You don’t have to be in Nepal for long before you’ve become acquainted with beautiful topi hats the village men wear. Look closer and you’ll notice that in certain parts of the country the women are wearing the same fabric for their blouses, the children for their suits, and it is strewn throughout the homes. This traditional fabric, known as dhaka, is a trademark of Nepal.
Dhaka comes in a wide variety of fibers, designs, and colors, but it all has a certain geometric aspect and the colors always seem somewhat subdued. A closer look reveals that this subdued color comes from the warp running over the inserted threads responsible for the fabric’s design. Beautiful and elegant, dhaka is another artistic tradition threatened by the increased import of cheaper substitutes from abroad.
Tansen is an old, hardly touristed town several hours off a winding drive through the hills to the south of Pokara. It seems to stretch over a whole hill top and down into the valley below. Tansen is a little rough around the edges, but overall the place has a delightful air of authenticity to it. A stopover in here means:
The best breakfast at a tiny little restaurant – hot savory samosas, warm sweet and gooey jeri, and a just right sized cup of milk tea.
A walk through the meandering streets and around the octagonal town center.
A morning spent in Dhaka stores, looking for just the right color combinations.
Smiling children with their hands clasped together in a Namaste, ready to run for cover the minute you Namaste them back.
But the one thing that will be missing, the one thing you can feel the void of in this town, is the Tansen Durbar (palace). Everyone that we talked to agreed. It had been the most beautiful palace. And no one had expected that in one night it could be lost. So what happened? Earth quake? Fire?
Politics. A battle between two groups that had been holding civilians in a state of constant fear for over a decade. The Maoist and the government. All in one night, lost was the beautiful palace, and lost were over 30 lives. A lesson in impermanence? Perhaps. A lesson is the waste of war? For sure.