Haleshi Mahadev Temple : A Complete Travel Guide
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Nepal is a country known for the Largest Hindu population and highest mountains in the world. Shiva is been considered as guardian deity and also Buddhism influence one upon the other is unmissable here. Although the majority of people practice Hinduism in Nepal, Buddhism too enjoys a strong presence. Temples and Monuments of Nepal attract tourists across the globe every year and are equally venerated by both Hindus and Buddhists.
Pilgrimage site Halesi-Maratika Caves also known as Haleshi Mahadev temple are located next to the village of Mahadevasthan, in the Khotang District of eastern Nepal, at an altitude of 3,100 ft. – 4,734 ft. above sea level. The cave and temple are about 185 km southwest of Mount Everest. The temple is a venerated pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. The caves are called the Halesi Mahadev Temple by Hindus who associate them with Mahadeva, a form of Shiva; also it is known as The Pashupatinath of East all over the country and Buddhist, who consider them to be the abode of Buddhist monks and caves associated with the legend of Padmasambhava.
This cave or sinkhole is 67 feet below the surface. It is a tourist destination. Its entrance is shaped as a half-moon and faces towards the east. It has a round shape, with a diameter of 193 feet, with another, separate, cave lying beneath. The floor is 223 feet in circumference. The location of this cave lies between the holy rivers Dudh Koshi and Sun Kosi. Being in the foothills of the Mountains it is cold.
A bit of History
The caves of Halesi-Maratika are referred to in Himalayan literature as far back as the 12th century. Kathang Zanglingma, a biography of Padmasambhava, a terma revealed and transmitted by Nyangrel Nyima Ozer, describes the original events which made the Maratika caves a sacred place for Vajrayana practitioners.
Haleshi Mahadevsthaan is the most famous natural cave in Khotang District is said to have been the abode of Mahadeva while hiding away from the monster Bhasmasur. It is an important pilgrimage center located in east Nepal for both Hindus and Buddhists. The cave is nicknamed ‘the Pashupatinath of the east’. Well attended religious fairs are observed here on Shivaratri and Bala Chaturdashi. The limestone cave is are moist and because of dripping of water inside the cave, unique formations such as stalactite and stalagmite formations, are formed within the caves over a period of millions of years with the consequent formation of limestone. One of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.Entrance to caves through a sinkhole, and a flight of steps which will bound to leave you awestruck over the sheer will of nature and the beauty.
The caves are an absolute feast for Geologists as there are three spectacular sinkholes formed due to the movement of subterranean water flow. An enormous 2 feet stalagmite formation in the form of Linga is seen inside the cave and worshipped even today. There are two pillars close to each other on the north of the Shiva Linga making a narrow pass. It is believed that sinners cannot pass through this passage, but confessions of the wrongs committed would enable access through. Thousands of devotees come to offer worship the symbol of Lord Shiva with the belief that Halesi Mahadev blesses the poor with prosperity and the ignorant with knowledge and wisdom
Mandarava and Padmasambhava realized a number of terma that had been elementally encoded in the cave by Dakini Sangwa Yeshe. These terma number among the longevity teachings of Buddha Amitabha, and were given at the behest of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara. It is here, at the cave, that Mandarava and Padmasambhava attained the Vidyadhara of longevity (or long life).
Shavaite followers from India visit the shrine after climbing many hills during the month of Shravan to pray to Haleshi Mahadev. It is believed that Lord Shiva hid from the demon Bhasmasur for 6,000 years in this cave. Festivals like Rama Navami and Ganesh Chaturthi, fairs and festivities are held in the area with pomp and celebration
How to Reach Haleshi from Kathmandu
Halesi Mahadev as Matrica Cave is in Khotang district eastern part of Nepal
Kathmandu to Lamidanda Airport is in operation but flight service is not regular. It is another 5 to 6 hours trekking to reach Halesi from here or take local jeep which takes about 3 hours more.
Drive with private 4wheel Jeep from Gaushala in Kathmandu to Halesi Mahadev reach in a single day. It is around 325 kilometers and takes around 11 – 12 hours Driving route is via Dhulikhel, Nepalthok, Khurkot all the way to Ghurmi, Okhaldhunga, Jayaram ghat and to Halesi.
The local Private bus operating from Kathmandu to Katari. From Katari can take another local transportation to Halesi via Ghurmi