Bandipur, Nepal

Bandipur street view

Bandipur stretches like a scarf along the top of a ridge where three hills converge with nothing but sky and mountains to encircle it.

We climbed above the cloud cover on out ‘cheap cheap’ local bus onto a vast expanse of forest-clad hills, steep ledges of farmland and lime-green rice paddies. The bus lurched to a halt in front of a narrow, cobbled street lined with exquisite wooden houses, each with ornate balconies covered in cascades of pink bougainvillea and strung with lanterns. A teenager on the bus leaned towards me with a grin and a: “Welcome to Bandipur.”

Walking around the tiny central square with its tangles of cobbled side-streets and the renovated guest houses with wooden shutters, Bandipur seems like the forgotten holiday home of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – its colonial splendour left to crumble.

Bandipur street view

Along the side streets the town has picked up a Portuguese flavour, with teal and tangerine painted doors and orange peel drying in the sultry mid-afternoon sun.

Bandipur doorway

Yet, Bandipur retains a distinctive Nepalese character: children flock around visitors asking for sweets, power cuts occur daily for 12 hours at a time and farm animals and stray dogs roam free throughout the town.