Pilgrimage Sites To Visit in Chitwan

Pilgrimage sites in Chitwan

Chitwan, a district known for its lush landscapes and the famous Chitwan National Park, also cradles some of the most spiritually significant pilgrimage sites in Nepal. These places of worship are steeped in centuries-old traditions that continue to play a pivotal role in the lives of the local pilgrims.

Whether you’re a devout pilgrim, a curious traveler, or someone seeking a deeper understanding of Nepal’s rich cultural heritage, our journey through pilgrimage sites in Chitwan promises insights and experiences that resonate far beyond the physical boundaries of these sacred grounds.

Here are five religious sites you can visit while in Chitwan:

1. Shashwat Dham

Shashwat Dham in Chitwan

Shashwat Dham is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Chitwan. This temple and ashram complex is located in the picturesque Devchuli area of the Nawalparasi district in south-central Nepal. 

The east-west Mahendra Highway situates it just 23 kilometers from the conjoined cities of Bharatpur-Narayangarh. Additionally, Shashwat Dham’s vast grounds span an impressive 12 acres. Intriguingly, the primary shrine dedicates itself to Lord Shiva, possibly acknowledging the 12 Jyotirlingas associated with him.

Reflecting traditional architectural styles reminiscent of historic structures like the Khajuraho temples, the temple’s impressive design is a sight to behold. Within its towering walls, the temple houses 16 distinct deities, with the innermost sanctuary dedicated to the Shivalinga. The sacred site of Lord Shiva, named Ekambareshwara, is surrounded by waters from Nepal’s seven holy rivers, the Saptagandaki. These holy waters imbue the shrine with an aura of relentless positivity.

2. Devghat 

Devotees offering prayers in Devghat
Devotees offering prayers in Devghat

Devghat, in Chitwan district, is a key pilgrimage site at the Kali Gandaki and Trishuli rivers’ convergence. Along with tributaries like the Seti, Budhi Gandaki, and Madi, it holds great importance. This confluence, near Narayanghat, marks where rivers exit the Mahabharat range. The merging rivers, renamed Narayani, flow into India as the Gandaki join the Ganges near Patna, Bihar.

Hindu texts such as the Baraha Purana, Skanda Purana, Padma Purana, and Himavatkhanda reference Devghat. Dense sal forests characterize the area, which contains numerous shrines, temples, ashrams, and old age homes. Notable among these is the Chakreshwar Temple, where King Mukunda Sen of Palpa reportedly achieved Nirvana in the 16th century. A significant religious fair occurs here on Makar Sankranti in January, attracting devotees from Nepal and India for ritual bathing.

The region is a favored spot for many elderly Hindus, who believe passing away here ensures a heavenly afterlife. Devghat is alive with the sounds of bells and hymns, as devotees engage in religious activities in its temples and ashrams.

3. Maula Kalika 

Maula Kalika Temple Chitwan

The Maula Kalika temple, dedicated to Goddess Kalika, is a renowned Hindu shrine in Gaindakot, Nawalpur district, Gandaki Province, Nepal. Perched atop Maula hill, north of the Narayani River, the temple sits at an elevation of 561 meters (1,841 ft). The hill’s name and the temple’s historical origins date back to the 16th century. The King of Palpa established the site for Goddess Kalika.

Goddess Kalika, a form of Kali or Durga in Hindu mythology, symbolizes energy, power, and new beginnings. The temple, frequently renovated by locals, has expanded to accommodate more visitors and has ceased animal sacrifices in recent times.

Worshipped by Gaindakot’s residents for centuries, the current structure was built in the early 1990s. It draws thousands annually, especially during Dashain and March-April, to honor Goddess Kalika’s nine incarnations.

The Maula Kalika temple is a favorite local leisure spot in Gaindakot and Chitwan. It offers stunning wilderness views, a Narayani River vista, and a 500-meter stair climb. Ideal for sunrise hikes, it provides scenic views of Gaindakot town, Chitwan Valley, and Mt. Manaslu. Hikers can complete a round trip from Narayangarh town in under half a day, with water and refreshments available near Deurali’s helipad.

4. Bikram Baba Temple

Devotees at Bikram Baba Temple Chitwan

Originally revered solely by the Tharu community, the Bikram Baba Temple has evolved into a prominent pilgrimage site for devotees of various faiths. Located by the Rapti River near Jagatpur, this revered temple is known for fulfilling the desires of childless couples. 

Approximately 10-15 years ago, a local discovered a stone resembling Bikram Baba at the base of a tree. In Hindu mythology, Bikram Baba symbolizes a brave guardian. Since then, the site has attracted people from other backgrounds seeking to fulfill their wishes. Access to this sacred place is limited to a specific festival, celebrated over 10-15 days, drawing visitors from across Nepal for worship.

5. Ganeshthan Temple

Ganeshthan Temple in Chitwan

The Ganeshthan Temple, situated in Bharatpur Ward No. 11 of Chitwan District, Nepal, is a notable Hindu shrine. Tradition holds that its original form was constructed in the fifteenth century by Muni Makunda, the King of Palpa. 

The current structure dates back to 1952, built during King Mahendra’s reign. Renowned in the historic city of Bharatpur, the Ganeshthan Temple (Baseni) draws devotees from various parts of Bharatpur every Tuesday to worship the Hindu deity Ganesha.

Key Takeaways: Visiting Religious Sites in Chitwan

From the serene grounds of Shashwat Dham to the historical depths of the Maula Kalika Temple, each site has offered a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of faith and tradition that defines Chitwan. These sites are not just temples but are vibrant centers of cultural and spiritual activity, echoing with centuries of prayers and the footsteps of countless pilgrims.

As you plan your spiritual visit to Chitwan, remember that these sacred sites are more than mere tourist spots; they are living, breathing parts of a cultural heritage that welcomes all who seek understanding, peace, and a connection to something greater than themselves. 

Whether you come in search of spiritual enlightenment, historical insight, or simply the tranquility that these holy places offer, these pilgrimage sites in Chitwan is ready to offer you a journey that transcends the boundaries of the ordinary.

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