The Hidden Treasure of Garhwal Himalayas

Kalpeshwar Mandir

Located at an elevation of 2,200 meters in the stunning Urgam valley

Abstract :

Kalpeshwar, one of the hidden gems of the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India, stands as a testament to the rich mythological tapestry of the Hindu religion. This remote temple, nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is part of the Panch Kedar, a group of five sacred temples. What makes Kalpeshwar unique among the Panch Kedar is its accessibility throughout the year. This research article delves into the legends, worship practices, geography, and access to the Kalpeshwar temple, shedding light on its spiritual and natural significance.

Introduction :

Kalpeshwar, located at an elevation of 2,200 meters in the stunning Urgam valley, is a Hindu temple that holds a special place in the hearts of pilgrims and nature enthusiasts. It is one of the Panch Kedar temples, each dedicated to a different anatomical form of Lord Shiva. The Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit also includes Kedarnath, Rudranath, Tungnath, and Madhyamaheshwar temples, each associated with the heroes of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas. This sacred temple’s unique feature is its year-round accessibility, distinguishing it from the other temples in the circuit.

Legend :

The legends surrounding the creation of the Panch Kedar temples are deeply rooted in the epic of Mahabharata. After the Pandavas defeated their cousins, the Kauravas, in the Kurukshetra war, they sought to atone for the sins of fratricide and Brahmin-killing (gotra hatya and Brāhmanahatya). Their quest led them to Varanasi, known as Shiva’s favored city, but Shiva eluded them due to his displeasure with the war’s death and dishonesty. To escape their pursuit, Shiva assumed the form of a bull and hid in the Garhwal region.

The Pandavas’ relentless search for Shiva brought them to the Garhwal Himalayas. Bhima, the second Pandava, recognized Shiva in the form of a bull near Guptakashi. He grasped the bull by its tail and hind legs, preventing it from disappearing. The bull-form of Shiva subsequently fragmented, with various body parts manifesting at different locations in the Garhwal region. The hump appeared in Kedarnath, the arms in Tungnath, the face in Rudranath, the navel and stomach in Madhyamaheshwar, and the hair in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas built temples at these sites, seeking to venerate and worship Shiva and thereby purify themselves of their sins.

The diverse legends related to the Panch Kedar temples are a reflection of the intricate intertwining of mythology, geography, and spirituality in the Garhwal region.

Worship :

The priests at Kalpeshwar, as in other Panch Kedar temples, are Dasnamis and Gossains, who are disciples of Adi Shankara. The rituals they perform are designed according to Adi Shankara’s teachings. These priests, primarily hailing from South India, maintain the rich spiritual traditions of the region. The worship at Kalpeshwar is a testimony to the cultural diversity and integration that characterizes this sacred land.

Geography :

Kalpeshwar’s enchanting location in the Urgam valley, near Urgam village, adds to its mystique. The convergence of the Alaknanda and Kalpganga rivers is a mesmerizing sight along the trekking path from Helang to Kalpeshwar. The Urgam valley is a dense forest area, adorned with apple orchards and terraced fields where potatoes are cultivated extensively. It is not only a spiritual destination but also a feast for the eyes of nature enthusiasts.

Access :

Access to Kalpeshwar is a journey in itself. It begins with a road trip from Rishikesh, covering a distance of 253 kilometers. This road journey is an opportunity to savor the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Garhwal region. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant in Dehradun, which is 272 kilometers away, while Rishikesh is the closest railhead, located 255 kilometers from Kalpeshwar.

Historically, the temple was accessible via a 12-kilometer trek from Helang, the nearest roadhead. However, in recent times, a road has been constructed up to Devgram village, reducing the trek to just 300 meters. Travelers are advised to use sturdy vehicles with good ground clearance on this half-paved road, which may be affected by monsoons.

The journey to Kalpeshwar also offers glimpses of other sacred sites, such as the Boodha Kedar temple surrounded by potato fields and the Dhyan Badri temple at Urgam Village, one of the Sapt Badri (seven Badri) temples.

Conclusion :

Kalpeshwar, the fifth temple of the Panch Kedar, stands as a symbol of spirituality, myth, and natural beauty. Its unique accessibility throughout the year makes it a distinct destination in the hearts of pilgrims. This remote temple in the Garhwal region is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered, embodying the rich tapestry of legends that make Hinduism a source of fascination and wonder. The journey to Kalpeshwar, with its rugged roads and stunning landscapes, is a testament to the enduring connection between spirituality and nature in the heart of Uttarakhand.

Editor – Kaalchakra Team

[ Note – Before Concluding anything as a Finale, Please Go through Original Scriptures of Vaidik Literature Written in Sanskrit and Also with Meaning of That time of Language. Because English is a Limited language to Explaining the Deeper Knowledge of Vaidik Kaal. ]