Guptakashi, lying 45 kms south of Kedarnath, is one of the most religious sites for the Hindus in India. It is quite a large village located at a height of 4327 feet in the Himalayas. Situated in the Rudraprayag district
, it is well-known for the temples of Lord Vishwanath and Ardhaneeshwara.
Legend of Guptakashi
The Pandavas had gone to Kashi to get the blessings of Lord Shiva
. However, Lord Shiva had fled Kashi and lived here incognito. Eventually, the Pandavas found him here and Lord Shiva then turned himself into a bull to hide from them. As Lord Shiva disappeared from the Pandavas here, the place is named Guptakashi.
Temples at Guptakashi
There are two temples dedicated to Vishwanath and Ardhanareeswara (Gaurishankar). The main temple is the Vishwanath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has been built in stone and has a high tower over the sanctum and a wooden frame. It has a sloping roof at the top of the tower, typical to the architectural style of the region. There are two entrance guards known as Dwarpalakas on both sides of the entrance. There is an image of the Bhairava form of Lord Shiva at the top of the entrance door.
There is a shrine of Ardhanareeswara lying to the left of the main temple. Lying at the entrance of this smaller shrine is a statue of Nandi
facing the image of Lord Shiva
in the temple and offering worship. Along the side of this statue is painted a Swastika, an auspicious Hindu symbol. Apart from the temples, there are also seen a number of Lingas of Lord Shiva in and around Guptakashi.
In front of the Vishwanath temple is a small Kund called Manikarnika. There is a Shiva Linga here which is bathed by two springs: water coming in from a Ganesha`s head and a cow`s head flow into the Kund. Water from one is called the Ganges and water from the other one is said to be the Yamuna. It is believed that the water comes in from Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Apart from the temples, there are certain other important sites in and around the temple town which may be visited. These include the Gandhi Sarovar Lake, where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi have been immersed, and the Vasukital Lake a popular tourist attraction.