Scattered splashes of rain, clouds thrusting upon the mountain tops, and somewhere in the distance, sun making its way through a narrow slit, bringing the wilderness around alive and kicking. This is how the mountain landscape presents itself in the month of March, as it transitions from winter to spring. This was all unfolding in front of me as I was sipping a cup of tea overlooking the Mandakini River, gushing down the hill at this small town called Tilwara, located about 9 kilometres from the district headquarters of Rudraprayag.
Later in the afternoon, the clouds suddenly started to recede away, and soon, a spotless blue sky was visible above. Weather is always tricky in the mountains, and you never know what you are going to get. Leaving these thoughts behind, I decided to visit the age-old Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath town.
Some unique aspects about the Omkareshwar temple.
- Estimated to be about 5000 years old
- Is the winter abode of the Shiva Idol of Kedarnath temple
- Is the winter abode of the Shiva Idol of Madhmaheshwar temple
- Located at a distance of about 43 km from Rudraprayag and roughly 180 kms from Rishikesh
- Built in the nagara style of architecture – common in this part of the region
- Perched at an altitude of about 1300 metres.
- One can also find a panch kedar temple inside the larger complex
How do we reach Ukhimath or Omkareshwar Temple
- Ukhimath or the temple is on the roadhead. The road condition is excellent and can be accessed in approximately an hour’s time from Rudraprayag
- While there are shared taxis and buses that ply between Rudraprayag and Ukhimath, but they have specific timings
- It is suggested to have your own conveyance so that you have control over the time
- Until Kund (identified by a check-post and a bridge over Mandakini river) you are pretty much on the Kedarnath highway and here you take a detour that goes all the way to Ukhimath which is about 7 kms from here
- The road from Kund to Ukhimath is narrow but in excellent condition plus the traffic flow is minimal
- From Rudraprayag until Ukhimath the route followed is :- Rudraprayag – Tilwara – Agastyamuni – Chandrapuri – Bhiri – Kund – Ukhimath
Kund is almost at the base of the hill and from here until Ukhimath, the path ascends (in a zig-zag manner) towards the upper reaches of the mountain. The views from here are breath-taking. In the far distance, snow-covered mountains stand out prominently. The beautiful and historic town of Guptkashi (on the opposite hill) can also be clearly seen from here.
Just before you arrive at the centre of Ukhimath, a diversion will lead you to the Omkareshwar temple. The façade of the entrance gate to the temple exudes an aura of grandeur and spirituality. Adored with intricate carvings and detailed sculptures done in an array of colours, it is a visually impressive spectacle.
The main sanctum sanctorum houses the shiva idols of Kedarnath temple and the Madhmaheshwar temple. Omkareshwar is the winter abode of these idols and for approximately 6 months, these idols are kept and worshipped here at Ukhimath.
The mythological narratives associated with this temple.
- It is believed that a marriage between Usha (daughter of Banasura) and Aniruddha (grandson of Lord Krishna) took place here. The place therefore became Ushamath and later changed to Ukhimath.
- King Mandhata (or Mandhatri) , son of King Yuvanashva of Ayodhya, is said to have performed penance to Lord Shiva at this place. He is considered an ancestor of Lord Ram.
The temple complex is full of captivating architectural wonders, intricately crafted doors, and other structures. As I was strolling around the temple complex, in a remote corner, sat a person playing dhol-damau , a traditional percussion instrument, commonly played during festivals, wedding and during important events. The gentle yet constant thud of the instrument blended harmoniously with the overall mystical ambience of the surroundings.
Important Google map links
1. Google map link for Omkareshwar – https://goo.gl/maps/TermRqKXf5P3V3ec7
2. Google map link for Rudraprayag – https://goo.gl/maps/JARrQo2PWp5z9DFbA
Amazing blogging sir,you have observed to all hills weather conditions also location and natural beauty.really you are very crazy.I am happy with out you all the best.
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Nice read. Thanks for sharing.
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I could imagine you sipping tea overlooking the River Mandakani. Such a vivid description.
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