Patal Bhuvaneshwar Gangolihat
Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a phenomenal place that is located in the state of Uttarakhand. It is situated in the Pithorgarh district in the Kumaon region. The exposure of Patal Bhuvaneshwar (Lord Shiva in the underground temple complex) is one of this unique way to help mankind. Enshrined in mystery and mythology, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is the hidden pilgrimage centre, near Gangolihat the famous Shaktipeeth. Located 91 km from Pithoragarh on the way to Berinag, at an elevation of about 1350 m, this highly revered shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva. 16 Km to the north-east of Gangolihat and 20 Km to the south of Berinag is situated the Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave temple. The temple place comes under village Bhuvneshwar which is in the tehsil Didihat. The subterranean shrine of Lord Shiva is situated with sprawling interiors. Limestone rock formations have created various spectacular stalactite and stalagmite figures. The way to the temple is through a narrow tunnel shaped cave, giving a very thrilling experience. The main passage way opens into several small caves which have in them the stone carvings of many traditional Gods & Goddesses and can evoke weird romantic fancies and images in the religiously inclined person. The cave temple of Patal Bhuvaneshwar is traditionally believed to be the abode of thirty three crore deities.
Patal Bhuvaneshwar is not just one cave, rather a cave city. Caves within caves, one leading to another, each one unmasking deep secrets from within.The motorable road ends half a kilometer away from the cave entrance. You’ve to descend nearly 100 steps into this narrow cave, to reach the sanctum sanctorum, which gives an overwhelming feeling that you’re entering the centre of the earth.Each stone, each stalagmite within each cave or doorway, in magnificent erection revels the story of Hindu pantheon in the shapes of Gods, Goddesses, saints and known mythological characters. According to a belief King Rituparna of the Sun dynasty (Surya Vansha) discovered the cave in ‘Treta Yuga’. It has been described in the ‘Manas Khand’ of ‘Skand Puran’. Adi Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD. That was the beginning of the modern pilgrimage history, at Patal Bhuvaneshwar. The journey inside the cave has to be carried in feeble lights, holding protective iron chains. The stone formations of ‘Sheshnag’ can be seen, holding earth, heaven the world beneath. ‘Havan’ (fire sacrifice) is performed in a dimly lit, solemn atmosphere, under the spell of holy chants. You’ll also be impressed by the huge stalactites, called ‘Jatas’ of Lord Shiva, located at different locations inside the cave. It’s believed that Pandavas, the ‘Mahabharata’ heroes proceeded towards their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here, in front of Lord Shiva. The priest family, the Bhandaris have been performing religious rites at Patal Bhuvaneshwar since the time of the Adi Shankaracharya. More than 20 generations in the line, they are a treasure house of legends, lore, anecdotes and information about this holy place.
Legend of the Cave:
The first human to discover this cave was Raja Ritupurna who was a king in Surya Dynasty who was ruling Ayodhya during the Treta Yuga. The story starts with Ritupurna and King Nala. It is said that once, King Nala was defeated by his wife, Queen Damayanti.In order to escape his wife’s prison Nala requested Ritupurna to hide him. Ritupurna took him to the forests of the Himalayas and asked him to stay there. While going back home he was fascinated by a deer which ran into woods and went after it. He could not find it and took rest under a tree. He had a dream where the deer was asking Ritupurna not to chase him. His sleep broke and as he woke up and went to a cave where a guard was standing. After enquiring about the cave he was allowed to go inside. Right at the entrance, Ritupurna met Sheshnag who agreed to take him through the cave. It carried him on its hood. He saw the marvels of Gods taking place inside. He all the 33-Koti (33 type not crore) gods and goddesses including Lord Shiva himself. It is said that after his visit, the cave was closed for ages with a slight prediction in the Skandpurana that it will be reopened again in Kaliyuga. Shankarcharya in Kalyug, during his visit to Himalayas re-discovered this cave. Since then regular worship and offering are being done at this place.
According to belief King Rituparna of the Sun dynasty (Surya Vansha) discovered the cave in ‘Treta yug’. It has been described in the ‘MANAS KHAND’ of ‘SKAND PURAN’. Adi Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD. That was the beginning of the modern pilgrimage history, at Patal Bhuvaneshwar. The journey inside the cave has to be carried in feeble lights, holding protective iron chains. The Stone formations of Sheshnag can be seen, holding earth, heaven the world beneath. ‘Havan’ (fire sacrifice) is performed in a dimly lit, solemn atmosphere, under the spell of holy chants. You’ll also be impressed by theto visit these parts form the celestial heights of His abode in Kailash. The cave, it is believed, is connected by an underground route to Mount Kailash. it’s believed that Pandavas, the ‘Mahabharat’ heroes proceeded towards their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here, in front of Lord Shiva.This hidden pilgrimage situated at 1,350 mts above sea level is mainly dedicated to Lord Shiva.Almost every god that you would have heard of resides in this mystifying cave. It is also believed that you can worship at Patal Bhuvaneshwar is equivalent to worshipping at Char Dham of Uttarakhand. The priest family, the Bhandaris are performing religious rites at Patal Bhuvaneshwar since the time of the Adi Shankaracharya. More than 20 generations in the line. They are a treasure house of legends, lore, anecdotes and information about this holy place. It is also believed that this cave is internally connected to the four abodes /seats (Char Dham).
Beyond Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
Gangolihat: 14 kms from Patal Bhubaneshwar, Gangolihat is rich in folk culture, music and religious traditions, and had been chosen by Shankaracharya for the installation of Mahakali Shaktipeeth.
Berinag & Chaukori: 27 km and 38 km respectively from Patal Bhubaneshwar, these places offer the breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.
Weather Conditions Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
Patal Bhuvaneshwar experiences a mild and pleasant climate through the year and one can visit the place at any point. The rainfall is quite extensive during the monsoon season and this might make travel difficult. The summers are very pleasant and the temperatures are rarely extreme. The winter season is also a popular time to visit and the conditions are refreshing. The summer season is from April to June and the temperatures range from a minimum of 19°C to a maximum of 36°C. The humidity is limited and the place is generally dry during this period. The hottest month of the year is May.
How to reach Patal Bhuvaneshwar Gangolihat Pithoragarh :
By Air: The nearest airport to Patal Bhuvaneshwar is Pantnagar Airport. Pantnagar Airport is situated 244kms from Patal Bhuvaneshwar. Taxis are easily available to Patal Bhuvaneshwar from Pantnagar Airport. Patal Bhuvaneshwar is well connected by motorable roads with major towns of Kumaon.
By Train: The nearest railhead to Patal Bhuvaneshwar is Tanakpur situated at a distance of 154kms. Taxis and buses are easily available from Tanakpur Railway Station to Patal Bhuvaneshwar, Gangolighat, and Lohaghat etc. Tanakpur is well connected with major destinations of India like Lucknow, Delhi, Agra and Kolkata. Trains are frequent to Tanakpur Railway Station.
By Road: Patal Bhuvaneshwar is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand state. Buses from ISBT Anand Vihar are available to Tanakpur, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Lohaghat and many other destinations from where you can easily hire a local cab or bus to reach Patal Bhuvaneshwar.