Dhangadhi: Nestled within the annals of mythology, Khaptad stands as an expanse where sages and Siddhas once embarked on penance. Often referred to as the 'Khechari' mountain, Khaptad's significance extends to being a purported haven for the Pandavas during their fourteen years of exile, as recounted in the legends of the Mahabharata.
The very soil of Khaptad, it is believed, carries the imprint of the second Pandava Bhima's ploughshare, used to craft jhotis, the sacred traditional lamps. In 2002, under the spiritual guidance of King Ramjung Singh of Bajhang, Khaptad's forests witnessed the devotions of a king, and since then, the allure of this ethereal location has resonated, spreading its importance both nationally and internationally as a pilgrimage destination.
This realm unveils vast expanses that stretch beyond the horizon. From winter's tranquil white landscapes to spring's vibrant tapestry of blossoms, Khaptad's appeal is as diverse as it is captivating. The sensation of stepping onto the snow-clad terrain during winter feels akin to stepping into a celestial realm. Known as the "22 Patan Maidans" and adorned with "52 (Thumka) Jhotis," Khaptad boasts a wealth of attractions: Khaptad Baba's Ashram, Triveni River, Khaptad Dah, Shiva Temple, Sahasralinga, Ganeshthan, Nagadhunga, Maika Than, Chintedhunga, Kedardhunga, Damphekot, Sita Paila, Ghodadown Patan, Nachanthali, and several other religious enclaves that contribute to the uniqueness of Khaptad.
The Triveni River is a revered locale where a dip on the day of Gangadashahra Mela is believed to absolve sins, and offering Tarpan for ancestors is thought to pave the way to salvation. The region resonates with a belief that desires whispered by the heart may find fulfillment. The grand Ganga Dashain Mela and Indrajatra Mela are annual affairs here. Ganga Dashain, celebrated in May/June, and Khapar Dah, observed in July/August, witness fervent participation. Amid the festivities, the enthralling Hudke dance of the Far West region captivates the crowd, and the night reverberates with the spirit of Sudurpahad.
Since its designation as a National Park in 2042 BS, Khaptad has lured travelers with its allure. Established in 2047 BS, the Nepali Army's presence safeguards the park's diverse ecosystem of over 200 flower species, invaluable herbs, and a variety of wildlife including muskrats, deer, wildebeests, and antelopes. Currently, a contingent of approximately 300 Nepalese soldiers, led by their commanding officer (Ganpati), ensure the park's security.
Khaptad offers provisions for sustenance and accommodation, but visitors are advised to come equipped with warm attire, tents, sleeping bags, dry rations, insulated jackets, rain gear, sturdy headgear, and thick socks. Basic medical supplies like body lotion, cough medicine, headache relievers, and adhesive bandages should also be part of the essentials. The weather in Khaptad can shift unexpectedly, turning fields into impromptu reservoirs during rainfall and bringing about a swift chill.
Khaptad's tale is one of spiritual echoes, untamed beauty, and ever-changing landscapes that beckon both pilgrims and adventurers to explore its enchanting expanse.