Kiran Khadka, shares his visit to historical Newari town Tansen, Palpa
Last August, I had a chance to visit Palpa as a part of Tourist Guide training program. It was an external tour (outside Kathmandu valley) organized by Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM) as the preparation for future Tour Guides.
I was very excited to visit Palpa as I had never visited Palpa before. After a visit to Chitwan National Park and the birth place of Gautam Buddha Lumbini, we headed towards Palpa. We reached Palpa a bit late than expected, waiting for us was Mr Mohan Man Shrestha (senior professional guide as well as Associate Professor at Tribhuwan Campus, Tansen) to conduct a class, share his experience as a guide and take us to have a look at all the monuments what Palpa offers. We were all surprised by the environment and weather of Palpa after reaching there. The previous two destinations i.e. Chitwan and Lumbini were very hot and humid but to our surprise, it was raining in Palpa and the temperature was very cold. As we finished our Lunch, Mr Shrestha with an Umbrella came with a big smile and we greeted him. He provided us all the necessary information related to Palpa including its history, geography, attractions, weather, amenities. After finishing the session, we head for Palpa Sightseeing.
The very first thing I noticed after reaching Palpa was a big Black statue of Elephant God Gufachaur Ganesh in the corner of Tudikhel. After walking cobbled streets through Tansen’s old artistic Newari houses we came to place where Dhaka (colorful fabric) is manufactured. Next in line was Bhagwati Temple: Bhagawati Temple was rebuilt by Colonel Ujir Singh Thapa, the governor of Palpa in 1815 AD in commemoration of the victory over colonial British Indian Forces in the battle fought at Butwal. He took oath to build a large temple and organize chariot processions to Goddess Mahis Mardini if he gets victory in the battle. We came to know this large temple was damaged by the devastating earthquake in 1935 AD after which it was renovated in its smaller present size. Close to Bhagawati Temple are three small temples of Shiva, Ganesh and Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. Every August, a chariot procession of deities is paraded through the town with military honor to observe the historic battle.
Then we came near to very unusual structure called Shital Pati. I had never seen such building elsewhere in Nepal. Literally known as “Cool Resting Place’’ this octagonal landmark was built by General Khadga Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana during his tenure (1891-1902 AD) as western commanding chief of Nepal, based in Tansen, Palpa. Built in Mughal style, its unique architecture resembles a fort or a rook- shaped castle tower piece in a chess board. Shital Pati is believed to have been built a few years earlier than the Rani Mahal. Many historic announcements and proclamations were made from this spot during Rana rule in Nepal. After then we came in front of Mul Dhoka. The Mul Dhoka (main gate) or Baggi Dhoka (gate for horse drawn carriage) as the locals call it, is probably the only one of this size and dimension in Nepal. The gateway leads to the famous Ranaujieshwori Bhagwati temple, regarded as the guardian deity of Tansen and to the Tansen Durbar square which since accommodated various district level government offices. There are fine woodcarvings on the buildings on both sides of the gate, examples of the fine Newari craftsmanship. Tansen Durbar was built in 1927 AD by Pratap Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana and formed the grand palace that was the seat of the Rana governors. Though in January 2006 during the Maoist insurgency it was destroyed, after the abdication of the king a few months later, the palace was one of the first government buildings to be restored.
As we head toward the Durbar passing the Mul Dhoka, my friend Laxman Sharma indicated me to Khadga Stambha (Pillar). General Khadga Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana also erected the pillar. One in front of the durbar, another at the rear and the third one near the Muldhoka. Among them one near Mul Dhoka is the most famous. It is supposed to build in 1893 AD. Some people also called it as Vijaya Stambha (victoy pillar). Then we head to Amar Narayan Mandir at the bottom of Asan Tole. The large classic three-tiered pagoda style temple is sacred to the Lord Vishnu. It was built in 1807 AD by the first governor of Tansen, Amar Singh Thapa and is very beautiful with its carved wood deities. The bronze Toran and the erotic carvings on the wooden struts are remarkable. The temple is surrounded by one meter wide stone wall locally known as the Great wall of Palpa. In the vicinity of the temple, there are two other temples. Mahadev Mandir is found just below, sacred to Shiva and the other is to Vishnu Paduka.
With this, our sightseeing concluded and we all gather at Tudikhel. Now we were free to explore Palpa at our own. We five close friend Laxman Sharma, Manish Prajapati, Ganesh Acharya and Hari Bajracharya decided to hike till Shreenagar Tower. It took us approximately 1 and half hour to hike up to the tower. This hike was perhaps the most memorable one in entire our Tour. We passed through dense pine tree up to the tower.
The first notable monument was big Karuwa (water jug) in front of the Tower. As we climb up the newly reconstructed tower, we were able to witness the white lake. A colossal blanket of mist covers the Madi Valley every morning and we were lucky enough to look at it after the rainfall in the afternoon. The imaginary lake is visible from almost all parts of Tansen and is definitely worth waking up early in the morning to see before it disappears. Some of us were planning to visit Rani Mahal as well. But it was already about to become dark. Unfortunately we had to head back to Hotel with all the memories of Palpa.
Here are some photos of Palpa: