Halesi Mahadev - Maratika cave tour
Halesi is one of the important power places in Nepal revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. The place beautifully lies on the ridge top above Dudhkosi River in the eastern hills of Nepal. There are several natural caves and hillocks dwelled and meditated by god, goddesses and Siddhas since the time immemorial. For Hindus, the site is Haleshower Mahadev, named after Shiva’s hide in one of the caves from demon Bhasmashura. Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava attended terma (hidden treasure) of longevity teachings of Buddha Amitabha.
Maratika means the elimination of death (Chi Bam Thar Byed in Tibetan). This is where Guru Pandmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) attained immortality along with royal princess Mandarava. Legends say that on the request of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Amitabha Budhha taught 18 Tantras of long life, which Dakini Sangwa Yeshe recorded and hid as Terma at Maratika. Later. Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava practiced the teachings of longevity at the place for 90 days. Buddha Amitayus himself appeared in the sky and gave the initiation.
Maratika is also blessed by the three protector deities of Manjushree, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara.
Kathmandu - Halesi road trip 2 days
With the extension of the highway to eastern Nepal from Kathmandu, it is now much easier to drive to Halesi. It is just 232 km on the Dhulikhel - Sindhuli and then Diktel Highway. However, the construction is still going on at places and some sections of the road are not tarred. It takes about 8 hours and still need a off road vehicle.
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Kakarbhitta to Maratika Trip
Those willing to visit Maratika cave after Sikkim or Darjeeling, need to enter Nepal from the Kakarbhitta border. Kakarbhitta border is about 140 km from Gangtok and takes about 5 hrs drive. Tourist can get Nepal visa from the Kakarbhitta border. Maratika cave is about 180 km from the border which will take about 8 hrs in the mountainous road.
Kakarbhitta border in the eastern Nepal is from where tourists coming from Sikkim and Darjeeling enter Nepal.
Maratika and Buddhist pilgrimage tour of Nepal
Most of the tourists on a Buddhist pilgrimage of Sikkim also visits Maratika, Lumbini and other Buddhist sites of Nepal and fly out of Kathmandu. From the border town of Kakarbhitta, Maratika is about 2 days trip. About 10 hours drive on the eastwest highway towards west is Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. The Lumbini circuit tour includes visit of Tilaurakot palace ruin (where Buddha spent 29 years as prince Siddhartha), Kudan monastery where Buddha preached 4 sutta teachings and the Ramgram Stupa (the only unopen Buddha relic stupa out of first 8).
Finally drive to Kathmandu and visit the great stupas of Swyambhunath and Boudhanath. The Pharping cave of Guru Rinpoche (Yangleso and Asura caves) and the Namobuddha are other important Buddhist pilgrimage sites around Kathmandu. Namobuddha is where a Bodhishattwo sacrificed himself to feed hungry Tigress and her cubs.
Padmasambhava and Princess Mandarava mastered the longevity teachings of Buddha Amitayus (the Buddha of eternal life).
Is there a flight to Maratika ?
There is no flight to Maratika cave (Halesi). The only flight is to the nearby town Diktel from where you still need to drive for about 1.5 hours to get to Halesi.
Helicopter Tour of Halesi
Helicopter is the best option to avoid the tedious journey or if you are time constrained. It just takes about 2 hrs for the round trip with visit to the cave and prayers. Since it is in the foothills, 4 - 5 people can share the helicopter depending upon the weight.
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Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour 8 nights 9 days
Nepal Himalayas have been center of spiritual practices for thousands of years. Following the internal strife in Indian planes, Kathmandu became center of Buddhist practices. Buddhist masters like Nagarjuna, Padmashambhava and Milarepa visited and meditated in the Himalayan valleys. Buddhist pilgrimage tour of Nepal is visit of Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and Buddhist power places.