Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
837.00 m (2,746.06 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
24.00 km (14.91 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Located in the Palpa region of southwestern Nepal, a palace lies on the Kali Gandaki River nestled against the mountains, preserved from the outer world by its difficult access. It was constructed in 1893 by General Khadga Shumsher to commemorate his late wife Tej Kumari Devi. He gave it the name Rani Mahal, which fittingly translates to Queen's Palace. He fled with his family to India in 1902, and by negligence the palace fell to ruins. It is only recently being restored by the government of Nepal. It's well off the beaten track and a hidden gem in the southern foothills of Nepal. Access is available from multiple routes. Take the road less traveled in Nepal and come to the town of Tansen (Palpa) to explore this palace.

There is a possibility of chartering a taxi or a group transport from Tansen, but these were not cheap. Some estimate the trip to cost about 5,000NPR ($50USD) for the journey. The simplest way to visit is to prepare for a full day of hiking down from Tansen (Palpa) through the forest, down through rice paddies, rivers, small villages, and the towering mountains above to Ranighat, the location of Rani Mahal. Man Mohan in the tourist center at City View Homestay in Tansen is an amazing resource for the area and can give you exact directions from Tansen to start the trail. He will show you the road to the west of town that you follow, then the landmark gate to turn left down into the valley. Beyond that, you are on your own save for locals, who you can ask for directions to Ranighat.

Stick to this: when in doubt, keep heading down to the river at the bottom of the valley, and take most paths going left that lead farther down. As soon as you pass a "fishing resort," you will be on a main road that will lead directly down to the palace through an incredible river gorge.

Behold, the incredible palace of Rani Mahal! Tucked against a mountain at the confluence of Kali Gandaki River and the Ranighat gorge, the prowess of the white and blue palace glows in the morning light as the sun rises from behind the mountains. It does get significantly hotter as you climb down in altitude. There is a rope bridge opposite the palace that you can cross to get awesome panoramic views of the palace suspended above the river. Also nearby is a "resort" that has a few small local-style restaurants, shops, and basic accommodations if you choose to spend the night.

It was fairly smooth sailing on the way back up to Tansen for a little over two hours. All in all, the hike clocks in at about 24 kilometers. It takes about 2 hours to hike down and 2.5 hours or more uphill. When you descend from Palpa to Rani Mahal through the small paths leading through the villages, make a mental note (or mark) where you merge with the main road. You will need to make sure to turn off the main path to return on the same route and save yourself from an extra long return trip.

The landscapes and charm of the villages on the route down from Tansen to the great Rani Mahal palace made the trip worth the effort. This is a fantastic off-the-beaten-track adventure on the route from busy Pokhara to the Terai lowlands in the south that house Chitwan National Park and Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Nepalese palace. Lush forest. Rice paddies. Small villages. Landscapes. Rope bridge.

Cons

Trail finding difficult.

Trailhead Elevation

4,429.13 ft (1,350.00 m)

Highest point

4,429.13 ft (1,350.00 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Historically significant
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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