The Himalayan mountains have always been an area shrouded in mystery and adventure. From Mahabharata to Ramayana and even the Puranas, legends and stories surround the region. On one such significant Himalayan peak, adorns the Tungnath temple which is considered to be more than 1,000 years old. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the most revered and visited place in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag district.
Located at an altitude of 3,680 meters above sea level, the temple is one of the highest Shiva temples in the world and is the highest of the five Panch Kedar temples. The destination attracts both devotees and adventure-seekers alike as the Tungnath temple trekking route provides a mesmerising view of the snow-clad peaks along with the natural flora and fauna surrounding the region.
Mythology related to Tungnath Temple
The Tungnath mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. The word “Tungnath” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Tungavnath”, which means “Lord of the peaks.” The legend associated with Tungnath temple and Panch Kedar showcases that the Pandavas after defeating Kauravas in the battle of Mahabharata, went to seek atonement of their sins as they were responsible for the killing of their own cousins and relatives. On the advice of Rishi Vyas, Pandavas travelled in different directions in search of Lord Shiva for forgiveness.
To avoid the Pandavas, Lord Shiva took the form of a bull and went in hiding in Guptakashi. After Shiva took his original form, his body parts were found in five different spots. Thus, Pandavas built five temples known as Panch kedar at these spots to worship and appease Lord Shiva. Tungnath temple is the place where Shiva’s hands were seen.
Tungnath Temple Trekking Route
The base camp of the trek to Tungnath temple is at Chopta village. Chopta is a beautiful meadow and lies amid the majestic peaks of Trishul, Chaukhamba, and Nanda Devi. The natural setting of trees such as pine, deodar and rhododendron along with the forest area of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is a view that leaves the visitors awestruck everytime.
The region also receives heavy snowfall during the winter season which makes it inaccessible for travellers. During summer season, tourists can also experience bird watching in this region. They can spot Monal and other birds easily around Tungnath. Musk deer are also often found roaming freely in the forest areas.
The trek to reach the temple is an adventurous ride of 5 kms. Starting from Chopta, the summit is at Chandrashila peak which is at a height of 13,000 ft above the sea level. Chandrashila peak provides an exquisite view of the lush meadows and majestic mountain peaks. Chandrashila peak also hold religious significance for the devotees. It is believed that after defeating demon king Ravana, Lord Lakshman visited the Chandrashila temple to meditate. Chandrashila literally means “Moonrock” and it is also mentioned in legends that Moon god also stayed here.
The trek difficulty is considered relatively easy. While trekking this route, visitors can also explore the picturesque Chopta village, also known as ‘Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand’, Kanchula Kharak Musk Deer Sanctuary, Rohini Bugyal and Deoria Tal Lake.
How to reach Tungnath?
By Flight: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun (around 220 kms) from Chopta, the base camp of Tungnath Temple trek. You can take either local buses or taxis to reach Rudraprayag district.
By Train: Dehradun, Haridwar, and Rishikesh are the nearest railway stations to Uttarkashi. You can book taxis or buses from these stations. Taxis or buses are readily available outside the railway stations till Panger village, near Chopta from where the trek commences.
By Road: You can reach Chopta village by road in approximately 9 hours from Dehradun. The roads and highways are well-connected from Delhi also. The ride from Delhi to Chopta will take around 12 hours. The distance between Delhi and Chopta is 450 km.
The devotees visiting Tungnath temple often stay at local camps and tents set up at the Chopta village. Various small hotels and lodges have also been opened for tourists and pilgrims. The accommodations are well-maintained, hygienic and provide basic amenities and services.
The most common food options available in the mountainous region are tea, Maggie, seasonal vegetable, rice and dal. Consuming alcohol and non-vegetarian food are strictly prohibited and punishable at Tungnath.
Important Points to Remember
As Tungnath temple is situated at a high altitude, it is important that visitors are physically fit for trekking the route. Cardio-vascular stamina is very important for the trekkers to enjoy the journey.
Avoid visiting the temple during monsoon season as the region receives heavy rainfall and is also prone to landslides and road blocks.
The local market is far away from the trekking destination; therefore, it is important to have cash in hand along with basic necessities.
The best time to visit Tunganath is from April to November.
Go through the travel guidelines that are required to be followed while travelling to Uttarakhand.
If you are an adventurous traveller with a spiritual mind, trek to Tungnath temple can be included in your travel bucket list. Not only the zeal to trek, but also physical stamina is must to reach this temple at a high altitude.