Panch Kedar refers to the five Hindu temples or holy places of the Shaivite sect dedicated to Lord Shiva. They are located in Garhwal Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, India. They are subject to many legends that directly link their creation to Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharat. The five temples designated in the strict pecking order to be followed for pilgrimage for worship is the Kedarnath at an altitude of 3,583m, the Tungnath 3,680m, the Madhya Maheshwar 3,490m, and the Kalpeshwar 2,200m. The Kedarnath is the main temple which is the part of the Chota Char Dhams (literally ‘the small four abodes/seats’) or pilgrimage center of the Garhwal Himalayas; the other three Dhams are the Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. Kedarnath is also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
Shri Kedarnath Dham is situated at an altitude of 3586mts, in the lap of majestic mountain peaks of Himalayas and near the head of river Mandakini. Shri Kedarnath is one of the prominent jyotirlingas among the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
Shri Kedarnath Dham and the temple are surrounded by the mountain from three sides. On one side there are 22 thousand feet high Kedarnath mountain, on the other side 21.6 thousand feet high Chaukhamba mountain and on the third side 22.7 thousand feet high Bharatkund mountain. Apart from these three mountains, there is a confluence of of five rivers named Mandakini, Madhuganga, Shreeganga, Saraswati and Sawarngauri. Some of these rivers are not in existence now but tributaries of river Alaknanda i.e Mandakini and Saraswati still exist. Kedarnath is situated on the bank of these two rivers.
Kedarnath experience heavy snowfall during winters and heavy rainfall during monsoons. This is the largest Shiva temple of Uttarakhand and has been made from large brown colored slabs of Katwa stones. The first temple of Shri Kedarnath was made by Pandavas behind the presently located temple which dilapidated and disappeared with time. The present temple was made by Adi guru Shankaracharya in the 8th century. The temple was immersed in snow for 400 years. Another story is that during the 6-months period starting from Akshat Tritya to Bhai Dooj, when the doors of temple are opened, the god is worshipped by humans and this is called as Nar puja, and for the other 6 months when the door is closed it’s worshipped by the gods and is called as Dev puja. Kedarnath is accessible by a 16km trek from Gaurikund. The ideal time for the pilgrimage to Kedarnath is from May to October. During the winters, the idols from Kedarnath and Madhyameshwar are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months.
Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is also the highest of all the five panch Kedar temples located in the mountain ranges of Tungnath in Rudraprayag district, of Uttarakhand.
The Tungnath(literally meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountain form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. Located at an altitude of 3,680m, and just below the peak of Chandrashilla, Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to lord shiva. The temple is believed to be 5000 years old and is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the pecking order of the Panch Kedar.
A beautiful location at the foothills of lovely peaks, Madhya Maheshwar in the Garhwal region of the great Himalayas has an appealing elegance and pictorial surroundings. Blessed with unblemished and numinous surroundings, this diminutive locality is famed as the most scenic spot am0ng the panch Kedar. Like all other pilgrimage sites, Madhya Maheshwar also has a striking but interesting legend of its own.
Madhyamaheshwar or Madmaheshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to god shiva, located near the Gondar village of Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India. It is the fourth temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, comprising five Shiva temples in the Garhwal region. The other temple in the circuit includes Kedarnath, Tungnath, and Rudranath to be visited before Madmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar to be visited after Madmaheshwar.
The middle(Madhya) or belly part or navel(Nabhi) of the Mahesh, considering a divine form of Shiva, is worshipped in this temple, believed to be built by Pandavas, the hero pf Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Rudranath is the Hindu temple dedicated to god shiva, located in Garhwal Himalayan mountain in Uttarakhand, India, this natural rock temple is situated within a dense forest of rhododendron dwarfs and alpine pastures.
The face(Mukha) of god shiva is worshipped as “Nilkanth Mahadeva” here. Trek starts from Sagar village which is approx. 03 km from Gopeshwar. The other trek starts from Mandal which is 12 km from Gopeshwar.
Rudranth offers some of the finest sceneries of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas and at an elevation of 2286m , the beholder would be excited to experience the unspoiled beauty of nature. The thick forest, meadows of aromatic flowerbeds, sparkling lakes and the glittering peaks, Rudra Nath is endowed with bewitching sceneries.
Kalpeshwar is the last and fifth temple in the list of Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit and it is the only temple of the sacred panch Kedars that remain open throughout the year. The matted hairs or jata of lord shiva are worshipped inside this temple. Hence, lord shiva is also called as Jatadhar or Jateshwar.
Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of matted hairs at Kalpeshwar and the trail to this sacred shine goes through thick forests and lush green terrace fields. There is also an old Kalpvriksha tree here which is said to be the wish-granting tree in Hindu mythology.
The best time to visit the temple is from Apil to September. It is advised to visit before the month of October to avoid harsh weather conditions.