शुक्रबार , फागुण १८, २०८०

Palpa AKA Kathmandu’s Younger Brother: A City Of Tradition and Culture!


– Janak Karki

If you generally introduce Palpa to new people, you can call it Kathamandu’s younger brother because of the similarities between them. Followingly, some also consider it Nepal’s Darjeeling. 

The modern Palpa is often known for Rani mahal aka Nepal’s Taj Mahal. Palpali’s Dhaka Topi has always been Nepali people’s pride. In the same way, Palpali Karuwa (A utensil traditionally used for drinking water) is one of the famous decorative pieces used in every Nepali household. 

Introduction To Palpa

This is just the way to introduce Palpa from far away. The closeup of the city digs up to historical importance that the city itself may be unknown. The existence of the city goes far away before even Lord Buddha’s birth. Long before the Buddha, a parallel Palpali civilization was developing in the hilly areas north of the dense forests of the Terai.

There is an assumption that the ancient Magar language was predominant at the time when the Magar civilization was at its peak. According to the famous Italian historian and researcher Joseph Tucci, the word ‘balba‘ in Mongolian means ‘full of skill and art’. 

There is a belief that back in a time when even history can’t trace the influence of Palpali art and prosperity was spreading to Vot and China. It wouldn’t be hard to assume that the word ‘Palpa’ is derived from Balba, Balupa, and Paluba respectively.

Over time, small local rebel Magar chiefs were gradually dominating the Magar Empire, which was spread over the Gandaki and Karnali tourist areas. During the 14th century of Bikram, small groups from the outside were flourishing their civilization, religion, and culture in the hills. Meanwhile, King Rudra Sen, the son of King Chandra Sen, moved his capital from Ribdikot to a place called Palpa to the east.

Old Picture of Palpa (Source: Pinterest)

Palpa is located about 5 to 12 kilometers west of Tansen. In the west is the famous temple of Kalbhairav which is the capital established by King Rudra Sen. And to the east of Harthok Bazaar is a hill now called Puranakot. When the capital was shifted to Tansen, the local people started calling the hill nearby the former king’s residence, Purankot. 

It is said not only people but places are also destined. The land has warmly embraced the splendor and prosperity of the civilization that reached its peak thousands of years ago to date. 

There may be many places that have stayed mysterious and far from the reach of the people. Natural and artificial factors like earthquakes, climate, floods, droughts, wars, and politics may be the cause of the disappearance of developed & glorious villages, cities, and civilizations. Though a few people in some abandoned places, it lacks the old livelihood. 


However, Rudra Sen moving to the capital wasn’t the only reason for prosperity. Palpa itself had been prosperous for hundreds of years. Late Rudrasen has only established his capital on a hill in the same land for strategic reasons. Later on, Mukunda Sen (I), son of Rudra Sen, dreamt of expanding his kingdom and trained soldiers on the flat land of Kotre Danda, west of Purankot.

File:The invading Mukunda Sen, a king of Palpa.png - Wikipedia

From the same land, he did Kanyaadaan of his daughter to King Pratapi Narayan Malla. And the place which the princess Vishruva Devi took as a dowry “Palpali Kalika” is known as “Baglung Ki Kalika” in today’s date. 

However, Mukunda Sen didn’t only expand the kingdom. He established the Kathmandu Valley’s Kalbhairav idol which was taken out on the journey of Matsyendranath after a fierce attack. Despite attacking and looting the valley, King Mukunda Sen did not occupy the land.

 But he did help to drive out the Tibetian invaders who were trying to attack the Kathmandu valley. As per Nirmal Shrestha – Senkalin Itihas, after consulting with Raja Ratna Malla, he brought 201 people of different castes including Newars, and settled them in Palpa. 

From Bikram Samvat 1560 to 1840, the capital for about three hundred and fifty years, Palpa became more prosperous with every passing day. Palpali King Gandharva Sen had married his daughter Kaushalyavati to Gorkhali king Narbhupal Shah.

 The princess Kaushalyavati gave birth to Prithvinarayan Shah who would later grow up to be one of the icons in Nepalese history. Later on, Mukunda Sen (II)’s daughter Rajendra Laxmi married Yuvaraj Pratap Singh Shah. 

Old Newari Town Trip (Source: Facebook)

The princess gave birth to King Ran Bahadur Shah. Pratap Singh Shah’s brother Bahadur Shah married Vidya Lakshmi who is the daughter of Mahadatta Sen. After less than two decades of Mahadatta Sen moving capital to Tansen, his son King Prithvipal Sen was assassinated by Bhimsen Thapa in Kathmandu.

The Palpali kings had a good relationship with the illicit Bajirs. With the arrival of artisans, craftsmen, and traders from Kathmandu, the import of raw materials and products from India started growing. Meanwhile, this had a direct impact on the traditional Magar craft as it started disappearing. Not only were the lives of people of prince, princess, and the royal family got affected but also the people serving inside the palace also faced difficulties. 

The villages within the capital like Jogepani, Samakot, Masure, Bharkot, Hatiya, Dhyakuldanda, Ranithati, Harthok, Dumrika, and Khasyauli were known as the places inhabited by civilized, affluent, educated, and affluent people. 

During this period, many proverbs were developed about Palpali’s lifestyle and pomp. “आफूलाई ओढ्न पछ्यौरी छैन पाल्पालीलाई खोल” and “पाल्पाली नानीको मुखै चहकिलो’, ‘पाल्पाली जमै कुप्रेतान पर्वते जमै लम्बेतान’” are some of the famous proverbs. 

Looking back to history, the fall of the Sen dynasty and the fall of Palpa began after Amar Singh Thapa settled in Tansen. From that time, people started referring to Palpa as the Tansen bazaar.

Historical heritages of Palpa 

Some of the destinations like the Bhairavasthan, Ruru, and Argali areas are famous for people involved in pilgrimage and historical research. Palpa, which is located in Province No. 5, is famous for its historical and archeological heritage. Over the years, the city with Archaeological heritage has been well-known amongst tourists as a tourist destination in Nepal. 

Tansen, Palpa: City Guide & Photography ⋆ Full Time Explorer

Some of the places are Shrinagar, the temple of Bhagwati which was built by Uzair Shamsher to celebrate the victory in the battle with the British. In addition, Shitalpati was built by Khadak Shamser to gather the air, and soldiers of which the main door was the largest wood in Asia.

Followingly, some of the historical sites like Amar Narayan’s temple and palace have become places of study, research, and sightseeing for tourists.

Ruru area (रिडी)

Manimukunda Sen had ruled Palpa from 1575 to 1610 AD. During that time, the capital of Palpa was Bhairavasthan. It is said that when King Manimukunda Sen was bathing in the Kaligandaki river, the stone of Rishikesh hit his forehead. The Late king said he heard someone saying “that the stone hit you in the forehead while taking the bath is Mine, I am Vishnu Bhagwan. Keep me nearby the kalingandaki river.”

After seeing the dream, Manimukunda Sen built the Rishikesh temple at the confluence of the Kaligandaki and Ridi rivers. One of the four main Hindu pilgrimage sites in Nepal, the Ruru region has a lot of mythological history and significance. Ruru, situated between the border areas of Palpa, Gulmi, and Syangja districts has been an attraction point not only for tourists but also for history and archeological studies.

Devadatta Muni had found Shivatva aka Ashtasiddhi (शिवत्व अर्थात् अष्ठसिद्धि) by doing penance (तपस्या)in the Ruru area. Likewise, his daughter Ruru Kanya also got a direct vision of Lord Vishnu with the same penance. Ruru is derived from the Sanskrit language which means Deer (मृग). It is said that the place was named after a maiden who was brought up by a deer with its milk. 

Ridi Palpa (Source: Mapsus)

It is believed that the Rishikesh temple has been worshiped as a representation of Lord Vishnu giving direct vision to Ruru Kanya. There is classical (शास्त्रीय) evidence that many sages, including Devadatta, Orb, and Vashishta built Aashrams to perform penance in the Ruru area. The Ruru region is regarded as an inheritance of religious, historical, cultural, and archeological significance. 

Ruru or Ridi is the holy place where people perform funeral rites, shraddha for their loved ones who have passed away. Followingly, auspicious deeds like marriage / bratavandha are performed in Ruru. People from all over the country visit Ruru to put the remaining of their dead relatives in the Ruru river. When Manimukunda Sen built the temple of Rishikesh in Ruru, Akshata (अक्षता ) became necessary for worship. As Argali had all the adjoining lands, under the direction of Manimukunda Sen, a three-kilometer-long ditch had been constructed from Kulung of Jorte Khola to Argali in order to help produce paddy which was used to make Akshata for Rishikesh Mandir. 

The Kulo (long-ditch) has approx. one kilometer-long tunnel. At the present date, it is known as ‘Rajkulo‘ and ‘Jethi Kulo‘. The Kulo which has been taken from the middle of the rock while separating the part of the tunnel has been popular amongst tourist who has been doing historical research. 

The Argali tunnel which was dug almost 467 years ago was made from the local tools like chino, kodala, and gal produced in Kaligadh. 

Bhairavsthan (भैरवस्थान)

Just like the Ruru river, Bhairavsthan also has its own importance. Back when Mukunda Sen I invaded Kathmandu to expand his kingdom, he brought back a statue of Bhairav in Patangini of Machhindranath and established it on Palpa. The tourist can witness the lower style temple, Senkalin Prasad Blind Window, Rana period, Malla period architecture in one place.

Bhairavsthan (Source: Google)

The temple is surrounded by a chowk which has Asia’s largest historic 16th-century golden trident (त्रिशूल)and Gajur made of Mallakalin art. Bhairav’s murti is placed on the upper floor of the temple. It is believed that the main Bhairav shouldn’t be seen, so it has been placed on the ground floor. In another room, on the ground floor is a statue of Kali. Yogis of the Goraksanath sect perform worship in the temple of Bhairav. 

Amarnarayan temple (अमरनारायण मन्दिर)

During the pal unification of Pal, Palpa was the last one to be merged. Followingly, General Amar Singh Thapa came as the first Grand Governor to run the administration of Palpa State. In B.S. 1863, he built the Amar Narayan temple by arranging a thousand Muri Mato Guthi in the Madi field in order to manage the annual spending. 

Amarnarayan temple

Amarnarayan temple (Source: Trip Advisor)

As Newar Kaligarhs of Kathmandu were brought to build the temple, Tansen also has places like Asan, Tundikhel, Makhan, Basantapur, etc. Followingly, there are also pictures carved in various stances at the end of the pagoda-style tundal ( टुँडाल), just like in the temple of Uma Maheshwar in Kirtipur. It is believed that due to the craving there wouldn’t be thunderstorms or cracking. 

Tansen Palace (तानसेन दरबार)

Tansen Palace located in the Palpa district holds historical and tourist importance. The Palace was built in 1969 in the British style by Commander General Pratap Shamsher for personal use.

Tansen Durbar

Tansen Durbar (Source: Wikiwand)

The palace is spread over an area of ​​7-14-2-1 ropanis. Built in a very modern style, the palace has 4 floors, 63 rooms, 2 living rooms, and 2 turrets. During the armed conflict, the palace was completely burnt down and rebuilt later on. At the present time, it has been converted into a museum. All of the antiquities of Palpa have been saved inside the museum.

Rani Mahal (रानीमहल)

The foundation was laid in 1950, and the construction of Rani Mahal was completed with the Durbar Mandir and Pati Powwa in four years. Nepal’s Taj Mahal is located in Palpa’s ward no. 13 on the side of the northern side of Kaligandaki river on a huge rock that reflects the western art style. 

Things to do in Tansen

© Rabi Mohan Shrestha Collection/Nepal Picture Library

On the left of the Ranimahal Durbar, there is Shitalpati Durbar with two stone ponds. There are also similar two temples Shiva and Ganga on the left of the staircase. A British engineer designed the Palace in the Greek style. The east side of the Palace has Khadga Shamsher’s worship room. 

The upper floor has a living room and the middle floor has the rooms of Khadga Shamsher. Followingly, the surrounding gardens and Rani Pokhari has added to the elegance of the Palace. The main entrance of the Palace has stone carved and the steps made of bricks are directly connected to the river basin of Kaligand.

As it is also the gateway to Muktinath, there is also a pavilion with accommodation for the pilgrims. It is said though the palace was built in memory of his late queen Tej Kumari, experts say that he was able to rule for only five years. 

The palace built by General Khadga Shamsher in memory of his beloved queen Tej Kumari is a magnificent piece of art. The Palace with its inside pond, garden, temple, and beautiful surroundings with Kaligandaki on the side brings joy to people’s minds. 

Rani Mahal situated at a two-and-a-half-hour walk northwest of Palpa’s headquarters Tansen holds great importance in terms of tourism. Tourists can now visit the place on buses, jeeps, vans, and cars. 

In B.S. 1960, after getting the hint of Khadga Shamsher’s plot, Chandra Shamsher sent additional troops to Palpa and took over. Locals believe that Rani Mahal has lost its symbolism of love as Khadgashamsher fled to India with three keys and the government’s assets. 

Built-in memory of the late queen, Ranimahal Durbar is considered a ‘symbol of love. The municipality has taken over the protection and management of Rani Mahal. Internal tourism has increased in recent years. 

Shitalpati (शितलपाटी)


Shitalpati (Source: Wikipedia)

In the central part of the Palpa, there is a round-shaped pauwa which is known as the Shitalpati Tansen. It is also called Golghar. General Khadga Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana built Shitalpati during his tenure from 1891 to 1902.

It is an original structure built in the Mughal style. Amongst the local residents, it is famous for local programs and for people to gather around for talks. There is a roundhouse structure, an octagonal-shaped one-storeyed building with open space in the middle which is painted white. 

Ranujishwari Bhagwati Temple (रणउजीश्वरी भगवती मन्दिर)

Ranujishwari Bhagwati Temple built by Ujiri Singh Thapa has its own different history. Singh had vowed to build a temple if he and his small troops would defeat the British India Company and went to the war. He built the temple after defeating the British at Jitgadhi in Palpa. Every year on the day of Bhadra Krishna Navami, they celebrate a huge rath yatra festival in the temple. 

रणउजीश्वरी भगवती मन्दिर (Source: Unknown)

In 1990, the temple was demolished because of damages and rebuilt. Palpa is also famous as Privithivi Narayani Shah’s mamaghar (mother’s side home). If further developed with internal tourism, Nepalese will have the opportunity to get familiarized with historical events and the culture of the city. 

The wonderland of heritage, cultures, arts, and architecture, Palpa can’t be described in this short article. This is just an introduction to the diverse culture, history, tradition, geography, and heritage of Palpa.

(Translation by Esaa Khanal)

सम्बन्धित समाचार