Halesi Mahadev is one of the most significant pilgrimage located in Khotang district in Eastern belt of Nepal. It lies at an altitude of about 3100 ft- 4734 ft above sea level and about 215 km east from Kathmandu valley & this temple is also considered as the Pashupatinath Temple of Eastern Nepal by many local people and Indian visitors as both the temples are associated with Mahadeva or Lord Shiva. Whereas the Buddhist devotes consider the caves to be associated with the legend of Padmasambhava. It is one of the most visited, admired and well-known religious sites for Hindus, Buddhist as well as Kirati and is a perfect representation of secularism in Nepal and an example of religious tolerance in Nepal. The site can be accessed through an incomplete road connecting Halesi with Kathmandu, and other eastern hills and Terai town such as Katari leading to the Indian border area. Lamidanda is the nearest airstrip from Kathmandu to reach Halesi by air in about 35 minutes flight.
A popular Hindu myth suggests that Lord Shiva came to Halesi to hide from the potentially fatal attack of a demon named Bhasmasura, who wanted to kill him. Vishnu tricked the monster and killed him as Shiva broke through the ceiling of the cave and fled to other hideouts. A big foot print dug on the wall ceiling near the big hole is supposed to be of Shiva Mahadeva as he stepped on the wall before disappearing from the hole. Centuries later, a local Rai caste hunter used to hunt in this woodland. He attempted to pursue a deer that ran into the bushes. The hunting dog proceeded into the bushes to look for the deer, but neither of them returned. Following this, the hunter seeks assistance from villagers and travels to the bushes, where they discover a cave. Surprisingly, when they entered the cave, they discovered a large Shivalinga wrapped around by a serpent. They were overjoyed to see this and began to worship it as Lord Shiva’s abode.
According to Buddhist tradition, the name derives from an incident in which a Tibetan Buddhist visited the location and said “holyasso”, a Tibetan term meaning “place of wonders.”The word holyasso later distorted and people started to address the sacred place as Halesi. Maratika is described as a “sacred power spot where the outer, inner, and secret mandalas were complete, a wish fulfilling jewel that surpasses any other sacred place in India for the practice of spiritual attainment”. Buddhists revere it as a heavenly location where their great Guru Rim poche, Padmasambhava meditated and attained immortality.
Vicinity& Major Attractions:
The cave shrine of Halesi provides visitors with an interesting geological feature. Many caves and potholes with naturally created cavities may be found in the rocky landscape surrounding the little hamlet of Halesi, resulting in rock constructions of diverse forms and shapes.These tight corridors have now been renamed paapdwara, dharmadwara, garbhadwara, svargadwara, and karmadwara to judge the fate and purity of pilgrims passing through them. Halesi Mahadev is an astonishing geological formation and has been identified as a mysterious sign from divine. Hindusworship Halesi Mahadev as the great god even of gods and goddesses (Devadidev), the founder of Kirat religion is said to have originated at this location by Kirat people, and Buddhists venerate Halesi as one of their six key pilgrimage places. Hence, this place is regarded as one of mystical and spiritual location in Nepal and is visited by many people for their soul searching journey, religious and spiritual quest for salvation.
Article written by: Ujjwal Bhetwal for Land Nepal