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Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The lush green valleys, snow-capped Himalayas, enchanting views, and adventure treks all make this beautiful state appealing. While over the years Uttarakhand has established itself as one of the most promising states in terms of adventure tourism but in earlier days it was known for something else.
Uttarakhand is also known as Dev Bhoomi which means Land of Gods. For centuries Sadhus and Baba have come to Uttarakhand in search of peace and enlightenment. The place itself has an aura that makes it so peaceful. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri are some of the many famous temples which are here. But the Land of Gods is just not about these ones.
Panch Kedar Temples in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand are one of the most revered temples around the world. All the temples are dedicated to the almighty Lord Shiva and are also some of the most beautiful to look at.
History of Panch Kedar
The Panch Kedar temple is connected to the era of Mahabharath. As we already know Pandavas won the Kurukshetra war but this win was over thousands of dead bodies. Pandavas killed thousands of their cousins and for this sin, they felt guilty. Their sin was such that no one in this world would forgive them. One and only Lord Shiva could forgive them all sins.
Then the great Sage Vyas Rishi advised the Pandavas to find Lord Shiva and seek his pardon. But it is not so easy to find him. Lord Shiva kept hiding and avoiding Pandavas. It is said that Mahadeva then took the form of a bull and went underground somewhere around Guptkashi. But Pandavas eventually reached Guptkashi too. But Lord Shiva is one step ahead of them and his bull’s body rematerialized into 5 different locations which represent today’s Panch Kedar.
Which are Panch Kedar Temples?
Panch Kedar Temples Includes
No one needs an introduction to the world’s most loved Shiva Temple. Located at a height of around 3584 meters, Kedarnath is the most astonishing Shiva temple you will ever see. Not only the go-to place for all devotees of Mahadeva but Kedarnath is now a popular trekking destination of Uttarakhand. Kedarnath holds one of the most prominent positions among the Panch Kedar Temples of Garhwal.
Kedarnath was built around 8 or 9 of the century A.D and the founding stones were established by Adi Shankaracharya himself. One of the most beautiful temples in India Kedarnath is made of Greystone slabs and doors are carved in traditional Uttarakhandi style. The surrounding too of the temple is serene and peaceful. One can usually see many sadhu’s and Baba’s around here because it’s their favorite place to worship Lord Shiva.
To Reach Kedarnath the nearest motorable village is Gaurikund. One can reach Gaurikund via Dehradun ISBT. After reaching Gaurikund a trek of 14 km tests you to reach the holy abode of Lord Shiva. The long trek can be tiring but is one of the most scenic ways you ever would have seen.
In the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, Tungnath is not only the highest Shiva temple in the world but also one of the most astonishing temples too. At a height of around 3,680 meters, Tungnath is a heaven for sure. Covered with mystic clouds almost all the time this beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year due to its religious and scenic importance.
The temple of Tungnath is around 1000 years old and the story of this temple is even Older. As according to legends, Tungnath was the place where the Bahu or Hands of bull-shaped lord Shiva were found.
Tungnath is now one of the most popular trekking destinations in Uttarakhand. Its unique location makes it one of the best places to visit in Uttarakhand. While the trek is short but is one of the most scenic ones also. Tungnath trek is around 3.5 km which starts from Chopta, which is another great small hill station in Uttarakhand.
Rudranath temple is in Chamoli district near Gopeshwar in Uttarakhand. Earlier I told you about the story of Mahadeva and how when he was in bull form all his parts scattered all over and made these Panch Kedar Temples. So, the Rudranath temple is where the face of Lord Shiva appeared. At around 2.268 meters above sea level, Rudranath is a beauty to watch.
In Rudranath, Lord Shiva is worshipped as ’Neelkantha Mahadev’. Rudranath is a Natural rock temple and the temple premises are typical Uttarakhandi style. What makes this place exciting is far lush meadows, pine trees, and thick rhododendron forest. A small trek to Rudranath temple from Gopeshwar makes this temple even more exciting. We have covered that also here at Ixplore.
You will be excited to know that Rudranath consists of many sacred pools or Kunds. Some of the most famous Kunds of Rudranath are Surya Kund, Tara Kund, and Mana Kund. These Kunds have a special place here because of their sheer importance, one cannot leave this place whiteout dipping inside these Kunds.
Next in this list of exciting Kedar temples is Madhyamaheswar temple which is near Mansoona village. The Madhyamaheshwar temple is where the middle navel part of Lord Shiva fell. The beautiful temple is around a forest and is covered by valleys all around. The temple seems to be in heaven as it is situated around 3289 in height. With that, the temple is surrounded by snow-loaded peaks. Chakumbha, Neelkantha are some of the most famous peaks around here.
One can reach Madhyamaheshwar via Rudraprayag and then Guptakashi. The nearest big town around the temple is Gopeshwar, Karna Prayag and Rudraprayag. One can start his trekking journey from Ukhimath, the trek is far simple compared to what Tungnath or Rudranath offers.
The temple is famous for its serene surroundings and peaceful atmosphere One can come here to look for peace of mind. Yogis and Babas have always loved this place for their meditation purpose.
As the name suggests Kalpeshwar is the temple where hair or Jatas of Mahadev fell. Kalpeshwar Mahadev is in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and is too blessed with natural beauty all around. As the Jatas of Mahadev fell here so Mahadev is also known as Jateshwar or Jatadhari here.
At around 2200 meters above sea level, Kalpeshwar Mahadev is located in between Rishikesh Badrinath road. The area is covered with dense forest and scenic valleys. One can easily see the presence of locals in nature as you can spot different shrubs grown around the area. Reaching Kalpeshwar Mahadev is far simple than other panch Kedar Temples. A moderate trek of around 2 km from Urgam will bring you to this beautiful temple.
What makes Panch Kedar temples Special ?
The history, religious beliefs, adventure, and serene environment all add up to make these 5 temples one of the best places to visit. Panch Kedar temples of Uttarakhand are so unique as the structures themselves tell the whole story. Travelers from around the globe trek to all these temples in search of a serene environment. On top of that for over the years, these temples have remained one of the most favorite destination for Yogis too.
Snow cladded peaks all around make these one off-beat place. If you are one of us who loves adventure and trekking then these temples are surely for people like you and me. The trekking to Panch Kedar temples depends according to the area we are going to. While Tungnath, Rudranath remains a little tough but Kalpeshwar Mahadev and Madhymaheswar are fairly simple and easy to reach.
As these temples are situated at very high altitudes so temperature here remains fairly cold all year round. But during winters it can get pretty rough especially around Tungnath, Kedarnath, and Rudranath. These temples remain close for almost around 6 months of the year. At this time they are covered with snow all around.
Visiting Panch Kedar Temples during summers is the best option. One can have the best trekking experience during this time only. Not only you will see snow all around but also trekking will be fun.
Do’s and Don’ts
These temples being one of the highest acclaimed ones, so travelers should show some respect too. While around the trekking way we could see many liquor bottles and plastic all around. Temples are a place to worship and with that people go there to find peace.
All these things just leave a bad impression on people’s minds and hence the whole trip get’s ruined.
So when are you Planning to visit these beautiful temples of Uttarakhand? Do let me know in the comments below. Also, we have a full-featured blog on Tungnath and Rudranath, do read them in case you want to know the full trekking itinerary.