My journey to Halesi

Feb 22, 2019-

Located in the eastern hills of Khotang lies the famous Halesi Mahadev, where two rivers—Sunkoshi and Dudhkoshi—run on the western side of the cave. It is situated at a height of 3,100ft-4,734 feet above sea level and is famously known as the ‘Pashupatinath of Eastern Nepal’. Halesi Mahadev is considered a venerated site for Hindu, Buddhist and Kirat pilgrimage.

I had heard a lot about Halesi Mahadev and Buipa from my parents, grandparents and relatives. Both Halesi and Buipa were places that I had long wanted to visit and it so happened coincidentally that I was on my winter vacation when my father had an official visit to Udaypur. So he took that opportunity to take my mother and me to visit Halesi and his birthplace Buipa.

My journey began on January 10 from Khumaltar at about 6am since my father had a programme at Dhading Besi and Gajuri in Dhading district. After the programme, we stopped at Hetauda. The next day, we stayed at Gaighat as my father had a programme at his old school, Jyoti Madhyamik School at Beltar on January 12. After the programme, we rushed to Dudhauli in Sindhuli and spent the night there.

After a rough drive from Dudhauli to Halesi, with a beautiful view of the bluish-green Sunkoshi and Dudhkoshi rivers for about six hours, we reached Halesi the next day. We left our luggage at the hotel and went to Buipa, my father’s birthplace, to meet our cousins. Buipa is one of the oldest origin spaces of the Rai people. There were a lot of fresh oranges and tangerines around, which we enjoyed off the trees. I was surprised to see a fishpond nearby as I had never expected to see a fishpond in a cold place like Buipa. Since it was winter, most of the land was left barren.

The next day, we woke up early in the morning to get the blessings of Halesi Mahadev.We walked there as it was not far from the hotel. I was surprised to see many foreigners in the temple. We brought offerings from a shop and started exploring the Ganesh temple, which was situated in front of the main gate, and met our tour guide. We then walked down the stairs and offered some flowers to the ‘Nag Bhagwan’ whose carving was situated in the middle of the stairs.

After reaching the end of the stairs, we were greeted by the main priest of the temple. The cave was huge. There were a lot of bats hanging off the ceiling and there was also a lot of mysterious carvings on the walls of the temple made on stalactites. The cave wasn’t as slippery as expected. We saw many ‘khadas’ tied around the walls of the cave. We walked towards the main Shiva Linga and gave our offerings to the main priest who in turn blessed us. Then, we crossed the four doors—Dharma Dwar, Garva Dwar, Karma Dwar and Pap Dwar—respectively. We had to enter two gates by crawling and two gates by squeezing ourselves.  After crossing the four gates, we went to get the blessings of many other gods and goddesses like Pashupati, Ganesh, Kumar, Laxmi, Saraswati, Santaneshwar, Durga and Parwati. We could see people of all religions worshipping these gods and goddesses. We came up the stairs and lit incense sticks, worshipped Ganesh again and broke a coconut beside the temple entrance.

The guide then took us to another cave named Bashaha cave, which was located below the main temple. We walked down the stairs for almost three minutes and reached the entrance. At the entrance, there was a huge stone in the middle of the path named the ‘bashaha’ of Shiva. On the left side of the bashaha, there was a hole that produced a sound like a conch shell when air was blown through it. It is believed that Lord Shiva hid in this cave from the demon Bhasmasur for about 6,000 years and that the demon was killed there. Natural formations on the ceiling and walls of the cave are said to be the footprints of Shiva and the internal organs (skull, brain, blood, alimentary canal, heart, lungs and liver) of Bhasmasur. There also was a carving of the sacred cow Nandi. There was also a fifth door known as the ‘Swarga Dwar’ but it was closed as some pilgrims had gotten stuck in the middle.

After exploring the second cave, we climbed a long staircase, which had chairs along the way for tired people. While sitting on a rock, we prayed, asking that all our back pain be healed or to not get pain at all. We then returned to the hotel, freshened up and went immediately to eat our lunch. I saw many tourists including foreigners at the hotel restaurant. As the population of tourists increases, the income of the people of Halesi will also increase. This can help develop Halesi and make Halesi famous all over the world. We also saw three helicopters carrying people to visit Halesi. There was a helipad located near the temple, making it easier for visitors to reach the temple.

After having lunch we packed our bags and drove back to Kathmandu through the Ghurmi-Dhulikhel highway. It was an amazing experience to visit such a beautiful and sacred place. I hope to visit Halesi again.

Pramudita Rai

Class 10

St. Helen’s Secondary School, Kurseong, Darjeeling

Published: 22-02-2019 10:31

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