Tansen: See the Himalayas Off the Beaten Path in Nepal

Travelling in Nepal is always a mystery. Moving from Pokhara for Tansen, I realized this was not the typical tourist route. So the bus was not a tourist bus. It was definitely a local route, as the bus was slightly less than delightful, as there was very little space and because they started playing Nepali screech music right away, so at like 6:45am. But I enjoyed watching it all unravel and the dramatics of people getting on and off and fighting with the bus dude about price, and who needs comfort! It was only 6 hours!!!

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I chatted up the bus dude and made sure he told me when to get off for Tansen, so I didn’t miss it. Which was lucky for me, because Tansen was awesome and missing it would have been a true tragedy! 

Side Trip to Tansen Nepal

I am sooooo glad I made the stop and didn’t just shoot onto [intlink id=”710″ type=”post”]Lumbini[/intlink] like most people. The bus dropped me at about noon and the bus dude asked if I wanted a bus/taxi, I said no, I’m sure it’s not far into the centre, I’ll walk, I have legs, these boots were made for walking etc.

Well, that was misguided.

It was one of those kind of moments where on the map it looks a heck of a lot closer than it is, and the map doesn’t really take in the mega hillside that Tansen is built upon, built UP from where the bus dropped me.

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After about 20 minutes of walking in the sun uphill, I flagged a bus and rode the rest of the way into town, otherwise I fear I may have died. Still, the bus park was on the bottom end of town, and I needed to get to the top, both northerly and altitude wise. So I huff it again, but at least this time I’m in shade! And getting a taste for Tansen, which is a bustly bizarre town and really feels like a true Nepali crossroads.

The surrounding countryside is marvelous as well, as it is on a hillside, looking out over the Tansen valley and across to the other side of the valley’s hills. Just gorgeous! So I made my way to the GETUP Palpa office, which is a tourist info office, and they also have a couple of rooms to stay in….so that brings me to my $5 a night room, on the 5th and top floor of this building, with it’s own rooftop terrace, that overlooks the city of Tansen and the entire valley! It’s amaze-balls! The room was also painted entirely bright neon pink. Interesting…

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So I had a sit down with the guy who runs the info, a wizened man of about 60 named Manmohan, and he gave me a great map of the city, as well as two pamphlets, with map and route descriptions of the two day hikes outside of town. Very informative! And his English was great, we talked about disaster management. What a guy.

Hiking in Tansen: Shreenagar Hill

I set off for lunch, as that is always important, and then wandered the city a bit. Tansen is a very cool town, many crooked alleys and footpaths going up/down. I walked through the bazar again and saw the palace and caught a woman in the act of weaving on a loom the size of a queen-sized bed. Just wandered a lot. Then, because it is only about 3:30 by the time I ended up back at the hostel, I decided to keep walking up Shreenagar Hill (always up…), which is basically right behind the hostel.

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With my very accurate map, I follow the path to a statue of Hanuman, and then onwards to the always present Buddha statue. Once I got to the Buddha I knew it was about to get good, because as I walked past Buddha, said hey, and there was a gazebo viewpoint where the Himalaya-Annapurna vista was laid out in front of you. And the day was devastatingly clear. Just impeccable and stunning and mammoth and all adjectives that could only be shown in pictures really! I stayed up for almost two hours, taking pictures and gazing, and then I had spent enough time doing that, that I figured I might as well wait for sunset and see what happened! Amazing. No words can really even describe, they are beyond any expectation you could have.

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Trekking to Ranighat in Tansen Nepal

The next morning I got up early and walked off in the dark to watch the sunrise. I found a spot that I thought would afford me a view and hopefully once the sun did come up was not a garbage pile. And it wasn’t! That has happened before and it was not glamorous. The sunrise was gorgeous, and the light hitting the Himalayas was amazing, I was awe-struck, again. To shake myself out of my stunned coma, I was in fact really cold, so once the sun shed enough light, I started on my hike to Ranighat.

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Ranighat is a Taj Mahal-ish kind of palace in the valley behind Tansen. The palace was built by a politician in memory of his very adored wife near the turn of the century. He was there for a few years, and then apparently was shunned from Nepal after plotting against the Prime Minister, for the second time. The first time he had plotted he was merely exiled to Tansen. Second time you’re out with these folks!

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The hike to Ranighat is down the backside of the hill that Tansen is built on, and through the valleys and hills beyond it. It takes you through several villages, and is quite amazing as it weaves along, for the most part, with a flowing river, past agricultural terraces. Getting to this very straightforward part of the trail was a bit of a trial, especially since I missed the very first turn that had a tiny sign that pointed in the right way and said RANIGHAT on it. But I am nothing if not a problem solver, and found my way back, the long way.

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Day Trip to Ranighat Nepal

By the time I made it to Ranighat, I had had a wonderful, mostly downhill hike, and was looking forward to a nice peaceful break. And then this Nepali dude started following me around the decrepit palace and wanted to chat. Crap. Now I’m a generally nice enough person, but when I don’t want to chat, I am getting less and less patient in the art of subtlety.

When he finally had me to the breaking point and told, (note TOLD), me to wait for 15 minutes before hiking back to Tansen so that he could have lunch and then he would walk with me for the next 4 hours and show me the way…. (ummm, excuse me! Every feminist and adventurous bone in my body was offended. You show me the way? Don’t make me laugh, sure maybe I’ll get lost but I’m fine with that!), I very flatly said, “No, I walk alone. Goodbye.” And then in my head I sang the chorus to the great Simon & Garfunkel song I Am A Rock for the whole hike back, and loved it. No unwelcome 4-hour walking partner here.

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And I made it back to Tansen just fine, complete lack of Nepali language skills aside. I was physically hurting pretty bad mind you, but an unsolicited guide would not have helped, an elephant or a camel maybe, could have helped, but not a chatty ‘guide’. After my hike, I hit a restaurant for lunch, and then picked up a humongous beer, and hit the rooftop for the rest of the day. And ate momos. Obviously.

I loved my time in Tansen, I would go back in heartbeat for my day hiking and Himalayan voyeurism, and think everybody else should do the same, well maybe not everybody, because then it would be really loud.

Travel Blog Tidbits from Tansen…

While the views of the Himalayas were obscene, the view from my rooftop was also great. Looking out over the whole valley that Tansen sits above was a fantastic thing, and one of those times that you’re sitting there, in your thermals, bra-less, drinking a huge Everest Beer, thinking to yourself “Life is the best”.

Sometimes when I hike alone I worry that I’m about to get mugged on the trail, so I put my camera and any money in the zip pocket of my fleece zip-up that is on my back. As if that is a secret and nobody could ever see the zipper there. I have never been mugged.

I stood on the second longest suspension bridge in Nepal. I don’t know what that means in terms of length of world-wide suspension bridges, but it was still unnerving. Bridges shouldn’t move except during an earthquake, or when Magneto is moving them to get to Alcatraz Island.

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Annoying dude at the palace asked me “What does it feel like to travel alone?” My response: “I love it. It’s quiet.” Then he kept talking. Fail.

The guy who runs the Tansen tourist information has a Masters of Economics. And teaches at the university. One Point Nepal, Negative Point Racist Swiss dude from Pokhara who said that no Nepali person has any brains.

All in all, go to Tansen!!!!! Just, yeah. Go. And then go to Lumbini like I did.

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4 thoughts on “Tansen: See the Himalayas Off the Beaten Path in Nepal

  1. Love your travel spirit and your idea of I don’t want to be bothered.
    I have miles to go before I sleep. Robert Browning!

    1. Exactly! I love t explore on my terms, thats why solo travel has worked so well for me. Explore during the day and then share some beers in the hostel in the evening! Perfection!

      Cheers,
      Emily

  2. Ganga_m@hotmail.com

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    Reply

    Beautiful Pics.
    Planning to travel with my family in september to Nepal.
    Not going to Rajasthan as the redt of the tourists do. Want to see this beautiful land, before I read your blog, I checked the map and history of Nepal and started researching.
    Initially planned a two day trip to Taj. Cut a day there and added Tansen to my itenerary, on my way to chitwan from Pokhra. Don’t want to drive 6-7 hrs to reach any place in Nepal, so taking a break in Tansen and added Lumbini short visit and then Chitwan.
    Planning to stay in a homestay. Wish I could hike to Ranighat.
    Best of luck, stay safe.

    1. YES! I would definitely recommend a night in Tansen, even if you can just wander around town and get up to the lookouts and watch sunset over the Himalayas, it’s pretty magical. I did sunset and sunrise the next day before my hike, and both were incredible. You will find that Nepal is a bit more chilled out that India too, so a nice reprieve!

      Cheers,
      Emily

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