Panch Kedar Temples- Introduction

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This is a cluster of five Lord Shiva temples, located on the Gharwal Himalayas around Kedarnath region.

The common thread connecting them is the legend of Pandavas of Mahabharath who came to this region insearch of Lord Shiva.

The story goes like this; after the Mahabharath war, Pandavas felt sad about killing their near and dear ones. They wanted to alleviate the sin of that.

So, on advice from sage Narada, they came to Himalayas and prayed to Lord Shiva for his darshan. Lord Shiva avoided giving direct drshan to Pandavas as he himself not happy about the outcome of Mahabharath war.

Thus, he became a bull and hid himself at a place now known as Guptkashi. Pandavas searched for Lord Shiva all around, but in vain. Finally, Bhima spoted this bull at Guptkashi and realised its Lord Shiva himself.

In order to avoid being caught, the bull disappeared underground: reappeared at five places in the form of five different parts of the bull’s body and gave darshan to Pandavas at these places.

Thus, at Kedarnath Pandavas saw the bull’s hump at Kedarnath, arms at Tunganath, stomach and navel at Madhymeswar, the face of the bull at Rudranath and finally the hair and head at Kalpeshwar. Thus, these five temples became Panch kedar. Here, it must be noted , there is a strong view that the famous Pashupathinath temple is the spot of seeing the bull’s hump and not Kedarnath.

Al these temples lie at high altitudes, accsesible only by trekking. And all of them remain closed during the winter season as they will be snow fall.

The Tunganath is the highest one at an altitude of 3680 meters and Kalpeshwar is the lowest from the sea level at an altitude of 2200 meters from the sea level. The temples are amidst eye-catching land scape provided by famous peaks like Nandadevi,Neelkanth and Chaukuumba etc..the region also is the source of many important Himalayan rivers like Mandakini, Alakananda etccc. Thus trekking to these places also offers panoramic beauty all around. Generally, it takes 16 days to complete the trekking, which starts from Gaurikund.

Interestingly, the cheif priests of all the temples, except Tunganath are from South India. This is ordained by Sri Sankaracharya to promote national integration as early as in Ninth century AD !!

Best season to visit these temples is between April-October.


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