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Panch Kedar

Panch Kedar (Sanskrit: ) refers to five Hindu temples or holy places of the
Panch Kedar
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 Geography
their creation to Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.[1] Coordinates Kedarnath
304348N
The five temples designated in the strict pecking order to be followed for pilgrimage
79412E, Tungnath
for worship are the Kedarnath (Sanskrit: ) at an altitude of 3,583 m
302922N
(11,755 ft), the Tungnath ()(3,680 m or 12,070 ft), Rudranath ( )
791255E,
(2,286 m or 7,500 ft),Madhyamaheshwar ( ) or Madmaheshwar (3,490 m
Rudranath
or 11,450 ft) and Kalpeshwar ( ) (2,200 m or 7,200 ft). The Kedarnath is the
30320N
main temple, which is part of the four famousChota Char Dhams (literally 'the small
79200E,
four abodes/seats') or pilgrimage centers of the Garhwal Himalayas; the other three
Madhyamaheshwar
dhams are the Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. Kedarnath is also one of the
303813N
twelve Jyotirlingas.[2][3]
791258E and
The Garhwal region is also called the Kedar-Khanda after Kedar the local name
Kalpeshwar
for Lord Shiva. The region abounds in emblems and aniconic forms of Shiva sect of
303437.35N
Lord Shiva, much more than the Vaishnava sect. The western part of this region in
792522.49E
particular, which constitutes half of Chamoli district being known as Kedar-Kshetra Country India
or Kedar mandala, encompasses in its ambit all the five temples constituting the State Uttarakhand
Panch Kedar.[4]
Culture
Visitors to Kedarnath shrine, the first of the Panch Kedar temples for which records Sanctum Shiva
are available, was an impressive 557,923 in 2007 as against 87,629 in 1987, a Architecture
quantum jump in 20 years.[5]
Architectural North Indian
styles architecture
History and governance

Contents Date built Unknown


Creator Pandavas
1 History
2 Legends
3 Geography
4 Access by trekking
5 Worship during winter season
6 References
7 External links

History
It is said that the Panch Kedar Yatra (pilgrimage) could be directly related to the Gorakhnath cult (recognized for their pilgrim
traditions) of Nepal. As a proof, it is stated that the culmination of the pilgrimage was at Pashupatinath temple in Nepal, rightly
where Lord Shivas head is worshipped and not at Kedarnath where the hump is venerated. A further supporting fact mentioned in
this regard is that the emblem used in Kedarnath temple dome is the same as displayed in the Pashupathinath temple dome in
Kathmandu.[6]
Legends Panch Kedar
Many folk legends related to the Garhwal region, god Shiva and the
creation of the Panch Kedar temples are narrated.

The most famous folk legend about Panch Kedar relates to the
Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Pandavas
defeated and killed their cousins the Kauravas in the epic
Kurukshetra war. They wished to atone for the sins of committing
fratricide (gotra hatya) and Brhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins
the priest class) during the war. Thus, they handed over the reigns of
their kingdom to their kin and left in search of the god Shiva and to Kedarnath
seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city ofVaranasi (Kashi),
believed to Shiva's favourite city and famous for its Shiva temple. But,
Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death
and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive
to Pandavas' prayers. Therefore, he assumed the form of a bullNandi)
(
and hid in the Garhwal region.
Tungnath Rudranath
Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to Garhwal
Himalayas. Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, then
standing astride two mountains started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull
grazing near Guptakashi (hidden Kashi the name derived from
the hiding act of Shiva). Bhima immediately recognized the bull to be
Shiva. Bhima caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the
Madhyamaheshwar Kalpeshwar
bull-formed Shiva disappeared into the ground to later reappear in
parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in
Tunganath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach surfacing in
Madhyamaheshwar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head
appearing in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five
different forms, built temples at the five places for venerating and worshipping
Shiva. The Pandavas were thus freed from their sins. It is also believed that the fore
portions of Shiva appeared at Doleshwor Mahadeva Temple, Bhaktapur district
Nepal.[2][7][8]

A variant of the tale credits Bhima of not only catching the bull, but also stopping it
from disappearing. Consequently, the bull was torn asunder into five parts and Overview of Pashupatinath temple
appeared at five locations in the Kedar Khand of Garhwal region of the complex in Kathmandu, Nepal
Himalayas.[7] After building the Panch Kedar temples, the Pandavas mediated at
Kedarnath for salvation, performed yagna (fire sacrifice) and then through the
heavenly path called the Mahapanth (also called Swargarohini), attained heaven or
salvation.

After completing the pilgrimage of Lord Shiva's darshan at the Panch Kedar
temples, it is an unwritten religious rite to visit Lord Vishnu at the Badrinath
Temple, as a final affirmatory proof by the devotee that he has sought blessings of
Lord Shiva.[9]

Worship rights
Badrinath Temple
The priests and pundits who worship in the Panch Kedar temples are from South
India, except in Tungnath. Namboodiri brahmins hailing from Malabar, in Kerala
officiate as chief priests at Badrinath temple and they are known by the name
Rawals. Jangamas who are pure Lingayatisms from Chitrakal in Mysore are the
chief priests at the Madhyamaheswar temple. Dasnami Gosains founded by Adi
Shankaracharya are the chief priests in Rudranath and Kalpeshwar temples. The
Tunganath temple is served by the Khasi Brahmins. In the case of Tungnath, it is
also said that the local brahmins from Mokumath of
ficiate as priests.

Kedarnath Teerth Purohit all Kedarnath Teerth Purohit (Panda) are the ancient Ukhimath Temple, near where the
brahmin of this himalaya region of Kedarkhand, these are there from the end of treta Kedarnath and the
Madhyamaheshwar deities are kept
yug and start of kaliyug, when pandava came to himalaya for finding moksh, and
during the winter months
then went to mahapanth, after their journey to mahapanth, their grandson King
Janmejay came to Kedarnth and gave the right of worshiping of Kedarnath temple to
[10]
these brahmins. These lives near Guptakashi. At the start the total no of these brahmins were 360 numbers.

Geography
The five temples lie ensconced in the region of the Upper Himalayas with the high,
snow-covered hill ranges of the Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and
Neelkanth peaks forming their backdrop. Kedarnath is located in the Mandakini
River valley while the other shrines are situated in the highlands between the
Mandakini valley and the Alakananda gorge. They are so remotely located that
except Rudranath, the other four are still not accessible by motorable roads but
reached by strenuous trekking, starting from late April or early May till early
October. For the rest of year (the winter season), the shrines are closed due to heavy
snowfall. Rudranath is accessible throughout the year by a short trek of about 3 km Chaukhamba peak
(2 mi) from the nearest road head. (See External links for schematic maps of the
locations of Panch Kedar).[2]

The village of Kedarnath is on the edge of Kedarnath mountain slope in a remote


northern part of the Garhwal Himalayas. Kedarnath ranges drain into the Mandakini
River that emerges from the steady edge of the Churabre glacier and forms the
picturesque Mandakini valley. The Dudhganga, Madhuganga, Swargaduari and
Saraswathi are the streams that flow in the valley behind the Kedarnath temple. Also
seen close to the temple are four sacred ponds called Retah, Udak, Rudra and
Rishi.[2] Tunganath has an impressive backdrop of the peaks of Panchulli, Nanda
Devi, Dunagiri, Kedarnath and Bandar Poonch. The Vaitarani stream flows near Trishul peak
Rudranath.[8] Kalpeshwar is located in the Urgam valley in a dense forest area.
Urgam Valley has apple orchards, terraced fields where potato is grown extensively.
.[11]
Kalp Ganga river, a tributary of the Alaknanda, flows through the valley

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 or 25,646 ft),
Nanda Devi Peak
Trishul (7,120 m or 23,360 ft) and Chaukhamba (7,138 m or 23,419 ft). Garhwal region is where the most worshipped Ganga River
[11]
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.[11] The trekking is
undertaken during two seasons; three months during summer and two months after the monsoon season, as during the rest of the
.[12]
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 Gaurikhund on the RudraprayagKedarnath 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 Guptakashi and further to Jagasu covers a distance of 30 km (19 mi). From Jagasu, the trek to Madhaymaheshwar 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 Madhyamaheshwar 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 Cherrapunji 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 Kalpeswar temple, the last of the Panch Kedar temples, the return road drive from
[11][13]
Helong to Riishikesh via Pipalkothi is a distance of 233 km (145 mi).

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant,Dehradun (258 km or 160 mi). The nearest railway station isRishikesh (241 km or 150 mi).[14]

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 Ukhimath, the representational idol of Tunganath is worshipped at Mokumath, the
[2][7]
Rudranath symbolic image is brought toGopeshwar, and the Madhyamaheshwar symbolic idol is venerated at Ukhimath.

References
1. "Eight days of bliss" (http://www.hinduonnet.com/2001/08/12/stories/1312106f.htm). Retrieved 2009-07-05.
2. Harshwanti Bisht (1994).Tourism in Garhwal Himalaya(https://books.google.com/books?id=6C6DGU73WzsC&pg=P
A84&dq=rudranath+Capildeo&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_b
rr=3&client=firefox-a). Panch Kedar. Indus Publishing. pp. 8486.ISBN 9788173870064. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
3. "Chard Dham Yatra" (http://gov.ua.nic.in/transport/chardham.htm). Government of Uttarakhand, Official website.
Retrieved 2009-07-14.
4. J. C. Aggarwal; Shanti Swarup Gupta (1995).Uttarakhand: past, present, and future(https://books.google.com/book
s?id=alRh51xE_v0C&pg=PA222&dq=Panch+Kedar&ei=8OUcSvr0DYSmkAS-iqmKDg). Chamoli district. Concept
Publishing Company. p. 222. ISBN 9788170225720.
5. "Number Of Pilgrims" (http://www.badrinath-kedarnath.gov.in/content-kedar.aspx?id=9). Retrieved 2009-07-20.
6. Bill Aitken (2003). Footloose in the Himalaya(https://books.google.com/books?id=XlxyJY Afz4gC&pg=PA140&dq=Pa
nch+Kedar&ei=8OUcSvr0DYSmkAS-iqmKDg) . Chapter 15: The Best Little Trek. Orient Blackswan,. pp. 134141.
ISBN 9788178240527. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
7. "Panch Kedar Yatra" (http://traveluttarakhand.com/panchkedar
.html#madhyamaheshwar#madhyamaheshwar).
Retrieved 2009-07-05.
8. Kapoor. A. K.; Satwanti Kapoor. Ecology and man in the Himalayas. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 250.
ISBN 9788185880167.
9. "Panch Kedar" (http://www.jyotirlinga.com/panchakedar.htm). Retrieved 2009-07-15.
10. Jha, Makhan (1998). India and Nepal. Sacred Complex in Garhwal Himalayas. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 143.
ISBN 9788175330818.
11. "Trekking in India uk" (http://www.trekkinginindia.com/trekking-in-garhwal/panch-kedar-trek.html). Retrieved
2009-07-12.
12. "Trekking: Madhyamaheshwar: Reaching Shiva's Navel" (http://www.indiatravelogue.com/adve/trek/trek25.html).
Retrieved 2009-07-13.
13. Bradnock, Roma (2000).Indian Himalaya handbook(https://books.google.com/books?id=TyZGp_YVzb8C&pg=PA11
4&dq=rudranath+-Capildeo&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr
=3&client=firefox-a). Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 1145.
14. "Panch Kedar: Rudranath"(http://www.badrinath-kedarnath.gov.in/content-kedar.aspx?id=35). Shri Badrinath -Shri
Kedarnath Temple Committee. 2006 2017. Retrieved 2009-07-16. Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links
Locations of Panch Kedar - Schematic sketch
Panch Kedar, trek map, page 78

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