Panch Kedars

Parts of Lord Shiva’s body appeared at five places in the Kedarnath area. It is said that the Pandavas built temples at each of these places-Kedarnath, Madhyamaheswar, Rudranath, Tungnath, and Kalpeswara. They are at altitudes from 1,500 to 3,680m. It takes about 14 days to go to all five places. They can all be reached by a long circular trek. Most of the part one has to walk from temple to temple. A bus leaves Gaurikund, near Kedarnath, every morning at 5 am and stops at access points for the Panch Kedar temples. A local bus goes between Gopeswar and Guptakashi.

You could start at Kedarnath. From there you return to Guptakashi and then go to Okhimath and continue on to Mansuna village. From Mansuna village it is a 24km trek to Madhyamaheswar (3,497m), which is 30km from Guptakashi. You can stop at Ransi overnight, and then you go to Gondhar (3km) and climb 10km to Madhyamaheswar. The temple here is a small stone temple dedicated to the middle (madhya) part of the bull-Shiva.

Tungnath (3,680m or 12,065 ft) is the highest (in altitude) temple in India. It is surrounded by striking mountains such as Neelkanth, Kedarnath, and Nanda Devi. The Shiva temple here is on a stone paved platform overlooking a cliff. Tungnath represents the arm of Lord Shiva. There are five silver faces of the Pandavas along with deities of Vyasadeva and Kalabhairava in the temple. There is also a small Parvati temple here. You get here by trekking from Chopta (7km, 4 hr), which is 37km from Ukhimath. At Chopta there is a GMVN Tourist Bungalow that has rooms with baths.

To get to Kalpeswara Temple (2,100m), you first travel by bus to the village of Helang, 14km south of Joshimath. From Helang you walk 9km to the village of


Urgam, which has basic accommodation and food. From there it is a 1.5km walk to Kalpeswara temple, which is dedicated to the jata (hair) of Lord Shiva. It is a rock Temple that is entered through a cave.

Next you go to Gopeswar by road and then to Sagar. From there it is a 24km trek to Rudranath, dedicated to the mouth of Lord Shiva. The Rudraganga flows by this temple. There are good views of the Trisul, Nandadevi and Parbat peaks, and down below there are small lakes. To get to Rudranath you can also walk from Kalpeswara.

Okhimath is just a little ways south of Guptakashi. It has a colorful temple and monastery, which has many small cells for meditation. The worship for Kedarnath is held here during the winter when it is too cold to stay in the mountains at high elevations. Okhimath has all the different forms of Lord Shiva. So if you cannot visit Panch Kedar, the five main forms of Shiva in the temples of the area, then getting darshan of the deities at Okhimath is equal to being blessed by all of the forms of the Panch Kedar. This monastery is also the seat of the immortal sages, such as Parashurama and Visvamitra, as well as Varahi and Chandika, the tantrik goddesses. Okhimath also has temples of Shiva, Parvati, Usha, Mandhata, and Aniruddha. It is said that Usha- Anniruddha marriage took place in Okhimath. Usha along with her father Banasura was staying here.


Nearby places
Guptakashi, the next important town, is where Lord Shiva had fled to live incognito and even turned himself into a bull to hide from the Pandavas who later found him there. This is why this place is called Guptakashi, which means “hidden Kashi” or “hidden light”. The Pandavas pursued Lord Shiva up to Kedarnath, where he gave up the disguise. There his bull hump became the Lingam. The main temples here are for Ardhanariswara (Gouri-Shankar) and Vishwanath. In front of the Viswanath temple is the Manikarnika Kund which has water flowing from the head of Ganesh (water said to be from Yamunotri) and the head of a cow (water from Gangotri). Other than this, this city is another overnight stop if you are on a late bus, since they close the road here when it gets dark. Another small town, Agastmuni, 25 km farther up the road, is where the Agastya Muni temple is and where he performed meditation.


1) Vishnuswami pleased Shiva at Kedarnath. Shiva appeared. He asked him for that which is most pleasing to him. Shiva gave him the diety of Lord Krsna.

2) Marriage of Usha & Aniruddha : at Okhimat

Marriage of Usha & Aniruddha

Of the one hundred sons of King Bali, the oldest was Banasura. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva, who favored Bana so much that even demigods like Indra would serve him. Banasura once satisfied Siva by playing musical instruments with his one thousand hands while Siva danced his tandava-nrtya. In response, Siva offered Bana whatever benediction he chose, and Bana asked Siva to become the guardian of his city. One day when Bana was feeling an urge to do battle, he told Lord Siva: “Except for you, in the whole world there is no warrior strong enough to fight me. Therefore these thousand arms you’ve given me are merely a heavy burden.” Angered by these words, Lord Siva replied, “Your pride will be crushed in battle when you meet my equal. Indeed, your chariot flag will fall to the ground, broken.” Banasura’s daughter, Usa, once had an encounter with a lover in her sleep. Several nights in a row this occurred, until one night she failed to see Him in her dreams. She suddenly awoke, speaking aloud to Him in a state of agitation, but when she noticed her maidservants around her, she felt embarrassed. Usa’s companion Citralekha asked her who she had been addressing, and Usa told her everything. Hearing of Usa’s dreamlover, Citralekha tried to relieve her friend’s distress by drawing pictures of Gandharvas and other celestial personalities, as well as various men of the Vrsni dynasty. Citralekha asked Usa to pick out the man she had seen in her dreams, and Usa pointed to the picture of Aniruddha. Citralekha, who had mystic powers, knew at once that the young man her friend had pointed out was Lord Krsna’s grandson Aniruddha. Then, using her mystic powers, Citralekha flew through the sky to Dvaraka, found Aniruddha and brought Him back with her to Sonitapura, Banasura’s capital. There she presented Him to Usa. Having obtained the man of her desires, Usa began serving Him very affectionately within her private quarters, which were supposed to be strictly off limits to men. After some time the female guards of the inner palace noticed symptoms of sexual activity on Usa’s personality, and they went to Banasura to inform him. Greatly disturbed, Banasura rushed to his daughter’s apartments with many armed guards and, to his great surprise, saw Aniruddha there. As the guards attacked Him, Aniruddha took up His club and succeeded in killing a few before the powerful Bana could capture Him with his mystic naga-pasa ropes, filling Usa with lamentation. When Aniruddha did not return from Sonitapura, His family and friends passed the four months of the rainy season in extreme distress. When they finally heard from Narada Muni how Aniruddha had been captured, a large army of the best Yadava warriors, under Krsna’s protection, set off for Banasura’s capital and laid siege to it. Banasura fiercely opposed them with his own army of equal size. To help Banasura, Lord Siva, accompanied by Kartikeya and a horde of mystic sages, took up arms against Balarama and Krsna. Bana began fighting against Satyaki, and Bana’s son fought against Samba. All the demigods assembled in the sky to witness the battle. With His arrows Lord Krsna harassed the followers of Lord Siva, and by putting Lord Siva into a state of confusion He was able to destroy Banasura’s army. Kartikeya was so strongly beaten by Pradyumna that he fled the battlefield, while the remnants of Banasura’s army, harried by the blows of Lord Balarama’s club, scattered in all directions. Enraged to see his army’s destruction, Banasura rushed Krsna to attack Him. But the Lord immediately killed Bana’s chariot driver and broke his chariot and bow, and then He sounded His Pancajanya conchshell. Next Banasura’s mother, trying to save her son, appeared naked in front of Lord Krsna, who averted His face to avoid looking at her. Seeing his chance, Bana fled into his city. After Lord Krsna had thoroughly defeated the ghosts and hobgoblins fighting under Lord Siva, the Siva-jvara weapon-a personification of fever with three heads and three legs-approached Lord Krsna to fight Him. Seeing the Siva-jvara, Krsna released His Visnu-jvara. The Siva-jvara was overwhelmed by the Visnu-jvara; having nowhere else to turn for shelter, the Siva-jvara began to address Lord Krsna, glorifying Him and asking for mercy. Lord Krsna was pleased with the Siva-jvara, and after the Lord had promised him freedom from fear, the Siva-jvara bowed down to Him and departed. Next Banasura returned and attacked Lord Sri Krsna again, wielding all kinds of weapons in his thousand hands. But Lord Krsna took His Sudarsana disc and began cutting off all the demon’s arms Lord Siva approached Krsna to pray for Banasura’s life, and when the Lord agreed to spare him, He spoke as follows to Siva: “Banasura does not deserve to die, since he was born in the family of Prahlada Maharaja. I have severed all but four of Bana’s arms just to destroy his false pride, and I have annihilated his army because they were a burden to the earth. Henceforward he will be free from old age and death, and remaining fearless in all circumstances, he will be one of your principal attendants.” Assured he had nothing to fear, Banasura then offered his obeisances to Lord Krsna and had Usa and Aniruddha seated on their wedding chariot and brought before the Lord. Krsna then set off for Dvaraka with Aniruddha and His bride leading the procession. When the newlyweds arrived at the Lord’s capital, they were honored by the citizens, the Lord’s relatives and the brahmanas.