Panch Kedar – The Lord of Shiva Temple in Uttarakhand

Panch Kedar – Panch Kedar means five temples of Lord Shiva, According to Hindu mythology this temple (Kedarnath, Kalpeshwar, Tungnath, Madmaheshwar, and Rudranath) are built by Pandavas the heroes of the famous epic Mahabharata, situated at Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand of India. Pandavas were found guilty of killing their relative (cousins) Kauravas and teachers in the war of Kurukshetra. They went to Kashi (Varanasi) in search of the blessing of Lord Shiva but Lord Shiva did not want to meet them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war. Lord Shiva disguise himself as a bull and hid in the Garhwal region at Guptkashi, Not finding Shiva in Kashi, Pandavas also moved to Garhwal, Bhima saw that a bull was grazing in Guptkashi and he immediately recognized the bull as a Lord Shiva and hold the bull’s tail thus preventing it from vanishing into the earth.

Various parts of Lord Shiva’s body appeared at different places. The hump of a bull at Kedarnath, Kalpeshwar (tangled hair of Shiva in Kalpnath), weapons at Tungnath, Nabhi (navel) at Madmaheshwar, mouth at Rudranath. It is believed that the forearms of Lord Shiva appeared at Pashupatinath Kathmandu in Nepal. The Pandavas worshiped Lord Shiva in the Panch Kedar temples and got rid of all their sins.

Best Time to Visit: May – October

Panch Kedar Temples in Uttarakhand

Panch Kedar Temples

1. Shri Kedarnath Ji

Altitude: 3,581 mts

Location: Fall in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand of Indian state-34 km north from Rudraprayag.

Kedarnath is the holiest pilgrimage for the Hindus, one of 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. It is the place where the hinder part of the Bull Lord Shiva) appeared and worshiped Lingam in a pyramidal shape. Temple situated in Garhwal Himalaya of Uttarakhand state of India and made in 8th centuries founded by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.

How to Get There

  • By Road: Approachable on foot (14 km) from Gaurikund, which is connected by road to Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Haridwar, Dehradun, and another part of India.
  • By Rail: Rishikesh is the nearest railway station (229 km).
  • By Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Dehradun just (255 km).

2. Shri Tungnath Ji

Altitude: 3,680 mts. (Highest in All Kedar also Highest in Uttarakhand)

Location: It is just on the way to Kedarnath 37 K.M. from Ukhimath and 3km. uphill from Chopta.

It is the place where “Arms of lord Shiva” worshiped the sanctity of the region of Tungnath is considered unexplored. The peak of Tungnath is the source of three springs that form the River Akashvani. It is the highest Hindu shrine situated at an altitude of 3,680 meters in the Himalayas, 3 km. uphill from Chopta. The trek is passing through alpine meadows and rhododendron thickets. Approx. one hour’s climb leads to Chandrashila with its panoramic views, where Ravana, of the Ramayana, is said to have performed penance at this temple to propitiate Shiva. The Adi Guru Shankaracharya visits this place and built this temple.

How to Get There

  • By Road: Tungnath is approachable on the Kund-Gopeswar road up to Chopta 212 km.from Rishikesh. Buses and Taxis move along the route, from Chopta the Tungnath temple is a 3 km trek away.
  • By Rail: Rishikesh is the nearest railway station (215km).
  • By Air: The nearest airport is a Jolly Grant, Dehradun (232km).
  • Accommodation: PWD inspection house at Dog Albatia 7 km from Chopta.

3. Shri Rudranath Ji

Altitude: 2286 mtrs

Location: Rudranath is located on the Gopeshwar – Kedarnath road in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand.

The face of Lord Shiva is worshiped at Rudranath. Devotees come to Rudranath to offer ritual obeisance to their ancestors, for it is here, at Vaitarani River, that the souls of the dead cross when entering another world. Before reaching the meadow where it is located within the sanctum, Shiva’s image is worshiped in the form of his face. The temple is situated at the height of 2286 meters amidst thick forest and trek passing through a beautiful meadow. There are many holy kunds (tanks) near Rudranath temple, like Suryakund, Chandrakund, Manas Kund, etc. Baitarani, the divine river flows through the temple. Anusuya Devi Temple is located on the trek to Rudranath which includes an additional trek of 3 km. besides this, you can explore the magnificent view of Hathi Parvat, Nanda Devi, and Trishul.

How to Get There

  • By Road: From Gopeshwar 4 km by car up to village Sagar from was 20 km. the trek leads to Rudranath and can be approached from Joshimath by trekking about 45 km. Sagar is about 219 km. from Rishikesh.
  • By Rail: The nearest rail-head is Rishikesh- 241 km.
  • By Air: The nearest airport is a Jolly Grant, Dehradun-258 km.
  • Accommodation: A small Temple Dharamshala is the only place to stay overnight here.

4. Shri Madhyamaheshwar Ji

Altitude: 3,289 mts

Location: On the slope of a ridge, 25 km northeast of Guptakashi in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. This place is 21 KM. from Ukhimath (via Kalimatha).

Lord Shiva is worshipped at Madmaheshwar in the form of a naval-shaped Lingam. Located at the base of Chaukhamba Peak, at a latitude of 3,289 mts, the ancient temple architecture belongs to the north-Indian style. The trek from Kalimath to Madmaheshwar is distinguished by wild unparalleled scenic beauty and engulfed by Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, and Neelkanth Peak. The landscape is dramatically wild, with deep gorges and gorges, mountains swaying skyward upward, forests where snow is thick in winter, only to be replaced by a carpet of greenery in summer. Gives a majestic view of Kedarnath and Neelkanth peak. The best idol of every Gauri more than a meter high in India is found in the Kali temple.

How to Get There

  • By Road: To reach Madmaheshwar, the distance of 196 km. from Rishikesh to Kalimath via Guptkashi is motorable. The rest distance is 25 km. Has to be covered on foot.
  • By Rail: The nearest railhead is Rishikesh- 227 km.
  • By Air: The nearest airport is a Jolly Grant, Dehradun-244km.
  • Accommodation: The Temple Dharamshala is the only place to stay overnight here.

5. Shri Kalpeshwar Ji

Altitude: 2134 mts

Location: Located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. above sea level, In Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand of India.

It is the place where the matted hair of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Jalandhar. Kalpeshwar is a favorite spot for meditating sages. The sanctum is preceded by a natural cave passage. Surrounded by thick forests and terraced fields in the Urgam valley, the temple is reached following a 10 km long trek.

Legend has it that the sage Arghya had performed austerities penance here and created the nymph, Urvashi. It is believed that Sage Durvasa also meditated here under Kalpavriksha, a wish-fulfilling tree. The sage had given Kunti the boon that she could invoke any of the forces of nature and they would appear before her and grant whatever she desired.

How to Get There

  • By Road: Kalpeshwar, can be reached by motorhead (Bus or Taxi) up to Helang 243km. from Rishikesh on Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. From Helang, the 12 Kms. Treks are off the main road.
  • By Rail: The nearest railhead is Rishikesh- 255 km.
  • By Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun-272 km.
  • Accommodation: The Temple Dharamshala is the only place to stay overnight here.

Written By

Param Dass