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.
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 cave temple is through a long, narrow tunnel. Inside the cave, the limestone formations have taken shape of many Gods and Goddesses of Hindu pantheon. The forms of Ganesha, Shesh Nag, Garurh, Shivling etc. are distinctly visible to the believers.
It's popularly believed that the holiest cave is the abode of 33 crore Gods and Goddesses, amidst the absolute Himalayan isolation.
Famous for/as: Pilgrim
Languages: Kumaoni, Hindi
Best Season: Mar - Oct
Weather: Summer 19-47°C,
Altitude: 1350 m
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Best Season / Best time to visit
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.
Monsoon season in the region is from July to September and the place gets rainfall from the South West Monsoon. Rainfall is generally scattered over this period and the humidity also increases significantly during this time. The post monsoon months of October and November are pleasant and a good time to visit the place.
The winter season starts in the month of December and ends in February. Temperatures can be expected to fall to around 4°C during this time. Maximum expected temperatures during the winters season is around 25°C.
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.
BEYOND PATAL BHUBANESHWAR
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.
Gwaldam: A sleepy Himalayan town surrounded by apple orchards. The base for the trek to Roopkund.
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.
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.
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.