Things to do in Tansen
A kilometre from the centre of the town, Srinagar Danda (hill) forested with pine trees sits at an elevation of 1,524 m and commands a view that will leave you awestruck. The view boasts of rolling green hills, the whole town of Tansen to the Madi Valley and, on clear days, a panora of mountains stretching from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east. Climb up the newly built karuwa (traditional water jug) shaped view-tower on the top of the hill for the best view.
The White Lake
A colossal blanket of mist covers the Madi Valley every morning and, not surprisingly, it is called the White Lake and it really does look like one. The imaginary lake is visible from almost all parts of Tansen and is definitely worth waking up early in the morning to see before it disappears. So popular is the imaginary lake that there is even a hotel in the town named after it.
A former palace of the provincial governor built in 1927 AD was destroyed during the decade long insurgency but has now been rebuilt and is a massive red and white building, probably one of the largest buildings in the entire town. If not for anything, a visit to this place reminds you of the price the country paid for the decade long bloody war. Another attraction is the building’s main gate known as Baggi Dhoka or Mul Dhoka, said to be the largest of its kind in Nepal.
One of the major attractions in Tansen, this palace was built by the then Governor of Palpa in the late 19th century in memory of his beloved wife. The palace sits on a huge rock bed by the banks of the Kali Gandaki river, and though there is nothing inside the palace, but by merely walking inside its now empty halls, you can imagine how beautiful it might have been in its heydays. The attraction, however, is not just the palace. The 7 km hike to the palace itself is serene. The trail passes through pretty villages, lush green forests, waterfalls, gorges and babbling brooks. There are beautiful green lagoons and streams en-route that will tempt you to take a quick dip. Shops on the route are few and far between so it’s best to carry along water and snacks. It’s a pretty long hike so the best thing to do would be to start off early.
Shopping for handicrafts
Famous for its dhaka, a colourful cloth, Tansen has plenty of shops that sell various dhaka items like shawls and topis (cap). Apart from the fabric, Palpa is also known for its metals crafts, especially their mastery of bronze, and karuwas (water jugs), in particular. And the town of Tansen, particularly Taksar, has plenty of shops that sell these metal crafts, which have been perfected through generations of practice.
Tansen is without a doubt a great place to go ambling. Explore the countless cobblestoned lanes and narrow alleys that reveal typical Newari houses, small temples and curious locals. The alleys also have plenty of small tea shops which are great places to sit down, interact and bond with locals over a glass of chiya.