The Hilly region
The Hilly region, locally referred to as "Pahadi Bheg", occupies around 64% of the total land of Nepal and lies as a broad belt between the southern plains of the Terai and the Himalayas.
The Mahabharat range fills most of the hill region with its high hills and once dense forests. Below the Mahabharat range of hills lie the Siwalik range which constitute the lower hills and valleys near the southern plains. The Char Koshe Jhadi was once a dense forest that began from the Mahabharat range and ended around the borders of Nepal and India in the Terai.
Kathmandu Valley (Introduction)
The Kathmandu Valley, the capital, is the political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal. Spread across an area of 360 square kilometers and at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level, Kathmandu is an exotic and fascinating showcase of a very rich culture, art and tradition. The valley, roughly oval bowl measuring 24 km east-west and 19 km north-south, is encircled by a range of green terraced hills and dotted by compact clusters of red tiled-roofed houses.
A remarkable legend speaks that the valley was once covered by a lake until the Bodhisattva Manjushri raised his sword of wisdom and sliced a passage through the mountain walls, draining the water and creating the first settlements.
Not very long ago, it was said that there were just as many houses as there were temples and shrines in Kathmandu valley. Now, of course, that fact does not hold true because of the rapid urbanization and population growth in the last three decades. Nevertheless, the valley still exhibits a living, breathing entity,a vital culture that has miraculously survived till now. The valley consists of three fabulous cities of great historic and cultural interest. These legendry cities go by the names of:
- Lalitpur or Patan
Beyond the urban milieu of these three ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley, there are also villages and small towns that provide charming glimpses of rural life.
- Bandipur (in the Kathmandu-Pokhara Prithivi Highway)
- Tika Bhairav
- Timal Narayan
Sightseeing can be best done on foot or ride a bike in Kathmandu Valley. Bus travel in the city is cheap but a little time-consuming and crowded. The cenral bus station to travel around the valley in Kathmandu city is at Bagbazar and that of Lalitpur is at Lagankhel. There are trolley buses (electric buses) that operate from Tripureshwor (near the national stadium in Kathmandu city) to Bhaktapur city. Taxis or cabs are reasonably priced, but you will probably have to bargain on the price in advance as drivers are sometimes unwilling to use the meter. There are three wheeler environmentally friendly white and green tempoes. The main station of these tempoes is at Newroad, infront of Royal Nepal Airlines office. They are cheaper and fastest means of travel around the three cities of Kathmandu valley. There are motorbikes for hire around freak street such as Thamel.
Kathmandu City offers excellent ranges of places to stay, from expensive international style hotels to cheap and comfortable lodges. Thamel is the tourist quarter of Kathmandu city. In general the lodges of Thamel provide a double room for $5 to $10 per night (depending upon your bargaining skills) with basic facilities like running hot shower facilities, flush toilets, foam mattresses and clean sheets. Then there are the so-called "hotels". Most of these are slightly more luxurious than the "lodges" with probably attached bath, carpeting, furniture etc. These hotels quote their prices in dollars ranging on average $15-$40 per night. Finally you can also stay at "luxury hotels" which are generally Over-priced, like any world-class hotel, at a range of $100-$300 per night.
The popular time to visit Kathmandu is August through December. Medium-weight and easy to wash cottons can be a good choice year-round in the Kathmandu valley. It is recommended that between October to February, woolen sweaters, jackets or similar other warm outfits are necessary. For months from June to August, it is recommended that you bring an umbrella or raincoat and a pair of sandals with you as these months are the rainy months in the Kathmandu Valley. Expect lot of walking even if you don't plan to trek. So it's recommended that you bring comfortable footwear: sneakers and sandals are the best.
Places to see
The Valley consists of three main cities of great historic and cultural interest Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Situated at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level, the Kathmandu Valley covers an area of 218 sq. miles. The major tourist attractions in Kathmandu include :
The temple of Sweta Machchhendranath is situated at Machchhendra Bahal between Indra Chowk, and Asan. It is a pagoda of considerable artistic beauty, also called as Janmadyo or Machchhendra the deity.
Akash Bhairav Temple:
A three storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk, the image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra - the God of Rain.
Hanumandhoka (Durbar Square):
It is the historic seat of royalty. The durbar square, with its old temples and places, epitomizes the religious and the cultural life of the people. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see here sre; Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D. Kal Bhairav, the God of destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big bell, Big Drum and the Jagannath Temple.
On the right – hand corner, larger wooden lattice screen hides an enormous gilded face of Sweta Bhairav. The screen is removed only during the Indra Jatra festival.
There are also Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museums. Both the museums remain closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
Temple of Kumari (Kumari Ghar):
The temple or the residence of living goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has profusely carved wooden balconies and window screens. The Kumari - the living Goddess, acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photgraphy is prohibited.
Located near the temple of Kumari, it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narasingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth sentury. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple.
The small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak is situated behind the Kasthamandap – also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.
Five minutes from Kasthamandap the Shiva Temple of Jaishi Dewal is famous for its erotic carvings. It is still one of the main routes of the chariot festival of Indra Jatra, Gai jatra and other festivals.
A huge greenfield, flanks one entire side of the old city Tundikhel. Some of the important landmarks of Kathmandu Valley are located in the periphery of this area. At the south western end of Tundikhel is a 59029m. tower built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832 A.D. known as Dharahara (Bhimsen Stambha). Sundhara – fountains with golden water spouts is situated at the foot of this great tower also belonging to the same period.
Martyr's Memorial (Sahid) Gate : It is located between Bhimsen Stambha and Bhadrakali temple. The memorial arch contains the statue of the late King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah and the busts of four martyrs.
As the eastern edge of Tundikhel, near Sahid Gate stands the temple of Goddess Bhadrakali. This temple is also known as Lumarhi Temple and is one of the main "Shakti" temples of Kathmandu city.
A grand imposing palace built on the neo – classical style. Singha Durbar was the private residence of Rana Prime Ministers. Now it is the Secretariat of His Majesty's Government of Nepal.
It is the present Royal Palace. A famous historic water spout called Narayanhity, is situated at the southern corner of the Palace.
Located inside the premises of Ministry of Education, Kaisar library is a great centre of rare and valuable books and manuscripts. It is open for the public except Saturdays and government holidays.
About eight kilometers north of Kathmandu, at the base of Shivapuri hill is a remarkable colossal statue of Lord Vishnu,reclining of the bed of snakes. This is one of the masterpieces of stone sculptures of Lichchhavi period. This fifth century statue is in the middle os a small pond and seems to float water.
Balaju Water Garden:
Situated about five kilometers North – west of Kathmandu, Balaju Garden features fountains with 22 crocodile headed water apout dating from the mid eighteenth century. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.
This is one of the world's most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. It is said to be 2000 years old. Painted on the four – sides of the spire bases are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hillock about 77m. above the level of the Kathmandu Valley.
Two and half kilometers west of Kathmandu, the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is open everyday except Tuesday and government holidays.
Natural History Museum:
Situated three kilometers west of Kathmandu city behinf the famous Swayambhunath hillock this museum has a unique collection of butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and a varietyu of fossils collected within the country. Photography inside the museum is prohibited.
Situated five kilometers east of Kathmandu, the temple of lord Shiva – Pashupatinath with two tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. Visitors can clearly seen the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastyern bank of the Bagmati river.
Near Pashupatinath is located another hidtoric and holy temple of Guheswari. Only hindus are allowed to enter the temple courtyard.
The lovely Stupa of Chabahil is believed to have been build by Charumati, the daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. There are ancient statues around the stupa.
The temple of Chandra vinayak is situated about 200m. north of Chabahil Stupa. This double tiered brass roofed temple houses a tiny image of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god.
The Stupa of Bouddhanath lies eight kilometers east of Kathmandu. This colossal and ancient Stupa is one of the biggest in the world.
This lovely Royal Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park, Lies about ten km north- east of kathmandu. Many wild animals such as spotted deer can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant back. On the northern side of Gokarna, is a pagoda of Gokarneshowor Mahadev.
It is a typical Newari town, with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone stairs, is Bajra Jogini, a historical temple with a beautiful view of the local area.There are magnificient waterfalls, cataracts and rocks formations. It is an ideal palce for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.
It is a small town, eight kilometers south-west of kathmandu on the top of a hill. Tribhuvan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient loom etc.
Situated nine kilometers South-west of Kathmandu, this place is famous for its gorge. All the water of the valley drain through it. There is a small but picturesque temple of Adinath on the top of a hill. From this top one can have a panoramic view of snow capped mountain peaks.
Situated between Chobhar and Dakshinkali the temple of Shekha Narayan represent one of the four Narayans of the Kathmandu Valley. The other three Narayans are Changu Narayan of Bhaktapur, Visankhu Narayan pf Patan and Ichangu Narayan of Kathmandu.
The temple of Dakshinkali is situated about two kilometers south of Shekha Narayan. Dakshinkali is regarded as one of the most important Hindu goddesses. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayer and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Besides, this place has been developed as a popular picnic spot.
This ancient city of Patan also known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts is about five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments. The major tourist attractions of Patan are :
Patan Durbar square, situated in the heart of the city constitutes the focus of visitor's attraction. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. The Patan Durbar square consists of three main chowks or courtyards, the central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. The Sundari Chowk holds in its centre a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal bath called Tushahity.
Built in the seventeenth century, the temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is supposed to be the first specimen of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 spires and is completely made of stone.
A little further east from Patan Durbar Square lies this Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha engraved. The terra – cotta structure is one of the fourteenth century Nepales architectural masterpieces.
Hiranya Verna Mahavihar:
Located inside kwabadehal, this three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by king Bhaskar Verma. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden image of Lord Buddha and a large prayer wheel.
This fine tiered temple of Lord Shiva was built during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla. A fair is held here on the Janai Poornima day in August.
Situated at Sankhmul, this tall, imposing temple of Lord Vishnu. The temple has many fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.
Rudra Varna Mahavihar:
This unique Buddhist monastery contains fine and amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. It is believed that the Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.
The Ashokan Stupas:
There are four ancient stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 B.C. by Emperor Ashoka at the four corners of Patan. The four stupas are situated in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi and in Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. These stupas give evidence to the city's ancient religious importance.
It was established towards the beginning of the seventeenth century by one Acchheswor by building a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha. The Mahavihar has recently been reconstructed. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchowk, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of the Kathmandu Valley.
Temple of machhendranath and Minnath:
The pagoda of Red Machhendranath built in 1408 A.D. is situated in Tabahal. For six months the deity is takeo to other shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.
Situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals, birds and reptiles in its collections mostly representing the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in 17th A.D.
Patan Industrial Estate:
Patan Industrial Estate is situated at Lagankhel in Lalitpur (Patan) near Sat Dobato. This Industrial Estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as wood carvings, Metal crafts, carpets and thangka paintings. For the convenience of the tourists there is shopping arcade where all the handicraft products of the Estate are exhibited in the shopping arcade.
Situated in a small woodland park, it is about ten kilometers south of Patan near the village of Chapagaon. A visit to Tika Bhairav and Lele from here is worthwhile.
Situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, Royal Botanical Garden has a splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to the south east, passing through the small, old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. It is the only in Nepal, is open daily including Saturdays and government holidays.
Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2758 m, high, is a good spot for hiking. A Buddhist shrine is situated on the top pf the hill which can be reached through a jeepable road.
Situated at an altitude of 1,401 m. Bhaktapur covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch – shell. Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Pottery and weaving are its traditional ondustries. The city lies about 14 kilometers East of Kathmandu and can be reached by publice transport and by trolley buses. The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur include:
The main square of the cit contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Palace of 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Bell of barking dogs, etc. The statue of the King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace . Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent.
The National Art Gallery:
Contains ancient and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrism of various periods and descriptions.
The Golden Gate is the entrance to the main countyard of the Palace of 55 windows. Built King Ranjit Malla, the Gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters of marvelous intricacy.
The palace of 55 Windows was built in the seventeenth century of King Bhupatindra Malla. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpiece of wood carving.
The Stone Temple of Batsala Devi which is also located in the Durbar square is full of intricate carvings.. This temple also sets a beautiful example of Shikhara style of architecture in Nepal. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple which is also known as the 'bell of barking dogs'. This colossal bell, placed in 1737 A.D. was used to sound curfew during that time.
This five – storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. It stands on a five – terraced platform. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singhini the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship.
This temple was first built as a one – storey pagoda but later changed into a three – storey temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Mala. This temple is noted for its artistic grandeur. It is dedicated to Lord Bhairavnath the God of Terror.
Built in 1427 A.D. this temple is said to have been built from trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.
Situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, the temple of Ganesh is placed in a Sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.
Situated at the end of a long ridge which runs well into the Valley, it is said to have been built by King Hari Dutta in 323 A.D. and said to be the oldest temple in the Valley.
Nagarkot is a popular tourist resort of Nepal. It is situated 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2175 m above the sea level. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas including Sgaramatha (Mt. Everest) can be seen from here.
Places outside Kathmandu Valley
There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit outside the Kathmandu Valley – places of historical importance of noted for natural beauty. Most of them can easily reached from Kathmandu by road or by air.
Located 29 kilometers north – west of the Kathmandu city, the fabulous holiday area of kakani features attractions ranging from beautiful alpine scenery to the magnificent Himalayan panorama particularly of the Ganesh Himal massif. Other peaks that can be closely seen from Kakani are; Gaurishanker (7,134m.), Choba Bhamre (6,109m.), Manaslu (8,163m), Himalchuli (7,893m.), Annapurna (8,091m) and several other peaks.
One of the most famous religious places of pilgrimage of Nepal is Gosainkunda lake, situated at an altitude of about 4,360m. The best approach to Gosainkunda is through Dhunche, 132 kilometers north east of Kathmandu. Dhunche is linked with Kathmandu by a motorable road. Surrounding by high mountains on the north and the south, the lLake is grand and picturesque. There are other nine famous lakes such as Saraswati, Bhairav, Sourya and Ganesh Kunda etc.
The ancient town is situated 30 kilometers east of Kathmandu on the side of the Araniko Rajmarga (Kathmandu – Kodari Highway). From here one can have a complete panoramic view of the snowy ranges from Karyolung in the east to Himalchuli in the west.
It is a thriving village of the road to Dhulikhel, with some very lovely temples and interesting old houses, particularly beautiful area some fourteenth century wooden temple struts. The drive is through beautiful countryside.
It is situated on a hill above Panauti. It requires an easy drive or good walk to get here. There is an amazing story concerned with the Buddha which is commemorated by an ancient stone slab and a Stupa with the all – seeing eyes of Lord Buddha.
The route from Dhulikhel to Timal Narayan is ideal for a short trek. From here one can have a beautiful view of Gaurishanker Himal and other important peaks as well as Sunkoshi river. It is also very pleasant to visit the villages of the Tamang people who live in this area.
7 kilometers north of the mountain of Panchkhal, on the top of a hill lies the noted historic temple of Palanchowk Bhagawati. The temple houses a three feet long beautiful artistic stone image of Goddess Bhagawati.
About 133 kilometers from Kathmandu, Charikot provides a spectacular mountain view of the Gaurishanker. In the eastern upper part of a Dolakha township there is a famous roofless temple of Dolakha Bhimsen.
Helambu situated about 72 kilometers north – east of Kathmandu is famous for its scenic grandeur and pleasant climate. There are many Buddhist monasteries amidst a rich and enchanting landscape. Sundarijal is the starting point to trek to Helambu which is mere 11 kilometers away fro Kathmandu.
Gorkha is the birth place of King Prithvi Narayan Shah – the Great, the founder of modern Nepal. Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, there is a beautiful old palace known as Gorkha Durbar. There are two attractive temples of Gorakhnath and Kali inside the palace precinct. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple of Gorakhnath. Gorkha can be reached in about 6 hours from Kathmandu and in about 4 hours from Pokhara. A side trip to Manakamana on the way to Gorkha is very enjoyable and interesting.
The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is situated about 18 kilometers north east of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 meters. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather of Mustang and is situated about 18 kilometers north east of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 meters. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather. There are two ways to get to Muktinath from Kathmandu. Either to take a direct flight from Kathmandu via Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for a couple of hours via Kagbeni or to trek all the way from Pokhara. There is also air service from Pokhara to Jomsom.
The Pokhara Valley – one of the most picturesque spot of Nepal, is enhanced by its lovely lakes Phewa, Begnas, and Rupa. Situated 200 kilometers west of Kathmadnu8, Pokhara is connected by air as well or by bus from Kathmandu Bhairahawa a border town from India. Situated at an altitude of 827 meters from the sea – level, Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, five peaks of Annapurna and others. Pokhara's numerous lakes, known as 'tal' in Nepali offer fishing, boating and swimming.
Situated at an altitude of 1,343m; above the sea – level. Tansen is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal on account of its position and climate. It has perhaps Nepal's most far stretching views of the country's chief attractions, the Himalayas from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gaurishanker in the north east. It takes just seven hours by bus from Pokhara to reach Tansen.
Lumbini is the birth place of Lord Buddha, the apposite of peace, and non – violence. It is situated 250 kilometers south – west of Kathmandu. The broken Ashokan pillar, remnants of an old monastery , images of Buddha's mother Maya Devi, etc are still preserved in Lumbini. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa . Also one can reach Lumbini in about 3 hours by bus or by car from Tansen via Bhairahawa. From Kathmandu it takes about eight hours by bus or by car.
Rapti Valley (Chitwan):
From Kathmandu it takes six hours to reach Chitwan. Situated 120 kilometers south – west of Kathmandu, the main attraction of Chitwan is Royal Chitwan National Park. This is one of the Nepal's largest forest regions with a wide range of wildlife- the rare great one horned rhinoceros, several species of deer, sloth beer, leopard, wild boar, fresh water dolphin, crocodile, more than 350 species of birds and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. Visitors to Chitwan may view game of elephant back excursions, nature walks, dance trips, from window and on Jungle treks. There are several authorized agencies to organize such safaris. Visitors may also take river raft trips, driving from Kathmandu to the river Trishuli or Seti Khola.
It is situated 80 kilometers south – west of Kathmandu at an altitude of about 2,400 meters. Daman is located on the Tribhuvan Highway in between Kathmandu and the town of Birgunj. For the view of the breathtaking grandeur of the world's highest peaks extending in one glittering are from far – west of Dhaulagiri to far – east of Sagarmatha there is no better place than Daman. There is a view tower fitted with long range telescopes. Daman can be reached in four hours from Kathmandu.
The name of Namche Bazaar is generally associated with that of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest),the highest peak in the world. It is the entrance to the Everest region. Situated on the lap of Khumbu Himal range, Namche Bazaar is about 241 kilometers from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of legendry Sherpas. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. Accomodations are available at Lukla, Namche Bazaar, Thyangbiche, Debuche, Periche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep respectively.
A great religious place, Janakpur is famous as the birth place of Sita, the consort of Lord Rama. There is an artistic marble temple of Sita (Janaki), popularly known as Naulakha Mandir. Religious festivals, pilgrimages, trade fairs and other festivities are held here on Bivaha Panchami and Ram Navami days. Janakpur is also linked with Kathmandu by air and road.
The second largest city of Nepal Biratnagar is situated in the Koshi Zone. The city has some of the largest industrial undertakings in the country. There are a couple of pilgrimage spots in Dharan and Barahachhetra near by the city. Biratnagar is linked with by air and road.
A few kilometers from the main city of Biratnagar, Barahachhetra, the holy place of Hindu pilgrimage, lies at the confluence of the two rivers the Saptakoshi and Kokaha. There is the temple of Lord Baraha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Historians have traced the existence of this image from the twelfth century.
It is situated about 13 kilometers north of Dhankuta Bazaar. The panorama of the major peaks of the eastern Himalayas including Sagarmatha, Makalu, Lhotse and Kumbhakarna can be seen from this place.
It is situated at an altitude of 1,677 m. in the Ilam district and is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchenjunga. It is the best place for viewings sunrise and sunset. There is a motorable from Ilam to Chhipitar.
Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty. Situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley, the city is known as a center of adventure. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000 has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of Himalayan
Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country. Best time to visit is between October and April.
Phewa Tal (Lake)
- Phewa Lake
- Begnas lake and Rupa lake
- Barahi temple
- World Peace Pagoda
- Seti Gandaki
- Devi's Fall
- Gupteswar Gupha
- Mahendra Gupha
- The Old Bazaar
- Bindbyabasini Temple
- Himalayan Vista
- Nightlife and Entertainment
- Around Pokhara
Phewa lake, the second largest lake in the kingdom, roughly measuring 1.5 km by 4 km, is the center of all attractions in Pokhara. The enchanting lake is an idyllic playground. Brightly painted wooden boats and sailboats can be rented on reasonable cost around lakeside. The lake is neither deep (roughly 47 meters at most) nor particulary clean, but the water is warm and swimming is pleasant if you don't think about the probable pollution.
Begnas lake and Rupa lake
The lakes are located about 15km from Pokhara at the end of a road that turns north from the highway to Kathmandu. Divided by the forested hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, the lakes offer the perfect nature retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and fishing can be done here.
This is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the middle of Phewa lake, the two storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protectress deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.
World Peace Pagoda
The pagoda is a massive Buddhist stupa and is situated on top of a hill on the southern shore of Phewa lake. Besides being an impressive sight in itself, the shrine is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. You can get there by crossing the lake by boat and then hiking up the hill.
Flowing right through the city, the boisterous river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite beyond imagination - over 20 meters! Mahendra Pul, a small bridge near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the river's dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.
Locally known as Patale Chhango (Hell's Fall), Devi's fall (also known as Devin's or David's) is an awesome waterfall lying about 2 km south-west of Pokhara airport on the highway to Tansen. An interesting modern legend says that a foreigner named David was skinnydipping in the Pardi Khola (river) when the floodgates of the dam were opened, sweeping him into an underground passage beneath the fall, never to be seen again.
Gupteswar Gupha, a sacred cave, lies 2 km from Pokhara airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading southwest from the city. The entrance is right across from Devi's Fall and the cave is almost 3 km long. It has some big hall-size rooms and some passages where you have to crawl on all fours. This cave holds special value for Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in the condition it was discovered. An entrance fee of Rs. 5 is charged and taking pictures inside the cave is prohibited.
Mahendra Gufa, locally called Chamero Odhaar ("House of Bats"), is the large limestone cave. Shepherd boys are said to have discovered it around 1950. A two hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites, although most of them have been carted out by souvenir hunters.
The Old Bazaar
Pokhara's traditional bazaar is colorful and so are its ethnically diverse traders. In its temples and monuments can be seen ties to the Newar architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. Located about 4 km from Lakeside, the market's original charm is alive and well.
Bindhyabasini temple is the center of religious activity in the old bazaar. It is dedicated to goddess Bhagwati, yet another manifestation of shakti. Worshippers flock here to perform sacrifices, and especially on Saturdays the parklike grounds take on a festive fair.
Pokhara Museum, located between the airport and Mahendra Pul, reflects the ethnic mosaic of western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of ethnic groups such as the Gurung, Thakali and the Tharu are attractively displayed. Open daily, except Tuesdays and holidays, from 10 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee is Rs. 5 and there is an extra Rs. 10 for cameras (Tel: 0612041 3).
The magnificent Annapurna panorama that's visible on the northern skyline of Pokhara is quite incredible. The main peaks are Annapurna I to IV and the beautiful Machhapuchhare (or Fishtail Mountaian, so named after its twin peaks). Besides these, you can also see the Himchuli, Varahashikhar, Gangapurna and other peaks.
Pokhara is the starting and ending point for many of the popular trekking routes in Nepal. Longer treks (one to three week long) such as the Jomsom trek, Annapurna Circuit, and Annapurna Sanctuary begin here. For those with less time, Pokhara also provides shorter (one to seven days) more leisurely treks around the neighboring hills and villages. The popular ones are:
two days, a circuit through Lhachowk to Ghachowk and down to Batulechaur, north of Pokhara, close up view of Fishtail mountain.
two days, to Naudanda from Suikhet and then back through Kaski, west of Pokhara.
five to seven days long, upto the Gurung village of Ghandruk village, great views of the Annapurna range, north-west of Pokhara.
day trip, north east of Pokhara, 1560m altitude.
day trip, great view of the mountain range including Dhaulagiri, north of Fewa Lake, 1592m altitude.
Rupa and Begnas Lakes:
day trip, 15km south-east of Pokhara, take a bus there and leisurely walk along the ridge that separates the two twin lakes
Tansen, an ancient hill town, with its architecture strongly influenced by Newari migrants from the Kathmandu valley is waiting to be discovered by the tourists. Situated at the southern slope of the Mahabharat range; about half way from the Indian border to Pokhara and the Himalayas, this town offers an opportunity to experience genuine Nepalese culture, away from westernized places like Thamel in Kathmandu or Lakeside in Pokhara. Old artistic Newari houses and cobbled streets shape the townscape. The town's hill, Shreenagar, allows breathtaking views of the Himalayan range from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east.
Tansen is the district administrations headquarter of Palpa district, one out of 75 districts in Nepal, and since 1957 a Municipality. It is itself often referred to as Palpa, and its people (population approx. 13,000 in the core area) as Palpalis.
At an elevation of about 1350-m (4430 ft) above sea level the town experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year. The maximum temperature, even in pre-monsoon times, hardly exceeds 31°C (88 F) and only in December/ January the minimum temperature can fall below 10°C (50 F). The annual precipitation is about 1500 mm of which 90% falls in the monsoon season.
The name of the town "Tansen" has its origin in Magar language, meaning "northern settlement". Magars are one of the ethnic groups of Nepal having their own language, culture and history, and are assumed to be the first settlers in this area. Around 600 years ago, Nepal was divided into several small kingdoms and hill states. In this region, they were known as "Bahra Magarat", meaning the "twelve regions of Magar". The percentage of Magar population in these districts is very high till today.
During the invasion of Muslims into India, numerous kings and clans escaped from there to the northern hill areas. In the late 15th century, they entered the Himalayan region. Some of them conquered the local kings and established their own states. The former Sen - Dynasty of Palpa, founded by Rudra Sen, had its roots in those days. Under the reign of his son, Mukunda Sen (1518 - 1553), the kingdom of Palpa reached its largest expansion and Tansen became its capital. The kingdom of Palpa spread as far as the Koshi River in the east, Gorakhpur in the south and today's Gulmi and Kaski districts in the west and north. Mukunda Sen, though unsuccessful, attacked Kathmandu valley too. After ruling thirty-five years, he resigned and spent the rest of his life as a saint.
In 1806, after a lot of political unrest, the kingdom of Palpa, which until then had been independent, was annexed into the kingdom of Nepal and was then administered by a governor, appointed from Kathmandu.Political changes in Nepal brought up changes in the administration too. Today the head of Palpa district is the CDO (Chief District Officer) and Tansen is one out of 58 Municipalities in Nepal.
Due to the diversity of the ethnic groups living in this area, one also finds a diversity of languages spoken. Although the main language is Nepali, in the core area the Newari community is partly using their own tongue as do the Magar people in the surrounding villages.
The main religion is Hinduism, followed by Buddhism. Parts of the population are Muslim and also a small Christian community has established itself.
Before the major road between Butwal and Pokhara was built, connecting the plains of the Terai with the foot of the Himalayas, Tansen was an important commercial center for North/South trade (Tibet/India) and the main bazaar for the surrounding districts. With the development of better infrastructure and industry in this country, which had been molded for centuries by mountains and porter services, the importance is now shifting to the plain Terai, to new industrial centers and into villages along the new roads.
The main occupation of today's inhabitants are in small business and industries, handicraft, trade, public service, health service (United Mission to Nepal runs a big hospital in Tansen) and education. In the surrounding villages, agriculture is still of high importance.
The town of Tansen is a prosperous looking- collection of red brick houses set on the steep hillside and is among the largest far-flung Newar trading posts scattered across the hills. Though the Newar community forms one of the major communities in this place now, the place originally belonged to the Magar community, one of the most delightful ethnic groups of Nepal.
, the large plateau in the southeast part of the town, near the bus park, is the best starting point to discover the fascinating destinations of the town. The former kings of Palpa made this artificial plateau when they needed a drilling and parade ground. Today Tundikhel is a popular gathering place for people to chat, walk and play in the afternoon. A statue of King Birendra marks the southwest corner of the Tundikhel; the building at the north side is the town hall.
Amar Ganj Ganesh Temple is a beautiful three-storey pagoda style temple. The rest house of the temple that has space to shelter thousand people has been converted into a school. On the premises of the school, there's an old small one-storey temple of Bhairab. The mask of Bhairab, which is worshipped here, was snatched from Kathmandu by Mukunda Sen, King of Palpa. To get here, one needs to follow the northeast path from Tundhikhel.
Amar Narayan Temple
is one of the largest temples in Tansen. The whole temple complex, including the temples, the ponds and the park was built under the reign of Amar Singh Thapa, the first governor of Palpa. According to a legend, a holy spring (or lake) is hidden under the three-storey pagoda style Narayan Temple. The two other temples of the ensemble are dedicated to Vishnu (to the west, next to one of the ponds) and to Shiva (to the south, next to the staircase). The remarkable huge dry stone masonry wall surrounding the whole premises is called "The great wall of Palpa". One can get here by taking a west path from Tundikhel and then turn right to get to the temple at its upper end.
(shady restplace), near Ason Tole, is the most popular square in Tansen. The square is named after the white octagonal shaped building, that lies in the middle of the square. The Sital Pati was built under the order of Khadga Shamsher, governor of Palpa from 1891- 1902. Khadga Shamsher, an ambitious politician, was exiled from Kathmandu after plotting against the Prime Minister.
The south corner of the square leads to Baggi Dhoka, the main gate to the Tansen Durbar, the former palace and today's district administration's headquarter. Baggi Dhoka is the gate where the chariots of religious festivals have to pass through. The fine woodcarvings on the buildings on both sides of the gate represent the fine Newari craftmanship. This Baggi dhoka leads to the palace grounds. The right route leads to the Bhagwati Temple, that was built in 1815 by Col. Ujir Singh Thapa to commemorate the victory over the British-Indian troops in the the battle of Butwal.
If you return to the Durbar grounds and continue your way to the palace itself, you will find an older, smaller palace, built in 1927. Today the Durbar houses the district's administration. There still exists a room called "the throne hall" in the Durbar's second floor.
The gate opposite to the palace leads to Makhan Tole, the main bazaar of Tansen that focuses the town's commericial activity, notably the sale of Dhaka cloth. Of woven cotton or muslin, this cloth is characterised by jagged, linear designs orginally made famous in Bangladesh. With principal colours of red, black and white, the cloth is used to make saris as well as "topis" (Palpali topi), the hat that is an intergral part of the national dress for men.
Taksar is another interesting place of the town, where for centuries the famous bronze and brass works of Tansen were produced. One can have a look at how the famous ancient articles such as Karuwa (water jug), Hukka (water pipe), Antee (jug for Nepali brandy) etc are produced.
Shreenagar hill, at 1525 m high, is about an hour uphill from the town center. While climbing this hill, one can not only enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of the Himalayas running from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east, but also get pleasure of passing through peaceful forest, pine plantation and decidious forest with a lot of beautiful rhododendron flowers. There is a statue of Buddha at the eastern end of Shreenagar ridge. It takes about half an hour to reach this statue. Thai monks donated the Buddha statue with the monkey and elephant. It commemorates a part of Buddha's life. According to the legend, when Buddha was meditating in a jungle for roughly three months, a monkey and an elephant served him in many ways.
Sights around the vicinity of Tansen
Ghorbanda - Kumal Gau (Potter's Village)
The village of Ghorbanda is on the way to Pokhara from Tansen. It is the best place to see the unique style of pottery making in Nepal. The articles produced here are traditional water pitchers, pots and "Handa" (a vessel with holes in the bottom; used for brewing rokshi, which is Nepali brandy).
Ranighat is the palace built on the banks of the Kali Gandaki river by Khadka Shamsher in remembrance of his beloved wife Tej Kumari. It takes about two hours to reach this place from Tansen. On the way, one has to pass through a small settlement called "Hatti Dhunga" (elephant stone).
A half days walk through fertile landscape shaped by terraced rice fields lead to Ramdi at the banks of the Kali Gandaki. Ramdi is a "Ghat" (cremation place) where people bring their deceased relatives for their final rites. Besides this, Ramdi is famous for its cave temples, where the farmers from surrounding villages offer milk to protect their cattle from leopards and jackals.
Ridi, sacredly located at the confluence of the Ridi Khola (stream) and the Kali Gandaki, is visited by pilgrims from Nepal and India who take holy bathes and worship at the temples. Additionally, like in Pashupatinath, in Kathmandu, old people arrive and stay here to take their last breath and get cremated at the banks of the holy Kali Gandaki. Furthermore, Ridi is the locality for the biggest yearly fair of the area. The walk down to Ridi will take around five hours, rewarded by beautiful landscape. To return to Tansen, we suggest you takae a bus or jeep.
A pleasant walk along the mountain ridge to the west of Tansen will bring you the alleged largest golden trident of Nepal. After walking roughly 9 kms, you will reach Bhairabsthan, a temple sitting atop a hillock. The temple's statue of Bhairab iis kept hidden, because it's sight is unbearably frightening and it is said that people who catch a glimpse of it are in danger of losing their liver. So even the priests worship the statue from behing a curtain.
The main days of worshipping for the common people are Tuesday and Saturday. In the yard of the temple you can see the largest golden trident of Nepal, the centre of the ceremonies. From the temple's terraces you again have a beautiful view of the Himalayan range.
To leave the beaten track and visit the site of an important fair, Satyawati lake, a bit more effort is needed. You have to take a morning bus to Butwal and get off at "Chaubis Mile"(Twenty four miles). From there you first descend to the valley of the river Tinau and then steeply ascend through dense jungle (it deserves the name here) to the pecuilar lake on the top of the mountain ridge. The lake is said to be the home of a goddess. To avoid backtracking and to have impressive views of the Himalayan range, you should follow the ridge to the south and then descend through picturesque villages back to the road and take a bus to Tansen.
Maghe Sankranti Mela (Ridi Mela), held in Magh (Jan/Feb) in Ridi Bazaar, is the most important fair of this region. The fair, lasting three days, is well known for the sale of local handicrafts and products such as woolen blankets, wooden pots, bamboo products, sugarcane cakes, walnuts, medical herbs and a kind of dried cottage cheese.
Besides the busy trading, a large number of Hindu pilgrims from different parts of Nepal and India take a holy bath in the Kali Gandaki River and worship at Ridikesh Temple.
Satyawati Mela (Night Fair) is held in the full moon night of Kartik (Oct./ Nov) at Satyawati Lake. According to the legend an old goddess lives here, Satyawati Bajai (grandma). Today she is said to be hard of hearing, she possesses supernatural powers. Pilgrims from the surrounding hill districts and Terai attend this mela to ask Satyawati Bajai to fulfil their hopes. For that, they circle the lake three times shouting their wishes for sons, employment, wealth, death of enemies etc to this goddess. Goats and cocks are sacrificed and pigeons are set free. Mute children should drink the waters of the lake to be healed. The fair which starts in the evening, ends before sunrise, so as not to offend the goddess.
Parvas Mela is held on Shivaratri in Fagun (Feb./Mar.) in Parvas, 6kms south of Tansen.
Lalpati Mela is held on Holi in Fagun (Feb./Mar) in Lalpati in the center of Madi valley.
Rambha Pani Mela is held on Krishnaastami in Bhadra (Aug. /Sept.) in Rhamba Pani, 30 kms east of Tansen.
It goes without saying that the Palpalis celebrate the Hindu and Buddhist festivals listed in the Nepali festival calendar. But there is a week of special festivals in this area worth mentioning, starting with Janai Purnima at the full moon day in August.
On Janai Purnima, Brahmin and Chetri men change their religious threads, worn from shoulder to waist. Traditionally on this day, the Gai Jatra Festival is announced for the following day.
Gai Jatra (Cow Festival) was launched by a former king of the Kathmandu valley to heal his wife from a deep depression after the death of the prince in a smallpox epidemic. So this festival combines the remembrance of the deceased with an attempt to cheer up the mourners. Families who experienced a death during the previous year form processions through the town singing religious songs. Children of the mourning families, dressed like kings and saints, lead some of these processions. Wealthy families may even hire a choir for an impressive remembrance procession in the evening.
Huge artificial cows, made of bamboo, cloth, paper etc. are carried around, accompanied by clowns. These groups perform small ironic and satirical dramas in public squares and entertain the town.
Gai Jatra is followed by Ropai Jatra (Rice Planting Festival), when farmers of the area show the city people the pleasure of rice planting, "ploughing" the streets of Tansen while singing folk songs.
On the next day's Bag Jatra (Tiger Festival) men dressed as tigers and hunters roam around the town to caricature the favorite hobby of the old rulers.
For the Chariot Festival, where chariots of Ganesh (elephant headed god of success), Bhimsen (strongest hero) and Narayan (one out of the trinity of Hindu gods) are carried through Tansen, the town inhabitants light candles in their windows and offer flowers, fruit and money to the chariots passing through their houses.
Bhagwati Jatra marks the end and climax of the week of festivals. The goddess Bhagwati, who symbolizes power, supported the fight against the British-Indian troops.
People stay in the Bhagwati temple the night through to worship, sing, dance and observe the placing of a statue of Bhagwati into a chariot.
The following morning government officials, as well as the army, police and many Palpalis make up a large procession through the town.
However, due to the topography of the town the chariots do not have wheels and are not pulled by animals, but are carried by members of a special ethnic group, the Kumal, whose usual occupation is pottery.
Daily bus services (duration 8 - 10 hours)
7.00 a.m.: "Sitara bus" leaving from the new buspark in the north of Kathmandu.
6.30 a.m.: "Sajha bus" leaving from Sajha bus station in Patan Pulchowk.
5.00 p.m.: "Nightbus" leaving from the new buspark in the north of Kathmandu.
You can also fly from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa and take a bus up to Tansen. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus service and you have to change buses in Butwal.
Daily bus service (duration 6-8 hours) 7.00 a.m. Tourist coach to Sunauli. You have to get off at Bartung junction and take a bus or jeep for the 4-km link road to Tansen.
There are two possibilities to reach Tansen. Having made your way from the National Park to Narayanghat, you can either catch the "Sitara bus" or "Sajha bus" coming from Kathmandu on its way to Tansen (duration 4 -5 hours), both buses arrive around noon in Narayanghat Pulchowk; or take one of the several buses to Butwal (duration 2 - 3 hours) and change there for a bus to Tansen.
Unfortunately, there is no direct bus service from Lumbini to Tansen. You have to change buses in Bhairawa as well as in Butwal.
It can be easily seen that Butwal is the most important traffic junction for Palpalis to nearly all destinations. Buses leave every 40 min. for Tansen, as do buses from Tansen to Butwal. The duration of the journey is approx. 2 hours.
There is a daily tourist coach service from Sunauli to Pokhara. You have to get off at Bartung junction and take a bus or jeep for the 4km link road to Tansen. Several local buses leave Sunauli for Butwal, where you have to change a bus to Tansen.
There is a direct bus service twice a week from Guleria via Kohalpur to Tansen, and daily buses leave from Kohalpur to Butwal, where you can easily get a bus to Tansen. For departure times, connections and length of journey, please ask your hotel or lodge in Bardia National Park.
There are large number of low budget accomodation around the buspark. The approximate cost to stay a night or two around nice hotels range in price between US$5-US$15. "Srinagar", "The Bajra", "The White Lake" and "Gauri Shankar" are some of the decent hotels of this place.
There are large number of small restauants in the town, selling Nepali dishes and snacks. "Nanglo West" restuarant at Sital Pathi square is one of the excellent restuarants that serves western style, Palpali, Nepali, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Hotel Srinagar provides some western meals too.
Gorkha, situated at 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meter, is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal's ruling royal family. Gorkha is only 18 km up a paved road of the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way to or from Pokhara would provide more insights into Nepal than one is likely to get at lakeside in Pokhara.
Gorkha's small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop fortess, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term "Gurkha" evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.
Gorkha's centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Mansalu range.
Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled street market place where by people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples near about, but not much. Yet, it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista of the quiet charm that soaks a typical hill village of Nepal.
Gorkha Durbar is the main attraction of Gorkha, an hour steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithvi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort, and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.
Gorakhnath Cave, ten meters below the palace's southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorkhanath. The cave is is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.
Gorkha is also an alternate starting point for a few trekking routes in the region. Gorkha-Trisuli is an easy three day walk along unspoiled Nepali country side. One can also walk a long day's walk to Besishahar, which is the usual starting point for Annapurna and Manang area treks. One can also walk through Besishahar area to Pokhara in a four days.
Gorkha is five and half hours from Kathmandu, four and half from Pokhara, and two hours from Chitwan. If travelling by bus, take the bus to Pokhara, get off at Abu Khaireni on the way to Pokhara from Chitwan or Kathmandu. From Abu Khaireni, take a bus to Gorkha, the ride is 21km. If you are travelling to Pokhara from Kathmandu or Chitwan, or vice-versa, you can make Gorkha a daytime stop-over. Bus fare would cost you between US$1-US$3 from Kathmandu, depending on whether you take the local bus or a more comfortable "tourist bus".
Basically, two choices. Gorkha Hill Resort is a rather expensive upscale hotel (about US$30) with a great view of the Himalayas. The fact that it is located 4km from the town makes it a little inconvenient if you don't have your own transportation. For about US$8, there is also a very basic lodge closer to the town.
Not much. There are a number of local eateries serving dal-bhat (the staple Nepali food of rice with vegetables and lentil soup). Gorkha Hill Resort serves decent food (primarily to their guests) for a steep US$8-US$10 price range. If you are there for a day trip, bringing your own sandwich etc. from Kathmandu or Pokhara is perhaps better.