Panch Kedar Circuit
Destinations Covered : Kalpeshwar, Rudranath, Tunganath, Madhmaheshwar, Kedarnath
Kedar is the name of a peak of the Himalayas and the word literally means ‘marshy land’. It houses the kedareshwar shivalinga which was worshipped by Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Nara-Narayan. It is believed that in the Satyuga, sage Upamanyu worshipped Lord Shiva here. In the Ramayana period, Sage Vashishtha advised Lord Rama to undertake a pilgrimage to Uttarakhand as penance for killing Ravana. Thereafter, in the Dwapar Yuga the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva at the advice of Sage Ved Vyas.
This was to be a penance for Brahma Hatya or killing of Brahmans and Gotra Hatya or Fratricide committed during the Mahabharata war. Lord Shiva was hiding from the Panadavas in the form of a buffalo when he was identified by the Pandava brother Bhima who clasped his tail.
It is thought that the hump of the deity remained here and he came to be worshipped under the name of ‘Kedarnath’ at this spot. Similar stories govern about the origin of the Panch-Kedar, the group of five temples for the worship of Lord Shiva, each dedicated to one of his body parts. The temples included in the Panch-Kedar are-
- Kedarnath- The hump of Lord Shiva is worshipped
- Madhmaheshwar- The Belly button of Lord Shiva is worshipped (95 Kms from Kedarnath, Rudraprayag)
- Tungnath- The arms of Lord Shiva are worshipped (88 kms from Kedarnath, Rudraprayag)
- Rudranath- The face of Lord Shiva is worshipped (Chamoli)
- Kalpeshwar- The hair of Lord Shiva is worshipped (Urgam Valley, Chamoli. On the bridle path from Helang to Kalpeshwar, the confluence of the Alaknanda and Kalpganga rivers is seen. Kalpganga river flows through the Urgam valley)