Panch Kedar: 5 Temples you will regret not visiting in Uttarakhand

About the Panch Kedar

Devbhoomi Uttarakhand is home to some of the most sacred sites in all of India. The region is also referred to as Kedar Khand, meaning the land of Lord Shiva.

Home to the mighty Himalayas where gods themselves have walked, most notably Lord Shiva and the Panch Kedar temples, which are located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

‘Panch’ means five and ‘Kedar’ means Lord Shiva; the Panch Kedar is a circuit of 5 of the most revered Shiva temples- Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar.

Believed to have been established by the Pandavas during the Mahabharat in the ‘Dwapar Yug’, the Panch Kedar pilgrimage is a journey of a lifetime that must be undertaken by any nature lover and a true devotee of the Adiyogi.

Each of the five temples is cut off from the human population and requires some amount of trekking/hiking to reach. The story of their origin is mostly traced to the Pandavas (from the Hindu epic Mahabharata).

Panch Kedar History

The history of Panch Kedar is associated with the Mahabharata.

After the war ended, Pandavas embarked on a journey to find Lord Shiva and seek his forgiveness for their sins.

Lord Shiva did not wish to absolve the Pandavas as he was infuriated at what had been done to secure a victory at the Kurukshetra.

Therefore, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a bull and hid in the Garhwal Himalayas (the place is now known as Guptkashi: Gupt as in hidden).

While searching for the Lord, Bhima saw a bull grazing nearby. Bhima recognized that it was the Lord himself and tried to stop the fleeing bull by catching hold of its tail and hind legs. The bull disappeared into the ground and five parts of the bull reemerged at these five places, which came to be known as Panch Kedar.

Each of the Panch Kedar is named after the Lord’s body parts. The Panch Kedar temples are listed below, the circuit which shall be undertaken in this order.

Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit: Panch Kedar sequence

To undertake the pilgrimage, one must visit the panch Kedar temples in the sequence given below:

Kedarnath (Hump)

Located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, the Kedarnath temple is the most famous of the Panch Kedar temples and possibly the most famous Lord Shiva temple in India.

Situated at a towering 3,584 meters height, the Kedarnath temple is set in a dream landscape, with a backdrop of snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. The conical-shaped shivling is believed to be the hump of Lord Shiva. The Kedarnath shrine can only be visited after a long and tough 16 km trek from Gaurikund, which is well connected with motorable roads.

Tungnath (Arms)

Knows as the highest Shiva temple in the world, the Tungnath shrine is located at 3,680 meters. Much like Kedarnath, the Tungnath temple is also located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, the temple is reachable via a short trek (4 km) from Chopta.

The trek is relatively easier and a paved path has been carved to make the experience enjoyable for the devotees. Along the way, pristine Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Chowkhamba, and Neelkanth are visible.

Rudranath (Face)

The Rudranath temple is the third temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar Pilgrimage circuit. It is believed that the face of Lord Shiva emerged here and this form of Lord Shiva is worshiped as ‘Neelkanth Mahadev.’ 

At a height of 3, 559 meters above sea level, the trek to Rudranath temple is considered to be the toughest of the Panch Kedar. The towering peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, and Trishul are in the backdrop of this stone-made temple.

Madhamaheswar (Navel)

Situated at 3,289 meters, Madhyamaheswar temple lies in a beautiful green valley in the Mansoona village of Garhwal Himalayas and is encircled by spectacular snow-covered peaks of Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, and Neelkantha.

Kalpeshwar (Hair)

Kapeshwar Temple is situated in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, where the hair of Lord Shiva emerged. This is the only temple of the Panch Kedar that remains open throughout the year. Situated at 2,200 meters, the temple is set in the beautiful Urgam valley and is a short trek of 2 km from Urgam village.

Panch Kedar trek

Panch Kedar trek is a once-in-a-lifetime experience everyone should experience. Whether you are a true devotee or an adventure lover, this journey will not disappoint you.

The trek to each of the Panch Kedars offers magnificent views of the Himalayan meadows, snow-clad peaks,  a chance to get along with other devotees/travelers, ending in the abode of Lord Shiva, surrounded by serenity and spirituality.

This expedition shall also allow you to visit places amazing tourist places in Uttarakhand such as Chopta, Chandrashila, Joshimath, Urgam Valley, Ransi, Panar, Kalgot. The trek takes almost 15-16 days so make sure you are in great physical condition before you embark on the Panch Kedar Trek.

Best Time to Travel to Panch Kedar

All of the Panch Kedar Temples are situated at really high altitudes where the weather is extreme in winters. Therefore, the Panch Kedar temples open for 6 months from April to October, with the exception of Kalpeshwar which is open throughout the year.

The best time to visit the Panch Kedar Temples is the summer season in May and June and then just before the winters start setting in in September and October.

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