Conveniently located just off the main Kathmandu to Pokhara Highway, the ancient hill-top town of Bandipur is a delightful place to spend some time absorbing local life in rural Nepal. Pedestrianised stone-paved lanes wind through authentic Newari buildings and ancient temples, with farmers, merchants and school children going about their daily routines. First established as an agricultural village by the Magar Kingdom, Bandipur was colonised by the Newars of Bhaktapur in the 18th century. The town then prospered as a trading and textiles centre, and the new residents built in the fine architectural styles reminiscent of the grand structures found in the Newari heartlands in the Kathmandu Valley. A cluster of temples and shrines encircle the main square, including Khadga Devi Mandir which is said to house a sword given by Lord Shiva to an early Magar King. Popular activities and places of interest around the town include the extensive cave network at Siddha Gupha, hiking trails to the surrounding Magar villages and several ridge-top viewpoints with spectacular panoramas of the Annapurna range on a clear day. With a cluster of charming heritage guesthouses, Bandipur is a place to make time for on a tour of Nepal.