8th March 2015
I slept for more than 8 hours IN THE CAR parked at the market of Patal Bhuvaneshwar that night…one of the soundest in the trip. The night was pretty cold and the blanket given by the Manager of KMVN came very handy. Had a nice walk around the village. The place looked very calm and serene. The people looked fair skinned and pretty.
Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a limestone cave 14 km from Gangolihat. The legend and folklore have it that this underground cave enshrines Lord Shiva and thirty three crore Hindu Gods. Each stone, each structure within each cave or doorway, in magnificent erection reveals the story of Hindu pantheon in the shapes of Gods, Goddesses, saints and known mythological characters.
Limestone rock formations have created various spectacular tapering structures hanging like an icicles from the roof, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water and. This cave has a narrow tunnel-like opening which leads to a number of caves.
The motorable road ends half a kilometer away from the cave entrance. The site is Archaeological Survey of India protested and one has to descends nearly 100 steps followed by a well paved path, into this narrow cave, to reach the sanctum sanctorum, which gives an overwhelming feeling that you’re entering the centre of the earth…..hence the name Patal Bhuvaneshwar. Few shops, a post office and KMVN rest house is located along the path.
One has to register one’s name at the entrance of the cave and services of a guide are compulsory. Guides are available at the gate and a small guide fee of Rs.20- per person is charged. Being solo I was clubbed with another group. The entrance to the cave is very narrow and the path in the beginning is very steep descend.
Besides natural path, few steps have also been made. The cave is dimly lit, wet and slippery. There are chains on both sides of the path for support. The narrow path leads to wide opening where lighting is better.
After every narrow descend there is a large opening. The guide explains the various forms and shapes in terms of Hindu mythology. There are 3-4 large openings like these. People are gathered at each such gathering and explained the legend. Going inside and deep down in the cave on that day was really a wonderful experience. It feels like going to patal (Centre of the earth).
After awesome experience of creeping in and crawling out of the centre of the earth it was time to move to the next destination. Soon I reached Gangolihat, famous for its shakti peethas, underground caves and views of mighty himalayas. It was overcast and drizzling. I did not feel like stopping and moved on.
The road was pretty good though. There was hardly any traffic. The distant sight of blue mountains and kumaoni villages perched on the mountain slopes and valleys was a treat to the eyes. I stopped for a while on the bend to Jageshwar dham and Almora and thought of following that road crossed my mind for a while but I kept it for another time and moved on to meet NH125 from Sitarganj to Pithoragarh at Sigda bridge on Ramganga River.
Just before Lohaghat I found this board mentioning Abbot mount. It looked interesting. I put my lalpari on the less travelled road upwards towards Abbot mount. The road was very narrow, steep and through dense forest. The sky was overcast and it was drizzling constantly. After few kilometers I reached a clearing and saw few boys sitting on the one side of large maidan (Park). The boys worked together, had holiday and were on a picnic. I had nice time chatting and clicking pictures with them. I drove down to the other side of the mountain and saw an amazing rainbow.
Lohaghat looked a very nice place. It seems to be a good place for holidaying. The landscape around Lohaghat was different and very beautiful. From Lohaghat I turned right towards Mukteshwar on a fabulous newly laid road. It was one of the best drives I had during this trip. It was a black turmac, white lined road with pine forest for the company. Rain washed mountain landscape was a treat to the eyes.
Like a norm in the trip, I was not sure where I was going to stay for the night. The road and the area was totally alien to me. What I was looking for was a little safe happening place. I stopped at few places, surveyed and since my heart did not reply in affirmative I kept on. Finally I reached a place which I liked instantly and decided to stay for the night. I parked the car at a safe place in the market and pushed myself in the car.
The place I came to know later was Shaharfatak. I had a sound sleep IN THE CAR parked at a place even whose name I was not aware off.
Amazing isn’t it!!!