Tucked away in a side valley off the Arniko Hwy, about 7km south of Banepa, Panauti sits at the sacred confluence of the Roshi Khola and Pungamati Khola. A third ‘invisible river’ called the Padmabati is said to join the other two rivers at Panauti, making this a particularly sacred spot. Accordingly, there are some fabulously ancient temples that have stood the test of time partly because of Panauti’s legendary resistance to earthquakes. Sadly, this didn’t help in 1988 when a tremor damaged several buildings in the village.
Panauti was once a major trading centre with its own royal palace but today the village is a serene backwater, and all the more appealing for that. Most people visit on day trips, but we recommend staying over and exploring the streets at dawn and dusk, when they are at their most magical. As well as its ornate temples, the village has some striking Rana-era mansions, which have been restored with assistance from the French government.