Must see attractions in Kathmandu to Pokhara

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Gorkha Durbar

    Regarded by many as the crowning glory of Newari architecture, the 16th-century Gorkha Durbar is a fort, palace and temple all in one. Miraculously, the main structure survived the 2015 earthquake, but damage was extensive, and at the time of research, repairs were still under way. The temple-palace perches high above Gorkha on a knife-edge ridge, with superb views over the Trisuli Valley and magnificent panoramas of the soaring peaks of the Annapurna, Manaslu and Ganesh Himalaya. As the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Durbar has huge significance for Nepalis. The great Shah was born here around 1723, when Gorkha was a minor feudal kingdom. Upon gaining the throne, Prithvi Narayan worked his way around the Kathmandu Valley, subduing rival kingdoms and creating an empire that extended far into India and Tibet. The Durbar is an important religious site, so leather shoes and belts etc should be removed. Most pilgrims enter through the western gate, emerging on an open terrace in front of the exquisite Kalika Temple, a psychedelic 17th-century fantasy of peacocks, demons and serpents, carved into every available inch of timber. Only Brahmin priests and the king can enter the temple, but non-Hindus are permitted to observe from the terrace. The east wing of the palace complex contains the former palace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Dhuni Pati, covered in elaborate woodcarvings. This structure was severely damaged in the earthquake, so expect lots of scaffolding. Nearby is the mausoleum of Guru Gorakhnath, the reclusive saint who acted as a spiritual guide for the young Prithvi Narayan. If you leave via the northern gate, you’ll pass the former Royal Guest House – note the erotic roof struts and the crocodile carvings on the window frames. Down from here is a vividly painted Hanuman statue, and a path leading to a large chautara (stone resting platform) on an exposed rocky bluff with awesome views and a set of carved stone footprints, attributed variously to Sita, Rama, Gorakhnath and Guru Padmasambhava. To reach the Durbar, you can climb an exhausting stairway of 1500 stone steps, snaking up the hillside, or take a taxi (Rs 450 including waiting time) along the road winding up to a car park just below the northern gate.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Thani Mai Temple Viewpoint

    The main reason to climb up to Thani Mai is for the spectacular sunrise views from Gurungche Hill. A clear morning offers some of the most memorable 360-degree vistas in the country, with the Himalaya stretching out along the horizon, and the valley below cloaked in a thick fog that resembles a white lake. The trail starts near the school at the southwest end of the bazaar, and is a steep 30-minute walk.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Siddha Gufa Cave

    At 437m deep and 50m high, Siddha Gufa is said to be the largest cave in Nepal. Its cathedral-like interior is full of stalactites and stalagmites, not to mention hundreds of bats, which whistle overhead. Trekking here and back from Bandipur is a popular (if muddy) half-day trip, including a 1½-hour hike each way. Consider hiring a guide from Bandipur's Tourist Information Centre. Alternatively, you can hike up to the cave from Bimalnagar on the Prithvi Hwy, which only takes 45 minutes. From Bandipur, follow the signs starting from the north end of the village. These take you along a dirt path running north over the edge of the ridge, turning right at the obvious junction. The stone path is slippery, so mind your step. Compulsory guides (Rs 200) await you at the cave’s entrance. Torches (flashlights) are also available for hire.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Tundikhel

    In centuries past, traders would gather on this man-made plateau to haggle for goods from India and Tibet before starting the long trek to Lhasa or the Indian plains. It was also a former parade ground for Gurkha soldiers. These days it's a local picnic spot and viewpoint. On a clear day, a stunning panorama of Himalayan peaks is visible, including Dhaulagiri (8167m), Machhapuchhare (6997m), Langtang Lirung (7246m), Manaslu (8162m) and Ganesh Himal (7406m). Try sunrise or sunset. Note that you can now get the same views with a hot coffee or beer at Bandipur Adventure Camp. This may be a better choice as locals can get rowdy at Tundikhel, particularly on weekends during the picnic season (October to November).

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Gorkha Museum

    Housed inside the grand Tallo Durbar, a Newari-style palace built in 1835, this museum's collection is outshone by the building itself, which has a beautiful internal courtyard with carved windows and doors. While the collection is limited, it's a pleasure to wander the old hallways lined with arts and crafts and historical items, and to stroll the 3.5 hectares of garden. This is the natural first stop after the nearby tourist office.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Bindebasini Temple

    At the northeast end of the bazaar (which is the main shopping strip) this ornate, two-tiered temple is dedicated to Durga. Its ancient walls are covered in carvings. Facing the temple across the square is the Padma library, a striking 18th-century building with carved windows and beams.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Khadga Devi Temple

    A wide flight of stone steps leads up the hillside to this barn-like temple, which enshrines the sword of Mukunda Sen, the 16th-century king of Palpa (Tansen). Allegedly a gift from Shiva, the blade is revered as a symbol of shakti (consort or female energy) and once a year during Dasain it gets a taste of sacrificial blood.

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Bhimsen Temple

    Located in a small square, this miniature pagoda temple is dedicated to Bhimsen, the Newari god of Commerce. If you throw a coin inside, he will undoubtedly appreciate it.

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Mahadev Temple

    This squat white temple has an interesting statue of a bull. This is Nandi, the steed of Shiva, who guards Kailashagiri, Shiva's abode atop Mt Kailash in Tibet.

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Ganesh Temple

    This small, white shikhara (an Indian-style temple with a tall corn-cob spire) is dedicated to Ganesh. You'll find it next to a ceremonial tank.

  • Sights in Gorkha

    Vishnu Temple

    This two-tiered temple dedicated to Vishnu lies just north of the bus stand.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Silkworm Farm

    An offbeat choice, a visit to Silkworm Farm takes you through the fascinating process of how silk is produced. The farm comprises orchards of mulberry plants, which are grown for worm food – the worms themselves are reared indoors, usually from August to December and March to May. But you can visit any time, with someone on hand to explain the process using jars of preserved displays. Getting here involves a trek. Leave town, turning left at Heritage Guest House, follow the slate path all the way to the paved road, then downhill 2.5km. The farm is signed on the left, 50m past where the road turns to dirt.

  • Sights in Bandipur

    Padma Library

    There's a random collection of beaten-up books here, including a few English ones, but this small library is better known for its striking 18th-century architecture, which features carved windows and beams.