Rudraprayag is quite a new district of Uttarakhand, being formed in 1997. The district is most famous for Kedarnath Temple, one of the most sacred temples among Hindus and one of the four pilgrims of the Chota Chardham Yatra.
Rudraprayag, along with having a religious importance is full of natural beauty and places of interest for travellers. Mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls are some of the things that add to the beauty to this serene district.
The administrative headquarters of the district is situated in the Rudraprayag town, which is beautifully situated between the confluence of two rivers, Alaknanda and Mandakini, making it an important place of religious importance. Another important aspect of Rudraprayag is that it is the place from where roads diverge to Kedarnath and Badrinath, two of the most important temples in the Hindu religion. Thus it’s a place of rest for the pilgrims who are travelling from great distance to pay visit to the sacred temples and hence important.
How to Reach:
By Air: The nearest airport to Rudraprayag is the Jolly Grant airport at a distance of 159 kilometres.
By Rail: The nearest railhead from Rudraprayag is Rishikesh, at a distance of 142 kilometres.
Places of Interest Around Rudraprayag:
Koteshwar Mahadev Temple:
Located at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rudraprayag, the Koteshwar Mahadev temple is supposed to be the place where Lord Shiva meditated before proceeding towards Kedarnath. The temple has many idols that have formed naturally. The place is visited by great number of devotees, who usually flock here around the month of August and September.
Guptkashi is a very sacred ancient place with legends connecting to the times of the Pandavas. It is believed that Pandavas wanted to meet lord Shiva, to obtain His blessing, but the God was angry because of the war and hence evaded them by hiding here, in Guptkashi.
The name Guptkashi means secret Kashi, because it is believed that at this place where the two holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna meet.
The temples of importance in Guptkashi include:
- Vishwanath temple
- Ardhnareshwar temple
- Manikarnik Kund
The place where the great sage, Agatsya meditated is situated approximately 18 kilometres from Rudraprayag. It has a temple dedicated to the sage too.
The last stop to Kedarnath after which the 14 kilometre long trek begins, Gaurikund is supposed to be the place where Gauri (incarnation of Goddess Parvati) did penance to obtain lord Shiva as her husband. There are hot water springs at the place where the devotees usually bathe before moving forward to Kedarnath.
About 5 kilometres from the Gaurikund is the confluence of two rivers, Son Ganga and Mandakini. The place is highly revered among the pilgrims, it being believed that the mere touch of the water is enough to reach the seat of gods, the ‘Baikunth Dham’.
Another important as well as interesting place is Triyuginarayan, the place where Lord Shiva and goddess Gauri got married. The holy fire of their marriage still burns here. The place is at a distance of 12 kilometres from Sonprayag.
At a distance of 41 kilometres from Rudraprayag is Ukhimath, the winter seat of the Kedarnath temple, which is closed during the harsh winters. There are two temples worth visiting in Ukhimath, the temples of Usha and Aniruddha, or Shiva and Parvati.
Counted amongst one of the holiest places in India, Kedarnath is also one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlinga’ (the holiest Hindu shrines of lord Shiva) and amongst the four pilgrims of the Chota Chardham. Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also called Kedarnath or the lord of Kedar khand, this place’s erstwhile name.
This ancient temple is believed to be built by Adi Shankar in the 8th century and is supposed to be the place where the Pandava brothers did penance after the great war of Mahabharata, in which they had killed their own cousins. The story gains strength as one enters the temple and sees the statues of the Pandavas in the first hall.
The temple is reachable only by a 14 kilometre long trek, which the devotees cover with mighty enthusiasm. Being situated on such a height, the place receives heavy snow, and thus, is closed in winter. The temple reopens in April and remains open till September, during which people from all over the country come to visit it.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi:
Just behind the Kedarnath temple is the Samadhi, or the resting place of Adi Shankaracharya, the great sage, and the builder of Kedarnath and the other Char Dham. The sage attained Samadhi here at a young age of 32 years.
Just 1 kilometre from Kedarnath is the Chorabari Lake, also called as the Gandhi Sarovar. This is almost a frozen lake and one can see ice floating in the water. The lake offers a spectacular sight of the gigantic mountains and the glacial water.
At a height of 4135 metres above sea level, this lake offers some of the most magnificent view of the mountains, especially the Chaukhamba peaks.
Counted among the Panchkedar, Madmaheshwar is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple, situated at a height of 3289 metres above sea level, it is the height of the Panch Kedar. The temple can be reached by a vehicle from Guptkashi (25 kms).
Boasting the most beautiful and awe inspiring, one metre long statue of Goddess Har Gauri, the Kali math is the main attraction of Madmaheshwar. One can reach the Kali Math through a trek of a small distance.