus service (duration 3/4 hours) from Pokhara Bus Stop at 6.00 a.m. (please confirm the departue time). Another option is to take  Tourist coach to Sunauli and get off at Bartung junction and take a bus or jeep for the 4-km link road to Tansen.

From Chitwan (175 km)

There are two possibilities to reach Tansen. Having made your way from the National Park to Narayanghat, you can either catch the bus and vans coming from Kathmandu on its way to Tansen (duration 4 -5 hours), all vehicle arrive around noon in Narayanghat Pulchowk; or take one of the several buses to Butwal (duration 2 – 3 hours) and change there for a bus to Tansen.

From Lumbini (85 km)

There is no direct bus service from Lumbini to Tansen. Buses have to be changed in Bhairawa as well as in Butwal.

From Bardiya National Park (362 km)

There is no direct bus service from Bardiya National Park to Tansen. Buses have to be changed in Butwal.

From Butwal (38 km)

It can be easily seen that Butwal is the most important traffic junction for Palpalis to nearly all destinations. Buses leave every 40 minutes for Tansen, as do buses from Tansen to Butwal. The duration of the journey is approx. 1hour.

From Sunauli (65 km), an Indian Border

There is a daily tourist coach service from Sunauli to Pokhara. You have to get off at Bartung junction and take a bus or jeep for the 4km link road to Tansen. Several local buses leave Sunauli for Butwal, where you have to change a bus to Tansen.

Accommodation/Hotel

Palpali Chhen, Hotel Srinagar, The White Lake Hotel, Hotel Indreni and Restaurant and Rose Resort are the best tourist standard hotels in Tansen. Others are Gauri Shankar Guest House, Hotel Gulmeli and Restaurant, The Bajra Hotel.

Other hotels which offer attached bathrooms are : Hotel Simrik, Hotel Dhawalagiri, Amrit Guesthouse. Hotels having rooms without attached bathrooms are New Everest Hotel, Gautam Siddhartha Hotel, Sherchan Hotel and Shringa Hotel.

There are large number of low budget guesthouses around the buspark. Some of them are: Mohan Guesthouse, Juniya Maiya Hotel, Rampur Hotel, Rambhapani Hotel, Sangam Hotel, New Gulmi Hungeli Hotel, Gulmi Malika Hotel, Sharma Hotel, Jorte Hotel, New Hira Hotel, Hotel Chherlung, Thakali Hotel and Lodge.

Dining/Restaurants

There are large number of small restauants in the town, selling Nepali dishes and snacks. “Nanglo West” restuarant at Sital Pati square is one of the excellent restuarants that serves western style, Palpali, Nepali, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Hotel Srinagar provides some western meals too.

Another new restaurant has been recently opened in Basantpur. Its called Royal Inn (Tel No. 522780). It has free WIFI facility too.

Try Hansko chhyola ( roasted or grilled spiced duck meat ), Chukauni ( Pickle of Boiled Potato and Curd ), Jhiniya roti, Sel Roti and Batuk ( a lentil flour patty ), if you like hot and spicy food. They are Tansen’s special cuisine.

Cuisine/Food

There are various types of Nepali  foods according to ethnic groups and castes, depending on ingredients available and affordable. Indian, Chinese and Tibetan flavors and aromas can easily be detected in Nepalese meals although Nepal’s cuisine maintains its own flare. Most Nepalese prefer  Dal (lentil soup), Bhat (steamed rice), Tarkari (curried vegetables) and Achhar (pickle) twice daily.

Tansen is very famous for Hansko chhyola ( roasted or grilled spiced duck meat ), Chukauni ( Pickle of Boiled Potato and Curd ) and Batuk ( a lentil flour patty ). If you are fond of hot and spicy food, it will be a life time experience for you to have them. Jhiniya roti and Sel roti (circular shaped dish made from fermented rice) are also very popular dishes of Tansen, Palpa.

Sel Roti: It is made of rice flour with adding customized flavors. A semi liquid rice flour dough is usually prepared by adding milk, water, sugar, butter, cardamam, clove and other flavors of personal choice. The ingredients are mixed well by stirring. Once the semi liquid dough is ready, it is poured by hand on homemade shortening or oil in circular shape and cooked on low heat until it turns light brown on both sides.

Souveniers

Tansen produces a good quality of  Organic Coffee, Dhaka Textile Products and Metal Products which are very popular among all the tourists who visit there.

Coffee from Tansen

Organic Coffee: The coffee produced in Tansen and its surrounding areas is an organic coffee as no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides are applied at all. As it is grown in 800 to 1500 meter above from the sea level, the quality is very high. Beans are generally medium in size. They are aromatic and tasty. Recently the coffee from Tansen and its surrounding areas is exported to various overseas countries specially to United States, Europe and Japan. Coffee is available in many shops around Tansen Bazaar.

Coffee producing cooperative/companies in Tansen:

*Siddhakalika Coffee Products Cooperative, Archale       *Nepal Organic Coffee Products, Madanpokhara

Dhaka Textiles: A cap wore in our national dress is called ‘Dhaka topi’ (cap made of Dhaka cloth) and Palpali dahaka topi is the most famous and popular among Nepalese people as well as among foreigners. Shawls and ‘Thaili’ (a typical nepali woman purse), made of dhaka are also very famous as souveniers. There are lots of dhaka shops and small industries in Tansen.

Dhaka Industries in Tansen:

  1. Bhagawati Dhaka Kapada Udhyog, Barudkhana
  2. Chandi Dhaka Udhyog, Makhan Tole
  3. Dilip Textile, bhimsen Tole
  4. Karki Dhaka Kapada Udhyog, Dhrubaghat
  5. Karki Dhaka Udhyog, Dhrubaghat
  6. Laxmi Dhaka Kapada Udhyog, Kailash Nagar
  7. Menuka Dhaka Udhyog, Basantpur
  8. Purnima Dhaka Udhyog, Badigyan Tole
  9. Rameswor Kapada Udhyog, Bhimsen Tole
  10. Rayamajhi Textile Industries, Makhan Tole
  11. Shiva Sundar Dhaka Kapada Udhyog, Barudkhana
  12. Shree saraswati Dhaka Kapada Udhyog, Silkhan Tole
  13. Shrestha Dhaka Udhyog, Bartung
  14. Swadeshi Bastrakala Palpali Dhaka Udhyog, Bhimsen Tole

Metal products: A typical Nepali style water jug “Karuwa” made up of bronze is the most popular water jug in Nepalese household. An “Aunty”, a typical newari jug specially used to keep “rakshi”, homemade alcohol is also a very good souvenir for toursits to take back their home.

Taksar Tole is the famous place for metalcrafts where you can see their works and can do shoppng as well.

Metalcrafts Industries in Tansen:

  1. Dhatukala Udhyog, Taksar Tole
  2. Palpali Karuwa Udhyog, Taksar Tole
  3. Pasa Hastakala, Taksar Tole
  4. Sainju Hastakala Industry, Taksar Tole
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