Cave temple at Gaurikund

Ayodhya Nath Kerni
While travelling by road from Chenani to Sudhmahadev, a tiny village Gaurikund falls at a distance of 20 Kms. There are few shops on both sides of the road mainly dealing with vegetable trade.
The residents of the surrounding villages grow vegetables in huge quantity and supply to Udhampur market for sale through these shops. One has to walk through steep slopes stairs about one Km to reach the abode of Goddess Parvati. A holy stream Charnavati having crystal clear water is flowing by the side of temple which is called Gaurikund Devika by the locals The spot has captivating scenic view blessed with natural bounties. The temple is located at the foothills of Shivgarh mount which remains misty in monsoon and snowy in winters. The spiritual surroundings and scenic charms of Gaurikund have irresistible attraction. Scintillating beauty of two long Chinar trees planted by a local late Padam Nabh increase dazzling beauty and charm of the place. After walking over the steps, one feels the necessity to relax under the shadow of these big trees but no platform around has been constructed which is a foremost necessity. The natural water gushes out underneath a rock and get stored in a tank called “Gaurikund”. The entire village has received this name based on this kund. The embodiment of divine knowledge and mother of the world Parvati is said to have bathed in this kund and carried out meditations in near by cave which has a narrow entrance called as garbhjoon. One has to enter by crawling. However other door has also been provided for. A temple was constructed over this cave. The credit of constructing temple goes to Ch Ram Dass of Chenani who gave it the present shape long back. The idols of Goddess Parvati are installed in the temple.
There is a tube type passage from within the temple cave which grows narrower as one proceeds further. Other end destination remains untraceable. It is stated by the locals that a sadhu entered this tunnel cave passage long back but did not return. This incident compelled the locals to block the entrance of this passage so as to avoid further recurrences of such incidents.
In fact there are many natural caves in the surrounding area of Gaurikund. There is a pocket of uneven land to the western side of Gaurikund known as “Khua phat” which means a place of caves in Dogri language. There is also a natural cave at Budhi sudh to its eastern direction. A big cave also exists at Madhalat (Bachhal) in the south direction.
There are some other famous spots named as Gaurikund at other places e.g. Gaurikund on the way to Manimahesh (HP) where devotees going to Manimahesh receive holy bath at Gaurikund. The other Gaurikund exists 8 miles before reaching Kedarnath(Uttarakhand) where there are two tanks one of hot water and other of cold water also known as Amritkund. These Gaurikunds are also intrinsically related to Shiva-Parvati. According to scriptures and mythological beliefs Goddess Parvati performed intense austerities for a long time at various places in different spells. The Goddess is believed to have been born at Mantalai– a recarnation of her previous life as Sati. Goddess Parvati was desirous of becoming the spouse of lord Shiva. Maharishi Narda had also suggested Parvati to perform meditations to persuade lord Shiva to accept her as spouse. Parvati intended to leave her parental house for forests so that she could under go penance involving ascetic and yogic practices to win over the Shiva’s heart. According to myths and legends, she carried out initial tapasya at Gaurikund (Sudhmahadev). She usually bathed at Gaurikund and carried out meditations in a cave and also offered water on self manifested Shiva lingum at Sudhmahadev. There are more than hundred names available for Parvati in scriptures. She received the name of Aparna when she stopped even consuming leaves during her meditation. Once lord Shiva called her as Kali, she practised meditation to change her colour and resultantly her colour was changed from black to white, she received the name of Gauran and so on. There are references of her meditations at Gangavtarn, Madrachal, Kailash mount and many more in different spells
The residents around area Gaurikund live mostly on agriculture. In order to increase other sources of income they also keep cattle such as cows etc. The milk requirement and additional source of income is generated.
The locals have a perennial hope that Gaurikund- Patnitop road will soon come up. This will not only reduce the present distance but also increase the local trade of milk and vegetables sellers. The visitors coming to Patnitop would enjoy religious tourism of Sudhmahadev area by covering the distance of only few kilometers.
Ved Kasata- a local from Gaurikund is of the opinion that existing cremation ghat needs to be shifted few meters below from the present point so as to avoid interruption in the routine activities of temple. There have been instances when bhandara was arranged in temple and at the same time pyres were seen burning near by, creating a dismeying situation. Site shifting would not hurt any body’s sentiments. There is also an urgent requirement of community hall at Gaurikund. Small grounds are required to be created which would not only be helpful for temple visitors but students of near by school can utilize them for extra curricular activities. He recollects the old memories when there were big Champ trees on both the banks of Gaurikund and Sudhmahadev Devika in early 50s. In order to bring the pristine glory, plantation programme needs to be vigoursly conducted. The check dams if provided on both Devikas may counteract erosion by reducing water flow velocity.