Mystical Depths: Unveiling Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave’s Divine Secrets

Priyanshi Pareek

You might have heard about many caves and read about their stories but today we are going to tell you about the cave which is said to be house and lord Shiva and thirty three koti diamonds, The Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar, located 14 km from Gangolihat in Uttarakhand, India, is a captivating limestone cave temple in the Pithoragarh district. Situated in the village of Bhuvaneswar, it is said to house Lord Shiva and thirty-three koti demigods. The cave, stretching 160 m with a 90 feet depth from the entrance, showcases stunning limestone formations, including intricate stalactite and stalagmite figures of various hues. Illuminated with electricity, this cave complex, formed by water flow, is not just a single cave but a series of interconnected chambers.

Legend of the Cave

The discovery of Patal Bhuvneshwar Cave is rooted in the saga of Raja Ritupurna, a sovereign of the Surya Dynasty reigning over Ayodhya in the Treta Yuga. The narrative unfolds with King Nal, defeated by Queen Damayanti, seeking refuge from Rituparna. Ritupurna escorted Nal to the Himalayan forests, instructing him to stay concealed. Enroute home, Ritupurna’s curiosity was piqued by a deer, leading him into the woods. 

Under the tree, Ritupurna’s pursuit of the elusive deer transformed into a surreal encounter. In a dream, the deer implored him not to chase, awakening him to find a cave guarded by Sheshnag. Allowed inside, Ritupurna was carried through the cave’s wonders on Sheshnag’s hood, witnessing the divine spectacle of the 33-koti gods, including Lord Shiva. Following his visit, the cave lay closed for ages, with a prophecy in the Skanda Purana predicting its reopening in Kali Yuga. Adi Shankaracharya rediscovered the cave during this era, and since then, it has been a site of regular worship and offerings.

History

In the Treta Yuga, King Rituparna from the Sun dynasty is believed to have discovered Patal Bhuvaneshwar. The modern pilgrimage history commenced in the Kali Yuga when Adi Shankaracharya visited the cave in 1191 AD. Exploring the cave requires feeble lights and protective iron chains, unveiling stone formations resembling Sheshnag holding the realms of earth, heaven, and the underworld. Amidst the dimly lit ambiance, sacred fire sacrifices are performed accompanied by holy chants.

Impressively, these celestial heights are considered part of Shiva’s abode in Mount Kailash, with a belief that the cave is connected underground to Mount Kailash. According to legend, the Pandavas and Draupadi, heroes of the Mahabharata, meditated here before embarking on their final Himalayan journey. Situated at 1,350 m above sea level, this hidden pilgrimage is dedicated to Lord Shiva, hosting almost every deity. Worshipping at Patal Bhuvaneshwar is thought to be equivalent to worshipping the Chota Char Dham of Uttarakhand.

The Bhandari family, entrusted with religious rites at Patal Bhuvaneshwar since the era of Adi Shankaracharya, spans over 20 generations, preserving a wealth of legends, lores, anecdotes, and information about this sacred site. Revered as a treasure trove of wisdom, they have safeguarded the spiritual legacy of the cave.

According to belief, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is internally connected to the four abodes/seats (Char Dham). An intriguing legend holds that the original human head of Lord Ganesha, severed by Lord Shiva, resides here. This form of Ganesha, known as Vighnaharta, is said to create obstacles for the malevolent. The head, now unrecognisable, lies beneath a layer of limestone, adorned with an 8-petaled lotus-like formation (Brahma-Kamala) on top.

Inscriptions Outside the Temple

“This awesome cave is believed to be as old as the earth itself. It has been mentioned in detail in the 103 chapter of Manaskhand of “Skanda Purana”. 

Inscriptions outside the temple at Patal Bhuvaneshwar stand as a testament to its enduring legacy. Carved narratives echo the ancient journey of King Rituparna in the Treta Yuga, guided by Sheshnaag through encounters with mysticaldemons. Symbolic entrances, like ‘Randwar’ and ‘Paapdwar,’ weave tales of war and virtue, closing after pivotal events such as Ravana’s downfall and the Mahabharata War, leaving only ‘Dharma War’ and ‘Moksha Dwar’ accessible.

Within the sacred cave unfold wonders – Goddess Kali’s tongue, Indra’s Airavat, and Lord Shiva’s hair. Rediscovered by the Pandavas in the Dvapara Yuga, consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya in the Kali Yuga, Patal Bhuvaneshwar’s inscriptions beckon visitors on a timeless journey, seamlessly blending sightseeing with devotion since 1191.

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