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Gupteshwar- A Cave Shrine

Gupteshwar – A Cave temple
(A blog by Jitendra Nakka)

Introduction

Chhattisgarh is full of surprises, and so the state of Orissa too. Chhattisgarh shares many relations with Orissa, whether it may be of geographical extent, geological extent, mineralogical extent, whether may be of art and culture, whether may be of sculpture and temples, whether may be of customs and traditions, lot of things are mutual in them. Even they share some common tourist places also. One such common but one of the most exotic tourist place of Chhattisgarh and Orissa is Gupteshwar.

                                                Gupteshwar- The Abode of Lord Shiva

Where and How to Reach?

Gupteshwar is approachable from two ways:

(1)    NH-30: Jagdalpur lies on the middle of Raipur-Vishakapatnam Highway. From Jagdalpur, we have to travel upto 22 kms more to reach the village called Dhanpunji(which is the last village of Chhattisgarh border). From Dhanpunji, there is a well-made metalled road(pakka road) which last upto railway crossing, after which our journey continues with unmetalled  road(kachcha road) upto 23 kms more, reaching a beautiful confluence of Machkote-Tiriya Sangam. After reaching Machkote, we have to travel on a dozen of kilometers more to reach our final destination near the bank of Shabari river called Gupteshwar.
                                        Figure showing location of Gupteshwar(South-East of Map)
 
                           Figure showing the exotic Machkote range of Forest(Bastar, Chhattisgarh)
                                           
 (2)    Jeypore Road: Another way to this marvel comes from Jeypore road. From Jeypore, this exotic site is nearly 55 kms away to the bank of Shabari river(also called as Kolab river in Orissa). Gupteshwar is a premium tourist site which lies in the Koraput District of Orissa. As for the ease of tourists, there is one comfortable rest house in Gupteshwar, with a good boarding and lodging. As OSRTC is doing excellent work in Orissa, reaching each and every corners of the state, we can enjoy our tour from state bus service also. If at all, any tourist opts Jagdalpur as a boarding centre by road (i.e. by NH), this place is nearly 120 km from Jagdalpur. Infact Jagdalpur is the most suitable and premium boarding and lodging destination for visiting any place nearby. For the ease of tourist, there are a lot of exotic hotels & motels providing cozy boarding and some great tourist packages all over Central and South-East India.

Salient Features of Gupteshwar:

Gupteshwar is actually a cave-shrine, an abode of Lord Shiva. But if you wanna make it upto here from Jagdalpur, you have to cover the lush green and dense forest of Machkote range of Forest of Bastar division of Chhattisgarh. Along the whole way, you can see a lot of flora and fauna, which will make your journey more thrilling at the time of returning back. Gupteshwar is actually a combination of different scenic spots
where the bank of Shabari(Kolab) river from either of the sides, the waterfall along the flow and the cave temple are most worth seeing.
Figure showing the exotic lush green forest of Machkote Range(Bastar, Chhhattisgarh)


 After reaching Gupteshwar from Machkote, we can see the gigantic stromatolitic dolomites covering the whole path of river flow. As the area is a kind of undulating site, there is a high gradient of river flow, cutting down the stromatolitic dolomite rocks and creating crocodile-skin weathering on their surface. Due to the display of this typical weathering on the rocks from both the banks, this place has got a fierce look and appears difficult to cross the river. But this is just a prejudice of a tourist; the rocks are spaced near to each other with the help of which, one can cross the river and can reach the cave shrine.After the bank, we have to walk over nearly 200 feet more to reach the market line of the place. Actually just in front of the temple, there are few small shops/hotels from where you can take materials of your interest and fill your appetite.
Figure showing the extent of Stromatolitic Dolomite rock at the bank of river Shabari(Kolab)


Just to the right of this market, lies the a road junction, from where going straight will lead to cave temple of
Gupteshwar and taking right will lead to the cave series of Gupteshwar. After reaching the front gate of Temple, you have to climb up near around 300 stairs to reach the entrance of this cave. The stairs after entrance takes you down to the centrally placed Shivling of near about 1.5m high.
                                                             Fig: Gupteshwar Temple


                            Figure showing the Centrally Placed Shivling at Gupteshwar Cave Temple

                     Figure showing the growth of Stalactites on the inner chambers of Gupteshwar temple

 One more way to the left of this shivling leads to the next chambers of this cave which add more beauty to this worth seeing cave shrine. The next chamber is comparatively larger than the adjacent chambers nearby. After walking nearly more than 20 feet, the slope of this chamber increases gradually with a sharp, wet and muddy surface leads you to a subordinate chamber having a dead end on its other end. The whole cave displays a beautiful play of stalactites and stalagmites somewhere developed, somewhere budding. But this is not the end of your destination, your journey; you have to walk back to the junction to reach the actual cave series of Gupteshwar.

Here, there are there are two caves, one of which has a narrow entrance, but, is very high in altitude. The later one is wider in comparison to the former one. The later cave is very worth seeing but lacks in proper display of stalactites and stalagmites. The central chamber of this cave leads to a minor chamber which is very small, nearly of 12feets of length, and 2 meters of height and width and leads to a dead end.
                             Figure showing the mouth of one cave of the Cave series of Gupteshwar


                             Figure showing the mouth of one cave of the Cave series of Guteshwar


Mythological and Religious Importance:
This place holds much importance for Hindu devotees, as this place is a divine shrine and abode of Lord Shiva. This place faces a gigantic crowd of devotees, worshippers and followers at the time of “Maha-Shiv Ratri”. People from all part of India reach here to bow their heads and receive blessings from Lord Shiva, the almighty.
                                         Figure showing followers moving ahead to Gupteshwar

                                                       Fig: Followers crossing river Kolab

                            Figure showing the scenic view of bank of river Shabari at Gupteshwar

 Mythologically, it is believed that Gupteshwar means “hidden GOD”. It is believed that Lord Ram, during his exile of 14 years reached Dandakaaranya forest and first found this shivling hidden in this cave. He was the first person to worship on this cave. The nearby mountain is called as “Ramgiri”. Kalidasa in his famous creation “Meghadoot” has also depicted the beauty of this beautiful mountain of Ramgiri.

Conclusion:

This place is one of the most important pilgrim of South-East Central India and shares equal importance from both Orissa and Chhattisgarh and one of the most important tourist and study site for researchers (speleologists).  

   


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