Between the valleys of Bhagirathi and Alakananda, in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, there lies five Hindu Temples of Lord Shiva – Kedarnath, Tunganath, Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar, popularly known together as Panch Kedar. The yatra covering the Panch Kedar Panch Kedar is one of the most difficult pilgrimages in India, can only be reached on foot with very basic facilities of fooding and lodging in all these locations.
According to the legend, the Panch Kedar is related to the Pandavas of the Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’. The Pandavas committed sins by killing their own cousins during the Kurukshetra War and Rishi Ved Vyas suggested them to seek blessings from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, who was deeply hurted with them, took the form of a Bull and hid in ‘Guptakashi’ in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The Pandavas could recognize him and when Lord Shiva tried to hide himself in the ground, Bhima, the second of the Pandavas, caught him by his tail and hind legs. But the Bull formed Shiva disappeared and reappeared in five different places with the hump rising in Kedarnath, the arms surfacing in Tunganath, the navel and stomach appearing in Madhmaheshwar, the face rising in Rudranath and the hair locks appearing in Kalpeshwar. Lord Shiva then blessed the Pandavas and asked them to built the temples at these five places and perform meditation to seek salvation. So the five brothers built these five temples and after blessings from the Lord, proceed towards the heaven. These five temples, together is known as the Panch Kedar.
These temples, except Kalpeshwar, open for only about seven months of a year (mid-April to early November) along with the Char Dham. Kalpeshwar Temple remains open throughout the year.
Climate: These places remain cut off from other parts from end November to April due to heavy snowfall. Heavy woolens are required during this time. In summers, light woolens are recommended during daytime and heavy woolens are suggested at nights.
Tourist Attractions in Panch Kedar
Kedarnath: Kedarnath is one of the most sacred pilgrimages of the Hindus, situated in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. Here, Lord Shiva in his ‘Sadashiva’ form is worshiped and this is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is also one of the ‘Char Dham’ in the state of Uttarakhand and the most important Dham amongst ‘Panch Kedar’. The Kedarnath Temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old, believed to be constructed by the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. The present temple was built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Sankaracharya which stands adjacent to the site of the earlier temple. Read More>>>
Tunganath: The temple of Tunganath is situated at an altitude of 3680 m and is the second of the Panch Kedar Temples in Uttarakhand. It is the highest temple of Lord Shiva in the world and also the easiest to reach compared to other four. Also 1 km of steep trek from Tunganath will take one to the Chandrashila Peak, where it is believed that Lord Ram once meditated at this place. Read More>>>
Rudranath: Rudranath is located at an altitude of 2286 m in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand in the Gopeshwar-Kedarnath road. It is the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach, requiring a strenuous trek of about 20 kms from Sagar village, the nearest motorable destination. Read More>>>
Madhmaheshwar: Madhmaheshwar is the fourth temple of the famous Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit. It is located near the Mansona village of the Garhwal Himalayas and is considered to be built by the Pandavas. The navel and the stomach of the Bull, considered as the diving form of Lord Shiva is worshipped here. Read More>>>
Kalpeshwar: Situated at an elevation of 2200 m in the Urgam valley of Uttarakhand, Kalpeshwar Temple is the fifth and the last of the Panch Kedar. This is a favourite spot for the sages; it is believed that Maharishi Durvasha meditated at this spot. This shrine is a delight for the tourists with enchanting views of the valley with terraced fields and forests. Read More>>>