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Trip to Patal Bhuvaneshwar
Our Roadtrip to Gangolihat Patal Bhuvaneshwar Deenapani
Tour Route - Delhi - Gangolihat - Patal Bhuvaneshwar - Chaukori - Almora - Deenapani
Total No of days - 5
Dated - June 2014



 
Trip to Patal Bhuvaneshwar
Location - Uttarakhand in India
Ideal time to Visit - A year round destination
Our trip took -  5 days
Places to See - click here
Road Travel Information to Ranikhet
Photologue of the trip - Album1, Album2

Behind the wheel & Contributor
Vinod Kumar
New Delhi
Uttarakhand is a mystic place, a nature lover's paradise and nothing stops you to revisit the place even after the harrowing experience last year in Uttarkashi. This time narrowed in Gangolihat for the base to our trip to Patal Bhuvaneshwar and Deenapani a little known hamlet on the Almora - Binsar road. Binsar was crowded being vacations so a quick search helped us in finalising the KMVN hotel rooms in these two places. Both hotels are ideally located on mountain tops overlooking the mighty Himalayas but being cloudy we were short of a good view. Log huts in Deenapani and the deluxe rooms in Gangolihat were neat and well maintained.

So the itinerary planned as

Day 1 - Drive to Gangolihat - 515 kms from Delhi
Day 2 - Visit Patal Bhuvneshwar - 15 kms from hotel, Visit Chaukori & Berinag
Day 3 - Visit Baghnath, Baijnath, Kausani & Reach Dinapani by sundown. (Awesome drive)
Day 4 - Kasar Devi, Simtola Eco Park, Almora, Visit Zoo (Rescue center)
Day 5 - Return to Delhi

Our Route
Delhi - Ghaziabad - Muradabad - Rampur - {Rampur - Rudrapur (45 kms) is tarred} - Rudrapur - Bhowali - Almora - Badechhina Sheraghat - Berinag road - Gangoli hat Total - 515 kms - 13 hr drive - 2 pit stops. Over all roads are good condition. Last 20 kms from Berinag bend - Gangolihat is bad.

Return to Almora
Gangoli hat - Berinag - Choukari - Vijaipur - Bagheshwar - Baijnath - Kausani - Almora - Dinapani (Binsar road) about 180 kms. This route is very scenic and winding roads was awesome to drive.

Return Delhi
Almora - Haldwani - Rudrapur - Rampur - Ghaziabad - Delhi - 8.5 hrs drive.

Day 1 Delhi - Gangolihat
Drive till Haldwani was quick. Road from Rampur - Rudrapur has been repaired. Reached Haldwani by 8.15 am. Had to wait about 40 min at Woodpecker for breakfast. We left Woodpecker by 9.45 am. Drove past Bhowali, Bhimtal. Around 20 kms towards Almora is under repair. Post that the road is newly laid. Drive along Kosi river is awesome. Reached Almora by 12.30 pm. Took a break for 20 min. Roads after Almora to Berinag is narrow and has occasional bad patches. Progress was slow, took our lunch break about 3 pm near Shera ghat. It took another 2 hrs from here to Reach Gangoli. Last 20 kms to Gangolihat is bad.

About TRH, its a small setup with about 10 -12 rooms. They have 2 Super Deluxe rooms and rest might be deluxe rooms. Super Deluxe with extra bed costed me Rs 1300 per night. Staff were very friendly and food (veg) was good. Parking for about 4 to 6 cars. TRH is located in main market. We hired a taxi (alto) for the next day to visit patal bhuvaneshwar and the sorrounding places.

Day-2 Patal Bhuvaneshwar, Chaukori and Berinag
Gangolihat is a small hill town of Dist Pithoragarh. Gangolihat is famous for its Shakti Peeth of Hat Kalika Temple. Also on a clear day Panchchuli peaks and Nanda Devi can be sighted. Again in this trip too rain god has been following us. No peaks were visible. Gangolihat has many caves, popular are Shailashwer & Mukteshwar Gufa apart from Patal Bhuvneshwar. Both these caves are away from motorable road.

Our plan was to visit Kali temple early morning, then leave for Patal Bhuvneshwar after break fast. This temple was chosen by Sankaracharya for installation of Mahakali shaktipeeth. The temple was about 3 kms from our hotel. About 10 cars can be parked near temple.

Visit to Patal Bhuvaneshwar

After our breakfast , we left for Patal Bhuvaneshwar. Its about 30 min ride about 15 kms from Gangolihat. We were there by 09:30am. It was relatively empty as most of the tourist reaches by 10:30 - 11 am. Parking enough space for vehicles.

The cave is about 500 meters from parking. Advisable to visit early to avoid crowd. Its a pity that photography is not allowed, but photographs are available to buy outside temple. Will scan and upload the photos of Patal. We were amongst the first visitors for the day. The main pujari Umed Singh Bhandari accompanied us to the Gufa. We had to register our particulars and deposit mobile phones and camera as photography is not allowed now inside the cave. Seeing the entrance, I was bit nervous about kids as it was steep with no steps. I had an impression that there will be steps to climb down into the cave instead there is a narrow passage through which one has to slide down. Chains are there on both sides to hold on. One has to slide and compress onself to carefully descend down a good 70 - 80 feet steep descent to a relatively open area. We were panting by the time we reached down, and had to stop to take breadth. It was humid and cool in there, like a virtual world of rocks and darkness. Looking up the way we descended the sky was not visible, but the cave is lighted.

We took five minutes to settle down, and pull up our jeans as the floor is wet and muddy, looking around we were surprised to see the formations and size of cave. It was quite cold in there and the water was also too cold. From here on the pujari panting started his story, reffering to each stone formation symbolic to Indian gods and goddesses with myths and epics connected to them. It is upto ones own perception as to view the various rock formations in the cave.

Disclaimer : These photos of cave are scanned from photographs available for purchase outside the temple.

Pujariji started explaining about the cave, recollecting them :-

King Rituparna of the Surya Vansha discovered the cave in 'Treta yug'. It has been described in the 'MANAS KHAND' of 'SKAND PURAN'. Then Adi Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD and that was the beginning pilgrimage in Kali yuga. First sight is of Seshnag, hood clearly marked on the rock formation and spine with marked ribs on the floor of the cave. As per Skandapurana, Sheshnag served as a guide to Raja Ritupurna and led him here. It is believed that Shesnag maintains the balance of the earth on his hood and preventing it from sinking into Patal.







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Seshnag Hood formation
Takshak nag
Opposite one can see Airawat elephant with a thousand feet and the Kamandal of Lord Shiva on the right side.
Kamandal
Airawat elephant with a thousand feet
One walks on ribs of Seshnag to The torso of Lord Ganesha and on the top the Brahm Kamal (lotus of Brahma) dripped nectar on it, keeping him alive. Even today water drips from the lotus.Kamandal
Next to this one can see Panch Kedar,Badrinathji and Amarnathji
Near to Dhams is Kal bhairav's tounge protruding and its mouth's a cave through which we can crawl reach bhramalokam and exit through its tail, although none has made it.
Goddess Bhuvaneshwari(patal devi) standing guard with her weaponry.
The cursed Hans (the swan of Lord Brahma) , As per puranas Hans was entrusted to take care of nectar (amrit) , instead it tried to drink the nectar and the angry god curses the bird thus ends up with a twisted head.

The main cave leads to four caves.They are known as "Pap Dwar" and "Ran Dwar" are presently closed/blocked with huge rock stones. It is believed that the Pap Dwar was closed after Lord Rama killed Ravana and the Ran Dwar was closed after the defeat of Kauravas in the famous battle of Mahabharat. The other two cave are Dharma Dwar & Moksha dwar. One has to enter through Dharma Dwar and exit from other side through Moksha dwar. Upon entering through Dharma Dwar one can see the heavenly tree, the Kalpavriksha.
Further ahead there is another cave leading to Kadalivan in Vrindavan. On the right side there is a big hole where it is believed that Maharshi Markandeya did tapasya. Next to the cave is the Udders of Kamadhenu, the sacred cow.
Next one can see 'Brahma kapal', it is believed to be the place where one of the heads of Brahma fell. Tarpan at this spot is considered to be highly auspicious
Next is The Saptahrishimandal (the Seven Rishis) , Havan Kund erected by Vishwakarma & The Jata of Lord Shiva along with Narvadeshwar and the thirty three crore Devtas.
Further ahead is the main Shivling, consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya. it is being worshiped presently and is where rituals are being performed every morning.
Further ahead on climbing steps there is a small cave with some stone formations depicting the 5 pandav with shiva and parvati and ganesh on Lord Shivas lap. it is beleived that this cave further bifurcates to two and one leads to Rameshwaram and other to Kashi Vishwanath
After exiting through Moksha dwar, one can see The linga of Kaliyug : It is said that when it meets the cone from up that will be the end of Kaliyug.
After this we again reach the same place where we descended. Finally before climbing back , pandit ji  told us that it is believed that visiting this place is equivalent to visiting the Char Dhams. The climb back is little difficult due to narrow passage. Overall a nice and unique experience. We left Patal bhuvaneshwar by 1200 to our next destination for the day Chaukori, 25 kms from here.

Chaukori, a small village with tea gardens and couple of hotels. Beautiful place for viewing the mighty Himalayas. KMVN property is at a good location. We could not sight the snow capped Himalayas as the whole view was swamped by clouds since morning. Also one can witness the beautiful sun rise and sun set too. NandaDevi, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nandakot and Panchauchuli are clearly visible from here. We spent about an hour and half here amidst the beauty of nature and left for Berinag. We reached Berinag by 2 pm. Enroute we went to Veninag temple. Its about a km before Berinag town while coming from Chaukori. Its on the hill top. The temple was closed.

About Berinag
Berinag replete nag temples like Feninag, Kalinag, Bashukinag and Veninag temple. Veninag temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The town is named Berinag after Nagveni Dyanasty King Benimadhava. It is also beleived that Kalianag lived here after being defeated by lord Krishna. Veninag temple hosts the annual Nag Mahotsav every March-April.

Day - 3 Almora Deenapani
We check out and head to our next destination Dinapani about 12kms on Almora Binsar road. Route options were drive back from Shera ghat to Almora or drive via Choukori, Baghnath. Even from Baghnath there is a route connecting Almora. The third is via Kausani to Almora.

Enquiry at taxi stand at Gangoli confirmed the Berinag-Baghnath route in good condition and hence decided to drive via longer route. So the final itinerary : Visit Baghnath, Baijnath, Kausani and then to Almora-Dinapani - a total distance of 190 kms.

We left Gangolihat at 7 am. Planned our breakfast somewhere mid way. Reached Barinag in 45 min and as none were hungry, decided to have breakfast further ahead somewhere. That turned out to be a wrong decision. There isn't much eatery options after Berinag & Baghnath. Only small tea shops selling Samose & Chai. Around 1030 am we reached a reasonably big village named Vijaipur. Saw a functional restaurant had our breakfast. Maggi & Chole along with tea was the only option here too. Must say the Chole was awesome. Distinctly different masala used. Chole-Chai was a good combination.

Vijaipur town also offers good view of Himalayas. We just were able to get a glimpse. Finally we reached Bageshwar by 12 pm. Our destination was Baghnath temple.

Bageshwar is the hub for popular trekking tours to Pindari and Sunderdhunga glaciers. Others are Sukhram, Kafni and Maiktoli. Bagnath Temple is located near the confluence of rivers Sarayu and Gomti. The temple pujari told us that Baghnath is a triveni sangam of Sarayu, Bhagirathi & Gomti. It is believed that Nilaparvat between river Sarayu & Gomti is inhabitated by many gods, siddhas and rishi munis. As per legends Markandey muni was visited by Lord Shiva disguised as tiger. Hence the temple is named Baghnath.

Our next destination was Baijnath Mahadev temple which is about 25 kms from Bageshwar. It is a 12th century temple on the banks of Gomti River. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and Parvati were married at the confluence of River Gomati and Garur Ganga. The architecture is quite similar to temples in Jageshwar. Must say the temple is situated at a beautiful location... Opposite to the entry of the temple complex there is a big round stone Bheem Stone and is believed that it can be lifted off the ground by 9 people with their index finger. Coincidentally there were about 9 of us and tried to lift it. First attempt failed but tried again and were able to lift up and hold for a while.

We set off from Baijnath by 2 pm to Kausani. It was about 45 min drive to Kasuani. We stopped at Kausani Tea factory for lunch. The factory was closed but one could buy different types of tea here..Had our lunch at Himalayan View restaurant opposite to Tea factory. Post lunch we explored the Tea factory, kids had a good gyan session. Though photography was not allowed, but on request they allowed to click on mobile. The process involves - Sorting - Withering - Rolling - Fermenting - Drying - Tea (regular is ready) Bought some 3-4 varities of regular and green tea. Worth mention is about Girias organic orthodox tea. Its export quality tea costing Rs2000/kg. Most of their production is exported.

We left for Almora by 4 pm. The drive as very scenic and opposite traffic was low. Reached Deenapani by 6 pm. The KMVM Guest house on Binsar road about 12 kms from Almora. Checked in the log huts of the guest house having a good view of the mountains, but since it was cloudy throughout we could not have a complete view of the snow capped ranges. A quiet place and less explored as most people make it to Binsar, we began to enquire for any short outings that can be done in the eve. So we decided to visit the rehabilitation centre of wild animals, where injured or strayed wild animals are looked after and after they regain health are sent back. There were deers, bears, white monkeys, leopards, man eating tigers. The eve went so tranquil in the balcony enjoying the nature, although sunset was not visible. The next day we went to Kasar devi temple, nearby at a certain height and the cool winds were rejuvenating. The place was heavenly with the tall pine trees swaying in the wind, huge rocks jutting out of the mountains, the devi temple in a cave and a shiv temple a little more higher. Took a long walk along the trees with monkeys....

Somewhere we had to leave this heavenly place today morning. It was difficult....but surely the journey must go on.