The thing about Nepal is that you can never run out of spiritual places to visit. And yet most of them are old temples with the same archaic architecture and follows a typical path of devotion. Shashwat Dham, on the other hand, is completely different, both in terms of ambience and philosophy practised in the establishment. In the calm and composed premises of Shashwat Dham, spirituality finds a new home and an evolved meaning altogether. The temple and ashram complex is located in the beautiful surroundings of Devchuli region of Nawalprasi district in south-central Nepal, on the east-west Mahendra Highway only 23 kilometres from the twin city of Bharatpur-Narayangarh. The sprawling expanse of Shashwat Dham spreads over 12 acres of land. Given the central shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, this could be a subtle token of reference to the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva that we know of.
In spite of the theistic presence, Shashwat Dham is not all about worshipping and following rituals. In the words of its founder and patriot Binod Chaudhary, it is a "living centre of excellence for spiritual learnings". The ideals on which Shashwat Dham stands have their roots in the origin story of the spiritual, residential and educational complex.
Origin of Shashwat Dham
Although recently inaugurated in 2017, the seed of the idea was germinated around two decades ago, when the founder-trustee member Binod K. Chaudhary was told by Sri Jayendra Saraswati Ji of Shankaracharya Kanchee math about the lack of Vedic knowledge in the temples of Nepal. In later years, he came in touch with renowned philosophical and spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living and travelled to the many centres of the establishment around the world.
Together it urged Mr Chaudhury to establish a platform not only for worship but to understand the true meaning of the Sanatana Hindu Dharma, the one that has been existing in the world for thousands and thousands of years in the form of sacred teachings. Thus the cornerstone for Shashwat Dham was laid, in a hope to preserve the principal elements of the ancient Vedic philosophies, to make them accessible to those who want and to create a sanctuary where believers can learn and make themselves one with the heritage of the faith.
Architecture of Shashwat Dham - The Central Shrine
The temple architecture follows the ancient style, the one that can be seen in the creations like Khajuraho or other similar temples. The towering edifice houses 16 different deities, with the sanctum sanctorum belonging to the Shivalinga. The abode of Lord Shiva here is called Ekambareshwara, and it is surrounded by holy waters from the seven sacred rivers of Nepal - Saptagandaki to keep the shrine bordered with positivity.
Education and Meditation
As mentioned earlier, Shashwat Dham is not only about worship, it is about the enrichment of the inner, spiritual self. The place takes spiritual learning and education very seriously, both literally and metaphorically. The Vaidik Karmakanda Gurukul is from young students who take admission in the ashram for education in the Vedic ways. They continue with their mainstream education as per the State Board syllabus along with the rules, rituals and inherent significances of Vedic literature, regulations and rituals and knowledge of performing pujas.
To make the knowledge of the ancient writings accessible to the current youth, the Manuscript Resource Center unearths and preserves as many as possible. There are expert scholars to decode the archived manuscripts and spread the Sanatana knowledge to the mass for their understanding.
The Center for Meditation and Yogic Sciences is a sanctuary for all seeking peace and happiness. The tranquil environment helps to calm the mind and relief from the stress of the outside world, and the daily spiritual lectures, yoga sessions and satsangs help them find their true self.
There is also a museum within Shashwat Dham, a tour of which will tell you everything you need to know about the spirituality and other similar spiritual destinations of Nepal - history, location, origin and trivia.
Facilities - Refreshments and Souvenirs
Annapurna Satvik Pure Veg Restaurant is a great place to enjoy the day's meal while at Shashwat Dham. Although part of a temple complex, the interior is very well-decorated, well-maintained and strikingly contemporary, with wood-panelled floors and trendy white furniture, not to mention extremely neat and clean. The food is delicious, made from pure organic products and served hot.
For souvenirs, you can visit Samskriti - The Heritage Store. They store significant items and artefacts of spiritual importance like statues, lingams, prayer items and more such that you can take back home in memory of Shashwat Dham.
Attractions at Shashwat Dham
While you are at Shashwat Dham, once the temple visits and eating and shopping are done, you need to go around and take a glimpse of the other things nearby. The most intriguing thing to see is Leela - the Game of Self-Knowledge. It is like the modern game of Snake & Ladder, probably from where it came. It is said that the ups and downs of the game teaches one the significance as well as insignificance of their existence in the cosmos. There is a life-size game of Leela in Shashwat Dham, and you can have a professional guide explain to you how the game works.
Do not miss the Kamal Kund beside the Gurukul area, where there are many lotuses in bloom usually and creates a lovely sight to behold. Sahastra Saligram in the north-east or Ishan Kona, as it is called in Vedic terms, is a collection of 1000 saligram stones - the most natural manifestation of Lord Krishna. The popular belief is, circumambulation of the stones energizes the mind and spirit with positivity.
Following the footsteps of Nepal's historical practice, there is a Dhunge Dhara as well - a water reservoir with cow faced stone taps. It is a sign of merit for any establishment. Have a look at the Hanuman Chhatra Temple and the Dharma Kshetra as well. The latter is a statue of Arjuna enroute to the great war of Kurukshetra with Krishna as his charioteer - a symbol for the grave actions taken to protect dharma or righteousness. All of these places are within the open temple complex surrounding the main shrine, lined with beautifully curated green lawns.