Panchakot has turned into one of the main tourist destinations of Baglung district after the establishment of Panchakot Ekikrit Basti in Ward-6 of Baglung Municipality.
As some of the construction of infrastructure has been completed that was being built under the leadership of Muktinath Baba, a Hindu sage, the influx of tourists has increased in this area. His dream of changing his hometown into a pilgrimage site is now turning into a reality.
He said: “This is the only place in this entire world where we can find Shaligram stone. So this is a resident of all gods and I had planned to build a pilgrimage site in this area where people can worship all gods.”
People of this area are also supporting to fulfill the dream of the sage. First, this was just a dream of Muktinath Baba but as this is related to the development of Baglung, it has now become a dream of all Baglung residents.
“We have planned to develop a pilgrimage site of all gods and goddesses in this place so that people can worship different gods and goddesses at the same place,” said Muktinath Baba.
“Baba returned to his hometown after a long time. I think this is a fortune for us,” said Rishi Prapannacharya, acting president of Panchakot.
Panchakot is made by symbolically merging the names of five different places (kots): Tatajalkot, Karikot, Majhkot, Raynaraynakot, and Sansaarkot. These places are also related with the ancient kings. The kings established different religious places to worship divine energy and to get power from it.
According to Rishi Prapannacharya, the mulpurush (primordial man) of all communities of Nepal will be established in Panchakot. “We will develop this place into a common religious site by establishing all mulpurush of all communities at the same place, including those of adivasi, janajati and Arya communities, so that this place becomes a temple for all,” he said.
He said they are not planning to develop Panchakot into just a religious site. “All religious sites have their own importance. We want to develop Panchakot into a unique place in its own right. This place hast its own identity,” he added.
Infrastructure worth Rs 140 million has been constructed in Panchakot. The construction was started with the amount that was collected through a Maha Yagya (Vedic ritual) organized in 2014. A 108-feet-tall urn is being installed as the main attraction of Panchakot. Many new religious structures are under construction at the moment.
A 3-storey-tall building for guests, pavement, and a temple of Gandaki goddess are being constructed. Structure necessary to place a 5,555-kg bell, statue of lord Hanuman, Ganesh temple and so on are already done. "It will take more than two billion rupees to construct all the structures as per our plan," said former chairperson of Panchakot, Narendra Sharma.
Along with the development of other structures, a cow ranch is also being constructed in Ward 5 of Baglung Municipality and Jaljala Rural Municipality.
Panchakot can be reached by a 30-minute bus ride from the district headquarters Baglung Bazar. Due to transportation access, influx of domestic tourists in Panchakot has increased rapidly. The number of foreign tourists visiting this place is comparatively lower.
“Nowadays, the number of people visiting Panchakot has increased. Hundreds of people visit Panchakot daily,” said former secretary general of Panchakot, Basanta Kumar Shrestha, "Inflow of tourists in Panchakot is comparatively high in public holidays.” With the increase in the inflow of tourists, the condition of roads has been improved. All roads of Panchakot are black-topped.
Apart from the cultural and religious importance, Panchakot is also famous for a scenic view of mountains. Locals here are expecting an increase in economical activities through promotion of Panchakot as a tourist destination. "If we were able to hold those pilgrims who visit Muktinath Baba just for one night in Panchakot, the surrounding areas can also get benefited," said Jaya Ram Bhari, president of Baglung Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Baglung Municipality has also vowed for the development of tourism in the place. The resumption of Balewa Airport comes as the starting point of the efforts.
"We are working for systematic development of this area for tourism. We are now focusing on areas such as Baglung Kalika, Bhairabsthan Bhakunde among others, and religious places are also being linked as tourist destinations," said Janakraj Poudel, mayor of the municipality.