Tag Archives: Chaukori

Myth and mystery of the cave 90 feet deep

Patal Bhuvaneshwar temple was in and out of our itinerary for the Bloggers Bus at various points. It was no where in the initial plans, but  when a fellow blogger asked for it than it was included in the programme. By the time we reached from Kausani to Chaukori, KMVN official in-charge of our trip came up with the information that it wasn’t safe to go inside as there would be lack of oxygen inside the cave and it was also raining continuously in the region. There was another catch, we were told that cameras are not allowed inside and all phones and cameras have to be deposited at the counter outside the cave. Most of our interest got diffused because of that too. Going to a new place and not able to photograph it was somewhat turn-off. 

Here starts the walkway to the cave after the road ends

It rained whole night at Chaukori and that already disrupted our morning schedule. Rain had stopped by the time we left. Having already missed all other activities at Chaukori for the morning, the idea of Patal Bhuvaneshwar again propped up as it was on the way towards our lunch destination at Gangolihat. Just seven kilometres before Gangolihat there is a diversion towards the Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave and it is further seven kilometres from that point. So we all, finally decided to take a chance.  It was 12 noon by the time we reached the village. This village would have got populated in later stages because of this cave temple. Cave is further  half a kilometre from the road-head on a paved walkway.

The gate that welcomes, but cave is still further

It is a beautiful place undoubtedly. At an altitude of 1350 metres (almost as Gangolihat) this cave is located on a hillside in the middle of thick jungle laced with deodars, pines and oaks. This cave is actually in the middle of the hill as the river flows another few hundred feet below. It is therefore very calm and serene here. A lovely place to be for whatever reasons. We had another reason to be happy and that was being able to take the photographs inside the cave. Armed with the information that just a few days back ASI had allowed photography inside all its monuments/sites, we managed to convince the personnel there to allow us to take cameras inside. But all that not before many hectic calls, getting order copies online et al.  All this episode consumed another half hour, but all in good spirit and for a cause, and with a better end result.

Bells lined up on the way to cave. You will find this at many of the temples in Uttarakhand. This is one of the way to pay obeisance to the god after some of their wishes are fulfilled!

Patal Bhuvaneshwar is said to be one of the most revered cave temples in India and perhaps the most mysterious as well. It is located in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.  This limestone cave is just 160 metres long and 90 feet deep. Having seen many other caves in India, we can safely say that natural cave systems are one of the most intriguing geographical feature of this planet. India has many bigger and majestic caves. Most of them have very interesting stalactite and stalagmite rock figures. Many of these figures got myths associated with them in the long term.

Mythology associated with the cave temple at Patal Bhuvaneshwar.

Similarly Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave temple is said to have a deep association with Hindu mythology. Undoubtedly it has some very amazing stalactite and stalagmite figures carved out by nature on limestone rocks. But this relatively very smaller of all caves has got hidden some biggest of the mysteries and myths, one being that this cave is as old as the earth itself.

Entrance to the cave

We were fortunate on two counts that day. Firstly we got to take the cameras inside and secondly, there was no crowd that day, may be because of the rains. We were told that normally there are hundreds of pilgrims waiting to visit the cave at all times and it takes quite few hours for your turn to go inside.

Way to go down the cave

What is different here from other caves that I have seen is the cave mouth. It is tough to go inside as there is a narrow tunnel like passage going down the cave where one has to slide down with the help of chains. At some point there are stairs and at other there is just rock face to slide.

Not an easy task by any means!

Oxygen inside is less, hence there is a chance of suffocation or breathlessness, mostly during the rainy season. Hence going inside is tough for all those who are oversized, have stiff bodies, problems in knees or back or those who suffer from claustrophobia. And mind it that it is a long way down. Cave is almost 90 feet deep from the mouth.

A look back towards the cave mouth

It is said (and is written on the boards and plaques here) that this cave was first discovered by King Rituparna of Surya Dynasty (सूर्यवंशी राजा ऋतुपर्ण). That has been mentioned in chapter 103 of Manas Khand of Skanda Purana. That happened in mythological ‘Tretayuga’ (त्रेतायुग). Than in Dwapar Yuga (द्वापर युग) Pandavas again reached here while they were in exile. And then in Kalyuga (कलयुग) in 822 AD Adi Shankaracharya (आदि शंकराचार्य) rediscovered the cave. Later in 1191 AD Chand Dynasty kings started maintaining this place and they brought priests from Bhandari family of Kashi to perform puja here. Since then same family has been doing that continuously. Currently their 18th generation is presiding the prayer rituals here.

Fellow bloggers sliding inside the cave

For those who love adventure, it is a very interesting to be in. This narrow passage suddenly drops you to a large cave. Though, still this is not very big as other caves but it is comfortable for few people to move and be there. Once you are in, you start feeling better because getting in or out of the cave is more energy-sapping.

Group of bloggers inside the cave

The cave takes you to a mythological world. Tourists are not allowed to go inside the cave without an authorised guide as there are many blocked passages. One also needs to understand mythology behind this. This guide takes you to the journey of belief inside.

Passage inside the cave. The wave like structure on the base is said to be the rib cage of snake god Sheshnag!

It starts right from the place where one gets in, where you see a rock in form of snake hood (शेषनाग). Mythologically it is said that this earth is placed on the hood of snake god. Since this cave is down inside the surface of the earth, hence it is termed as Patal (पाताल).

Narrow passage wet with flowing water nside the cave

Once you move in, you can see two closed passages. That particular junction is said to have four entrances- Randwar (रणद्वार), Paapdwar (पापद्वार), Dharamdwar (धर्मद्वार) and the Mokshadwar (मोक्षद्वार)। We are told that Paapdwar was closed at the time of death of Ravana and Randwar was closed after the Mahabharata war. Dharamdwar is the one through which we enter and the Mokshadwar is the one where we proceed, where all the gods are present inside the cave in various forms.

Four Dhams of Shiva inside the cave

It is said that all Hindu gods (33 कोटि देवता) that you have heard of, reside here. So besides Sheshnag, you have Kal Bhairav, Ganesha among others. Many myths are taking form here including the four Yugas and also the coming of Ganges on the earth (गंगावतरण).  Many pilgrim destinations take shape here including Badrinath, Amarnath, Somnath and Kedarnath. You can see feet of elephant of the gods- Airavat (ऐरावत) and hairs of Shiva.

Said to be thousand feet of Airavat elephant
Idol of King Bhagirath on one side, the small pond is said to have holy water and all other Hindu gods on other side
Jata of Shiva, through which he held the force of the river Ganges, when it came to the earth

And, actually they are few to mention. There are many more legends associated to these rock formations. They are indeed amazing. With so many myths associated to his place and a temple still there pilgrims from near and far come here to seek the blessings, making it one of the most sacred places of the region.

Temple of Patal Bhuvaneshwar inside the cave at the far end. It is said that it was established hundreds of years ago by Shankaracharya himself.

Its indeed worth going there. For me it was entirely different from the all my earlier cave visits. It is always interesting to explore when belief and nature combine to give birth to many mythologies.

You can see the entire video from inside the cave on m YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

This Bloggers Bus trip happened on an invite from Uttarakhand Tourism. Seven travel bloggers from across the country participated in it including me for an eight day road trip to some unseen destinations of Kumaon. This was the third Bloggers Bus of the Uttarakhand Tourism for the season. I was also the part of the first Bloggers Bus to Garhwal. You can read the amazing stories from this journey of Bloggers Bus 3.0 by going to the blogs of my fellow bloggers- desi traveler, travelure, Voyager, Anamika Mishra and Ghoomophiro.

Have you ever been to Patal Bhuvaneshwar temple? How was the experience? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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10 new destinations to cool-off

Sick of all those routine destinations in hills—seemingly same mall roads with hordes of tourists going up and down, same type of shops selling almost homogenous souvenirs, same crowd and what not. Get the change, go to a place which might not be in list of top-notchers in tourist arrivals, but are a notch above in their sheer beauty. We bring you the list of destinations, you can try this summer in India.

1. Kalpa – In the lap of Kailash

KalpaRarely will you find a view like this. You come out of room in the open and see the mighty Kinner Kailash peak standing right in front of you in full glory. Situated at the height of 2758 m above the sea level and 110 km from Sarahan, Kalpa is a beautiful and main village of Kinnaur, just above the Reckong Peo town which is headquarters of the Kinnaur district. The majestic mountains of the Kinner Kailash range are just across the Sutlej river. These are spectacular sights early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and golden light. The Shivling peaks rise up to 20,000 feet (6,000 m). Again this view is easily accessible. Nearest Airport (267 km) and Railhead (244 km) is at Shimla. The route is on NH – 22 (The Hindustan Tibet Road) which bifurcates to Kalpa from Powari. Buses and Taxis are available at Shimla and Rampur. One can also reach Kalpa via Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kunzam Pass – Kaza (400 km).

How to reach: There are daily buses from Shimla to Reckong Peo. You can also hire a taxi from Shimla. There are also multiple staying options at Kalpa and Reckong Peo.

2. Chakrata – The mythological beauty

ChakrataChakrata known for its serene environs and pollution-free atmosphere, is situated at a distance of 98 kms from Dehradun at an elevation of about 7000 ft (2118 mts). It is having a cantonement township and the northern part of Chakrata sub-division provides a fascinating landscape for trekkers and nature lovers. Virgin forests of conifers, rhododendrons and oaks are best suited for long walks. A vast dense forest, dotted with attractive villages of the Jaunsari tribe, the area has the 10,000 ft (3084 mts) high peak of Kharamba. On its northern slopes is situated Mundali 9000 ft (2776 mts) where in the months of November to April skiers can enjoy sking. From Devban and Chilmiri Neck, you can have magnificent view of Himalayas. Actually from Chakrata, there is a road going to Mussoorie. Being dubbed as Chakrata-Mussoorie highway this route was used by Britishers. On this road we pass through Viraatkhai and Lakhwad and cross Yamuna and climb to Mussorie. Especially from Viraatkhai we can have a glorious view of Garhwal Himalayas. What else, Chakrata and Viraatkhai are just six to seven hours drive from Delhi and you even don’t need to go to Dehradun. Viraatkhai area has some eco-camps while Chakrata has many stay options. This Jaunsar-Bawar area is also known for its distinct culture claimed to be inspired from Mahabharata. Situated between Yamuna and Tons Rivers, Chakrata in Uttarakhand is a small cantonment town. The northern slopes of Chakrata are popular for trekking and skiing. The trek to Kharamba Peak is a popular trekking trail. The tiny hamlet has several ancient caves and temples waiting to be explored. Chakrata offers a refreshing contrast from Mussoorie which is popular and crowded. Mussoorie is 73 km from Chakrata. Among places to see here Devban is most popular tourist destination in Chakrata. It is located at a height of above 2200 metres. Chakrata is a famous place for spotting birds like Himalayan woodpecker, white collared blackbirds, green backed tit, etc. Devban also provides amazing views of snow-clad mountains. Tiger falls: One of the biggest waterfalls in the country, Tiger Falls drop from a height of 312 feet. Ram Tal Horticulture Garden: The garden is famous for the variety of flora and fauna. Bird species like black headed jay, grey treepie, oriental turtle dove, etc. can be spotted in the garden. The garden also houses an apple orchard and a pond. Chilmiri Neck: Chilmiri Neck provides a scenic view of the snow-clad mountains. It is a popular place for bird spotting.

How to reach: Nearest railhead is Dehradun-92 kms. It is well-connected by a motorable road with Dehradun 92 kms; Mussoorie 73 kms; and Saharanpur 122 kms. Most suitable road is from Dehradun via Vikas Nagar. Tourists coming from Delhi can come directly to Chakrata via Yamuna Nagar-Vikas Nagar.

3. Yusmarg – A slice of heaven

yusmargYusmarg is approximately 47 km from the Srinagar and lies in the Badgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. The two-hour drive to the place is an enjoyment in itself. Grassy pastures stretching to acres of land, the dense forests full of pine trees, with the backdrop of splendid snow capped mountains leave you almost speechless. Within commutable distance from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, Yusmarg is the perfect place to go for a picnic. It is possible that after reaching this place, you may want to even stay for a few days. Specially, for the lovers of long walks in picturesque locales, Yusmarg is the place to be. A short trek of 4km to

Nilnag a small lake amidst pine trees, near a hamlet gives an ultimate pleasure to visitors. A full day trek from Yousmarg to frozen lake in Sang e safed valley 10 km from Yousmarg is quite fascinating one. Most of the portion of the lake is covered under ice throughout the year. Trekkers are advised to carry tents along during the trip as the weather at high altitude changes frequently which can make further journey quite hard. Assistance of a guide is advisable.

How to reach: Local buses ply only upto Chrair e sharief, tourists are advised to hire a taxi from Srinagar or take the assistance of a travel agent. The road from Tsar e sharief to Yousmarg remains closed during the winters.

4. Chaukori – A jewel hidden so far

ChaukoriA tiny hill station in the Pithoragarh district set among the lofty peaks, of the western Himalayan Range in the Kumaon Division of Uttarakhand, India. To the north is Tibet and to the south is Terai. The Mahakali River, running along its eastern boundary, forms the Indo-Nepal international border. Chaukori’s elevation is 2010 m with spectacular panoramic views of the snowy peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and the Panchchuli group. It is approximately 10 km from Berinag, another little hill station. Chaukori is famous for its tea gardens established by the British. Considered as heaven in Kumaon by the travellers, the virgin beauty of Chaukori is unaffected by pollution and crowd. Chaukori is one of the hidden jewels and unexplored destination of Kumaon and you are free to discover new paths and places in the nearby region. Breathe in the salubrious mountain air, listen the chirping of birds and watch the crimson sun rays kissing snow laden Himalayas and you will forget going back from this place.

How to reach: The closest railhead is at Kathgodam, 214 km, from where buses and tourist taxis are available to take you to Chaukori. Chaukori is 480 km from Delhi and 183 km from Nainital. The most convenient way is to drive from Delhi via Nainital.

5. Pelling – Mighty Khangchendzonga

PellingAround 10 kms from Gyalshing (District Headquarter), Pelling is today emerging as the second biggest tourist destination in the state after Gangtok. Although in itself it is little more than a strip of road lined with hotels, its main USP is the breathtaking view it offers of the Khangchendzonga and surrounding ranges. Viewers claim that it is the best closest, easily accessible view of Kanchenjunga peak, the highest in India. Pelling is also popular for the easy access it provides to tourist spots in the area. Pemayangste monastery is less than a kilometre from Pelling, while a 40 minute walk on the hill opposite the monastery takes you to Sanga Choling monastery built in 1697, one of the first in the state. Pelling’s serene environment and picturesque setting is perfect for nice nature walks and small treks. A destination for all seasons, Pelling has hotels and resorts catering to all budgets. Named after the guardian deity of Sikkim, Khangchendzonga Festival is held at Pelling every year. It offers a host of fun activities like white-water rafting on the Rangit, kayaking, promotional trekking, mountain biking, sightseeing, traditional sports and bird- watching. The festival also includes Flower exhibitions, traditional crafts and ethnic food and costume stalls. Cultural folk dances and music add colour and sound to the festivities. The festival is aimed at balancing all diverse aspects of the area to produce a holistic package showcasing its potential for tourism.

How to reach: Reach Gangtok and hire a taxi. You can get shared taxis as well, which are more frequent than the bus services.

6. Tawang – The beauty far east

TawangIts popularity is ever increasing. Tawang is not only one of the 16 authoritative locales of Arunachal Pradesh, additionally a standout amongst the most delightful areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang is popular for its collective magnificence, which pulls in and intrigues the tourist. Tawang is situated at an elevation of 3500 m above the ocean level in Arunachal Pradesh. It covers the range of 2085 sq km and is encompassed by Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the southwest, Kameng in the east and separates from the west by Sela ranges. The scene of Tawang accepts a thorough new look amid snowfall in the months of December and January. Tawang known for its Buddhist impacts and has one of the greatest cloisters of India.

Vacation spots in Tawang – Pankang Teng Tso Lake, Monpa Tribe, Tawang Library, Tawang Monastery,

7. Haflong – Assam’s only hill station

HaflongIn the womb of the Barail range at 3117 feet above sea level, Haflong – Assam’s only hill station – is a beautiful little town tucked away from the fast changing lanes of time. Surrounded by hills and mountains, meandering hairpin roads and little streams, Haflong adds up to a fairy tale land, making it the twin sister of the more popular Switzerland of the East- Shillong in Meghalaya. Home to the Dimasa tribe, they believe Haflong originated from their word for an anthill — “Ha- floong/ Hangkhlong”. But like the Barail ranges that cuddle this town, so does more folklore with the Zeme Naga’s attributing the town’s name as derivative of its once  Landlord Hamlong and town elders telling you that the name was given by the British which meant half way from Kamrup. The Haflong lake is the largest natural body of the whole Assam state.

Vacation spots in Haflong – The Haflong Lake, Boat House, Orchid Garden, Ethnic Village, Mulpong view point, Fiangpui Church, Borail Range, Jatinga

8. Mirik – In shadow of mighty

MirikMirik, the hills resort lies in the West Bengal. Excellent place if you want to escape the maddening crowd of Darjeeling. It is 52 km far from Siliguri and 55 km from the closest airport of Bagdogra. It remains at a height of 1,768m in the Eastern Himalayas. All the wild blossoms, charming lakes and prospering woodlands of Cryptomaria Japanica trees make Mirik a heaven on earth and the Kanchenjunga as a background adds tremendous magnificence to the entire landscape. Mirik-a nest in the hills is 49 km. from Darjeeling. A 1.25 km. long lake is fed by perennial streams. A floating fountain in the middle of the lake is a joy for ever and very often you may find the glory of Kanchenjungha reflected in the lake waters. A 3.5 km. zig-zag footwalk takes you along the lake – a sleek foot bridge connects the garden on the east with the woods on the west. Alone or in company, you are sure to enjoy a boat-ride in the lake.

Vacation destinations in Mirik – Sumendu Lake, Tea Estates, Rameetay Dara, Deosi Dara.

9. Harsil – Unspoiled charm

HarsilSituated at a height of 7,860 ft (2,620 metres) from sea level Harsil is a beautiful village and a cantonment area, on the banks of Bhagirathi River, on the way to Gangotri in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Harsil is famous for its unspoiled beauty. It is considered to be a hidden jewel in the lap of Himalayas. In recent years, it has become immensely popular among nature lovers and adventurers. It’s a trekker’s paradise, known to offer spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain peaks. Harsil is a cantonment area, perhaps because of its proximity to the Chinese border and the army is very cautious to whom it opens its doors to. Entry is denied to foreign nationals. There are numerous trekking routes in and around Harsil like Brahmi Tal, Nachiketa Tal, Kush Kalyan, etc. Approximately 4 kms from the Harsil , one can do a trek to Sat-tal. Best time to visit Harsil is between April to October. Town gets busy during annual Chardham pilgrimage, when there is huge influx of travelers. Very close is Mukhba village from where every year goddess Ganga travels to Gangotri before the Char Dham yatra starts. Harsil is also famous for its Apples and orchards. It has also distinction of being a major apple-growing zone in the entire state. Sighting here includes the Wilson Cottage, constructed by Frederic E Wilson who was supposedly a sepoy in East India Company. After mutiny of 1857 he deserted Company and settled in Harsil. He cashed on abundance of apples and deodar trees here (which he sold to Britishers to be turned into sleepers for expansion of railways in India). He even married a local girl from Mukhba. His cottage is now in ruins, burnt in a fire sometime back. A detachment of the Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory run by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was established here in May 1973. Harsil is also a base for army unit.

How to Reach: Harsil is just about 28 km before Gangotri, 15 km from Bhaironghati, 30 km from Gangnani and 73 km from Uttarkashi. 30 km away from Harsil, lies the Gangotri National Park, spread over 1,553 square km. For Harsil, nearest railhead is Rishikesh which is 218 kilometres away. On Rishikesh-Badrinath national highway from Uttarkashi is a diversion towards Gangotri. Harsil is 73 kms ahead on that route.

10. Chitkul – The Last beauty

ChitkulWell known as the last village before Tibet. Many travelers have taken that iconic photograph that depicts a sign board saying- Hindustan ka akhiri dhaba. Chitkul has a beauty that needs to be seen to believe. Not too many tourists go there because it is off the main Kaza road deep inside the Kinnaur valley. But good part is that it is drivable to the last point, though roads are narrow, hilly and serpentine. Chitkul is located in the Baspa valley, with river flowing below and the snow clad mountains spreading their wings just in front of you. There is no way ahead except for some trekking routes that take you to Har-ki-Doon valley and Yamunotri. View of snow-clad mountains is so refreshing that you just feel to run and climb over them. This is an amazing experience of watching Himalayan ranges so close to you as if inviting you. Chitkul has a few resorts nearby and a PWD rest house as well.

How to reach: Chitkul is the last road-head towards the border. Taxi will be the best option as one might not find regular bus services on this route. Although there are a few private bus services upto Sangla. While going from Shimla to Reckong Peo one need to take a right turn towards Sangla from Raksham Dam. Chitkul is another 20 kilometres from historical Sangla.