The Panch Kedar trivia of the Garhwal hills (Uttarakhand)

Though the battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas may have been fought at Kurukshetra (in the present Haryana) and later the battle for kingdom/ rule shifted to Indraprastha (now Delhi) , what follows afterwards for the Pandava brothers finds reference in the mighty hills of Uttarakhand (especially in the Garhwal himalays).

What makes the entire folklore interesting is the fact that the panch kedar story finds consonance with the trekking community in India. Wondering where is this coming from and how the mélange of the two could perhaps be accepted, I shall leave this to one’s imagination.

Getting back to the plot, the Pandavas started frantically looking for Shiva to seek his blessings as they were remorseful of their acts of killing their own brahmin brothers (Kauravas) in the battle. They decided to look for Shiva in his favorite city , Kashi ( Varanasi). Shiva wasn’t very pleased with the Pandavas for the manner in which they had won the war. So he hid himself in the Garhwal Himalayas to avoid the Pandavas. Hence, the name ‘Guptakashi’ (hidden + Kashi) for this place in Rudraprayag district where Shiva is believed to have moved to from Kashi. This entire area is the Kedar valley with numerous temples against the backdrop of some of the highest mountains our country has to offer.

The Pandava brothers somehow got to know of Shiva’s coordinates (I really wonder how, but all this was quite possible in those days, yes without a GPS tracking) , so they decided to head to Guptakashi. Shiva did his best to avoid them. Pandavas , especially the 2nd Pandava brother (Bhima), tried all means to be able to have an audience with Lord Shiva. Finally, after all the hussle and bussle in the Garhwal Himalayas, Lord Shiva made appearances (disguised as a bull) at 5 different places. It is interesting to note that Shiva did not make himself visible to the Pandavas but they spotted his parts where temples were later on built by the Pandava brother. The details are as below ;


All the above 5 temples are located in the Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand (Garhwal region) and are only accessible on foot. Over the years, these have become a paradise for the trekking community as all these places are at higher altitude with amazing landscapes ( alpine meadows , lush green rhododendron forests and mighty Himalayas). Some of the prominent Himalayan peaks visible from these temple places include the Chaukhamba , Neelkanth, Mandani parvat , Nanda Devi and Hathi Parvat.

The diagram below shows the geographical location of these temples. The trek routes have been well defined now , organized trips are also conducted , ample of options for basic stay , food , etc. is available all along the trek routes.

5 kedar pic
Google map of the panch (5) kedars in the Garhwal region (Uttarakhand)

In my subsequent blogs, I will take up each of them separately and explain in detail.


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