He is the tiny particle, he is the unscalable width.
He is the universe, and the universe is within him.
He is the cosmic rhythm, he is the Natraj
He is Vairagyi, but has a beautiful family
He is the ultimate truth, he is the ultimate destination
He lives in Kailash, or he himself is Kailash
He is the phenomenon beyond any human imagination.
He is that which is not.
Importance of Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivratri is the most significant sacred festival of India. It is celebrated on the new moon day of the month of Maagh. Shiv temples accross the country are beautifully decorated and people offer night long prayer on Shivlingam.
There are a lot of legends associated with this festival.
Shiv-Parvati Marriage: According to ancient legend, Shiva and Adi-Shakti(Parvati) got married on this auspicious day. In many places, Shiv linga is decorated as a groom.
Consumed poison: Also, on this day Lord Shiva consumed poison to save world. And, for whole night every person was awake praying and waiting for the Lord to regain conciousness.
Became one with Kailash: In Yogic culture, Shiva is not considered as God but Adi Yogi (first guru). On this night Shiva became one with Kailash As still as mountain after thousands of years into meditation. So, ascetics see Mahashivratri as the night of stillness
Natural upsurge of energy: The planetary arrangement in the Northern Hemisphere is such that there is a natural upsurge of Energy in human body, rising from the Kundalini to your head. So, nature is pushing you towards the spiritual peak. So, to gain maximum out of it, you need to stay awake whole night with your spine erect.
Visited Places in duration of MahaShivratri 2018 to 2019
From Mahashivratri 2018 to 2019, I have visited three of Panch Kedar and one of Panch Kailash.
Kalpeshwar – 31st March 2018
Kalpeshwar temple is one of the Panch Kedar where Lord Shiva is worshipped in form of his matted hair. This lies in Chamoli district of Garhwal and is open throughout the year.
Kedarnath – 1st October 2018
Kedarnath is the first in Panch Kedar where Lord Shiva is worshipped as the hump of a bull. Temple lies in beautiful Kedar valley at height of 11700 ft. This remains open only for 6 months.
Blessed by Shiva
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra – 25th May – 7th June 2018
Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva where he lives with his family and other Shiv gans. This was the toughest journey I have done so far. But the reward is just priceless. I have come only in the bodily form, but heart is somewhere lost in Kailash. This lies in an autonomous region of Tibet at height of 22000 ft.
On the trek
Tungnath – 23rd December 2018
Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple of the world at 12073 ft. This is the third Kedar and Lord Shiva is worshipped in form of hand here. View around the temple is amazing and is open only for 6 months.
Happy Mahashivratri. May everybody get blessings from Shiva.
Himalayas are calling and I must go. Himalayas are the beginning and end of all natural scenery for me. I decided to go on small trek in mountains, but could not compromise with the beauty. Hence finalized to go Tungnath again in December end and trek the Himalayas which I did last year also.
Tungnath temple is world’s highest Lord Shiva temple at an altitude of 12,073 ft from sea level. It is believed to be 5000 years old from the time of Mahabharath and comes third in pecking order of Panch Kedar. Read complete story from my earlier post.
Day 1 – Journey from Rishikesh to Chopta
The first step to reach Tungnath is to choose your transport wisely. We reached Rishikesh by bus early morning and had to wait for our cab by chasing chilling breeze. That wait itself gave us idea how cold its gonna be there in Chopta and Tungnath. Moreover, its not going to be easy to trek the Himalayas. By 6:30 AM our cab arrived and we started for Chopta. The cab driver Bablu was a well experienced guy to drive in hills. He holds driving experience of more than 20 years and has driven big commercial vehicles even trucks. Not only this but also he had great knowledge of all the towns, rivers, peaks and hidden stories behind them.
It was 8:30, we took halt at small town Devprayag. This is the place where two sacred rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet, and is known as Ganga after this point. This town is the seat of Priests from Badrinath dham. People take holy dip at confluence, but we didn’t even think of as it was too cold.
Alaknanda looked very calm and was flowing silently. Whereas the Bhagirathi had its own flow with lot of rapids
Ganga after this point
After having breakfast of delicious Paratha and Chai we resumed our journey. The roads are under construction due to char dham yatra project. But you will be happily driving along with Alaknanda river which looked dark green and very silent as if its not flowing at all. Tune in to good music, drive in mountains, clouds circling around, river flowing by your side and tripping with the best buddies. What else do you want from life?
Alaknanda at peace
Mountain with purple carpet
After driving for 3 more hours, we reached Rudraprayag which is the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini. From this point we had to be together with Mandakini river going ahead. This is the longest route in India where you will be driving along with the river as told by driver. After crossing this, we took lunch break at Sheetal hotel. I laid down on grassland and then heard sound of ducks. I asked Satish to catch one, but he successfully failed 🙂
As we moved towards Ukhimath, we experienced many breathtaking scenes of river with Himalayas my love. We reached Dugalbitha (6 kms from Chopta) at 3 PM where I booked accommodation. We immediately ordered Tea and Maggi, which gives immense pleasure when in mountains. Then we decided to go for short hike and gaze at Himalayan peaks which looked magical at time of sunset.
Peak at sunset
Kedar peaks at sunset
Night was icy cold and we layered with sweaters, jackets and got inside blankets. This is how the first day ended. We slept early with excitement and enthusiasm to trek the Himalayas next morning.
Day 2 : Himalaya Trekking to reach Tungnath
I woke up, I smiled because I could see Tungnath and Chandrashilla peak from my window and I call it as perfect morning 🙂
By 8, we got ready, packed bag and stepped out to leave for Chopta from where the trek begins. It felt like driving on the hidden road to heaven crossing lush green valley loaded with fresh snow.
Chopta is well equipped market, you can buy essentials for trekking, I have covered details later.
We started our trek by ringing bell at the entrance after taking name of Lord Shiva. There is small registration counter near entrance charging Rs 150 per person which is mandatory.
Initially we faced breathing problem and our body was shivering but the soul was determined to reach on top.
Total length of the trek is only 4.5 kms, but is worth and rewarding.
After hiking for 1 km, we encountered a shop- the only open shop on this trail. We enjoyed Maggi sitting on grass land and looking at the magnificent Himalayas all around. We could see snow clad mountains at distance which would look very near in few hours.
Proper paved path is made, so you need not worry for trail. But remember this can be slippery when snow melts. After seeing continuous patches of ice, we took out our spikes and fixed with trekking shoes. This actually saved us from trouble from being slipped throughout the day.
We trekked the Himalayas for around 1 hour and got indulged with the immense beauty of the place. Within no time we were above all the mountains and by then sun was out. I extended my arms looking at sun and felt like first light of the day has kissed my face. Standing on sheets of snow, surrounded by giant Himalayas and covered with quilt of circling clouds is a bliss. We were gazing at the countless layers of mountains and did not talk with each other for sometime. After that, Satish thanked me and said he has never seen such kind of breath taking view.
On the way to Tungnath trek
Trek the Himalayas
Awesome trek partner
Himalayas and me
Arriving at Tungnath temple
I got first glimpse of Tungnath temple covered with snow, and above that clouds magnified the view. This is the beautiful thing one can ever witness. We attempted many off track treks, but nothing compared with the last stretch to reach temple. We had to pull out legs from snow covered till calves and it became very difficult. But its beautiful feeling to reach on top after putting so much efforts.
We reached world’s highest Shiva temple and bowed down. It was an overwhelming moment looking at the temple, great mountains and mesmerizing view. One can feel the immense peace and positive vibes around this place. Like every other temple, this also has Nandi statue outside guarding the temple. Although it was closed, but that time in my mind I had the story of Panch Kedar that how Lord Shiva appeared here in form of hand. Such kind of places are for spiritual souls above than religious values. Its the place one can feel how insignificant we are in front of nature and massive world.
Om Namah Shivaay
At World’s highest Lord Shiva temple
Before descending, we took out packed lunch and ate Paratha sitting on huge rock. We spent around 2 hours near the temple sitting quietly. To get down was easy but need to take care of the slippery path. We again attempted few shortcuts by sliding in snow and getting down very quickly. While coming back we had enough time to witness sunset, so we took long breaks and relaxed on grassland.
While going to Tungnath, plan it accordingly so that you don’t miss beautiful sunset which happens on right side when you come down. Sky was painted in orange and last rays were falling on snow clad mountains. What a Wow!
Last rays on Himalayas
Immediately after reaching Chopta, we grabbed cup of tea which gave us enough warmth. We sat in cab to reach hotel, but vehicle started slipping off due to snow on road was melting. Our driver was experienced, so were relaxed.
Time for Celebrations!
After coming to hotel the feeling of accomplishment was within us. Everyone was happy after refreshing journey of mind and body. The hotel owner Dinesh ji arranged bonfire for us and within no time everyone gathered, played music, guitar and Dholak. Few of them did trekking for the first time. At last we all shared experience of Himalaya trekking.
We had simple and delicious dinner of Dal, Rice, Roti and Sabzi. Following that, we came out for walk on road under billions of stars who were playing hide and seek behind clouds. And around 11 PM, we slept after late night talks of the trek.
Carry enough water bottles and eatables as there will be only 1 opened shop all the way.
Wear good trekking shoes along with snow spikes. It will really help a lot to get grip. Wearing shoes cover is also recommended as it will protect shoes from letting in snow.
You can take stick and rubber boots on rent from Chopta.
Do not litter on the way. Carry wrappers or bottles and dispose them in Chopta.
Start trek as early as possible in morning to witness all shades of nature until sunset.
How to reach
Reach from Delhi to Rishikesh by Bus, Train or Cab.
Rishikesh to Chopta distance is 220 kms and there is no direct transport. So, you can hire direct taxi till that place. Or, go by bus till Ukhimath and hire taxi from there itself. Ukhimath is only 40 kms from Chopta.
Bus frequency from Rishikesh to Ukhimath is very low, so plan the trip wisely. I would recommend to hire direct taxi till Chopta.
Stay in Dugalbhitta or Chopta and trek the Himalayas next morning to visit Tungnath and Chandrashilla.
Don’t expect to find any luxurious hotel around this place. I stayed in Dugalbithha couple of times and found the hospitality of the owner and staff members to be awesome. Rooms are neat and clean with fully loaded blankets. Food is very simple and delicious. Moreover, view from this place is very beautiful. So have peaceful stay, trek the Himalayas and visit world’s highest Lord Shiva temple.
After visiting temple on previous day, we were prepared for next day to have Shiv Lingam darshan. It was 1st Oct, Monday and we were blessed to be there on that day. Temple was about to open at 5 AM for pilgrims and it was damn cold. The moment we came out of room and saw the magnificent view of Kedar ranges, then all the shivering went off . It was very clear sky and all the peaks behind the temple were visible.
As you walk towards temple, you will hear some chants from distance. The complete aura of the place was filled with positive vibes. When I went near to it, I heard Shiv Mahima Stotram, after that Lingashtakam and few more Shiv stuti. People put in lot of faith in such kind of places which adds glory and it becomes ultimate pilgrimage. Visit to Kedarnath temple must be very special for every pilgrim.
Kedarnath shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva lies in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 11755 ft. It is among Panch Kedar, 12 Jyotirlinga and Char Dham yatra. This place holds an important significance to be visited as per mythology. It is believed that temple is built around 5000 years ago by Pandavas. Please have a look at story behind the temple and Panch Kedar.
Started the journey
By taking name of Shambhoo, we friends in group of 5 started our journey from Gaurikund on 30th Sept,2018. Time was around 6:30 AM and it was bit cold due to height and river Mandakini flowing by side. Gaurikund is a well equipped market from where you can buy every thing for your journey, but carry cash as there are no ATMs.
We bought wooden sticks and started from the market. Not to worry about the food and water, as there would be lot of shops on the way. All you need is faith and courage.
Total length of the trek is 22 kms which looked pretty descent but we had to cover it in single day. From Gaurikund itself, you would come across lot of pony options as well and they charge around Rs 2000.
From very starting, you will come across lush green Kedar valley and Mandakini river on your right hand side.