When will the world come to an end? There is a cave temple in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh which is believed to have the answer to this question.
The Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave is a centre of faith of the devotees, who believe that the secret of the end of the world is inscribed on a stone in this cave, located 90 feet below the sea level deep inside a giant hill at the border of Gangolihat, about 160 km from Almora, in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon division.
A combination of mystery and beauty, Patal Bhubaneshwar cave, said to have been discovered by Surya dynasty king Rituparna, who ruled Ayodhya in Treta Yuga and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, had the severed head of Lord Ganesha installed in this temple. The Ganesh idol present here is called Adiganesh.
Entering the cave temple is a difficult venture requiring traversing some very narrow and constricted paths. There are several other smaller caves apart from the Patal Bhubaneshwar. The inside used to be pitch dark but now some arrangements have been made for lighting.
After taking 180 steps inside the cave, you come to a room where there are idols of about 33,000 gods and goddesses, amid flowing water. It is said that Lord Ganesha was first worshiped in this cave.
The road leading to the cave is so narrow that sometimes it becomes difficult for people to move ahead. While going inside, the shape of a swan can be seen on its walls and this is believed to represent the vehicle of the Lord Brahma.
Inside the temple, there are artworks on walls of the cave depicting elephants, and further ahead the king of serpents, who is believed that the king of serpents has carried the weight of the world on its head.
Based on the mythology, there are four gates in this temple which are known as Ran Dwar (battlefield gate), Pap Dwar (sin gate), Dharm Dwar (Religion Gate), and Moksha Dwar (Salvation gate). It is said that when Ravana died, the Pap dwar was closed. The Ran Dwar was also closed after the battle of Kurukshetra.
The Ganesh idol present here is called Adiganesh. There are four pillars in this cave which represent the ages – Satyuga, Tretayuga, Dwaparayuga, and Kalyuga. It is believed that the pillar of Kal Yuga is the longest. There is a Shivling which is growing continuously, and it is believed that when it touches the ceiling of the cave, the world will end.
The local people here believe that Kedarnath, Badrinath, Amarnath can be seen together at one place in the cave.