This is my travel account of Swargadwari, a lesser-known yet shockingly beautiful travel/religious destination in Nepal.
It was already ten when I climbed the last stair. Sweat dripped from my forehead as I dusted my red (now brown) bag. I felt weak, tired from the 12-hour journey leading here from the Bhairawa airport. Distant chants overlapped with numerous chirps of birds filled my ears. I looked around, flickering lanterns illuminated the massive wooden structure of a round shrine, and small diyos did what little they could to show the surrounding patis and scattered temples. I followed my guide to the dharmasala, my home for the next two days. Some barely clothed priests came up to greet me. I politely replied as I scurried towards a much-needed bed and shower.
Once clean, I headed onto the dining room. The room was long, with pallets arranged into three rows. An old plump lady served rice, spinach, and daal on a big leaf to everyone waiting for dinner. Simple, but delicious.
My guide offered to show me around. But I was too tired, so I went back to my room. I sat on my floor mattress (not much furniture up here) and processed everything— the flight from Kathmandu, the dizzying yet somehow revitalizing drive across the hills, the bumpy road, and the one-hour climb up the stairs. But it was all going to be worth it tomorrow morning at sunrise.
Swargadwari(heaven’s gateway) lives up to its name, I’d confirm the next day. Lost amidst the hills of Nepal, it presides proudly atop Pyuthan (elevation: 2200m). To the east, the sun rose from the Annapurna Range illustrating a light orange hue in the snow-white mountains, an unforgettably beautiful sight. Gentle bells sounded as life began at the temple. The uncountable hilltops, the sun peeking from the Himalayas, the slightly reddish sky, and the serenity of the temple behind me; for a second I could swear I was in heaven.
The scenery was right out of a painting— hills after hills with mountains at a distance, scattered clouds, and the occasional villager walking down the road. Thoroughly mesmerized I continued with my day at the temple. My guide led me first to the famous Yagya (fire) of Swargadwari. As legend has it, the Pandavas burned it thousands of years ago when they ascended to heaven, thus the name. The mighty fire was surrounded by several priests continuously chanting mantras as the first visitors of the day crowded around to worship it.
The air was chilly, even though it was early fall and there was a comforting feel to the slightly humid environment. My next stop was the cowshed— 500 cows bred on-site, but only a fraction of them was used to collect milk. When I asked why, the lady at the shed replied, “It’s sin to take away milk from the cow’s child, only those whose offspring have died or grown big are allowed to be milked.”
Swargadwari was more than just a temple. It was a small village with a population of about 200 priests, helpers, priestesses, and pilgrims. It was the Hindu Shangri-La: a mystical harmonious escape enclosed between the hills and protected by the mountains. The grand aarti in the evening, and the gathering of priests and pilgrims after to discuss various verses of religion; everything at Swargadwari felt peaceful and relaxing. By the end of my two-day trip— I felt anew, somehow I had forgotten the life back home. My mind was clear of any mishaps that were bothering me. Swargadwari was a truly enriching experience. The spiritual healing Swargadwari provides masterfully blended with the hypnotizing location it stays in is unmatched to me even today.
Here is why you should promote domestic tourism in Nepal.