Tungnath Temple: The Highest Shiva Temple in the World
Nestled amidst the picturesque beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the Tungnath Temple is a sacred site that has captivated the hearts and minds of visitors for centuries. Standing tall at an altitude of 3,680 metres, it is the highest Shiva Temple in the world, shrouded in myth and legend, with a history that dates back over a thousand years. Surrounded by pristine nature, it is not only a spiritual haven but also a trekkers’ paradise, with the Tungnath Chandrashila Trek being a popular attraction for adventure seekers. Whether you seek inner peace or an adrenaline rush, the Tungnath Temple promises an unforgettable journey filled with wonder, beauty, and adventure.
History of Tungnath Temple
Legend has it that Tungnath Temple, one of the Panch Kedar shrines, is intrinsically linked to the origins of this holy cluster, which was erected by the Pandavas. Lord Arjuna, who held the third position among the Pandavas, constructed the temple. Vyas Rishi had instructed the Pandavas to implore Lord Shiva for absolution of their sins, which they had committed by slaying their cousins, the Kauravas, and their kin in the epic Mahabharata battle. As only Lord Shiva could grant them forgiveness, the Pandavas embarked on a quest to find him.
Lord Shiva, being aware of the guilt of the Pandavas, wished to dodge them, so he concealed himself in an underground cavern in Guptkashi, in the guise of a bull. The Pandavas, in their pursuit of him, discovered the bull’s body pieces at five distinct locations, which would later symbolise the Panch Kedar. The Pandavas erected temples at these sites and worshipped God Shiva with a full ceremonial commitment to getting his prayers.
Every Panch Kedar shrine is associated with a specific body part of Lord Shiva or the bull, and Tungnath Temple is renowned for possessing the “bahu” or hands of God Shiva. Kedarnath is distinguished by the body part hump, while Rudranath is by the head. Madhyamaheshwar has a stomach and navel, and Kalpeshwar has ‘jata’ or dreadlocks.
Another legend recounts that God Rama devoured time contemplating the nearby Chandrashila mountain, which is adjacent to Tungnath. This shrine was uncovered by Adi Shankaracharya who established the ritual of presenting prayers to the god Shiva by a Brahmin priest from the village of Makku.
Tungnath Temple’s architecture
The Tungnath Mahadev shrine, an emblem of the Nagara design style, was constructed using durable stone and features towers adorned with both internal and external paintings. The apex of the temple boasts a wooden platform with sixteen openings, affixed to the loftiest dome. All of the temple’s roofs are adorned with stone slabs, lending to a consistent and enduring aesthetic.
Upon entering the Tungnath temple, visitors will encounter a sculpture of Nandi, who faces God Shiva’s pinnacle – fashioned in his own likeness. The temple also contains various depictions of deities, such as God Ganesha, God Kala Bhairava, God Adi Shankaracharya, God Sage Vyas, and others resembling God Shiva’s disciples, the Ganas. Silver plaques depicting the four Kedar shrines and portrayals of the Pandavas can also be found throughout.
The Tungnath temple is encircled by several small sanctums dedicated to a variety of deities, with a temple situated at the heart of Parvati. The temple’s age is estimated to be over a millennium, as evidenced by its antiquated appearance. The most striking feature of the Tungnath temple is its tower, which diverges from the typical spiralled shikaras seen in other structures.
Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, the Tungnath Temple is a favored destination for adventure seekers and trekkers alike. Its location is a significant advantage, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty of the region while embarking on an exhilarating journey.
For beginners, the Tungnath trek is an easy and accessible option. It is situated in the high Chandranath Parvat, at a height of 3680m above sea deck. The Tungnath shrine, standing tall for 1000 years, is the tallest Shiva shrine in the world, making it a must-visit for spiritual seekers.
Beyond its spiritual significance, the Tungnath Temple is renowned as one of the best adventure and trekking destinations in the state of Uttarakhand. To reach the temple, visitors must undertake a Chopta to Tungnath trek distance which is 3.5 kilometres trek and it is the most celestial form of nature. Along the way, you will be captivated by meadows, conifers, oak forests, and fascinating hamlets, while elevated Himalayan mountains put into the allure of Tungnath’s natural surroundings.
During your visit, do not miss out on the opportunity to indulge in lakeside picnics with family and bird watching, which adds to the fun and adventure of your Tungnath nature sightseeing experience. Whether you are seeking a spiritual retreat, an adventure-packed getaway, or a combination of both, the Tungnath trek promises an unforgettable journey.
The Ideal Time To Visit Tungnath Temple
It is anticipated that the Tungnath temple opening date 2023 is during the first or second week of 2023 May, which is an ideal time to visit the temple. The months of April to May are considered the peak season for Tungnath Temple tours, offering visitors the best weather conditions and a more favourable atmosphere.
Winter, on the other hand, brings heavy snowfall and the gates of the Tungnath Mahadev temple remain closed for disciples. However, during August, the weather is comfortable as there is no rainfall, which presents another opportune time to visit the Tungnath Temple.
Whether one chooses to explore the temple during peak season or off-season, the Tungnath Temple remains a magnificent and cherished destination for those seeking a glimpse of the cultural and historical significance of the region.
How To Reach Tungnath Temple
Positioned atop a ridge, the Tungnath Mahadev temple is situated at the confluence of the Mandakini and Alaknanda Rivers, which originates from Kedarnath. On this ridge, you can also discover the three springs that constitute the Akashkamini River, emanating from the Tungnath peak. The temple is situated under the peak of Chandrashila, approximately 2 km away, creating a breathtaking panoramic view.
Access to the temple is available via the road to the village of Chopta, which is the happiest trekking route and the Tungnath trek distance is approximately five kilometres. Chopta village can be reached by either rail, road, or air, with the Kund-Gopeshwar highway being the primary road to Chopta. This road is approximately 212 kilometres from Rishikesh and is serviced by a variety of taxis and buses. The railway station of Rishikesh, situated 205 kilometres away from Tungnath, is the closest railway station.
Travellers can also reach the Jolly Grant Airport situated in Dehradun and then take a connected bus or train to the Tungnath temple, ensuring convenient access to this ancient and culturally significant site.