Khaptad Baba Ashram is located nearby the headquarter of the Khaptad National Park spread along four districts i.e., Bajhang, Bajura, Achham and Doti in Sudur Paschim province of Nepal. Khaptad Baba Ashram is situated at an average altitude of 2923m above sea level, it is situated at 29°17’41” N latitude and 81°13’43” E longitude. Khaptad is considered a mysterious region of ethereal beauty, home to innumerable Hindu shrines and where the Khaptad Baba is believed to have attained enlightenment almost after 50 years of deep meditation. Khaptad Baba Ashram (hermitage) was built by King Ram Jung Bahadur Singh, the former King of Bajhang in the Ghodadauna area.
Khaptad Baba, also known as Swami Sachchidananda, was a famous spiritual saint and a medical doctor by qualification. After spending some years in India, His holiness Khaptad Baba Sri Paramhansa Swami Sachidananda Saraswati visited along the high mountainous terrain of Nepal including Ilam, Swargadwari, Musikot and Chandannath. It is widely believed that he travelled to Khaptad valley to meditate and in search for deeper meanings in his life and lived there for more than 50 years and dedicated his life for spreading Vedic knowledge regarding meditation, yoga and herbal medicines. Khaptad Baba is believed to have authored two major books at Khaptad, about Bichar Bigyan or Philosophy Science and Swastha Bigyan or Health Science. The materials and publications utilized by Khaptad Baba are still preserved and kept intact in this hermitage. This Ashram is located at the triveni and is believed to be visited regularly by the Late King Birendra to meet the Baba who was his Guru at the time.
A lord Shiva temple may be found on the approach to the park headquarters, at the confluence of three rivers known as the Triveni. The view from Triveni is breathtaking, with numerous antique monuments in the background. Khaptad Baba Ashram also houses various peaceful sites for meditation such as Kedar Dhunga, Nag Dhunga, Bhim Ghatta, Chhinte Dhunga that are visited by thousands of pilgrims in the quest for attaining the inner peace. Along with its religious and historical significance, the trans-himalayan zone of the Khaptad offers a picturesque view of the surrounding, as well as serves as a habitat to variety of flora and faunas and is known for rare animal sighting such as musk deer, Himalayan monal and Leopard Cat. The Siddhivinayak temple which is located at Sahasraling, is a three-hour walk away from Khaptad Baba Ashram. Nag Dhunga is another must-see attraction in Khaptad. While some people come here to ski in the winter, a three-hour stroll through lush green fields in the summer provides distant views of the Saipal mountain. Other famous sites within the national park and nearby Khaptad Baba Ashram are Buki Daha, Khaptad Daha, Sajhghat and others.
This region is mostly visited during July-August on full moon day as Hindu pilgrims worship Lord Shiva. Similarly, people from all around Sudurpaschim province flock to Khaptad during the Dasara festival in mid-April to celebrate in traditional clothing, showing their distinct culture. Deuda, Chutkila, and Mangal are among the other festivities that highlight the region’s distinct culture. The best seasons to visit the ashram are spring (March-May) and autumn (October-November). This region can be accessed via 9 hrs. trek from Dipayal or can be reached via flight from Nepalgunj to Sanphe bajar following a day-long trek. In short, Khaptad Baba Ashram is a renowned hermitage in the far west region of Nepal that offers a peaceful state of mind and also glimpses of raw and untouched mountainous panorama with an inclusion of rare flora and fauna habituated within the scenic and delightful landscape.
-By: Ujjwal Bhetwal for Land Nepal