One of the oldest towns in Nepal, Panauti offers a poignant look at the passage of time. From the crowded bus stand in the sprawling concrete mess of the new town, you slip down a brick street into the Old Bazaar, the remains of an ordered and prosperous medieval city that would have been a wonder to behold in its heyday. Located at the sacred confluence of the Roshi Khola and Pungamati Khola, it is dotted with ancient temples.
Panauti was also once a trading capital, as revealed by several Rana-era mansions restored by the French government. Squint at the merchants lining the street and you can cast your mind back hundreds of years. But when you open your eyes amid today's widespread decay, you'll undoubtedly feel a twinge of melancholy, for while there are some interesting sights in this Newari town, it was clearly much better off centuries ago.