It was a balmy Sunday. I was cramped inside a side lower berth. The Second Sitting coach was over crowded. Despite the inhospitable environment I was relishing every moment. The sound of kirtans and cymbals was creating a hallucinating effect. I was suddenly awakened from that holy dizziness as the song abruptly ended with a gentle chaos. Our train 18301 Sambalpur Rayagada Intercity Express reached Bissamcuttack. My spirits were already high. Every year this time around I visit Pataleshwar Temple at Chatikona to pay my obeisance to Lord Shiva. Sort of soul travel.
The temple is around 2 km from the station on a small hillock surrounded by the pristine Niyamgiri Mountains. Gadgada waterfall flows beside the temple. The place is itself a mystic place. There are few caves where small Shiva statues are present. In one of the caves a small stream flows. From time immemorial Sadhus and Sants have frequented this place.
Shivaratri is celebrated with much fervor. But we went there on an Ekadashi. I usually visit twice or thrice every year. This time of the year the temple is visited by devotees from far and wide. One of my close friends Vikash Sharma organizes breakfast and lunch for the devotees.
After alighting from the train we took a cargo vehicle carrying all the cooking items to an open field near the temple. We were accompanied by many Railway employees like Ticket Checking staff, Booking staff and RPF who voluntarily come for the seva. Few slept under the stars, few under a tent. I woke up early. After freshening up I offered my puja to Lord Pataleswar. The temple is quite old. The temple is guarded by a huge Nandi Bull. Devotees by that time started thronging in. Our cooks prepared Upma for breakfast and Rice with Dalma for lunch.
We set up a makeshift place for food distribution. This went on till late afternoon. As the dusk set behind the Niyamgiri Mountains the crowd tickled. We took a break, sat near the waterfall. The cold water relieved us from all the fatigue. This little service gives a lot of solace to my inner self. Every year the divine power of Lord Shiva of Pataleswar guides me here.
For those who are interested to visit this scenic spiritual place, the nearest rail head is Bissamcuttack. Though only a few trains stop here, it’s better to stay at District Headquarter Rayagada which is an important station on Vizianagaram – Raipur route. It’s roughly 45 Km from there.
So, what are you waiting for? This Ekadashi let’s meet at Pataleshwar Temple.