Cave Temple at Patal Bhubaneswar is one of the main attractions of Kumaon region. Located in Pithoragarh district this Cave is open from sunrise to sunset. It will take approximately one and half hour to visit the cave temple and return. Inside the cave it will take nearly 30 to 45 minutes. From parking area you have to travel nearly 100 meters to reach the entrance of the cave. This cave is one of the protected monument of Govt of India. Before entering into the caves tourist have to remove shoe and shocks. Camera and mobile phones are not allowed inside the cave and they are to be deposited at the entrance. Before entering into the cave full address of the tourist are to be entered in a register. Nominal entry fee is charged, it was Rs 90 for four persons. One of the priest will guide you and will travel with you into the cave.
There is lighting arrangements with backup generator facility to illuminate this total dark cave. However your guide cum priest will carry one torch light to show you various points inside the cave.
Entry and exit to cave is regulated as same narrow path is used in both ways. During our visit we found only two groups inside cave and when we came out after nearly forty minutes another group was preparing to enter into the cave. We were wondering how the temple management committee must be managing in holy days when local devotees will be joining the tourist to visit this cave.
You have to decent nearly four floors down through a narrow path holding chains. The width of the path at some places reduces to around half a meter and you have to almost sit and slide down through this circular sloppy ( 45 degree downward ) path. It is better not to use sari or white dresses as they are likely to get dirty as you will be almost crawling while going down and coming up. Better to use jean paints and fold it one round from bottom. After the entrance inside the cave it is high enough and you can freely stand and carefully walk as floor will be little slippery and muddy inside. After coming out you can wash your foot.
If you are aware of Hindu Mythological stories ( Mahavarat , Ramayan etc ) then your guide cum priest will show you resemblance of all stories and events on the formations of stalactites and stalagmites. There are white formation looks like twisted hair ( jata ) of Lord Shiva holding Ganga inside it. After passing through the narrow entry path first you will see the shape of a snake known in Hindu Purans as Sesnag the snake which holds the earth. There are several Shiva lingas and status inside the cave. Some of the narrow paths are blocked and tourists are not allowed to explore.
In the Manas Khand of Skand Puran there is note about this cave. The local priest is from the Plane area of Uttarparadesh and known as Bhandaries. Long back their previous generations were specially bought here by king to perform regular Puja inside the cave.
Hotels and resorts
There is a small market at the parking area and toilet facility is available. All these are maintained by registered local temple community. KMVN has a hotel near the cave temple. There are resorts available near the cave temple. However tourists usually return to Chaukori , Jageshwar or nearby places after visiting cave temple.
Reaching Patal Bhubaneswar
To visit Cave temple of Patal Bhubaneswar you have to take a left turn at Guptari on the main road connecting Raiagar to Gangolihat. If you are travelling from Chaukori ( 0 Km ) then take right turn at Udaiyari Bend ( 2 KM ) ( left goes to Munsiyari ) and via BeriNag ( 10 KM) , Raiaigar ( 18 KM ), you have to take left turn at Guptari ( 29 KM ) to travel towards Patal Bhubaneswar ( another 8 KM ). Total distance from Chaukori to Patal Bhubaneswar is 37 KM.