Cave temples are an iconic representation of Indian ancient historic civilizations. They portray the early life of human beings, their religious beliefs and their survival braving the odds of nature. Patal Bhubaneshwar Temple at Uttarakhand is one such old cave temple reflecting the yesteryears of the country. Formed out of limestone, it is a fascinating tourist destination in India. Situated in the Kumaon region in the district of Pithoragarh, the Patal Bhubaneshwar cave temples entice thousands of tourists every year. It is a thrilling experience to crawl through the cave interiors and experience its beauty.
The History and the Beliefs
As per Hindu mythology and religious beliefs, Patal Bhubaneshwar cave temples are considered to be as holy as the Four or Char Dhams of Uttarakhand. The Surya Vansha dynasty ruler King Rituparna is said to the instrumental in discovering the caves first. The caves became prominent in 1190 AD when the legendary Adi Shankaracharya visited the caves to perform meditation.
Since then the Bhandari priests worship inside the caves temples and perform the numerous Hindu religious ceremonies and rites. Besides, historians and Hindu mythologies point out that the Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata performed their last mediation in the caves; before they started their journey to heaven.
The Tour of the Patal Bhubaneshwar Cave Temples
The path trailing towards the cave temples are wrapped with lush greenery and the mystic landscape. The top of the Pine and Deodhar trees embrace with the blue skies, pronouncing the approach of the heavenly caves. The writings of the Skanda Purana, Hindu scriptures, at the entry gate prepare your minds for a soulful visit.
The cave is extremely dark inside. The authorities keep it illuminated by lights and the guide carries a flashlight to guide you to the different interesting features of the cave. You have to descend almost 4 floors down through a narrow tunnel. The moment you enter the caves, you can feel the essence of spirituality and divinity prevailing inside. You will be soon teleported to a world of eternity and purity.
Iron chains at both sides guide the tourists inside the cave temples. You need to descend down approximately 90 feet, one person at a time. The tunnel slowly widens to a broad space. You can immediately observe the limestone rock formations resembling the legs of the Hindu mythological elephant, Airavata. They replicate 100 legs of the elephant, who belonged to Lord Indra. Above the cave ceilings, you can find the rock carvings forming the hood of Adishesha. As per Hindu mythology, Adishesha is King Cobra, believed to be protecting the universe.
A Peek into the Interiors…
There are a series of caves inside well connected with each other, allowing you to traverse through each of them with ease. There are 4 entrances inside the cave, only 2 open for tourists. The magnificence of the caves is worthy of millions of appreciation. The stalactites and the stalagmites carve out outstanding images resembling the different gods and their characteristic features. The reason it is considered as the heavenly abode for the Hindus.
At one point, you will be astonished to watch a huge colossal and formations that looked like the tresses of hair. It is believed to be replicating the hair of the Supreme Lord Shiva. A part of the cave has a wonderful pair of stalactite and stalagmite each symbolizing Lord Ganesha without his head and a lotus.
There are several other rock formations representing the different belongings and aspects of Lord Shiva like Kamadhenu, Kamandal etc. Some even portray the different period or Yugas of the Hindu calendar. Various Hindu gods and goddesses adorn the different parts of the cave through the exotic rock formations inside.
Important Facts to remember
- Wear comfortable shoes and outfits since you need to squeeze in through the caves
- Keep your hands free as you need to clasp the iron chains
- Avoid entering the caves if you suffer from any heart ailments or breathing problems
- Entry fee is INR 90
- A guide ( a priest of the temple) will escort you inside
- You need to open your shoes before entering the temple
Patal Bhubaneshwar cave temples illustrate the religious sanctity of the Hindu ancient era. They proclaim the extreme dedication and power of the Hindu gods and goddesses and their influence in the lives of their devotees.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.