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Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a hidden pilgrimage centre, seepded in mystery and mythology, near Gangolihat, on the way to Berinag, at a distance of 35 kms. from Pithoragarh. This shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The way to the cave temple is through a long, narrow tunnel. Inside the cave, the limestone formations have taken shape of many gods & goddesses of Hindu pantheon. The forms of Ganesha, Shesh Nag, Garur, Shivling etc. are distinctly visible. It is believed that the holiest cave is the abode of 33 crore gods and goddesses, in splendid Himalayan isolation.
The motorable road ends half a kilometer away from the cave entrance. If you descend 82 steps into this narrow cave, to reach sanctum sanctorium, it gives an overwhelming feeling that you've entered the centre of earth.
It is not just one cave, but a cave city. Caves hidden within caves, steps leading to another, each one unmasks deep secrets from within.
Each stone, each stalagmite within each cave or doorway in magnificent erection reveals the story of Hindi mythology in the shapes of gods, goddesses, saints and known mythological characters.
According to 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 Guru Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1911 AD. That was the beginning of modern pilgimage 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 been seen, holding earth, haven the world beneath. 'Haven' (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 is believed that the Pandavas, proceeded to their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here, at the feet of Lord Shiva.
How to reach
Patal Bhubaneshwar can be reached from Almora, Bageshwar, Chaukori, Gangolihat or from Champawat, Lohaghat. Nearest bus station is Gangolihat (14 kms.).
Nearest Rail head is Tanakpur (164 kms.).