Area: Garhwal Himalayas
Duration: 15 Days (12 days trekking and 3 days travelling)
Best Season: May to October
Altitude: 4090 mts (Chandrashila Peak)
Total Trekking: 130 K.M
One of the popular spiritual treks in Indian Himalayan region, the Panch Kedar Trek stretches from an altitude of 2134 meters, in Urgam, to a height of 3680 meters, in Tungnath. The entire stretch reflects the mythical colours of the Mahabharata where the Pandavas went to the Himalaya to meet Lord Shiva who avoided the meeting due to the Gau Hatya (Killing Cow) and Brahmahatya committed by the Pandavas. It is believed that in the struggle that followed, parts of Lord Shiva’s body that appeared in the form of a bull surfaced at various places in the Himalaya. The forelegs that showed up at Pashupatinath in Nepal, the hump of the bull at Kedarnath, the torso including the navel at Madhyamaheshwar, the arms at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, and the matted hair at Kalpeshwar, thus forming the Panch Kedar in India (excluding Pashupatinath being in Nepal).
The Panch Kedar Trek not only covers the five shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva but also allows you to get acquainted with the remote villages that exhibit an ancient charm. The entire trail from Kalgot to Kedarnath en route to Rudranath, Mandal, Chopta, Gaundhar, Tungnath and Madhyamaheshwar offers immense opportunity to get enamoured by nature of the place which is blessed with the snow capped peaks sequestering the dense forest and lush green meadows rolling down the valleys. Below are the five Kedar and their significance;
The best months for Panch Kedar Yatra are between May and October. All the temples of Panch Kedar open only for 6 months, generally from end April to October each year. During the winters the temples are inaccessible due to rainfall and snowfall. In winter, the sanctified symbolic of Lord Shiva in Kedarnath is worshipped at the Omkareshwar temple at Ukhimath, the representative idol of Tungnath is worshipped at Mokumath, the Rudranath symbolic image is brought to Gopeshwar, and the Madhyamaheshwar symbolic idol is venerated at Ukhimath. Only Kalpeshwar is open throughout the year.
The five temples lie Upper Himalaya region, with the background of snow-covered hill ranges of the Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks. Kedarnath is located in the Mandakini River valley while the other shrines are situated in the highlands between the Mandakini valley and the Alaknanda gorge. All the temples are remotely located and except Rudranath, the other four are still not accessible by motorable roads.
The village of Kedarnath is on the edge of Kedarnath mountain slope in a remote northern part of the Garhwal Himalayas. The Dudhganga, Madhuganga, Swargaduari and Saraswathi are the streams that flow in the valley behind the Kedarnath temple. Tungnath has an impressive backdrop of the peaks of Panchachuli, Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Kedarnath and Bandar Poonch and is situated near Chopta, which is at a short distance from Ukhimath. Kalpeshwar is located in the Urgam valley in a dense forest area. Urgam Valley has apple orchards, terraced fields where potato is grown extensively. Kalp Ganga River, a tributary of the Alaknanda, flows through this valley.