We all must have heard the word “Panch Kedar” but very few people know about the story of the Panch Kedar Yatra and temples of Lord Shiva. If you do not know about the story of “Panch Kedar” yet, then you will know today. But before that let’s know about all the “Panch Kedar” temples, and how to reach there?
Altogether there are 5 temples of Lord Shiva in Panch Kedar. The name of panch Kedar begins with first being called Lord Kedarnath, also known as the twelfth Jyotirlinga. The second Kedar is known as Madmaheshwar. The third Kedar is Tungnath, the fourth Kedar is Lord Rudranath, and the fifth Kedar is Kaleshwar. Come, let us see here is the story first and then plan your Panch Kedar yatra.
PANCH KEDAR STORY
On being victorious in the Mahabharata war, the Pandavas wanted to get rid of the sin of fraternity. They wanted to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was not happy with the killing of the Brahmins. The Panch Kedar story tells that Lord Shiva took the form of Nandi (bull) escape from the Pandavas and went to the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. The Pandavas reached the Himalayas in search of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva did not want to give darshan to the Pandavas, so he meditated and settled in Kedar.
Further, the Panch Kedar story tells that the Pandavas followed them and reached Kedar. Lord Shankar took the form of a bull and went among the other animals. When the Pandavas got suspicious, Bhima assumed his gigantic form. Bhima spread his legs on two mountains. All the other cows and bulls left, but Lord Shankar was not ready to go from under the feet of the bull. When Bhima pounced on the bull, the bull started meditating on the ground. Then Bhima grabbed the part of the triangular back of the bull. Lord Shankar was pleased to see the devotion and determination of the Pandavas. He freed the Pandavas from their sins by giving darshan. Since that time Lord Shankar is worshiped in Shri Kedarnath in the form of the body of the bull’s back.
It is believed that when Lord Shankar meditated in the form of a bull, the upper part of his torso appeared in Kathmandu. Now there is the famous temple of Pashupatinath. The arms of Shiva appeared in Tungnath, the face in Rudranath, the navel in Madmaheshwar, and the Jata in Kalpeshwar. Therefore Kedarnath Dham, along with these four places is called Panch Kedar, and Panch Kedar yatra is a famous cultural event held in India.
Kedarnath temple is situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand at an altitude of about 12 and a half thousand feet above sea level. Kedarnath Dham has the highest place among the twelve Jyotirlingas. Also, it is one of the Panch Kedar. As per the Panch Kedar story, the backside of Lord Shiva is seen in Kedarnath Dham. There is a deity of God here in a triangular form. Kedar means swamp. The Katyuri style temple made of stone is believed to have been built by the Pandavas. While Adi Shankaracharya got the temple renovated. The specialty of the temple is that even in the horrific disaster of 2013, the temple did not reach the flames. The doors of the temple open for darshan only between April and November. So, plan your Panch Kedar yatra accordingly.
How To Reach Kedarnath
By Road: Visitors can board regular buses from Rishikesh and Kotdwar to Kedarnath. Private taxis can also be hired from these places. The National Highway from Delhi to Mana (538 km) remains open throughout the year. Kedarnath is also accessible by foot from Gauri Kund, which is connected by state buses to Rishikesh, Dehradun, Kotdwara, and Haridwar. The bus fares vary depending on the season.
By Air: The nearest domestic airport to start experiencing Panch Kedar story path is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 239 km from Kedarnath, and operates daily flights to Delhi. Taxis are available from Dehradun airport to Kedarnath. The nearest international airport is Delhi.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 221 km away. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the railway station which charges about Rs 3,000. One has to travel 207 km by road and the rest 14 km on foot to reach Kedarnath.
Many people may not know that Tungnath is the highest Shiv temple in India. Tungnath Temple, famous as the third Kedar, is situated at an altitude of 3680 meters above sea level. Here Lord Shiva is worshiped in the form of an arm. This temple built of black stones under Chandrashila Peak is built in a very beautiful place. According to the legendary Panch Kedar story, the Pandavas built the temple to please Lord Shiva. This temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old. Maithani Brahmins of Makkumath are the priests here. In winter, the doors are closed here for six months. Lord Tungnath is worshiped in Makkumath during winters.
How to Reach Tungnath
By Road: Buses are available from Rishikesh and Dehradun, but you could reach as far as the town of Rudrapryagor Ukhimath. Afterward, you should hire a taxi to reach Chopta, from where Tungnath is a 3.5-kilometer trek. If you plan to drive then you can reach Rudraprayag from Rishikesh via National Highway 58 and then take National Highway 109. You will then need to take a right turn to Ukhimath. Chopra would come before Ukhimath on the same road.
By Rail: There is no railway station in Tungnath. The nearest railhead is in Rishikesh, which is about 210 kilometers away from the destination. From there you can either hire a taxi or get a bus to Rudraprayag or Ukhimath. After that, you would need to hire a car or taxi to reach Chopta.
By Air: The nearest airport to Tungnath is Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. From Dehradun Tungnath is about 232 kilometers. From Dehradun, you will get a bus to Rudraprayagor Ukhimath. From these two places, you would need to find transport to reach Chopta, which is done usually by hiring a taxi
Madmaheshwar Temple is situated at the foothills of Chaukhamba peak at an altitude of twelve thousand feet. Madmaheshwar II is Kedar here the central part of Lord Shankar is seen. The Sheva priests of South India worship here like Kedarnath. According to the legendary Panch Kedar story, it was because of the natural beauty that Shiva and Parvati celebrated Madhuchandra Ratri here. It is believed that the water here is holy. Few drops of it are enough for salvation. The doors are also closed here for six months in winter. Worship is performed here when the doors are opened.
How To Reach Madmaheshwar
By Road: Take a direct bus for Rishikesh and Srinagar from ISBT, Kashmiri Gate, New Delhi. Rishikesh is a very closer destination from Madmaheshwar. You can take buses or hire a taxi from Rishikesh to Ukhimath. After reaching Ukhimath, take another taxi for Unaina village. Madmaheshwar is located at a trekking distance of 21 km from Unaina village. Direct transportation facility by road is available up to Unaina village only.
By Rail: Rishikesh is the nearest railway station located only at a distance of 174 km from Ukhimath. From major cities of India, you can find regular trains to Rishikesh. After reaching the Rishikesh railway station, taxis and buses can be easily availed for Ukhimath. So, choosing a railway network to reach Madmaheshwar is also not a bad idea.
By Air: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun is the nearest airport located only at a distance of 198 km from Madmaheshwar. You can avail yourself of daily flights from major cities across India to Madmaheshwar. So, no matter at which time you’d like to have a trip to Madmaheshwar, flights will be there for you. After reaching the airport Madmaheshwar, you can get a taxi up to Ukhimath. From Ukhimath, you’ll have to take another taxi to Unaina village. Madmaheshwar is located at a trekking distance of 21 km from Unaina village. Direct transportation facility by road is available up to Unaina village only.
Lord Rudranath is famous as the fourth Kedar. This temple is situated in a cave at an altitude of 2286 meters above sea level and is the second-highest shiv temple in India among the Panch Kedar temples. In the cave among the burials, the face of Lord Shiva is seen in the darshan of the face. This is the only place in India where the face of Lord Shiva is worshipped. In Rudranath in the form of Ekanan, Pashupati in the form of Chaturanan, Lord Shiva is seen in Indonesia in the form of Panchanan Deity in Nepal. One way to Rudranath passes through Damuk village in the Urgam valley, but due to being extremely inaccessible, it takes two days for the devotees to reach here. Hence most of the devotees start their journey from Sagar village near Gopeshwar. The doors of Rudranath temple are also closed in winter. During this, Lord Rudranath is worshiped at Gopeshwar.
How To Reach Rudranath
By Road: Rudranath is located on Gopeshwar-Kedarnath Road. From Rishikesh, the entry point is at Sagar village is 219 km. A 20 km trek from Sagar will end at Rudranath.
By Rail: Rudranath is located on Gopeshwar-Kedarnath Road. Rishikesh Haridwar & Dehradun all have Railway Stations. The nearest rail-head from Gopeshwar is Rishikesh (241 km approx). From Rishikesh, one can take a bus/Taxi to reach Gopeshwar.
By Air: Rudranath is located on Gopeshwar-Kedarnath Road. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun which is about 258 km from Gopeshwar. Taxi and bus services are available from Dehradun airport to Gopeshwar.
Kalpeshwar Temple is famous as Pancham Kedar as per the Panch Kedar story. It is also known by the name Kalpanath. Lord’s hair is seen here Lord Shiva is seen here for twelve months. It is said that at this place, Rishi Durvasa did severe penance under the Kalpa tree. Since then this place became famous as ‘Kalpeshwar’ or ‘Kalpnath’. According to another story, the Gods, being afflicted by the atrocities of the Asuras, worshiped Narayan in Kalpasthala and had received the boon of Abhay after seeing Lord Shiva. To reach the temple situated at an altitude of 2134 meters, one has to walk 10 km. Here the devotees reach the rock, which looks like the hair of Lord Shiva. The way to the sanctum passes through a cave. The doors of the Kalpeshwar temple are open throughout the year.
By Road: Kalpeshwar can only be reached via a trek from the Urgam village which is well-connected with the road network of the state you can get a taxi to Urgam from major destinations of Garhwal region Rishikesh, Dehradun, Rudraprayag, Joshimath Buses to Rishikesh are available from Kashmiri Gate ISB Delhi and further, a taxi can be hired from Rishikesh to reach Urgam village
By Rail: Rishikesh railway station is the nearest railhead located 251Kms from Joshimath. it is connected to major states of the country by an excellent railway network. trains to Rishikesh are frequent and you can hire a taxi from Rishikesh to Joshimath or Urgam village
By Air: The nearest Airport to kalpeshwar is the Jolly Grant airport located at a distance of 268kms from Kalpeshwar The Jolly Grant airport is connected to Delhi with daily flights and Taxis are available from the Airport to Joshimath and Urgam village, from where the trek to Kalpeshwar commence By Rail: Rishikesh railway station is the nearest railhead located 251Kms from Joshimath it is.