Panauti as when seen from higher ground, is an old fish-shaped city in the south-east part of Kavre. Also, believed to be standing on a single rock, Panauti is one of the old settlements in Kathmandu valley. Temples and courtyards here are built in pagoda style with the use of terracotta bricks.
Situated about 32 kms south east of Kathmandu, Panauti can be accessible by taking a bus or jeep. You can take a bus to Banepa from Kathmandu. You must be prepared to face the traffic from Bhaktapur to Sangha. It’s going to be a long ride if you’re in the busy hours. Panauti is only 7 km away after you take a left from the junction at Banepa. Get inside the vintage city which has a different touch to it.
Mostly, you’ll find Newari settlements only who give you an opportunity to dive just right into their culture and traditions. The traditions of the Newars are quite fascinating and the food is the best part of their festivals. Talking about food, have you tried Yo mari? It’s a delightful dish made out of rice dough filled with either chaku or khuwa. Yo mari is believed to be found here during an experiment with a fresh yield of rice by a family. Since then, it has become a precious addition to Newari cuisine. There’s a popular festival of the Newari community known as Yo mari Punhi, celebrated during early December where the people celebrate harvest by making Yo: maris. During this festival, kids here go around their place asking for Yo mari just like the ‘trick or treat’ during Halloween.
You get to see many temples of different deities and courtyards perfect for secret concert shows. One of the most famous temples in Panauti is the Indreshwar Mahadev temple. The architecture of the temple is distinctive and authentic Newari wood-carving can be seen. The temple itself is set in a large courtyard full of statues on the confluence of the two rivers Roshi and Pungamati. Find Panauti Museum inside the compound of the temple, where you get to see ancient wood-carvings, statues, and antique collections.
Although being famous for having many temples, Panauti has its own charm for being surrounded by large green paddy fields as far as your eyes go. A short hike up in the north-east direction brings you Gorakhnath Hill, a vantage point for seeing the fish-shaped town of Panauti along with beautiful views of mountain peaks. Panauti is also the hub to hike to beautiful hill stations like Dhulikhel and Namo Buddha. The walk will be a pleasant and easy one.
While most of the festivals are similar to that celebrated in Kathmandu, there are some which are unique to the place like the Jya Punhi and Makar Mela. Chariots of different deities are prepared and taken across town during Jya Punhi. It is a three-day festival celebrated in May-June every year. Wherein the last day, the chariots are banged head-on which signifies the end of the festival. Makar Mela is celebrated every 12 years on the Triveni ghat, the confluence of the three rivers Roshi, Pungamati and Lilawati. People take a holy dip in the water to purify their souls. The place is decorated like a bride with a lot of street markets, small chiya pasals, and carnivals. This is a month-long festival which attracts a lot of pilgrims.
As you walk down the cobbled streets of Panauti, you’re bound to receive a lot of smile and kindness from the local people and you may never want to leave this beautiful place.