Believed to be as old as 1,000 years the holy Panch Kedar site of Tungnath is popular as the highest temple of Lord Shiva since it is situated at a staggering height of 3,680 metres above sea level. Literally the name of the temple translates into ‘lord of the peaks; and it sees numerous pilgrims and devotees each year from across the globe. There are numerous legends and myths related to the establishment and relevance of this temple which makes it one of the most pious Lord Shiva temples in India. In the proper visiting order, Tungnath falls 3rd on the list. The temple offers some of the most stunning and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks which remain snow clad for a majority part of the year. Visiting this temple is not a spiritually evoking experience but it also allows you to experience the pristine beauty of nature. This place truly represents the wonderful blend of deep spirituality and the raw nature in its pristine form.
The history of the creation of Tungnath can be traced back to the era of the Pandavas. Post the war of Mahabharata the Pandava brothers had decided to go to the Himalayas in order to ask for forgiveness from Lord Shiva for committing the crime of killing their kin. The lord guised himself in the form of a bull and hid himself among the group of bulls. Bhīma then recognized the lord in his guise as a bull and at the same moment the bull started to slowly submerge itself inside the sand there. Bhim decided to hold on to his tail and the lord got stuck in one place but later on his body got re materialized at different locations of, which are now represented by the Panch Kedar sites. Tungnath is believed to be the place which is abode to his hands. Another legend of Tungnath tells us about how Lord Ram had performed his penance on the peak of Chandrashila after committing the sin of Brahma Hatya since Ravan was a Brahman. Another lesser known yet widely accepted legend is that the evil king Ravan also once performed his penance here to Lord Shiva since he was an avid Shaivite. The place where he did he meditation can be reached by taking a small detour when you are just 10 minutes away from the entrance of the main temple of Tungnath. This place is known as Raavan Shila and just like the others it also offers some of the most magnificent views of the surroundings.
Panch Kedar Sites
literally meaning ‘lord of the fields’, the ancient temple of Kedarnath is not only one of the prime Jyotirlingas of India but is also known for being home to the hump of the bull form of Lord Shiva. Sitting majestically at the banks of the holy river of Mandakini, this temple is set against a beautiful backdrop of massive Himalayan beauty. It can be easily reached by taking up the new trekking route to Kedarnath since the old route was destroyed due to the flash floods of 2013.
The holy temple of Tungnath is known for its untouched natural setting and also for housing the hands of the bull. Popular for being the highest placed temple of Lord Shiva ion the world, Tungnath is encapsulated among the lush meadows and falls on the way to the summit of Chandrashila peak.
This temple which is located in the village of Mansoona, this temple houses the stomach and navel of the bull. This is also one of the most crucial pillars of the Panch Kedar Yatra journey and is surrounded by the mystical beauty of the Garhwal Himalayas.
The face of the bull showed up at Rudranath which is created out of a set of naturally occurring stone. This place springs to life during the on season and is visited by a throng of pilgrims. This temple is surrounded by thick lush greenery and forests making a visit here extremely rejuvenating.
5. Kalpeshwar Mahadev
Normally this temple falls last in the circuit of Panch Kedar Yatra and is believed to hold the hair of the bull. This is the only Panch Kedar temple which remains open throughout the year and caters to their pilgrims. This place is so remote that it almost remains hidden amongst a cover of lush greenery.
A typical itinerary for Tungnath involves visit to Chandrashila peak as well as a visit to the pristine high-altitude lake of Deoria Tal.
Day 1: Departure from Delhi which will be an overnight journey.
Day 2: You will be arriving early in the morning at Chopta via Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Day 3: This day will be reserved for you to visit the temple of Tungnath and Chandrashila peak.
Day 4: You will be going on an adventurous hiking trail of Deoria Tal which is situated in close proximity to Chopta and is frequented by outdoor sports enthusiasts.
Day 5: You will be departing back for Delhi and this will mark the end of your journey.
The architectural style that is utilized in constructing this temple is north Indian and is said to have been constructed by Arjun whose picture is also adorned inside the temple. Although the temple is small it has its own charm owing to the great legends associated with it. The temple structure also holds an undeniable resemblance to Kedarnath Dham. It looks like that the temple is constructed using huge slabs of granite and this look adds a certain sense of mystical relevance to it. This holy temple is also home to all the major structures that represents a typical Lord Shiva temple. Along with the presence of a shiv ling huge statues of Adi Shankaracharya, Kaal Bhairav and Vyas are also there. The temple premise also consists of a Kund and 5 other smaller temples.
1. Deoria Tal
Along with a spiritual experience if you are looking to have an adventurous time then visiting this pristine and glimmering lake has to be the place. People choose to camp on the lush green undulating grounds and gives you incredible views of the snow bound Chaukhamba peaks.
Known for being one of the most pristine hidden gems of Uttarakhand, Chopta is known for being a quaint hamlet on the hills and serves as the gateway to the temple of Tungnath. This place serves as the stay option as well as a pilgrimage destination due to the presence of several temples.
3. Chandrashila Peak
If you trek upwards for 1.5 kms you will be reaching the summit of Chandrashila peak which provide incredibly breathtaking views of the surrounding. This place also holds some spiritual significance since it is believed to be the spot where Lord Ram is said to have meditated.
Opening and Closing Dates
Being located at a massive height Tungnath opens up for Darshan during the summer month of May when the weather becomes pleasant and bearable enough to make the journey.
The temple shuts down for Darshan mostly during the month of October when the weather changes to winter and during this time the entire region gets covered underneath a thick covering of snow.
How to Reach
The easiest way to get to Tungnath is by road. Buses ply from Delhi and other major parts of the surrounding towns. The bus will drop you off at Chopta which will take almost 12 hours to reach and from here you can set up your accommodation option. Not just pilgrims but this place is also utilized by adventure seekers who are looking for a quick and a spiritual getaway on the hills.
In its immediate vicinity there are no hotels available but you can get a room to stay the night at a cheap rate of just Rs.200/- to Rs.300/-. Nearby the temple are maximum 5 or 6 hotels that offer cheap and budget friendly stay options. These hotels do not have all the top notch amenities and services however you can find better accommodation and hotels in Chopta. Government guesthouses are available by GMVN that offer a clean living situation as well as delicious food options. If you want a more thrilling stay then pitching your tent at Deoria Tal camp site is preferred which guarantees a safe and secure stay option. No matter where you stay you will everyday be greeted with some of the most incredible views of the surrounding peaks.
Things to Remember
- Tungnath trek should not be underestimated since the entire route is extremely steep. Make sure that you remain well hydrated throughout the journey.
- Make sure that you are in good physical health since you may experience some amount of altitude sickness en-route due its massive elevation.
- Pack up on some healthy snacks and eatables in order to avoid eating junk from outside and keep your-self healthy.
- Set out for the temple as early as possible in the morning so that you are able to make your way back on time.
- The best and the most effortless way to reach Tungnath will be via your own private car, which you will be parking at Chopta.
- Make sure you go at the right time however if you are planning on visiting there during the monsoon months make sure to carry raincoats and be extra careful with each step that you take.
- Make sure not to litter the place and leave behind any unattended wrapper, plastic waste or unwanted article and do your bit in preserving the pristine condition of this temple and the surrounding area.
- For a more adventurous experience try reaching the top of the Chandrashila peak before sunrise at around 5:30 am and witness one of the most stunning sunrise.
- Makes sure to carry comfortable trekking and walking shoes and if not then remember that there are shops available at the starting point of the trekking trail where people can hire shoes for around Rs.200/-.
- In order to get some extra support and balance during the trekking journey then you can also carry along with yourself a walking stick.
- Do not race up the trail or you will quickly tire yourself out. Go at your own, comfortable walking pace and walk at the pace you want to while enjoying the beautiful and rejuvenating surrounding scenery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the Temple Timings?
Ans. The temple opens up for Darshan at 6 am in the morning and shuts down at 7 pm in the evening.
Q. Is There Any Entrance Fee?
Ans. There is no fee on the entrance of the temple and the Darshan is open to all.
Q. How Much Time Will it Take to Explore the Temple?
Ans. Normally it will take a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours for you to explore this holy place and its surrounding during the on season. Other than that if you plan on staying there for a while then it will take you almost 3 hours to cover, you can also indulge in some relaxing yoga and meditation activities.
Q. Can I Take Pictures There?
Ans. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple in order to maintain the sanctity of this holy place. However, you can take pictures of the surroundings and places outside of the temple area and preferable its premises.
Q. Is Trekking to Tungnath Safe?
Ans. The entire trail path is well made out of stones and is moderately easy to cover. It is also wide enough where two people can trek together with ease.
Q. How Much Time Does it Takes to Cover the Trekking Distance from Chopta to Tungnath?
Ans. The overall trekking distance from Chopta to Tungnath is 4 kms and can generally be covered in almost 2 hours to 2.5 hours.
Q. Where Can I Eat if I Get Hungry While Walking?
Ans. There are 3 to 4 Dhabas available along the walking path that provide some basic food, commonly available packaged items like chips, biscuits as well as tea, coffee and some basic food items.