Rudranath temple is one of the Panch Kedars and has to be visited third in order. Lord Shiva is worshiped in the form of face (mukh). This is related with the popular story of Panch Kedar where Lord Shiva appeared in different bodily forms at 5 places. This temple shelters the face of Shiva. The sanctum has grey rock Swayambhu (self manifested) ShivLinga of about 3 feet in the form of human face with serene smile on it and beautiful eyes. Every morning, Shringar (makeup) and decorations are performed by the priests following by Morning Aarti and is removed in evening. A white cloth is bound tightly from chin to the Jata of Lord Shiva making it more gorgeous and you can not take off your eyes from him.
Temple lies at an altitude of 11,800 ft above sea level. Initially there was only cave and the temple is built over it which we see today.
River Vaitarini flows near the temple which is identified as “River of salvation”. Devotees visit the temple and river to perform rituals of the dead. Offering pind to ancestors here is hundred million times equal to same thing if done in holy city Gaya.
This is the toughest trek to reach as compared with other four of Panch Kedar temples but highly rewarding. You have to cover distance of around 22 kms in 1-2 days. Pilgrim has to go through very arduous trek and then only would be able to reach the destined temple. Most of the people face difficulties because of high altitude, but your all problems go away when you trek through such a beautiful trail and bugyals (grass land) named as Liyuti and Panal bugyal and listen to the sound of river.
There are various sacred water tanks (Kund) on the way to temple like Surya Kund, Chandra Kund, Tara Kund and Manas Kund. While trekking, you will get to see Sword which is believed to be owned by Pandavs.
The gorgeous and giant Himalayan peaks add glory to the pilgrimage where you will relish Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti peaks which can be seen from Rudranath temple.
Temple opening and closing time
Temple opening and closing time depends on the Hindi dates. During winters due to heavy snowfall in this region all the routes are closed, hence the shrine is also closed for 6 months.
It opens for pilgrims around April or May based on weather conditions with huge celebrations and gets closed on the occasion of Bhaiya Dooj (Oct- Nov) after Pooja Archana. After that the idol is shifted to Gopeshwar where Lord Shiva is worshiped. The doli yatra begins from Gopeshwar and continues via Sagar route. Once the idol reaches Rudranath temple, Vandevi is worshipped first who protects that entire region as per the belief of locals.
How to reach
There are 3 routes to reach Rudranath temple.
- Starts from Joshimath: Helang- Urgam – Kimana -Dumak
- Starts from Gopeshwar-Mandal- Anusuya temple – Naola pass
- Starts from Gopeshwar- Sagar : You have to cross beautiful Panar and Layati bugyals while trekkinh
Trek distance and other options : About 22 kms of trek to be done in 1-2 days. Pony option would be available only on Sagar route but not on others. Else you can hire porter or guide cum porter so that you dont have to bear weight while hiking.
Difficulty level : Difficult
Options for stay: Accommodation would be available in Panar, Layati bugyal, Sagar, Gopeshwar, Urgam etc. There are many options for home stay. Some trekkers carry their tents and stay near the temple.
Nearby travels : Many travel options depending on which route you are going on. Devi Anasuyaa temple, Kalpeshwar (Pnch kedar) temple
Popular things :
Apart from the trekking, people come here for yoga and meditation also.