Patal Bhuvaneshwar, one of the most interesting places to visit in Uttarakhand is a natural cave temple made of limestone. The Hindu temple is located at an altitude of 1350 m and at a distance of 14 km from Gangolihat in the village of Bhubneshwar in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, India. Manaskhanda of Skandapuran mentions 800 verses which refer to the cave temple of Patal Bhuvaneshwar.
Architecture of The Cave Temple:
The fascinating fact is, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is not just one cave, but it is a series of caves within caves. There is a 1 km long cave in Patal Bhuvneshwar. This is 90 feet below the ground level. Inside the cave, the limestone formations have taken shapes of many Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism. The images of Ganesha, Shesh Nag, Garurh, Shivling are distinctly visible.
The main cave is 160 m long and 90 feet deep from the point of entrance. This cave has a narrow tunnel-like opening which leads to a number of caves. To enter the cave, there are four entrances namely, Randwar, Paapdwar, Dharamdwar, and Mokshadwar.
Mythology states that the two of these four entrances were closed. The first time was when Rama killed Ravana, the king of Lanka, during the battle of Ramayana. And the second time was after the brutal war of Mahabharata. Now there are two entrances which are functional. The entire cave is electrically illuminated.
Legends of Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
Legends state that this underground cave enshrines Lord Shiva and 33 crores Gods in Hindu culture. It is also believed that Pandavas proceeded towards their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here in front of Lord Shiva.
According to another legend, king Rituparna of the Sun dynasty (Surya Vansha) discovered this cave in ‘Treta Yuga’. It has been mentioned in the ‘Manas Khand’ of ‘Skand Puran’. Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD. This is considered as the beginning of the modern pilgrimage history in Patal Bhuvaneshwar.
Nearby Places of Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
This place is the home of the famous Hat Kalika temple, which is a popular venue for local fairs.
This town has tea gardens. These gardens yield high-quality tea. It also offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas to the visitors.
Sarla Behn, the disciple of Gandhiji, spent her last days in Dharamghar. This town is situated at a distance of 9 km from Patal Bhuvaneshwar.
Best Time to Visit Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
One can visit the cave temple at any time except monsoons and rainy seasons. But the post-monsoon months of October and November are the best times to visit Patal Bhuvaneshwar.
The summer season in this region is from April to June and the temperature ranges from a minimum of 19°C to a maximum of 36°C.
Monsoon season in the region is from July to September and the place witnesses a decent amount of rainfall from the South West Monsoon.
The winters start here in the month of December and end in February. Temperatures can fall down to around 4°C during this time.
How to Reach Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
The nearest airport to Patal Bhuvaneshwar is the Naini Saini Airport, Pithoragarh, which is 88 km away from the temple. There are many buses and taxi services available from Pithoragarh to Patal Bhuvaneshawar.
Pithoragarh does not have a railway station. The nearest railway station is in Tanakpur at a distance of 138 km.