The confluence of nature, culture and spiritualism is Khaptad. It is a majestic gift where visitors can meditate, do yoga or just travel. To explore the vast beauty of Khaptad National Park, you will need to plan a minimum 7 days tour.
Khaptad also has mythical tales about it. It has been mentioned as “Khechradri” in the scriptures and literatures of Hindu mythological books. There’s a belief that the word “Khechar” has been modified to derive the name, Khaptad.
Khaptad is located in Province no. 7 in Nepal. Khaptad National Park was inaugurated by the Nepal Government on 9 Ashadh 2043 BS. The national park occupies an area of 225 sq.km. It lies at an altitude between 1,262 m to 3,276 m. On the highlands of Khaptad, there are 22 open grounds and numerous lakes. Khaptad is known to have 372 species of plants and flowers and 125 species of herbs like Kalkut, Paachaule, Niramasi, etc. From the headquarters of Khaptad National Park, you can visit other destinations like Trivenidham, Khaptad Baba Ashram, Khapar Daha, Sahastra Linga and Ghode Dahunne. You can even go further into Rara Lake from Khaptad as well.
The best thing about Khaptad is that it can be visited throughout the year. Each season has its own perk. During monsoon season of Jestha - Ashadh, you enjoy the beauty of wild flowers, but if you visit Khaptad during autumn season of Ashoj - Kartik, you get to see the magnificence of the Himalayas. During the winter season of Poush - Magh, Khaptad is covered in snow, but when you visit it during Chaitra- Baishakh, the rhododendrons bloom, captivating the traveler’s heart. From the crest of Khaptad, you can enjoy the sights of Api and Saipal mountains.From Kathmandu, you need at least 7 days to travel to Khaptad.
Take about an hour long flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi. As the capital of Province no. 7, Dhangadhi is well-facilitated with hotels, lodges, restaurants, colleges, hospitals, etc. After landing at Dhangadhi, drive for 7 hours to Dipayal. The Dipayal Market in Doti district lies along the Seti River.
From Uttariya Chowk, Godhavari Dham is the next destination. From here, it is an uphill route to Khandidanda. This hill is the escape out junction from the blazing sun and where you can have meals. If you can hold your hunger, Bhatkanda is a better option as it has numerous restaurants. While driving, you’ll reach Sahukharka. It is renonwned for its Kheer (sweet dish made of rice and milk), which is the recommended dessert during the trek.
On the way, you can also visit Naagbeli (Serpentine) Road.
While Dipayal Market is situated in the lower valley, Silgadi Market is situated in the upper valley. Silgadi is the commercial centre of Doti District and is 5 km from Dipayal. After an early morning visit to Saileshwari Temple at Silgadi, enjoy breakfast and drive to Jhigrana. The 15 km route takes about an hour and a half drive.
Jhigrana is the entry gate to Khaptad. An approximate 5 hour uphill walk leads you to Bichpani. This trail passes through the undisrupted beauty of rhododendron forest. Hearing the chirps of the birds is the icing on the cake as you walk the trail. But be wary, wild animals can sometimes pay a surprise visit. At the end of the uphill trek, you are greeted by the bamboo garden and then comes Bichpani. There are basic lodging facilities.
Trekking on the third day is slightly easier as it goes downhill and there’s a slight uphill. It’s about a 5 hour walk to the Khaptad National Park headquarter from Bichpani. There’s a massive pasture land on the route for cows, goats and horse grazing. You will admire the liveliness of the nature.
Further on the way is Triveni Dham. Here, you will find the confluence of three rivers; Ganga, Jumuna and Saraswati and a temple as well. The temple premises of Triveni Dham have the statues of Ganesha, Annapurna, Shiv-shankar and Basaha. According to the Hindu Skanda literature, it is said that the Pandavas came to Triveni Dham to offer their peace prayers to the souls who died in the Mahabharata war. Even now, people offer their peace prayers to the dead souls.
Once a year, there is also a fair at Khaptad locally known as Ganga Darshahara Mela which falls in the months of Jestha - Ashadh. At the fair, pilgrims stay up all night and sing Deuda (local song sung by locals of Dailekh, Kalikot, Jumla, Achham, Bajang, Doti, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Bajura and Darchula districts). In the morning, pilgrims bath in Triveni Dham, worship the temple and take a vow at the many lingas and end their pilgrimage journey. It is believed that people who take part in this worship are free from sins and gain Nirvana.
Not far from Triveni Dham lies Kedar Dhunga. Kedar Dhunga is regarded as the symbol of Lord Shiva. According to legend during the Mahabharata period after killing the cow (an animal sacred to Hindus), Dhaumya Rishi, preacher of Pandavas asked them to save the clan from sin. To do so, the Pandavas came to Khechradri Hill, did their worship and took blessings from Lord Shiva. In their process of worship at Triveni, the Pandavas had a dream where Lord Shiva was featured in the body of a child named Kedar. In the dream, Lord Shiva was walking from Mansarovar to Khaptad. The next morning, while the Pandavas were walking along the river, they saw Kedar. When they were approached Kedar, Lord Shiva converted into a stone and vanished. Legend says that as Kedar vanished into the land, his head reached Pashupati. This converted stone is Kedar Dhunga and is located near a pilgrim house built by King Birendra upon Khaptad Baba’s request.
After an early morning breakfast, walk uphill to Sahasra Linga from Triveni Dham. Sahasreshwor, also known as Shad Dhari Stone resides on the crest of the hill. The stone has three points. The first point is believed to be Lord Sahashreshwor, the second point is Goddess Parvati and the third point is Ganesh (son of Lord Shiva and Parvati). There are thousands of lingas under the holy stone.
After Sahasra Linga, walk to Khaptad Lake locally called Khapar Daha. The lake was divided among four different places, Khaappar, Dudhir, Ashankhi and Neelkantha. Khaappar signifies Lord Shiva were clean water runs. Dudhir signifies Birbhadra where only one part of the water is blurry, Ashankhi signifies Mahakali where a portion of the water was noted to be black and Neelkanta is where the water is noted to be blue.
Lord Shiva, with a skull (Khappar) in his hand once killed an evil named Khaparey in this place, hence the name Khaapar is linked to this mythological history.
On the northwest of Khaapar Lake is Jagannath Temple. There is a small settlement near the temple. The priests of this temple are cobblers. Once a year, a big fair is held at Jagannath during Bhadra. A palanquin of Jagannath is brought from the nearby village of Bajhang and is worshipped according to Hindu process. After Jagannath, head back to the guest house for meal and rest.
Khaptad Baba's actual name is Swami Sachitananda Saraswati. His ashram in Khaptad is a tourism site. You can find two different statues of Baba, one made of wood and other made of bronze. At the ashram, you can also find equipments that Baba had used in the past. Khaptad Baba was a doctor from India who travelled to Nepal for renunciation. For 50 years, he meditated, did yoga and practiced intensive discipline. He stayed at Khaptad during monsoon and in Terai during winters. He has also written spiritual books like Bichar Bigyan, Swastha Bigyan, Naari Dharma Ra Purush Dharma, Dharma Bigyan, etc.
Take a tour of the national park museum early the next morning. In the museum, you can find photos and parts of dead animals from the forest. Head back the same way to Bichpani, Jhigrana and Dipayal. You can buy local and traditional souvenirs here.
After shopping for souvenirs at Dipayal market, return to Dhangadhi. Upon arrival, visit Saalmuni and Bhageshwar Temples. Any genuine prayer is believed to be fulfilled at Saalmuni Temple. Goat sacrifices are done as a offering on a daily basis. The temple is also a popular destination for marriage for the Dalit community. You can also visit Bhageshwar Temple located on the banks of the Seti River.
For lunch, you will arrive at Dadeldhura. A popular hill station in the region, Dadeldhura is a quick escape for the locals of Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar during the summers. It is a place of religious importance where a temple dedicated to Goddess Urgatara is located. Amargadi Fort is another place of historic importance. The fort has the statue of late martyr Amar Singh Thapa. This well preserved fort has been a significant tourist attraction for the region.
Take a tour of Goddess Urgata Temple and Amargadi Fort and move towards Dhangadhi. In the evening, take a tour of Shivapuri Dham and overnight at a hotel in Dhangadhi.
After breakfast, fly back to Kathmandu and share your amazing Spiritual Khaptad journey with everyone!
The distance from Kathmandu to Dhangadi is 650 kms, and takes 16 hours by road and about 1 hour by flight. From Dhangadhi, it takes a 7 hour bus ride to reach Silgadhi OR you could go from Dipayal to Silgadhi to Jhigrana which is 1.5 hours by jeep.
There are various gifts and souvenirs to buy along your trek. The popular items to buy at Dipayal, Sahajpur and Dhangadhi are Basmati Rice, Chuk (sour paste), honey, beans, etc. Other favored items are handicraft made by the Tharu community. These are wooden bags, flower baskets, etc. A specialty item to buy is the wooden glass. If you put water in the wooden glass overnight and drink it early the next morning, it refreshes the body.
How to Reach
Khaptad is the overturned bowl. One can reach to Khaptad via different ways like:
From Jhigrana, Doti
Sanfebagar, Accham and
Kathmandu to Dhangadi: 680 kms,
16 hours by bus.
1 Hour 10 minutes by air travel.
Dhangadi to Silgadhi:
200 kms, 7 hours by bus
Dipayal to Silgadi to Jhigrana:
20 kms, 1.5 hours by jeep.
Foot travel from Jhigrana
Pack warm clothes and wear comfortable trekking shoes. Also pack trousers, t-shirts, sleeping backs, jacket, monkey cap, trekking stick, etc
Carry snacks and dry fruits, and water purifying drops .
Solo treks are discouraged as there are risks of encountering wild animals. Do not create loud noises as you might disturb the animals.
Special attention must be given to waste management. Personal disposals like papers, plastics must be brought with self and disposed in the respective place.
Expect large crowds during fairs - which means there are limited spaces for lodging. Carry personal tents.
Plucking herbs is highly discouraged. Anything that holds value or importance to locals must not be bought without permission.
Respect the local culture, tradition, lifestyle and religion practices. Do not create discussions or disputes regarding caste, creed and political preferences.
Khaptad is a place that has spiritual significance. Refrain from carrying meat and alcohol.