“Panch Kedar” which means the five kedar refers to the five temples dedicated to lord Shiva. All the five temples are located in the picturesque Garwal hills in Uttrakhand State. The five temples are Kedarnath(3,583 m), Tungnath(3,680 m), Rudranath(2,286 m),Madhyamaheshwar(3,490 m) and Kalpeshwar(3,490 m).
Legend Attached: The legend attached to Panch Kedar is related to Pandavas of Hindu Epic Mahabharata. It is said that they wanted to expiate for the sins conducted during the war of Kurukshetra for killing their cousins and Brahmins. For this they wanted to seek blessings of Lord Shiva. But Lord Shiva did not want to bless them as he was enraged of their deeds. So he assumed the figure of a bull and hid himself in the Garwal Hills. Not finding lord Shiva in Kashi, the Pandavas moved toward Garwal hills. While they were searching for Lord Shiva, Bhima recognized lord Shiva in form of bull at Guptkashi. Bhima tried to get hold of the bull but Shiva in form of bull disappeared into the ground.The hump of the bull came out in Kedarnath, the arms appeared in Tungnath, the navel appeared in Madhyamaheshwar, face surfaced at Rudranath and the head surfaced at Kalpeshwar. Pandavas built temples at all these sites and worshiped lord Shiva and later on were liberated of their sins.
Kedarnath:Kedarnath is located near the Chorabari Glacier which is the source of Mandakini river.The temple opens in April and closes down in November due to excessive snowfall. Also accessing the temple during Monsoons is very difficult due to the area being prone to landslides and during the time the temple doors are closed the palki of lord Shiva is shifted to Guptkashi.
Tungnath:Tungnath is the highest of the Lord Shiva shrines and is located in Tehri Garwal of Uttrakhand State.The hands of the bull are worshiped here.The temple of Tungnath is located beautifully atop a ridge dividing waters of Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers.
Madhyamaheshwar:Madhyamaheshwar temple is located at the Mansuna village and the navel of the bull is worshiped here. The Shivlinga is made of black stone in form of a navel. Other than the main shrine, there are temples of Parvati and Ardhnarishwara in the temple premises.
Rudranath:The face of Lord Shiva in form of Neelkhant is worshiped here at Rudranath. There are plenty of scared tanks called the Surya Kund, Chandra Kund etc located near the temple.
Kalpeshwar: Kalpeshwar is the only temple out of the five temples that is accessible throughout the year. Lord Shiva is worshiped in form of Jateshwar as his tresses surfaced here.The temple is located in the Urgam valley in Urgam village.
The complete Panch kedar pilgrimage can be completed within 15 to 17 days. It is indeed an arduous trek but one feels spiritually refreshed after the completion of the whole trek. It feels nice to connect to God and nature at its pristine best.