Patal Bhuvaneshwar, one of the most fascinating places of the Kumaon region, is a limestone cave temple 14 km from Gangolihat in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand state in India. It is located in the village Bhubneshwar. Legend and folklore have it that this underground cave enshrines Lord Shiva and thirty three crore Gods. The cave is 160 m long and 90 feet deep from the point of entrance. Limestone rock formations have created various spectacular stalactite and stalagmite figures of various hues and forms. This cave has a narrow tunnel-like opening which leads to a number of caves. The cave is fully electrically illuminated. There is a folklore that the Pandava brothers passed their time here during banishment. It is built due to the flow of water. It cut the rocks in such a fascinating way that it looks like that any artist had made those entire statues within the cave & on its wall. It has some cave opening and it is believed that these opening will be close as the centuries pass on. The scientific fact is that it's still being developed due to crystallization of the minerals which are dissolved in the water. As per belief, some doors which are now closed were opened thousand of years back. It's yet to be fully explored. It is also believed that this cave is internally connected to the four abodes /seats (Char Dham).
Patal Bhuvaneshwar is not just one cave, rather a cave city. Caves within caves, steps leading to another, each one unmasking deep secrets from within.
The motorable road ends half a kilometer away from the cave entrance. You have to descends nearly 100 steps into this narrow cave, to reach the sanctum sanctorum, which gives an overwhelming feeling that you're entering the centre of the earth.
Each stone, each stalagmite within each cave or doorway, in magnificent erection revels the story of Hindu pantheon in the shapes of Gods, Goddesses, saints and known mythological characters.
According to belief King Rituparna of the Sun dynasty (Surya Vansha) discovered the cave in 'Treta yug'. It has been described in the 'MANAS KHAND' of 'SKAND PURAN'. Adi Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD. That was the beginning of the modern pilgrimage history, at Patal Bhuvaneshwar. The journey inside the cave has to be carried in feeble lights, holding protective iron chains. The Stone formations of Sheshnag can be seen, holding earth, heaven the world beneath. 'Havan' (fire sacrifice) is performed in a dimly lit, solemn atmosphere, under the spell of holy chants. You'll also be impressed by theto visit these parts form the celestial heights of His abode in Kailash.The cave, it is believed, is connected by an underground route to Mount Kailash. it's believed that Pandavas, the 'Mahabharat' heroes proceeded towards their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here, in front of Lord Shiva. The priest family, the Bhandaris are performing religious rites at Patal Bhuvaneshwar since the time of the Adi Shankaracharya. More than 20 generations in the line. They are a treasure house of legends, lores, anecdotes and information about this holy place.