Halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara there is a village called Bandipur. A lot of travelers skip this place and they make a huge mistake. After the dusty and noisy Kathmandu or the touristy Pokhara you’ll need a place where time plays no role. Bandipur is a great choice for those who want to enjoy the silence and spend their days contemplating or hiking on the surrounding green hills. If you want to make the most out of your stay, then you should choose the Old Inn Hotel in Bandipur.
We were tired after a long journey from Kathmandu and the arrival at the Old Inn was very refreshing. Sukram, one of the representatives of the hotel, greeted us and invited us to the beautiful terrace. “If you came in October or November, you would see the whole Himalaya range from here.” his first words were. Well, the view was impressive anyway. You could see the whole valley with its picturesque houses. Somewhere in the distance we occasionally recognized peaks covered with snow. Sitting on the huge terrace of this hotel in Bandipur we listened to the history of the structure.
Back to 2000…
The year 2000 is very important for the Old Inn. That’s when the first guests visited its traditionally furnished rooms. If the building reminds you of a house, you’re not far from the truth. The hotel actually consists of two old Newari townhouses. The Newari culture is one of the most crucial ones in the history of Nepal. Newars are various ethnicities forming a community that was historically the first to inhabit the Kathmandu valley and its surroundings. Their culture is extremely rich in art, religion and traditions.
The hotel has managed to maintain the style of the old buildings and even the furniture looks like from past centuries. We wondered where all those fascinating decorations come from. We found out the designers of the hotel had collected them from different regions in Nepal. It is useless to say that they fit perfectly into the atmosphere of “old world”. The ceilings are low and we had to mind our heads after smashing them against the cold wooden frames several times. There are two wings in the Old Inn: the original one open since 2000 with 11 bedrooms and the new wing Extra Star with 9 bedrooms.
The hotel in Bandipur with a view
The windows of the Old Inn gave us the most picturesque view we could ever wish for. The original wing of this hotel in Bandipur opens right onto the traffic-free Bazaar. We watched people slowly passing by old timber houses with wonderful cravings. In the distance the view offered green fields and hills hiding more traditional villages. The other side of the hotel overlooks the valley and the mountains. In case you would prefer the mountains instead of the calm life of the Bazaar, you can always enjoy it from the terrace while drinking tea or eating one of the meals the restaurant offers.
Empty stomachs, beware!
There are plenty of dining possibilities in Bandipur, but why not to try the tasty dishes of the Old Inn Hotel in Bandipur? Moreover they are more than generous so nobody will stay hungry. Breakfasts will satisfy both those longing for a western meal and those willing to try the typical Bandipur Takhali (lentils, rice and vegetables) with yogurt. The lunch is a mixture of soup and a plate containing salami, cheese, salad and french fries. The most favourite part is definitely the dinner. The experienced cook prepares a huge banquet of dal bhat.
If you are not familiar with dal bhat then you should know that it is impossible to visit Nepal without trying this dish at least once. Both locals and tourists love it as it mixes different flavours and has also a vegetarian version. It is basically a combination of lentil soup, rice, vegetable or meat curry, different kinds of pickles, sauteed spinach and yogurt. It may vary from region to region but it is always tasty. You simply mix everything together and eat. Locals eat dal bhat with hands since the taste becomes stronger like that.
What to do in Bandipur?
In the afternoon Sukram gave us a tour around the village. The walk was very peaceful and apart from a few locals devoting to their daily routine we didn’t meet anyone. According to Sukram the football field is the best spot to see the Annapurna Range. And it was truly one of the few places from which we managed to see the Himalayas during our visit in Nepal. A few minutes of walking up the hill led us to the Mahalaxmi Temple.
If you have more time to spend in Bandipur, you can visit the Siddha Cave. The path leading to the cave is pretty adventurous as it is very steep and not the best for walking. Definitely something for those who like adrenaline! Sukram said that it is not recommended to see the cave without a local guide and we believed him. The village tour continued in the picturesque streets of Bandipur. We also passed the Notre Dame School. Sukram told us the history of this institution that helped Bandipur become visible. A Catholic order of nuns from Japan established the school in 1986 and nowadays it has more than 800 students.
Ethnic diversity everywhere
Back at the Old Inn Hotel in Bandipur we learned more about the ethnic background of the village and its surroundings. Bandipur itself is mostly Newar and we could trace its origins back in Tibet. This community settled here mainly because of trade and prosperred until 1950s. There are other ethnic groups that inhabit the villages around Bandipur. Only around 4 hours of walking there is a traditional Magar village called Ramkot. Magars are one of the oldest nationalities living in Nepal.
Why Old Inn?
After an undisturbed night in an enormous bed and rich breakfast on the terrace we could not be more satisfied. The hotel made us feel nostalgic for the old times that we have never experienced. The atmosphere of a sleepy village stretching on the slopes of a green valley, the view of the snow covered Himalays and the traditional timber architecture of the hotel, turned our stay into something special. And that is the reason why the Old Inn is the hotel in Bandipur you’ll want to stay in.
Enjoy the gallery below and visit Bandipur soon!
*The Old Inn Bandipur provided us with a complimentary stay. As always, all opinions and all photos are our own.*