Legend of Tungnath Temple
According to Hindu mythology Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati both reside in the Himalaya Mountain.
According to legend the Panch Kedar temples were built by the Pandavas. The legend states that upon the advice the sage Ved Vyas the Pandavas built the Panch Kedar Temple at Tungnath. Since they were guilty of killing their brothers, the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra, they had to impress Lord Shiva for penance. Lord Shiva who was convinced of their guilt hence took the form of a bull and hid himself in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi. However the Pandavas chased him there and recovered Shiva's body from there. The bull's body parts rematerialized at five different locations that now represent the "Panch Kedar." The Pandavas erected temples of Lord Shiva at each location, to seek his pardon and blessings. Each temple is identified with a part of his body; the Tungnath temple bears the bahu (hands) of Shiva. Among the other four Kedars the hump was seen at Kedarnath; head at Rudranath; his navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar; and his jata i.e. hair or locks at Kalpeshwar.
It is also believed that Lord Rama had also meditated at the Chandrashila peak close to Tungnath.
Structure of Tungnath Temple
The temple of Tungnath is built in North Indian style of architecture. It does not have much space hence can accommodate not more than ten people in the sanctum. The third Pandava, Arjun is credited with building the temple here. There are also many other smaller temples surrounding the main temple. Among the smaller shrines, the main temple is of goddess Parvati.
Inside the enclosure the temples are built of stones and are decorated with beautiful paintings. The dome has sixteen openings and the highest dome has a wooden stage at the top. It houses a black rock (the Shiva Linga), which is 1 feet long and slightly tilted towards the left, depicting Lord Shiva's arm, which is worshipped here.
The roofs of the temple are also made of stone slabs. A stone image of Nandi faces the sanctum at the entrance of the temple. At the right of the temple entrance there is the mandatory image of Lord Ganesha. The main sanctum also has ashtadhatu (made of eight metals) idols of sage Vyas and Kala Bhairav disciples of ShivaThe temple also houses the images of the Pandavas and silver plaques of other four Kedar shrines.
The Akash Ganga Waterfalls is also situated close to Tungnath. It has a temple that is dedicated to Nanda Devi. This temple houses a statue of Adi Sankaracharya. The Tungnath peak is the main source of three springs, which eventually form the Akashkamini River.
Trekking is a popular tourist activity in the region, as Tungnath features varied trekking trails. The small town of Chopta is situated at around 2.5 km from the temple which is an ideal destination for trekking. This stone paved trekking route has benches and white, pink and mauve rhododendrons. Trekkers can also explore the trekking trail that connects all the Panch Kedar temples in Tungnath. The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal place for an excursion from Tungnath.
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