Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. – The 14th Dalai Lama
Maratika Cave is one of the six supreme pilgrimage sites of Buddhist around the world . For Hindu it is famous Lord Shiva temple know as Halesi Mahadev. People also call it Pashupatinath (Pashupatinath is very famous Hindu Shiva temple in Kathmandu )of eastern Nepal. Visiting sacred sites is my passion. On September 13 at around 11am we started our journey from Kathmadu to Maratika ( Halesi) . We travel taking road to Kathmandu to Kotari. The road from Kathmandu to Kotari is good. From Kotari to Ghurmae, the first part of the road was pretty good. However after a few hours of ride some parts the road was really bad. A Japanese company is working on making this road and it will take one year to complete it. After that we can have a safe ride from Kotari to reach Halesi. After 9 hours of ride from Kathmandu we reach Ghurmae. We stayed in Ghurmae for one night. If we have left Kathmandu early than we need not to stay at this place. While going to Maratika cave there are two routes that are possible. The first, flying from Kathmandu to Lami Danda, and then taking a jeep drive to the Maratika . Another is by driving overland from Kathmandu, Kotari to Maratika.
on the way to Ghurme
muddy road on the way to Ghurmae
lodge at Ghurmae
The next morning we headed towards Halesi. Due to construction of bridge in sunkoshi we can’t take the Jeep we hire. The bride is being constructed and after completion we can travel with single jeep from Kathmandu to Maratika . Next day we took another jeep to Jaya Ram Ghat. After one hour of ride we reach Jaya Ram Ghat . Than again we cross belly bridge and took another Jeep to Halesi. It is 2hrs of ride from Jayaram with the turning and bumping road. On the way to Maratika we can see majestic hills , dense forest, greenery, natural beauty on the way to Halesi.
crossing bridge to go to Jaya Ram Ghat
banks of Sunkoshi
another suspension bridge to reach Jaya Ram Ghat
school at Jaya Ram
Finally after 2hours of ride from Jaya Ram we reach Maratika ( Halesi) Cave. It is situated at the hilly region between the two holy rive Dudh Koshi to the right and Sunkoshi to the left. Maratika (Halesi ) is paradise on earth. I was spellbound to see, I cannot describe in words. It is indeed a memorable moment.
Jeep at Jaya Ram to go to Maratika
Prayers Flags ( Lungta) at Maratika (Halesi)
People offer Bells to Lord Shiva once their wish is fulfilled
Time stands still at Maratika cave, the most mesmerizing cave of Nepal. When I enter the cave I feel the positive energy and the mystery that surrounds. Lord Shiva and Guru Rinpoche are the essence of the cave. According to Buddhist mythology on the request of the Bodhisattva Avaloketesvara, the Buddha Amitabha taught eighteen tantras of long life. The Dakini Sangwa Yeshe recorded and hid these teachings as Terma( secret hidden treasures) at Maratika cave .Guru Padmasambhava, while in the Kingdom of Zahor met his consort Princess Mandarava who possessed all the marks of a Dakini. The Guru then gave teachings and initiations to Mandarava after which Dakinis appeared in the sky and took Guru Padma-sambhava to Maratika.Princess Mandarava unable to tolerate palace life without the Guru ran away. Hopelessly lost she prayed to Guru Padmasambhava who manifested himself and took Mandarava to Maratika.Here the Bodhisattva Avaloketesvara and the Dakini Sangwa Yeshe gave long life teachings to the Guru and Mandarava.After practicing for ninety days, Buddha Amitayus appeared in the sky and gave initiations to the Guru and Mandarava. They then attained the Vidyadhara of longevity.
stairs at Maratika ( Halesi) Cave
According to Hindu Mythology Shiva was running from the demon Bashmasur whom Shiva himself gave a boon to kill any person putting his hand on the head of the person. The demon chased Shiva himself to kill him. Shiva flees in the Halesi caves to take shelter. While Shiva was hidding, Lord Vishnu play a trick and make the demon put his hand on his own head. Shiva flees through a hole in the ceiling of the cave. You can still see Shiva’s foot steps in the air shaft and the intestines of the monster on the ceiling of the cave. After Bashmasur got killed the cave became temple. You can see a natural shiva linga formed by a stalagmite here.The sacred cave that houses the two feet tall Shiva Linga is one of the popular and most important religious destination not only in Khotang but also in Nepal. The cave popular by the name of Halesi Mahadev has two pillars to the north side of the Shiva Linga that stands very close to each other making a narrow pass. It is believed that the sinners cannot pass through this narrow passage and only a confession from them shall grant them a passage through. Every year, thousands of devotees come here to worship the lord with a belief that he could give knowledge, wisdom to the children and prosperity to the poor.
Shiva Lingam named as Halesi Mahadev
Bats like twinkling stars inside the cave
There is lower Maratika cave as well. It is more dark and full of mystery too. Guru Rinpoche (Padmashambhav) kill the demon and flew from the big open hole . We can see his big feet and other body parts as well. While entering such sacred caves it is good to blow a conch .
blowing conch before entering the cave
lower Maratika cave
stairs to go inside the lower cave
Guru Rinpoche kill the demon inside the lower cave and flew out from this upper part of cave
Blessed at lower cave
We did prostrations, long life prayers, Kora, Ganachakra feast, offerings and many prayers at Maratika cave. Likewise, we offer Trident to Lord Shiva as well. It is indeed a beautiful moment difficult to describe in words . There are many lodges, guest house and hotels in Halesi. Water is a big problem with only the water source down below the lower Maratika Cave and people come far away to fetch water. Opposite the main cave, high up a prayer flag hill, is another cave called Chenresig cave. It is said that these days many lama’s actually do retreat here in this cave. Similarly after forty five minutes of steep walk from Halesi there is another cave named Manjushree cave.
Prostrating at Maratika Cave for the benefit of all sentient beings
The hill where Chenrigiz ( Avaloketeswora) cave lies
ready to enter Manjushree cave at Halesi
on the way to Manjushree Cave
women and children carrying water
Visiting such a sacred cave makes me alive at the deepest . These places are the truest definitions of the earth. They stand for the earth immediately and forever. It makes you alive, gives you inner peace and generate compassion. In fact it helps us to know about our existence. The memories of these experiences will last a lifetime, making God’s presence an ever-deeper reality for you.This deep soul satisfying trip gives me countless opportunities for inner inspiration.
guest house at Halesi
what a nice greenery
colorful prayer flags that we offered