Panch Kedar is the third stoppage in Char Dham Yatra. It was exemplified by the purity of its shrines and ceremony; all of these are positioned at a little distance from one another in the Kedar valley of Garhwal Himalayan region, Uttarakhand.
Legend and Stories
Panch Kedar's story relates to the Pandavas who defeated and killed their cousins, the Kauravas, in the Kurukshetra war. They wanted to atone for the sins of committing fratricide (gotra hatya) and Brahmanahatya (killing of Brahmins - the priest class) during the war. Thus, they handed over the reins of their kingdom to their kin and left in search of the god Shivaand to seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi), believed to Shiva's favourite city and famous for its Shiva temple. But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive to Pandavas' prayers. Therefore, he assumed the form of a bull (Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.
Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to Garhwal Himalayas. Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, then standing astride two mountains started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden Kashi” - the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). Bhima immediately recognized the bull to be Shiva. Bhima caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the bull-formed Shiva disappeared into the ground to later reappear in parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheshwar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five different forms, built temples at the five places for venerating and worshipping Shiva. The Pandavas were thus freed from their sins. It is also believed that the fore portions of Shiva appeared at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu - the capital of Nepal.
A variant of the tale credits Bhima of not only catching the bull, but also stopping it from disappearing. Consequently, the bull was torn asunder into five parts and appeared at five locations in the Kedar Khand of Garhwal region of the Himalayas. After building the Panch Kedar temples, the Pandavas mediated at Kedarnath for salvation, performed yagna (fire sacrifice) and then through the heavenly path called the Mahapanth (also called Swargarohini), attained heaven or salvation.
Panch kedar Temples
The Kedarnath temple at an altitude of 3,583 m (11,755 ft). The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund . The temple is believed to have been built by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.
Tungnath is highest Hindu pilgrim temple in the world and one of the pach kedar.Tungnath situated in the height 3680 mts of above sea level. In last five years Tungnath attracted more pilgrims and getting popular day by day, due to the scenic beauty of Chopta and Chandrashila.
The Rudranath temple is located at an altitude of 2286 mts. Lord shiva face worshiping at Rudranath, the face of lord Shiva looks like angry at here. and it is strongly believed that in the morning time lord shiva face looks like a small child, in the afternoon the face of lord Shiva looks like a young man but in the evening time the face of lord Shiva looks like a old man.
Located at base of Chaukhamba peak, at an altitude of 3,289 meters, Shiva is worshipped at Madhya maheshwar in the form of navel - shaped lingum. So sanctified is the water here that even a few drops are considered sufficient for absolution.This is the only temple out of five temple(panch kedar) which can be visited 12 month of year.
The Kalpeshwar temple is situated in the beautiful valley of Urgam, here Shiva is worshipped in his matted Jata. A favorite spots for sages who come here to meditate, following the precedent of Arghya who performed austerities and created the celebrated nymph, Urvashi, here, and the irascible Durvasha who meditated under the wish fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha, Pilgrims pray at the small rock temple at a height of 2,134 mts. before the matted tresses of Shiva enshrined in rock in the sanctum sanctorum.
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (258 km or 160 mi). The nearest railway station is Rishikesh (241 km or 150 mi). The Panch Kedar temples are accessible by only from the nearest road heads but in different directions, lengths and scale of difficulty (ruggedness, steepness and snow cover). The trek routes located in the Garhwal region provide a dazzling and enchanting display of the high snow peaks of Nanda Devi (7,817 m or 25,646 ft), Trishul (7,120 m or 23,360 ft) and Chaukhamba (7,138 m or 23,419 ft).
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Relief from diseases
- Purchase of vehicles
- Gain Knowledge
Daivi Hyesa Gunamayi Mama Maya Duratyaya Mameva Ye Prapadyante Mayametam Taranti Te
Meaning -According to this sloka, the heavenly maya of God is very complicated, but those who worship God will be able to overcome it.
Balam Balavatam Caham Kamaragavivarjitam Dharmaviruddho Bhutesu Kamo'smi Bharatarsabha
Meaning -According to this sloka, God is the isolated and aloof strength of the controlling and virtuous craving in men.
Ye Caiva Sattvika Bhava Rajasastamasasca Ye Matta Everti Tanviddhi Na Tvaham Tesu Temayi
Meaning -According to this sloka, though the only source of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obsessive and dark) elements is God, they are not present within the God or the deity.
Tribhirgunamayairbhavairebhih Sarvamidam Jagat Mohitam Nabhijanati Mamebhyah Paramavyayam
Meaning -According to this sloka, the entire world doesn't recognize the eternal God beyond them, because they are consumed by the elements of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obssessive and dark).
The temple is open from 06:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 04:00 pm to 08:30 pm.