Panch Kedar Yatra (approx. Time: 6 Days)
Last Updated:08 May 2009
One of the most arduous pilgrimages in India, Panch Kedar Yatra refers to the holy journey to the five temples of Lord Shiva – Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudrantah and Kalpeshwar. Since it is not a very popular pilgrimage circuit, the infrastructure is weak.
Mythology has it that Pandavas after their victory in the Mahabharata wished to pay homage to Lord Shiva to atone for their sins of gotra hatya (killing their kin). At Kedarnath, Shiva saw Pandavas coming and disguised himself as bull, however Pandavas saw through this disguise.
The bull tried to thrust himself into the ground but Bhima tried to hold the bull to prevent it from vanishing. In the ensuing battle, Shiva got torn into separate parts that manifested themselves at various places in the region. The forehead appeared at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu; the hump at Kedarnath; the torso in Madhyamaheshwar; the arms at Tungnath; the fact at Rudranath and the matted locks at Kalpeshwar. The five sites in India are referred to as Panch Kedar.
The Panch Kedar Yatra starts from Kedarnath, which is the westernmost shrine of all the five. Kedarnath is located at an altitude of 3584 meters close to the source of the Mandakini. The shrine is a 14-km trek from Gaurikund, the last road head to the temple. Madhyamaheshwar is the 2nd stop of the Panch Kedar Yatra in Uttrakhand. Ukhimath, approximately 34 km from Madhyamaheshwar is the main town with decent accommodation facilities. Uniana is the last road head from where a 20 km long trek for Madhymaheshwar begins. The main landmarks on the trek are Ransi (17 km before Madhyamaheshwar), Gaundhar (11 km) and Bantoli (10 km).
Tungnath, the third stop of Panch Kedar Yata can be reached from Chopta on the road between Badrinath and Kedarnath. Chopta is approximately one hour’s drive from Ukhimath via Dugalibitta. Tungnath is approximately 4 km trek from Chopta. Tungnath is the highest of the Panch Kedars at an altitude of 3658 meters. Tungnath is followed by Kalpeshwar. Kalpeshwar Temple is located at an altitude of 2132 meters and is the only one of the Panch Kedars open throughout the year. Helang is the last road head to Kalpeshwar. A trek of 11 km for Kalpeshwar begins here. Kalpeshwar can be reached from Chopta taking Kedarnath-Badrinath Road to Gopeshwar via Mandal and Sagar.
Rudranath is the last stop of the Panch Kedar Yatra. The approach to Rudranath is from Helang. Rudranath is the most difficult of the Panch Kedars. The trek to Rudranath is an arduous one though facilities en route providing food and lodging.
The temple remains open only for 6-8 months in a year. It opens in the month of April and closes in Oct-Nov. Rudranath is a 40 km trek from Devgaon.
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