Bungamati, Nepal: A Visual Journey

Asian tourist and a nepali guide standing in a broken down street in Bungamati, Nepal

Nestled to the south of Kathmandu lies the Newari village of Bungamati, a historical gem steeped in ancient traditions dating back to the 16th century. Untouched by mass tourism, this small community exudes the charm of a bygone era, where the traditional way of life still thrives. 

Strolling through Bungamati’s narrow lanes and marveling at its old-style Newari architecture, one can’t help but feel transported to a time when arts and civilization flourished in ancient Nepal. Preserving its rich legacy, Bungamati stands as an important site, offering a glimpse into the authentic heritage of this captivating region.

Kathmandu Daytrip

The Streets of Bungamati

The Newari community of Bungamati embraces a deeply ingrained and diverse heritage that echoes through generations. Each family proudly upholds their ancestral trades, which serve as both a means of livelihood and a testament to their rich cultural heritage. 

From skilled wood carving to the intricate process of mustard oil production, these time-honored crafts are on full display as you wander through the charming streets. Witnessing the masters at work is not only encouraged but also a fascinating experience. 

As we strolled further along the village streets, the defining chapter of Bungamati’s recent history came into sharp focus. Regrettably, the devastating Gorkha earthquake of 2015 left its enduring mark on this peaceful settlement.

With most of the homes constructed from mud and brick, the village stood vulnerable to the unforgiving force of the seismic tremors. The aftermath was heart-wrenching, as Bungamati was left in ruins, bearing the scars of the calamity that struck. 

Despite the challenges, the resilient locals have shown remarkable efforts in rebuilding their cherished village, keeping alive its traditional design and essence, while acknowledging the poignant memories of the past.

Amidst the shadows of the earthquake’s aftermath, the resilience and indomitable spirit of the people of Bungamati shine through, leaving an everlasting impression on anyone who visits. Even with the hardships they’ve endured, the locals’ warmth and hospitality remain untouched by despair.

As we immersed ourselves in their community, we were embraced with open arms and radiant smiles, experiencing the true essence of Nepalese camaraderie. In a heartwarming display of their generosity, we were graciously offered a plate of food and a taste of the locally brewed Thwo (rice beer) at an intimate wedding ceremony. 

The simplicity of the event was overshadowed by a profound sense of unity and togetherness that resonated throughout, leaving us with cherished memories of the people’s unwavering spirit and their enduring sense of community.

As the sun began to set and a gentle breeze caressed the village, we continued our exploration, stumbling upon families gathered together to separate sun-dried rice grains from their husks. With bamboo discs deftly woven, the villagers skillfully thrust them over the grains, letting the wind work its magic in the age-old process of milling. 

Amidst the slow and steady process of rebuilding, Bungamati, with its rich Newari heritage, continues to exude a timeless beauty that emanates from the warm smiles of its friendly locals. If you find yourself with a spare moment during your stay in Kathmandu, embarking on a half-day trip to this historic village offers a delightful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

The charm of Bungamati, etched in its quaint streets and traditional architecture, left a lasting impression on us, and we hope it captures your heart as it did ours.

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Bungamati Travel Tips

Actionable Information

Location: 45 minutes from Kathmandu, Nepal

Tour Company: Liberty Holidays

When To Visit Bungamati: Year-round.

Tip #1: Local wood and metal workers sell hand-made items in their own shops / homes. These locally-made items are a fraction of the price of the souvenirs sold in Kathmandu and go directly to helping families rebuild their home / community. Please consider purchasing some items when in Bungamati.

Tip #2: While Bungamati can be visited at any time of the year, the most fascinating time to visit this place is during the Mattya festival (which  occurs at the end of August or early September). 

Tip #3: Bring a portable travel camera or a lens enhancer for your phone, in order to properly capture the beauty of Bungamati.

Background Context

Bungamati Information

Visiting Bungamati is definitely worth it for those seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience in Nepal. This historic Newari village, nestled just south of Kathmandu, offers a glimpse into a traditional way of life that has been preserved for centuries. 

Despite the challenges posed by the earthquake, Bungamati’s resilience shines through, and the warmth and hospitality of its people are truly remarkable. Exploring the village’s winding streets, observing the locals at work in their ancestral trades, creates an unforgettable and enriching experience. 

For travelers looking to escape the tourist crowds and connect with the culture and heritage of Nepal, a visit to Bungamati is an opportunity not to be missed.

Bungamati is known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional Newari way of life. The village is famous for its old-style Newari architecture, which reflects the prosperous legacy of the arts and civilization of ancient Nepal. It’s a place where time seems to have stood still, and visitors can experience the authentic lifestyle of the Newari people, who have lived here since the 16th century. 

The Newari people have a rich and diverse culture that is deeply rooted in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. They are known for their distinct art, architecture, music, dance, festivals, and cuisine. Newars are considered to be the indigenous inhabitants of the valley and have a unique language called Nepal Bhasa or Newari.

One of the defining features of Newari culture is their exquisite craftsmanship, especially in wood carving, metalwork, and pottery. Their traditional architecture is characterized by intricately carved wooden windows, doors, and pillars, which can be seen in ancient temples, palaces, and residential buildings.

Music and dance are an integral part of Newari culture, and various traditional dance forms are performed during festivals and celebrations. The Newars are also known for their vibrant and colorful festivals, such as Indra Jatra, Yenya, and Dashain, which are celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion.

Newari cuisine is another significant aspect of their culture, and they are renowned for their delicious and diverse dishes. Newari feasts, known as “Nakha,” are elaborate and consist of numerous courses, reflecting their culinary expertise and love for food.

Religion plays a vital role in Newari culture, and they follow a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism. Numerous temples and shrines dedicated to various deities dot the Kathmandu Valley, and religious rituals and festivals are observed with great reverence.

Overall, the Newari culture is a beautiful tapestry of art, tradition, and spirituality, and it continues to thrive and be celebrated by the people of the Kathmandu Valley.

To get to Bungamati from Kathmandu, you can follow these steps:

Local Bus: Take a local bus from Kathmandu to Patan. Patan is a neighboring city and is well connected to Kathmandu by local buses. The bus ride may take around 30-45 minutes depending on the traffic.

Walk or Take a Short Ride: From Patan, you can either take a short taxi ride or choose to walk to Bungamati. It is a distance of about 5 kilometers (approximately 3 miles) from Patan to Bungamati. The walk can take around 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your pace.

Motorcycle or Rickshaw: Another option is to hire a motorcycle or rickshaw from Patan to Bungamati. This can be a quicker and more convenient mode of transportation, especially if you prefer not to walk.

Keep in mind that Bungamati is a traditional and historic village, so roads and transportation options may not be as developed as in the main cities. It’s a good idea to plan your visit during daylight hours, as some areas may not be well-lit during the evenings. 

Also, consider checking the local bus schedules and options for return transportation to Kathmandu to ensure a smooth trip.

Travel Resources

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Welcome to North of Known! We’re Alan and May, a married couple who have embraced digital nomadism while calling Bangkok, Thailand, our current home base. Over the past 7 years, our shared passion for exploration and adventure has fueled our journey across the globe. Join us as we continue to embark on our nomadic adventures, sharing our insights, discoveries, and travel tales along the way.

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