The Enchanting Abode of Lord Shiva

Tungnath Mandir

Nestled amidst the pristine Himalayan landscapes of Uttarakhand

Introduction :

Nestled amidst the pristine Himalayan landscapes of Uttarakhand, Tungnath stands as a testament to both natural grandeur and divine sanctity. As one of the highest Shiva temples globally and the highest of the revered Panch Kedar temples, Tungnath offers a spiritual haven for devotees and trekkers alike. With its rich mythology, breathtaking surroundings, and challenging pilgrimage, this temple is a site where history, religion, and nature beautifully converge.

The Divine Legend :

Tungnath has its roots in Hindu mythology, where Lord Shiva, the supreme god, is said to reside in the Himalayas, while his consort Parvati is known as ‘Daughter of the Mountain.’ This celestial union intertwines the divine and the natural world, giving birth to the sacred Tungnath temple.

The legend takes us back to the aftermath of the Kurukshetra War, where the Pandavas sought to atone for their sins, including the heinous act of fratricide and the killing of Brahmins. Their quest for redemption led them to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi). However, Shiva, disturbed by the war’s devastation, eluded them by taking the form of a bull and hiding in the Garhwal region.

In their relentless search for Shiva, Bhima, the second Pandava, encountered a bull near Guptakashi. This bull was no ordinary creature; it was Shiva in disguise. Bhima, recognizing the divine presence, clung to the bull’s tail and hind legs as Shiva descended into the earth. Subsequently, the deity reappeared in five different forms across the Himalayan region. Tungnath became the abode of Lord Shiva’s arms. To honor this divine occurrence, the Pandavas constructed temples at the five sites – Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar – thereby absolving themselves of their sins.

Rama, the central character of the Ramayana, is also associated with Tungnath, as he is believed to have meditated at the nearby Chandrashila peak. Even the mythical demon king Ravana is intertwined with this region, as he performed penance to Shiva, the lord of the peaks, in these very mountains.

Worship and Rituals :

The Tungnath temple, unlike its Panch Kedar counterparts, follows a unique tradition in terms of priesthood. The priest at Tungnath is a local Brahmin from Makkumath village, offering a distinct religious experience. During the severe winter months, the temple is closed, and the symbolic image of the deity, along with the temple priests, is moved to the Markandeshwar Temple in Makkumath village, 29 kilometers away.

To reach the temple, pilgrims embark on a trek of approximately 5 kilometers from Chopta, a journey that takes around 4-5 hours. The stone-paved path, flanked by benches at intervals, provides a breathtaking view of the Himalayan landscapes, dotted with vibrant rhododendron coppices. The trek passes through the valley between Chopta and Tungnath, which offers picturesque alpine meadows and agricultural fields.

As a mark of religious affirmation, devotees who complete the Panch Kedar pilgrimage often conclude their journey by visiting the Badrinath Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Geography and Climate :

Perched on the ridge that separates the Mandakini River from the Alaknanda River, Tungnath is situated at an altitude of 3,690 meters (12,106 feet). The temple lies just below the peak of Chandrashila and serves as the source of the Akashkamini River.

The nearby Chandrashila peak offers panoramic views of the snow-capped Nanda Devi, Panch Chuli, Banderpoonch, Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, and Neelkanth peaks. The valley between Chopta and Tungnath features dense woods, alpine meadows, and fields. In March, the rhododendrons bloom, painting the area in vibrant shades of crimson and pink.

The temple remains closed during the winter season due to heavy snowfall, typically spanning over six months.

Access :

The nearest airport to Tungnath is Jolly Grant in Dehradun, located 258 kilometers away. The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, situated 241 kilometers from Tungnath. The trek to Tungnath begins at Chopta, which is 5 kilometers away and can be reached from Rishikesh through Devprayag, Srinagar, and Rudraprayag.

Ravana Shila – The Speaking Mountain :

Above the Tungnath temple lies the Ravana Shila, also known as the Speaking Mountain. This place holds great historical significance related to the Ramayana. After slaying Ravana, Lord Rama sought penance to absolve himself of the guilt associated with Ravana’s death. As part of this penance, he built the Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Ravana Shila remains a powerful reminder of this ancient mythological connection.

Conclusion :

Tungnath, the highest of the Panch Kedar temples, is more than just a place of worship; it’s a captivating journey through the Himalayan landscapes and a spiritual odyssey. Its unique legends, distinctive rituals, and breathtaking vistas make it an indispensable destination for both devotees and trekkers. As the divine and the natural seamlessly coexist in this pristine location, Tungnath beckons those seeking solace and adventure amidst the majesty of the Himalayas.

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. ]