Gupteswar Cave is a Shiva-dedicated cave shrine. It is a pilgrimage destination located 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Jeypore in the Koraput District of Odisha, India. It is a limestone cave with the massive Shiva Linga as its main feature, which is supposed to be growing in size. The cave is thought to have been found by Rama and rediscovered during Maharajah Veer Vikram Dev’s rule. Devotees travel to the shrine barefooted with adorned bamboo palanquins called “Kanwadiya” and bathe in the maha kund before worshipping Lord Gupteshwar during the holy month of Shravan. The Shiva linga shrine is reached via 200 steps. It has a 3 meter (9.8 ft) wide and 2 meters (6.6 ft) high entrance.
A 2 meter (6.6 ft) high lingam rises in the cave, surrounded by a lush grove of sal trees and bordered by the Kolab River. Because the lingam stayed undetected for such a long time, the shrine is known as “Gupteswar,” which means “God in hiding.” Climbing the 200 steps surrounded by rows of champak trees is the only way to get there. A big stalactite can be found inside the second cave. People revere it as God Kamadhenu’s (the celestial cow’s) udder, waiting beneath it with outstretched fingers to gather water drops that fall only at lengthy intervals.
This sacred site is affiliated with the Hindu divinity Lord Shri Rama and is locally known as “Gupta Kedar.” Ramagiri is the name of a local hill. According to legend, Lord Rama discovered the lingam while wandering through the Dandakaranya jungle with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, and dubbed the deity in the cave “Gupteshwar.” In his famous Meghadutam, the poet Kalidas also portrayed the beautiful grandeur of Ramgiri forest, where the cave temple is mentioned.
However, as time passed, the temple fell into disuse, but in the 17th century, a hunter discovered the Shiva lingam and told Maharajah Veer Vikram Dev, who was the king of the region at the time and had recently relocated his capital from Nandapur to the newly formed Jeypore. The grandiosity of the gigantic lingam and the gorgeous natural environs enthralled King Veer Vikram, who paid a visit to the cave. He installed priests in the cave temple and established a ritual of making a pilgrimage to Lord Gupteswar’s cave during the holy month of Shraavana, which is still carried out by the people of the erstwhile realm. The Koraput region’s tribes and residents have venerated the lingam since then. Over 200,000 worshippers from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh visit Gupteswar Temple during Shivaratri (a Hindu festival). Incurable sickness patients come to worship the god and stay for months in the hope of being cured.