Tansen Tourist Attractions
Tansen (pop. 14,000) lies 1400 m (4595 ft) above sea level on the south side of the Mahabharat range, just off the Siddharta Highway from Pokhara to the Indian frontier (Bhairawa). The combination of a pleasant climate, mountains and escape from the tourist throng make Tansen and its surroundings a delightful area for trekking.
The town is a good base for shorter treks such as the route from Pokhara to Tansen via Dhorpatan or along the Kali Gandaki from Beni.Tansen is an attractive place in its own right, with winding alleys and some lovely traditional buildings. Folk come in from the mountain villages to stock up with supplies, adding even more color to the bustling bazaar; purchases are carried home in traditional style in frame-baskets (doko).Equally typical are the long, densely patterned dhaka clothes and the distinctive metalwork.Tansen used to belong to Barha Magarat, one of a dozen Magar states. In the 15th c. the Sen dynasty, kings of Palpa, distant relatives of the powerful Shahs, made the town their capital. King Mukunda Sen of Palpa extended his domain as far as the River Kosi. He launched several raids on the Kathmandu Valley, carrying off two gilded masks of Bhairava which were installed in a temple near Butwal. Tansen has been part of Nepal since 1806. The Ranas elevated the town to a provincial capital of considerable importance; its governor was reputedly always a member of the Rana family.
Amar Narayan Mandir
The Amar Narayan Temple, graced with exquisite wood-carvings (including some erotic scenes), is located in a small wood, home of a colony of bats. The faithful are summoned to puja twice a day with horns, bells and drums.
The Bhagwati Temple, beyond the palace, was built in 1815 to commemorate victory over the British at Butwal. Fortunes however were reversed the following year; the Gurkhas were outfought and much of the annexed territory had to be returned.
There are a number of interesting attractions and hikes in the Tansen surrounding area.
A most delightful short trek goes from Tansen across the Srinagar Danda into the Kali Gandaki Valley. About 7 km (41/2 mi.) along the way an abandoned Rana palace rises among the trees of the wooded valley bottom. The vast building, designed by British engineers and constructed by Nepalese soldiers, was erected in 1896 in memory of the wife of a Tansen Rana governor. Used for a short while as a summer residence and for entertaining guests, it fell into disrepair when the governor lost favor.
At the foot of Srinagar Danda north of Tansen a little shrine to Ganesh marks the start of a steep path to the 1525 m (5000 ft) summit, a walk of about half an hour (an easier route runs along the ridge from the Hotel Srinagar). The reward is a spectacular view of the Himalayan chain from the Kanjiroba Himal in the west to the Langtang. The now ruined summer retreats seen on the mountain are another legacy of the Ranas.
Palpa Bhairava Mandir
An enormous gilded trident stands in front of the Palpa Bhairava Temple, situated about 8 km (5 mi.) from Tansen on the Tamghas road. Inside the temple is a replica of the Kathmandu Kaalo Bhairava, so awesome, it is said, that normal mortals die at the sight of it - for which reason the door is kept locked. Animal sacrifices are made here on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
About 10 km (6 mi.) from Tansen the road reaches Ridi Bazar, a Newari village situated where the Ridi Khola enters the Kali Gandaki, a sacred spot marked by the important Rikheshwar Narayan Mandir. Legend claims the temple's image of Vishnu once had the stature and looks of a boy, though now man-sized and adult in appearance. The temple has its own ghats used for ritual bathing and cremation.
The hideous Tansen Durbar was built by the Ranas in 1927. The palace's north gate, Baggi Dhoka, is said to be the biggest in Nepal.