The best thing about Tansen is getting out of it to explore the outlying hill country and Magar villages, where people still greet visitors with delighted smiles and the full palms-together namaste. The paths around Tansen all pass through farmland and are heavily used by villagers, so it’s fairly easy to find your way with just enough Nepali to ask directions. You may prefer to take a guide – ask your innkeeper – or the excellent maps provided by the GETUP Palpa information service. Numerous other hikes are possible from Tansen, including taking the old trading route to Butwal, which passes the ruins of the old Sen palace at Nuwakot in one long day’s walking (the path is not well maintained these days, though, so you’d need a guide). You can also follow the airy ridge-line east of Srinagar Hill through Bagnaskot to Arya Bhanjyang (11km; 2–3hr), on the Siddhartha Highway – where you can pick up transport back to town; on clear days you can see the Himalayas along the way.
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The most rewarding day-trip from Tansen is to RANI GHAT, the site of a fantastically derelict palace set atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the turquoise Kali Gandaki. Rani Ghat is the site of occasional cremations, and has a couple of chiya pasal that offer basic food and lodging, but the main attraction is the porticoed, columned and romantically crumbling palace of Rani Durbar. It was built in the late nineteenth century by a Rana commander, Khadga Shamsher, who was exiled to Palpa after a failed coup against his brother, and feels like a place of melancholy isolation. You get a great view of it from the distressingly long (222m) suspension bridge that crosses the river here – the second longest in Nepal. At the time of writing, a resort was being built on the far side; otherwise, if you need to stay overnight, head for the one very simple lodge with a couple of beds, immediately below the palace.
The hike to Rani Ghat
To get to Rani Ghat, you can hire transport on a dirt road (via Chandi Bhanjyang and Baugha Gumha), but at the time of writing it still stopped ninety minutes’ walk short, at Chherlung. In any case, the 14km (4–7hr) hike is superb. The route begins at Kailash Nagar, on the ridge just beside Hotel Srinagar, and descends a ridge before following the sometimes jungly Barangdi valley (bring a torch if you want to visit the narrow, stalactite-hung Siddha Gupha cave, beyond Aule, about a third of the way along) to the Kali Gandaki. You can make a longer circuit walk (22km; 7–9hr) by heading out via Gorkhekot, on the Srinagar ridge a short way east of town (you can get there from a path leading behind the United Mission Hospital), and descending through an immensely satisfying landscape of farmland, trailside hamlets and sections of airy ridge, before the final switchback down to the Kali Gandaki and Rani Ghat.