Holy Halesi

The mysterious rocky caves surrounded with natural splendour and considered one of the most ancient and holiest places in Nepal; visiting HALESI can be a spiritual and uplifting experience, writes OMI GURUNG


Halesi is a pristine, venerated pilgrimage site situated at the hilly region of Khotang district of East Nepal in between the holy rivers Dudh Koshi to the right and Sun Koshi to the left. The site consists of holy Maratika caves and Maratika monastery which is associated with longevity and immortality of life.485Maratika_Long_Life_Cave


The Legend has it, that Lord Vishnu was the first ever devotee to pay homage to Halesi Mahadeva in the Satya Yuga (Golden Age). Afterwards, the last 6000 years until now, many kings, sages, devotees, philosophers, thinkers, hermits, abbots and ascetics have been paying homage to this sacred place. For Buddhists Maratika is generally associated with Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), where he and his consort Mandarava were blessed with immortal life by Buddha Amitayus. The Guru was also blessed by the family of three protectors Manjushri, Vajrapani and Avalokitesavara.


Waking up to the melody of prayer bells and mantras, watching the breath taking view of majestic Mouth Everest, feeling the morning breeze that pass through thousands of wavering colourful prayer flags and exploring the ancient rocky caves rich in mythology has a soothing effect, sometimes inspiring, to the beholder. It is one-of-a-kind experience for people living in the concrete jungles. The Maratika monastery offers a pilgrimage retreat to visitors. These retreats provide ample time for meditation and monks offer classes on how to live a simple monastic life.


Most of the visitors reach the holy caves of Maratika by bus or bolero or jeep. Several bus and car services from Katmandu to Kotari are available. You will have to rent a car or book your bus ticket from Kotari to Halesi. Helicopter service is available from Kathmandu to Halesi.Due to the remoteness of the place it is advised to travel in a group. The supply of power to the region is limited to a few hours per day. There is no constant water source and water needs to be collected in buckets from a source below the hill. Several simple guest house and lodge are easily available. Hotel Royal Halesi is strongly suggested for a better comfort stay, their service is prompt and food is good.


To highlight the importance of this holy place his holiness the Dali Lama has stated “Due to the accumulation of white virtue, just through seeing, hearing, remembering and touching this place the two obscuration of beings will be quickly purified, one will be looked after by the all knowing one (the great master Padmasambhava) from the Ugyen and easily attain the state of omniscience.”The place is rich in history, mythology and sacred geology despite its great isolation.

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung is a well known green Indian fashion designer, writer and green activist. He describes himself as a dare devil with quicksilver tongue and maverick mind; who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the founder of a social group Oh My India and owner of Sikkim's first eco boutique Green Gangtok. At a young age of 23, he worked as a fashion editor for a magazine run by Shakti Media Group in Bangalore. He enjoys writing on fashion and lifestyle and social issues. At present he also writes a regular column for Sikkim Insight.