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Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand

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Tungnath is the 3rd of the five Kedars

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Situated at a height of 2,900 metres above sea level, Chopta, located in the district of Rudraprayag in the Uttarakhand state is truly an astounding destination replete with spectacular sceneries that really captivate the attention of the travelers. This picturesque and unspoilt hamlet also serve the needs of the tourists and pilgrims who come to worship at the Tungnath temple. It is a trek of about 3.5 km from Chopta. It lies about 30 km from Ukhimath, between Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Positioned atop the Chandrashila peak, Tungnath adorns some of the most picturesque landscapes of the Himalayan region. It offers a panoramic view of the Panchchuli, Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Nilkanth, Kedarnath and Bandarpoonch ranges.

Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu temple in the world, situated at a height of 3680 metres above sea level in the Garhwal Himalayas. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Tungnath is the 3rd of the five Kedars, the others being Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath. Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit this divinity year after year.

Tungnath temple is one of the holiest Lord Shiva temples in the world where face of lord Shiva is worshipped. The traditional origin of the temple associated with myths and legends. The legend goes that, after the Great War at Kurukshetra, sage Vyas Rishi advised the Pandavas to get penance from Lord Shiva for their despicable deed of killing their own relatives. The Pandavas went in search of Shiva, but Shiva avoided meeting them. But, Pandavas saws him to running here, so Lord shiva changed his form in the form of buffalo and went into hiding in an underground at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. But later Shiva’s body parts rematerialized at five different locations that represent the “Panch Kedar” where Pandavas built temples of Lord Shiva at each location, to worship. Each one is identified with a part of his body; the navel and stomach at Madmaheshwar, the hump at Kedarnath, the arm at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar.

Legend also states that Lord Rama, the hero in Ramayana epic, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath. The temple was discovered by Adi Shankaracharya. The footpath to Tungnath begins at Chopta and it is a 3000 ft climb and takes about two to three hours on foot or pony-back. A richly decorated arch at the entrance name 'Tungnath' painted on the top can be seen. There is a sign board at this gateway which states that the temple is 4 km distacne away from this. Also states that pilgrims who is unable to travel to the temple can leave their donations in the box at the gate. The temple can be reached through a rocky terrains that wends through green meadows and rhododendron thickets. The temple is located in some of the finest, most picturesque pocket of the Himalaya.

It is an ancient small temple made of stone slates. Built in a typical Garhwali style temple architecture, it has a striking similarity to the Kedarnath Temple. The temple has painted decoration on the exteriors. It has a wooden platform at the top of the highest tower.

The temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. The construction of this temple is credited to Arjuna, the third of the Pandava brothers, who also worshiped here. At the entrance to the temple there is a Nandi stone image facing towards Shiva. Usually the Nandi is adorned with flowers and yellow clay. Just right of the entrance, there is an image of Ganesha.

The sanctum can barely accommodate ten people. Within the sanctum, Shiva's image is worshipped in the form of his face. The sanctum also has idols of sage Vyas, Kala Bhairav, Adishankara and disciples of Shiva. It also has the images of the Pandavas and silver plaques of other four Kedar shrines. Surrounding this temple, there are a number of small shrines. Among the smaller shrines, the central temple is to Shiva's wife Parvati.

Although every season offers a spectacular and myriad view of the majestic Himalayas, May and June are particularly ideal months, weather is pleasant, an ideal time to trek to this place. Flowers are in full bloom after the rains, i.e., in August/September thus making for a picturesque trip. The monsoon (September to November) is also the best time to visit this temple and also for sightseeing. During the winter months, between November and March, the weather is so rough and chilly with snow fall that even the locals migrate to the lower reaches of the Himalayas.

Timings : 6 am to 7 pm and aarti is performed daily at 6:30 pm.