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Panch Kedar


Panch Kedar, cites to five temples of Lord Shiva-Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Kapleshwar and Kedarnath, which is the third stoppage in Char Dham Yatra. Being exemplified by the purity of its shrines and ceremony, all of these are positioned at a little distance from one another in the Kedar valley of Garhwal Himalayan region, Uttarakhand. In addition, the panoramic vistas of the lush greenery that is covering the breathtaking mountains surrounding the temples, bestow an appearance of melted icing on the brunette chocolate cake.

Since it is not a prominent route, and facilities are very less, staying option or eating points are basically done at the houses of locals. However, devotees are being welcomed wholeheartedly by the villagers who arrange everything they could to make their journey blissful and memorable.

Folklore and Myths:

History of Panch Kedar dates back to a long time when Kauravas were against to grant a few part of state to Pandavas, leading to the Kurushetra war. Pandavas took lives of their own relatives in the war. And after the success in the Mahabharata, felt culpable for slaughtering their family members and headed straight to Varanasi in quest of Lord Shiva, but he was exasperated by the death of Kauravas in the battle and ignored meeting them completely.

When Lord Shiva found Pandavas drawing closer, he changed himself into a bull. Comprehending the camouflage didn’t work, Lord Shiva who was in the form of bull attempted to go underground. But Bhima saw him and hindered his disappearing act by holding his tail and hind legs. Not quite unsuccessful in the effort as Bhima saved the hump of the bull, which is revered as the deity in the Kedarnath temple. And, Shiva was re-appeared but only in the form of different body parts – arms at Tungnath, navel at Madhyamaheshwar, face at Rudranath, hair at Kalpeshwar. These four places along with Kedarnath is named Panch Kedar.

Madhmaheshwar

One of Panch Kedars, the temple of Madhmaheshwar is located at an altitude of 3,289 m above sea level, on the slope of a ridge, 25 km northeast of Guptkashi. There is a motorable road from Guptkashi to Kalimath. The best statue of Har Gauri in India measuring over a metre high is found in the Kali temple.

The trek from Kalimath to Madhmaheshwar is distinguished by wild unparalleled scenic beauty and engulfed by Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks. Gaundar at the confluence of Madhmaheshwar Ganga and Markanga Ganga, is the last settlement before one reaches Madhmaheshwar, the place where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of belly.

Tungnath

The arms of Lord Shiva came out as per the Kedarnath myth at Tungnath. He is worshipped here as one of the Panch Kedars. Tungnath Temple at an altitude of 3,680 m, is the highest Shiva shrine among the Panch Kedars but the easiest to reach from Chopta, the nearest road head.

Rudranath

Situated amidst thick woods, here the mukh or the Lord face appeared and Shiva is worshipped as Neelkanth Mahadev. Situated at a height of 2,286 m, all around the shrine are fragrant flower-laden meadows where herbs grow in profusion. In the background, in all their glory, are the glittering snow-covered peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, Devasthan etc. Near the temple is a stream of sparkling water known as Vaitarini - the Water of Salvation Passing through the glorious mountain scenery, the 17 km trek passes on its way through Anusuyadevi. At a height of 2,439 m.,

Nandikund is a place where the people worship some rusty old historic swords thrust into the rocks. The local populace earnestly believe that the swords belonged originally to the Pandavas. The temple is surrounded by a number of pools - Surya Kund, Chandra Kund, Tara Kund, Manas Kund - while the great peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti form a fabulous background.

Kalpnath

This small rock temple to be entered through a cave, 2km from Urgam and 11 km from Helang, bear the manifestation is of the Shiva hair or Jata. The 14 km distance from Joshimath to Helang is motorable and the rest 11 km is a bridle path via Urgam, that begins with the crossing of the Alaknanda at Helang.

Most of the trek is a gradual climb. Just 2 km before Kalpheshwar is the friendly village of Urgam (2134 m.) set amidst mesmerizing natural surroundings.

Kedarnath

The Kedarnath Temple is situated at an altitude of 3580 m amidst the background of snow covered mountain peaks and forests. The temple is built of large, heavy and evenly cut grey slabs of stones and is considered more than 1000 years old. The temple has a garbha griha (inner sanctum) where a conical rock formation is situated and a Mandapam for seating of pilgrims and visitors. A large statue of the Nandi Bull is situated outside the temple door. The nearest motorable road reaches Gaurikund . The pilgrims have to trek 14 km to reach the temple.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely carved and sculpted Kedarnath temple is built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs were handled in those ancient days! The present temple, built in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.

By Flight
Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 239 km.
By Train
Nearest railway station is Rishikesh, 221 km
By Road
Kedarnath is approachable on foot, 14 km from Gaurikund, which is connected by road with Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon hills.

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Route Map



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