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Panch Kedar: Abode of Lord Shiva

Are you looking for a spiritual retreat in awesome Himalayan ranges with least distraction/disturbance of mundane world?  Would you like to spend some days in strong divine surroundings that still retain its pristine flavor? Go ahead and chase your dream by participating in one of the most difficult pilgrimage tour.


Many places in Uttarakhand are untouched, unseen & untamed. The places are rich in flora and fauna with deodar, pine, oak & rhododendron trees. The hill state is a treasure house of natural splendor. The journey to any place is as enchanting as the destination itself. It is a matchless destination for nature-lovers too.

Every rock and stone speaks the glory of Lord Shiva in symbolic forms. Five mountain shrines in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand are collectively known as Panch Kedar (Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madmaheshwar & Kalpeshwar). These are the best places to revive the inner self and discover your true identity. 

Lord Shiva is known as Adi Guru in yogic literature. Himalaya is favourite & permanent abode of Bhole Nath. Panch Kedars is frequently visited by spiritual-seekers. It is the treasure-house of many herbs & medicinal plants. Ardent devotee of Shiva can cover mountain shrines with ease  


Mythological Importance 

In the epic Mahabharat war fought at Kurukshetra (Haryana) nearly 5,000 years ago, Pandavs killed his own cousins and committed sin of fratricide and also killing of Brahmins. On the advice of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas reached the famous Kashinagri (Varanasi) to meet Lord Shiva in hope of purification.

But Shiva was remained adamant to meet Pandavs. He disappeared and reappeared in Guptkashi in Garhwal in form of Nandi bull. Powerful Bhima recognized the divine bull grazing in the alphine meadow. He caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs.

But bull disappeared underground and then reappeared at five different places. The Pandavs built five temples in these places. These places are known as Panch Kedars.

In all these five temples, the Lord Shiva is worshipped in five divine forms:


Kedarnath (11, 756 ft)

What Pashupatinath is to Nepal, Kedarnath is to India? One of the twelve Jyotir Lingas of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath remains protected from snow-capped mountains at the backdrop. It is the first temple from where Panch Kedar yatra commence.  

The best time to visit is from May to October. The entire surrounding is covered by a blanket of ice sheet during winters. It offers trek, pony rides with numerous beautiful streams along the trek route.


Madmaheshwar (11, 473 ft)

It is a quaint pilgrimage spot with isolated surroundings. Gushing waters and meadows remains your constant companion along the trek route. A strenuous trek of 21 km from Uniana will land you to the picturesque surroundings.

The architectural design of the temple building reminds of the typical north Indian style with classical lush greenery at the nearby surroundings. For adventure-seekers, long trekking trails is never boring or exhausting till the end. 


Tungnath (12, 073 ft)

The whole world seems to be at your feet when you see below while standing at the world’s highest temple of Lord Shiva. Chopta from where starts your upward journey is also known as mini Switzerland for its stunning natural beauty.

Chopta is located at a distance of 20 km from Guptkashi on the Rishikesh-Kedarnath road. The place can be visited throughout the year. Carry light woolens during summers and heavy woolens in winter months.  

If you love photography, don’t miss the opportunity to capture Panchachulis, Neelkanth and Chaukhambha peaks in your shutter-box. If you are more adventurous, go for Chandrashila peak which is few miles from temple.   


Rudranath (7500 ft)

The trek route of 21 km is more treacherous which demands more stamina. The mask covered idol depicts rudra (angry) form of Lord Shiva. The river Rudraganga flows nearby temple which is known as Vaitarani in common parlance.

The other hot spots nearby temple are Chandra Kund, Manas Kund, Nanda Gunti and Trishul. The place is near Gopeshwar in Chamoli Garhwal. It is believed that many sages and monks meditated here by repeating the names of “Mahadev”.    


Kalpeshwar (7217 ft)

The Panch Kedar yatra culminates here and is the only mountain shrine which remains opened for pilgrims/tourists all the year round. The head and tresses of Lord Shiva are worshipped inside the stone temple approachable through a cave.

The place is gifted with dense forests, gorgeous gorges and sparkling streams which rejuvenate the soul, mind and spirit of every visitor. The place is situated in the Urgam Valley of Garhwal region. 


How to reach

Rishikesh is the getaway to five pilgrim centers of Shiva. One can reach by his own private vehicle. Or, you can hire a taxi or cab from Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Booking online can save fatigue and boring queues in peak season.

Buses are also available at fixed time which runs regularly from Rishikesh/Hardwar during tourist season.

Nearest Airport: JollyGrant Airpot, Dehradun (15 km from Rishikesh)

Nearest Railway Station:  Haridwar railway station


What to carry


Contributor: Udit Khanduri