At an altitude of 3680 m above the sea, the Tungnath temple is the highest Shiva temple in the world and a reference for many myths and legends.
It is believed to be 1000 years old and it’s connected with the Pandavas of the Mahabharata epic. There are five temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath which together are called Panch Kedars.
According to legend, these temples were built by the royal Pandavas which wanted to be pardoned by their God Shiva for the Kurukshetra war where they killed their cousins, the Kauravas. With the advice from the great sage Vyas Rishi, the Pandavas went to the mountains to find Lord Shiva but he was avoiding them.
He took the form of a bull, which is the famous bull Nandi and hide at Guptakashi. He rematerialized himself in five different locations which are now called Panch Kedar and the Pandavas build five temples to honor their Lord.
The Panch Kedar temples are mostly accessible only by foot and during winter they are closed because located at such a great height they become snowbound. With fascinating and idyllic surroundings the temple is described by many visitors as a beautiful sacred place and became a well known trekking destination. It can be reached by a steep trek of 4 km commencing from Chopta.
As the trek progresses visitors can see the beautiful meadows filled with Rhododendrons. A fascinating view can be seen when these flowers are in full bloom because they change their colors from crimson to pink and from the top of the Chandrashila peak a lot of peaks of the Himalayan range can be seen including Nandi Deva, Kedarnath, Chuli, and Neelkanth.
The temple is small and only ten people can enter it at a time. There are even smaller temples situated around Tungnath decorated with images of Hindu gods.
The interiors of the temple are made of marble with ornamented walls while at the entrance, there is a stone picture of the bull Nandi and a picture of Lord Ganesha.
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During the winter season, when the temple is closed, the images of the gods are moved to Mukkumath. It is a famous tourist destination for camping, weekend getaways, and pilgrimage. During the festival of Maha Shivaratri in February, the temple attracts numerous tourists.