Itinerary of Panch Kedar
Panch Kedar details
Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar (MadhyaMaheshwar) and Kalpeshwar are collectively known as Panch Kedar. Lord Shiva is worshipped at the five kedars in different forms.
The first and foremost is the famous temple of Kedarnath ji, which is so widely known for its extraordinary sanctity. Here Shiva is worshipped in the form of a buffalo hump at Kedarnath already referred in Sri Kedarnath section.
Lord Shiva took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull and dived into the ground leaving his hump on the surface. The other four parts of Lord Shiva fell at Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar and Kapleshwar. Kedarnath along with these four are also described as Panch Kedar. The inner walls of the temple have various deities sculpted on it. The scenes also tell mythological stories.
The other parts of Shiva’s body-arms, face, navel and hair appeared at Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar (MadhyaMaheshwar) and Kalpeshwar. These four places, along with Sri Kedarnath Ji are known as the Panch Kedar.
According to the puranas, while the front portion of the Lord appeared at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, the other four parts are worshipped at:
Name of Panch Kedar
(1) Kedarnath for the body (body)
(1) Tungnath for the Arms (bahu)
(2) Rudranath for the Face (mukh)
(3) Madhyamaheshwar for the Stomach (nabhi) and
(4) Kalpeshwar for the Hair (jata)
Panch Kedar refers to five Hindu temples or holy places of the Shaivite sect dedicated to god Shiva. They are located in the Garhwal Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, India. They are the subject of many legends that directly link their creation to Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The five temples designated in the strict pecking order to be followed for pilgrimage for worship are the Kedarnath at an altitude of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), the Tungnath (3,680 m/12,070 ft), Rudranath (2,286 m/7,500 ft), Madhyamaheshwar or Madmaheshwar (3,490 m/11,450 ft) and Kalpeshwar (2,200 m/7,200 ft). The Kedarnath is the main temple, which is part of the four famous Chota Char Dhams (literally ‘the small four abodes/seats’) or pilgrimage centers of the Garhwal Himalayas; the other three dhams are the Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. Kedarnath is also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
The Garhwal region is also called the Kedar-Khand after Kedar — the local name for Lord Shiva. The region abounds in emblems and aniconic forms of Shiva sect of Lord Shiva, much more than the Vaishnava sect. The western part of this region in particular, which constitutes half of Chamoli district being known as Kedar-Kshetra or Kedar mandala, encompasses in its ambit all the five temples constituting the Panch Kedar.
Visitors to Kedarnath shrine, the first of the Panch Kedar temples for which records are available, was an impressive 557,923 in 2007 as against 87,629 in 1987, a quantum jump in 20 years.
Access by trekking
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/25,646 ft), Trishul (7,120 m/23,360 ft) and Chaukhamba (7,138 m/23,419 ft). Garhwal region is where the most worshipped Ganga River and its many tributaries originate adding to the reverence of the Panch Kedar temples.
The total trek length to cover all the five temples of Panch Kedar is about 170 km (110 mi) (including road travel up to Gaurikund), involving 16 days of strenuous and rewarding effort. The trek starts from Gauri Kund, one of the picturesque spots, providing spectacular views of the Himalayan range of hills in the entire Garhwal region, comparable to the Alps.
The trekking is undertaken during two seasons; three months during summer and two months after the monsoon season, as during the rest of the period, except Rudranath, the other four Panch Kedar temples are inaccessible due to snow cover.
The road from Rishikesh is the first entry point to Garhwal from the plains of Uttarakhand. Rishikesh is approachable from Delhi by road over a distance of 230 km (140 mi). The road from Rishikesh leads to the Gauri kund on the Rudraprayag–Kedarnath road from where the trekking would start to Kedarnath temple. The trek to Kedarnath is of 14 km (8.7 mi), each way. After Kedarnath, road travel to Guptkashi and further to Jagasu covers a distance of 30 km (19 mi). From Jagasu, the trek to Madhyamaheshwar temple via Gaundhar is over a distance of24 km (15 mi). This trek provides spectacular views of the Chaukhamba, the Kedarnath and the Neelkanth peaks. Returning from Madhayamaheshwar the road drive to Chopta via Jagasu is of 45 km (28 mi). From Chopta, the trek is to the Tunganath temple over a distance of about 4 km (2.5 mi). After the Tunganath trek, the drive along the road up to Mandal (known Cherapunji of Garhwal due to heavy rainfall) is for a distance of8 km (5.0 mi). From Mandal, the trek to Rudranath temple is of 20 km (12 mi). After visiting Rudranath temple the return journey is to Mandal and the drive down by road to Helang. From Helang, the trek to Kalpeshwar temple is for 11 km (6.8 mi) via Urgam village and is considered strenuous due to the steepness of the route. After completing the pilgrimage trek of Kalpeshwar temple, the last of the Panch Kedar temples, the return road drive from Helong to Rishikesh via Pipalkoti is a distance of 233 km (145 mi).
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (258 km/160 mi). The nearest railway station is Rishikesh (241 km/150 mi).
Worship during winter season
During the winter period when the temples are inaccessible due to snowfall, the sanctified symbolic Shiva idol of Kedarnath is worshipped at the Omkareshwar temple at Ukimath, the representational idol of Tunganath is worshipped at Mokumath, the Rudranath symbolic image is brought to Gopeshwar, and the Madhyamaheshwar symbolic idol is venerated at Ukimath.