If visitors are wondering which place in this kingdom would give them a taste of everything, we suggest that they give Tansen a try. Tansen is a small town of approximately twenty thousand people. It is on the way from Pokhara to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and it is not too far from the Royal Chitwan National Park. Located 4,300 meters above sea level, on the south flank of Srinagar Hill, the greatest attractions of this town are its ancient culture, friendly people, excellent mountain views, and, above all, its serene atmosphere. The weather remains moderate throughout the year, and it is a pleasant place to visit in any season.
The town's mostly Newar and Magar inhabitants have long been known as staunch warriors. The kings of Tansen wielded great power over western Nepal in the fifteenth century. Palpa, their kingdom was the last to be defeated by the conquering Gurkhas who unified today's Nepal. These people became even more famous in the Anglo-Nepal war of the early 1800s. Col. Ujir Singh Thapa who commanded the army in the region was in an extremely trying situation at the time. His men were outnumbered four to one by the English forces. He desperately asked for divine help before going into battle, promising a temple in the name of Goddess Bhagwati (who is ferocious and loves blood sacrifices) if she would help him. He won. In 1815, he kept his word and built a temple to the goddess. However, fighting is not the only forte of Tansen residents.
The jamre folk song performance of the Magars are colorful. Dancing and feasting are accompanied by drumbeats of the madal during festivals. Amar Singh Thapa, another great champion of the Anglo-Nepal war, had great affinity for Tansen as well. He brought highly skilled artisans from Kathmandu Valley to build the Amar Narayan temple when he was the governor of the town. The temple's woodcarvings are remarkable and puja is offered here everyday to Lord Bishnu.
During the time of the Rana prime Ministers, from 1846 to 1951, Tansen became an important outpost. Those who offended the administration or were political prisoners were sent away from the Kathmandu Valley beyond Tansen. It was thought that they would not be able to cause problems to the rulers from their faraway exiles. Later the Ranas tried to develop Tansen into a hill-station and built palaces and mansions for personal use. One such palace in the heart of the town has a huge door called the Baggi Dhoka. Some say that it was built so that Khadga Shumsher Rana would not need to get off' his elephant while entering the palace. Others claim that it was built so that horse drawn chariots could easily enter the palace grounds. The town's intricately patterned dhaka is the most popular handwoven cloth of Nepal. Newar women of the Kathmandu Valley have preferred its shawls for many decades. Nepal's national cap, the topi, is also made of dhaka. Dhaka is available to buyers at the town's bazaars. Those interested may also see weavers at work on their looms.
There are potters and metal workers in Tansen too. Earthen pottery is still used in many houses of Tansen. Jugs, basins, and even filters are made from clay for local use. Chang, the local liquor, is wonderfully cool if it has been stored in earthen-ware. Metal workers make deep plates, karuwa water jugs, utensils for worship and hookahs for smoking.
Tansen is charming because it is unspoiled by modernity, pollution and urban bustle. On clear days, mountain views from the town reveal Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, Gauri Shankar and other peaks and a walk up to Srinagar Hill provides an even more thrilling Himalayan panorama.
Access: Regular bus services are available from all major places like Kathmandu, Pokhara etc. The nearest airports are in Pokhara and Bhairahawa.
Accommodation: Several hotels are located in Tansen. The number of travellers to this "hill station" have increased over the years, and so have tourist facilities.