Bungamati, Nepal: A Visual Journey

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

Just south of Kathmandu lies a historical and ancient Newari village named Bungamati. It’s a small community that’s free of mass tourism and still practices the traditional lifestyle that’s been inherited since the 16th century. With its old-style Newari architecture, Bungamati is an important site that preserves the prosperous legacy of the arts and civilization of ancient Nepal.

Kathmandu Daytrip

The Streets of Bungamati

The Newari living in Bungamati enjoy an exceptionally rich culture which extends over into each family’s ancestral trade – from wood carving to mustard oil production, which also happen to be the main sources of income for the people living here. 

When walking through the streets, you can and are encouraged to watch these masters in action. In particular, watching mustard oil production was a lot more interesting than you think it would be – it’s manually intensive and honestly, pretty odd. 

As we continued to walk through the streets, what this village was known for became readily apparently. Sadly, the Gorkha earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015 devastated Bungamati.

Since most of the homes in this village were traditionally built with mud and brick, the community had very little insulation to the violent oscillations of the earthquake. Therefore, Bungamati was largely reduced to rubble and has become infamous for the amount of destruction that occurred and its inability to be fully restored. Albeit, the locals have done a good job at rebuilding within the framework of the village’s traditional design. 

Despite the despair from the earthquake, the high-spiritedness of the people in Bungamati will captivate you as they have remained warm-hearted while facing adversity – they are still welcoming and forever smiling. During our visit, we were even generously offered a full plate of food and some locally brewed Thwo (rice beer) at a wedding ceremony with no strings attached. 

And while the small ceremony was simplistic in nature, the event had a serene laid-back feel and a strong sense of community that was palpable.

After enjoy a couple glasses of Thwo, we continued to walk around the village as families were gathering together to separate sun-dried rice grains from the husks. Utilizing woven bamboo discs, the villagers would thrust the discs over the grains and let the gust of air do all the dirty  work  – it’s an ancient method for milling that’s also frequently used in SE Asia.  

To our eyes, this act of rice milling made for an interesting view as the brightly colored outfits of the villagers were juxtaposed against the monochromatic brick buildings – it was an amazing sight, as this is usually done in rural settings. 

Despite Bungamati’s slow process to rebuild, this historic Newari village is still alive with beauty and still vibrant from the smiles of friendly locals. If you have any extra time during your stay in Kathmandu, this village makes for an interesting half-day-trip away from the hustle and bustle, 

We hope you enjoy Bungamati as much as we did. 

Bungamati Travel Tips

Useful 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.

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). 

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