The Tungnath temple is located at an altitude of about 3680 m above sea level, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the highest Shiva Shrine among the Panch Kedar, 3 km uphill from Chopta. The sancity of the region of Tungnath is considered unsurpassed.
Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five and the highest Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tungnath in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. This rocky terrain boasts of the obeisance of Shiva, the destroyer lord. The peak of Tungnath is the source of three springs that form the river Akashkamini. Tungnath is reached through a path that wends through alpine meadows & rhododendron thickets. 1 kms steep trek from Tungnath Temple leads to Chandrashila with its panoramic views.
The temple is believed to be 1000 years old and is the second in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of the Mahabharata epic. And it is also believed that the present temple is built by the Pandavas to appease the Lord. The place boast of a serene and devout ambience where one can feel the presence of the almighty.
The legend states that sage Vyas Rishi advised the Pandavas that since they were culpable of slaying their own relatives (Kauravas, their cousins) during the Mahabharata war or Kurukshetra war, their act could be pardoned only by Lord Shiva. Consequently, the Pandavas went in search of Shiva who was avoiding them since he was convinced of the guilt of Pandavas. In order to keep away from them, Shiva took the form of a bull and went into hiding in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. But later Shiva’s body in the form of bull’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 and venerate, seeking his pardon and blessings. Each one is identified with a part of his body; Tungnath is identified as the place where the bahu (hands) were seen: hump was seen at Kedarnath; head appeared at Rudranath; his navel and stomach surfaced at Madhyamaheshwar; and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar.
Legend also states that Lord Rama, the chief icon of the Ramayana epic, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath. It is also said that Ravana, also of Ramayana fame, did penance to Shiva, the lord of the peaks, when he resided here.
Tungnath temple have local priest from Maku village, unlike the other Kedar temples where the priests are from South India, a tradition set by the eighth century Hindu seer Sankaracharya. It is also said that the Khasi Brahmins officiate as priests at this temple.
Tungath temple opens with the opening of Char Dhams of Uttrakhand, during April or May each year. During the winter season, the temple is closed and the symbolic image of the deity and the temple priests are moved to Mukunath, which is 19 km from here. It is near Duggalbitha (10 km) before Chopta towards Ukhimath.
Apart from being a popular pilgrimage destination, Tungnath is continously becoming a popular trekking and adventure destination. The 4 km trek starts from Chopta and additional 1.5 kms trek leads to Chandrashilla which is at the height of 4000 mts. Of all the Panch Kedar trek routes, the route to Tungnath is the shortest and can be covered in approximately 3–4 hours.
Best Months: May, June, September, October
Tungnath During Summers: The Tungnath temple opens during summers and ideal time for pilgrims to visit this shrine of Lord Shiva. You will see lush green meadows all around.
Tungnath during Winters: The temples are closed and there is snow all over. Many trekkers visit during December and January to enjoy snow.
By Road: Tungath can be reached on the Kund-Gopeshwar road up to Chopta, 212 kms. from Rishikesh via Chamoli-Gopeshwar-Chopta route. Buses and taxis ply along the route. From Chopta, the Tungnath temple is 3 kms. trekaway.
B Air: Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun 232 kms.
By Rail: The nearest railhead, Rishikesh, is 215 kms.