Tansen, situated on the undulating Mahabharat range in western Nepal, was once the capital of the Magar kingdom. Now a heritage town this picturesque hill station is popular as a detour among travelers as it lies at a comfortable distance of 122 km from Pokhara and 85 km from Lumbini. With traditional Newari houses and cobbled streets adding to its old world ambience.
Tansen is known chiefly for the production of ‘Dhaka’ (Nepal’s traditional fabric) and ‘Karuwa’ a brass pot used in Nepalese homes. It is not uncommon to hear the sound of the wooden looms clacking as you walk down the streets on a visit to this old town. Devoid of traffic a walk through the ancient lanes filled with traditional houses transports you to another era.
Historical sites in this old medieval town include the old Tansen Durbar, the octagonal Sitalpati located at the centre of the town and the famous Ranighat Palace on the banks of the Kaligandaki River.
Originally built in 1927, Tansen Durbar was the official residence of the governor of Palpa during the Rana regime. The impressive 64-roomed palace was destroyed by Maoist insurgents at the height of Maoist insurgency. It has since been restored.
Another of Tansen’s historical attraction is the Rani Mahal or Ranighat Palace. Lying at the base of the town the palace is known as the Taj Mahal of Nepal. It was built by the then governor of Palpa, Khadga Shamshere Rana in memory of his deceased wife in 1893.
Built in a neoclassical style, the solitary palace lies hidden among a thick forest beside the Kaligandaki River and is a favourite spot for hikers and history buffs. From the town it takes around three hours of downhill descent to reach the spot. The return hike takes about four hours of steep uphill climb past terraced fields and farmsteads.