How to Go to Khaptad?

Raju Nepal

Ashram (resident of spiritual gurus) of Khaptad Baba lies in the far western development region of Nepal. The area of Kaptad has touched four different districts of far-western development region -- Doti, Bajura, Bajhang and Achham.
Khaptad National Park which is situated at the arial distance of 446 km away from Kathmandu, spread around the area of 216 km square has many attractive features to grab the attention of tourist from inside Nepal and from outside the national boundaries. Among the features – Khaptad Baba’s Ashram is one of them. However, the temples with interesting stories behind their existence, Patans (flat land located above a hill), ponds without visible water sources and outlets in the area make the trip worth it. There are five important points of attractions in the area besides excellent landscape, good trek, Patans, Ponds and nice step jungle walk. They are Ashram of Khaptad Baba, Sahasralingam Mandir, Triveni, Khapar ( khaptad ) Daha and Nagdhunga.
Talking about the trip, it is relatively easier to travel during summer and difficult during winter because of the altitude, cold climate and lack of proper places to stay over. During, monsoon, the area looks beautiful with different types of flowers all around. They look like carpet. In the area, forest of Laligurans (national flower of Nepal) makes it look gorgeous. As the proverb goes, beautiful things are not easy to get hold of, the trip to the places surely needs some guts.
Lifestyle of the national park is difficult. There is a lack of electricity supply. Had there been proper places to stay and availability of good food and day-to-day goods, it would have been one of the major tourist attractions in our country. But, unfortunately, no provisions in that sector have yet been made. Means of communication is lacking too. Cell phone catches tower in some places but because there is no power supply to charge your phone, it is almost impossible to stay connected to the rest of the world while travelling.
How to reach to the Khaptad ?
If you are planning to travel via road in your own vehicle (which is the best means to apply), from Kathmandu, you should travel to Silgadi, district headquarter of Doti. You need to pass through major towns and cities of Nepal like Narayanghat, Butwal, Lamahi, Kohalpur, Karnali Chisapani, Attariya, Dadeldhura, Dipayal finally stepping into Silgadi. Till you reach Shantinagr, which is 15 km ahead of Silgadi, you travel about 850 km and you find paved roads. But don’t judge a book by its cover because the trip is yet to start.
From Shantinagar, you can still travel 7 more km in your own vehicle but without paved roads. It takes about 90 minutes to cover 7 KM of that road which ends at a small village name Baglek of about 1800 meter above sea leavel. If you are planning to take you hatchback or family sedan with you, forget it. Your walk starts from Silgadi if you don’t have SUV with four-wheel drive. The roads only support SUVs or pick-ups that are meant for off-road travel and have four-wheel drive (4WD) system. If you are walking from Silgadi to Baglek it takes about four hours up hill.
Travel from Shantinagr is uphill, with bad roads and needless to say, time consuming. You are suggested to break the travel till here into three days because you should remain fresh for the rest of the trip. If you stay in Nepalgunj for the first night and Dipayal for the second, the trip becomes easier and the time consumed is almost equally distributed.
Baglek has some small shops. Simple and normal foods are available in that area. Meals are prepared upon order. Mineral water is not available nor the drinkable local water. You should carry the daily used goods from Dipayal itself as then onwards, the rural life of Nepal begins.
After walking 2.5 hours from Baglek, you reach Jhingrana, where you should end your third day. The travel speed definitely depends upon the group and travelers but for normal speed this would be an ideal program. From Baglek to Jhingrana the trekking road is somehow flat and you don’t feel tired much. Jhingrana is the base camp of Khaptad National Park which is at about 2050 meters above sea level. Jhingrana has small hotels and lodges but no proper mattresses or quilts. Either spend your cold night on the bare wooden floor or carry your sleeping bag along – the choice is yours. Hotels of Jhingrana have the accommodation capacity for not more than 20 people. There is an office of Khaptad National Park and an army post in there. Any necessary information about the national park can be received from there.
Now the challenging journey begins. Way to Khaptad is full of steep hills, jungles and no human residences. Carry whatever you need from here or hire porters to get it carried. You can get porters at Silgadi and they charge you about Rs. 3,000 for four days, we need to provide them with the food and lodge extra. You are not going to find any human soul unless you are lucky from here onwards. After about half an hour of walk we can see a board of Khaptad National Park which indicated two roads, one for Human and one for Livestock. The later one is made for moles and is less steep but little longer. The warden of the Park advised us to take the livestock road for our comfort. Road meant for people is very difficult to walk but you can try if you are adventurous enough and are ready to risk it.
After travelling five hours, you reach a place called Bichpani which is at 2800 meters above sea level. As the name suggests, it’s a midway destination towards Khaptad where you can get water. You can find only one shop in the place. Food is prepared upon order but you cannot totally depend on the shop because it may not contain any raw materials to prepare food at all.
Nepal Tourism Board has made a hotel in the area but is not functioning till date. According to the shopkeeper there, the existence of hotel is full of controversies and is not likely to come into operation any time sooner.
If you are lucky enough, get some food and water at Bichpani and walk four hours not very uphill to reach the main office of Khaptad National Park at 2950 meter above sea level. Bamboos are found on both sides of the roads. After walking for about 2.5 hours, you reach the Patan area. Climate of the area is very cold and the temperature is either 0 degree Celsius or less throughout the year. According to the officials of national park, the temperature can go up to -21 degree Celsius. After 3.5 hours of walking, you reach Triveni temple. Triveni, as the name suggests is a place where three rivers meet. But in this place, not only the three rivers come together but it is also meeting point of three districts – Doti, Achham and Bajura.
During June-July, a festival is celebrated at this place known as Ganga Dshera Mela. Generally, the temple is worshipped by army men. The water in the river can be seen flowing only during summer and is frozen during winter. In November the river flows during the day time and freezes during night.
Here, the main office of Khaptad National Park, army barrack and Dharmashala (place to stay for in a pilgrimage) is available. There is no electricity, no network for cell phones and no restaurants or shops. Small canteen operated by national park exists but doesn’t guarantee the availability of food. The night should be spent here.
First day in the national park ends here and you are also done with the most difficult portion of the journey (if you make it till here).
Places you must go
The national park has five prime locations. Ashram of Khaptda Baba, Triveni Temple, Sahasralingam Temple, Khaptad Daha (pond) and Nagdhunga are the major attractions. These places are located in five different directions from the office which increases the walking distance. From this place you can see Saipal mountain range just in front of your eyes.
Patans that are located in a height of about 2800-3100 meters are amazing and the ponds that have no visible sources of water sources and outlets looks beautiful. Ashram is 40 minutes walk from the office at 3000 meter above sea level. Here, Khaptad Baba who was worshipped by thousands of his devotees spent his life. There is a small hut for his bedroom, another hut for his meeting room and the third one for his helpers. Currently, there are books he wrote, his bed, clothes, his statue and bathroom in the place. There is also a helipad in this place which made it easier for the royal family to visit. Baba died at 2052 BS. One of the main reasons for people to visit the place is to visit the Ashram. Nepal army post situated at Khaptad is taking care of the ashram now days.
After returning to the Ashram, Khaptad Daha is another 45 minutes in a different direction. It’s a big pond in between the jungle with no visible source and outlet of the water. Returning to the office, temple of Sahasralingam is another 2 hours. The temple is located at an altitude of more than 3100 meters. This is the highest point of Khaptad area and is located in Acham District. There are statues of Lord Shiva but the signs of worshipping like colors or incense sticks are not seen there. Probably, the temple is worshipped only during festivals. As you have already walked over hours and it’s very difficult to continue your travel now, the next day comes to an end.
The next day you can visit nearby Patans, ponds and view-points. The largest Patan over there has the capacity to operate an airport with a runway of 300 meters. And again, after 2.5 hours walk is a completely different direction, you reach Nagdhunga. Again, as the name suggests, the places has stones with snake’s imprints. The final destination is the Triveni Temple which passed by on the way to the place.
This place has clean blue sky, great environment, cold weather and amazing view of mountains. Even though it’s a national park, animals are not usually seen in these areas, forget about humans. The nearest village is minimum 4 hours walk any side. Even the chirping of the birds is not heard anywhere. However, destructions caused by animals specially wild bores are seen on the way.
Now, you need to walk back to Jhingrana through the route that for humans, which again is a difficult task here. For your information the trip to come down is so difficult that I have suggested to the warden upon arrival to the Jhingrana to change the board from Human and Livestock to Donkeys and Monkeys. If you start your journey back early in the morning, you can travel till Baglek in that day. You may travel further to Silgadi or Dipayal from Baglek if you have your own vehicle.
What should you carry for the trip?
The answer is – Everything. Everything includes warm clothes, walking stick, trekking shoes, food and water at least for a week, energizer like chocolates and powdered glucose, sleeping bags and first aid medicines.
There is no chance of rescue if anything goes wrong to you on the way so it’s highly risky to travel alone or in small group. Porters should be taken from Silgadi itself. Security is not a problem unless you have an encounter with wild animals. You are advised not to touch any plants over there as they can be poisonous.
I strongly advise u to visit the place but with proper management only or else, it can b dangerous..!!