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Panch Kedar Yatra refers to five holy places of the Shaivite sect dedicated to god Shiva. They are located in the Garhwal Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, India. 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). According to the legend, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a Bull. On being followed, he dived into the ground, leaving behind his hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol in the Kedarnath shrine. Other parts of Shiva appeared throughout the Garwahl region as follows.
Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 mts. on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. Kedarnath is a majestic sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnathtemple is said to be more than a 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs were handled in the earlier days. The temple has a “Garbha Griha” for worship and a Mandap apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
The arm of Lord Shiva came out at this place as per Kedarnath myth. The Tungnath temple is situated at an altitude of about 3680 m above sea level, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the highest Shiva Shrine among the Panch Kedar, 3 km uphill from Chopata. The sancity of the region of Tungnath is considered unsurpassed.
The peak of Tungnath is the source of three springs that form the river Akashkamini. Tungnath is reached through a path that wends through alpine meadows & rhododendron thickets. An hour’s climb from here leads to Chandrashila with its panoramic views.
The shrine is 23 km from Gopeshwar at 2286 m. The Mukhor face of Lord Shiva os worshipped as Neelkanth Mahadev here. The temple site provides splendid views of Hathi Parvat, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, Trishuli and other peaks. Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund, etc. are the holy kunds situated nearby. The scenic beauty and the spiritual piousness of the place make it scenically beautiful as well as enchanting.
Anusuya Devi temple is located on the trek to Rudranath involving an additional trek of 3 km. Another route 13 km from Gopeshwar to Mandal then trek 6 km to reach Anusuya Devi. Devi Anusuya is revered as the Goddedd who blesses her devotees in their difficulties.
It is said that the navel of Lord Shiva reappeared at this shrine after disappearing at Kedarnath. Shiva is worshipped Madmaheshwar in the form of a navel shaped lingam. This Shrine is 31 km from Guptkashi at an altitude of 3289 m. The temple can be approached by a trek through the famous Sidha Peeth of Kalimath. Wild, unparalleled scenic beauty and incredible landscapes distinguish the distance from Kalimath to Madmaheshwar. Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks are visible from here. Gaundar, at the conflux of Madmaheshwar Ganga and Markanga Ganga, is the last place that is worth a visit before one reaches this shrine.
The hair locks (Jata) of Lord Shiva are worshipped in this small rock temple at the height of 2134 m before the matted, tresses of Shiva enshrined in rock in the sanctum and sanctorum. The sanctum is preceded by a natural cave passage. This temple is located in Urgam valley. This shrine is a delight for the tourists with striking views of valley with terraced fields and lush green forests. The temple is reached after a trek of 12 km from Helang which is the motor head on Rishikesh – Badarinath route.