Nepal // The Western Hills //

Rani Ghat

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.

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