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.
According to the legend, the Tunganath Temple 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. 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.
The temple opens for only about seven months of a year (mid-April to early November) along with the Char Dham.
Height: 3680 m
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.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Tunganath
Chopta is the nearest motorable destination for Tunganath, from where a steep 4 kms trek will take one to the temple.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, 215 kms away.
Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant near Dehradun at a distance of 232 kms.
Tourist Attractions in Tunganath
Tunganath Temple: The main attraction in Tunganath is the Lord Shiva Temple. It is flocked by hundreds of devotees every year who come here to seek blessings from the god. The trek path from Chopta to Tunganath takes one through the forest of oak and pine trees with unmatched beauty.
Chandrashila Peak: A trek for 1.5 kms uphill from the main temple complex will take one to the Chandrashila peak. It is believed that Lord Ram once meditated at this place to seek blessings from Lord Shiva. There is a small temple on the peak. Apart from the spiritual advantages that one gets at this place, this is a paradise for nature lovers and trekkers. From the top of the peak, one gets a 270 degree sight of the mighty snow clad peaks of the Himalayas which is a scene to remember and cherish lifelong.
Chopta: Famous for its lush green meadows bordering with high altitude trees, Chopta lies on the foothills of Tunganath. Chopta for its geographical terrains, it is popularly referred as ‘Mini Switzerland’ and is a beautiful spot for camping and other adventure activities.
Deoria Tal: Just 16 kms from Chopta towards Kund, lies a small picturesque village of Sari, which can be approached on vehicle. A trek of about 2 kms from Sari will take one to the top of the hill with a small lake on the backdrop of the mighty Himalayas, known as Deoria Tal. The lake finds its place in the Mahabharata. According to the legend, the Yaksha was the guard of this lake made for the gods. When the Pandavas came here to drink water, the Yaksha asked them questions which the four of the Pandavas failed to answer and died. Yudhisthira, the eldest brother impressed the Yaksha by answering all the questions and in return, got back the lives of his brothers. On the backdrop of the famous Chaukhamba Peak, Deoria Tal has camping facilities. The reflection of the peak on the waters of the lake during the sunrise is the best thing to cherish.