The term Kedar itself means a natural rock formation or a glacial moraine. The most famous legend about Panch Kedar relates to the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The five Kedar lies in the valleys between the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. The Garhwal region is also called the Kedar-Khanda 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.
Panch Kedar is one the most difficult pilgrimage tour in India, as all the Kedars are reached by trekking, with few lodges and eating places. The pilgrimage Panch Kedar yatra covering all five temples over a 170 km route (road cum trek length) starting from Rishikesh in the order of Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar and Kalpeshwar.
One of the holiest pilgrimages in north India, Kedarnath is situated in Uttarakhand. It is located at an altitude of 3,584 m above sea level, near the head of river Mandakini. A popular destination for Hindu pilgrims, Kedarnath is one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage that also includes Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The shrine is submerged in snow for about half a year when the Lord is shifted to Ukhimath. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances.
According to legends, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull.
Tungnath is one of the highest Shiva temples in the world and is the highest of the five Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Tunganath literal meaning: Lord of the peaks. The mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys.
It is located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila. The temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old. During winters, the temple is closed and the symbolic image of the deity and the temple priests are moved to Makkumath, which is 19 km here.
Rudranath is the highly revered temple of Lord Shiva is peacefully adorned in the Garhwal Himalayas. The celestial temple is snuggled inside the rhododendron forests and the alpine meadows.
The exhilarating trek to Rudranath temple can be either commenced from Sagar village, Helang or Urgam village. Rudranath temple is the toughest one to reach in comparison with other temples of Panch Kedar. The Himalayan peaks adding to the glory of Rudranath are Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti.
Rudranath is situated amidst thick woods, here the ‘mukh’ or the Lord’s face appeared and Shiva is worshipped as Neelkanth Mahadev. All around the temple are fragrant flower laden meadows. In the background, are the glittering snow-covered peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, NandaGhunti.
Blessed with unblemished and numinous surroundings, Madhyamaheshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to god Shiva, located in the Goundar village of Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India. Situated at an elevation of 3,497 m (11,473.1 ft), Ukhimath is the winter seat of Madhyamaheshwar.
It takes a tedious trek of 24 kilometres to be at the sanctified premises of Maheswar, but it is really worthy and pay high dividends in the form of picturesque surroundings. Madhyamaheshwar is indeed a divine spot that inspires one’s soul and minds with its aesthetic appeal.
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 remains open throughout the year.
Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of matted hairs at Kalpeshwar. Kalpeshwar temple is located at a height of 2200 meters. At this small stone temple, approached through a cave passage, the matted tress (jata) of Lord Shiva is worshipped.
Hence, Lord Shiva is also called as Jatadhar or Jateshwar. 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