An unexplored and lesser-known gem in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand is the Kapileshwar Mahadev cave temple situated on a steep hill above Ancholi village about 3 kms from Pithoragarh. This ancient temple is tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of pilgrims travelling to Kailash Manosarovar and offers a panoramic view of the famous Saur or Soar valley and the Himalayan peaks.
Locals can provide very little information about the temple and its origin. Legend has it that Kapila Maharshi who is deemed as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu spent a great deal of time in tapas here. It is said that Kapila Muni worshipped the naturally formed Shiva Linga that is inside the cave.
The temple is seated at a considerable height and one has to climb more than 200 steps to reach the summit. This climb is difficult but the view of Soar Ghat more than makes up for it. There is an old Bhagavati temple midway that provides the much-needed respite.
The challenging walk leads to an old temple with a spectacular view where one see miles and miles of lush greenery and the snow-capped Himalayas. The hill where the famous Dhwaj temple is located is also seen from here.
There is an entrance at the temple that leads to a cave deep into the hill. The climb down into the cave is extremely tricky. The passage is so narrow that at times your body has barely any space to wriggle about to squeeze yourself through.
The cave is approximately 25 feet deep and one wonders how the great Sage spent so much time here in tapas. This cave is believed to be millions of years old and the rocks are suggestive of the same.
The natural rock formation of Lord Shiva known as Kapileshwar Mahadev is one to behold. There are also natural formations of Surya, Lord Shiva and Shiva Linga.
Though, it is a thrilling experience to visit the cave and have darshan of Lord Shiva, one must also ponder over the greatness of saints, seers and Sages who experienced the Supreme Energy in places like these where the oxygen level is so low. It is remarkable that they came to know about these places and chose to spend their time splendidly in tapas undeterred and undisturbed!
Locals do speak of another cave temple near Pithoragarh which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that a cow from a village near this area used to worship Lord Shiva daily and offer all the milk in her udders. The cowherd was unable to understand why the cow had stopped giving milk. One day, he followed the cow and saw the cow doing abhishekha to Lord Shiva with the milk from her udders. The cowherd became enraged and destroyed the idol of Lord Shiva. The next day, he paid a visit to this place and suddenly a cave appeared. Locals say that there is tunnel connected to the cave from where a breathtaking view of Soar valley is seen. Now, it is unknown if this story is also connected to Kapileshwar Mahadev temple as the cave has not been explored. Many people throng this sacred shrine on Shivaratri. A jagran is organized and it is said that one’s prayers are answered by Lord Mahadev.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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