Panch Kedar refers to a group of five Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India.
Panch Kedar refers to five Hindu religious places located In Garhwal region of Uttrakhand surrounded by dense forest and snow clapped Mountains. The Garhwal is also called the Kedar Khanda, because the local name of lord Shiva in Uttrakhand is Kedar. Kedarnath is the main temple followed by the Tungnath, the Rudranath, the Madhyamaheshwar, and the Kalpeshwar temple. Kedarnath also come under four abodes of Uttrakhand, the other three are Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamnotri. Kedarnath temple is situated in Mandakini river valley, the others shrines are situated between the Mandakini and the Alakananda gorge. The yatra starts in the month of April till October; rest of the year journey is not possible because of heavy snowfall. One’s must go with fully equipped, because of the severe cold conditions and should be physically fit.
Panch Kedar related to Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharata. They have defeated and killed the Kaurvas, their cousins. They wished to atone for their sins of committing Gotrahatya and Brahmanahatya. On the advice of Lord Krishna they handed the reins of Hastinapur to Parikshit and left in search of lord Shiva to seek his blessings. First they went to Kashi, but Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was very angry with the Pandavas because of the death and dishonesty at the Kurushetra. Lord Shiva took the form of Nandi and hide himself in Garhwal region. When Pandavas unable to find Shiva in Kashi, they went to Garhwal. Bhima then standing astride two mountains started looking for shiva.Bhima saw a bull grazing near guptkashi (Also called hidden Kashi, situated nearby Kedarnath). Bhima recognized the bull to be Shiva. Bhima caught hold the bull by his tail and hind legs, but Shiva disappeared in to the ground and later reappear in parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnaath, the arms appearing in Tungnath, the face showing in in Rudranath, the navel and stomach in Madhyamamaheshwr and the hair in Kalpeshwar. Pandavas were pleased with this in five different forms, built temples at the five places and they freed themselves from their sins. All Kedar are thousands of years old with great artifacts’. It is believed that in Pashupatinath Shiva head is worshipped.Panch Kedar yatra has lot of spiritual influence.
Rishikesh is the first entry point to visit Panchkedar, from Rishikesh , kedarnath is about 200 km, last reachable road is Gaurikund, from here trekking starts ,which is about 18 Km.Tungnath can be reached from Kund – Gopeshwar road up to Chopta and from Chopta one’s can reach Tungnath covering three Km trekking. Tungnath is the world highest Shiva temple in the world. At a distance of twenty five Km from Gopeshwar, Rudranath temple is located. From Gopeshwar trekking starts which is about twenty three Km. From Ukimath, Ransi village Madhmaheshwar trek starts which is about 16 Km. the trek is very easy up to Bantoli, but from here there is steep ascent. Kalpeshwar temple can be reached by completing 11 Km trek from Helang village, Helang is located nearby joshimath. All panchkedar surrounded by lush green forest, mountain ranges with different species of flora and fauna. In Kedarnath hotels and dhramsalas are available .In other Kedars tents are available. Registration is required to reach any Panchkedar.
During winter because of heavy snowfall in Panchkedar temples are inaccessible. The symbolic idol of Lord Shiva is worshipped in Ukimath and Gopeshwar. One’s must visit Panchkedar because it depicts our Natural and Cultural Heritage.