The interesting overland drive from Pokhara to Lumbini is best taken in two stages, Pokhara to Tansen and then Tansen to Lumbini. While Tansen doesn't offer enough for most visitors to make it a primary destination, it is a charming old town with in interesting market and a very impressive walled palace, now the regional seat of the Nepal Government. The north gate to the palace retains its rows of brass spikes, placed there to prevent elephants from battering down the doors. Directly across from that gate is the very pleasant Bakery Cafe, the best spot in town for meals.
Nearby Srinagar Danda (hill) offers a panoramic view of the central Himalaya: the Kanjiroba, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Mansiri, Ganesh and Langtang himals. Nearby attractions include Ranighat, a Rana palace next to the Kaligandaki River, and Ridi Bazaar, a major Hindu pilgrimage site at the confluence of the Kaligandaki and Ridi Rivers.
Tansen was built as the capital of the kingdom of Tahanun in the 12th century and remained a major political power until the unification of modern Nepal at the end of the 18th century.