Madmaheswar, an important site in the Panch Kedar Pilgrimage circuit is flocked by thousands of Pilgrims each day. Pilgrims gather at the temple to pay tribute to Lord Shiva and seek His blessings. If you too wish to set out on your trip to Madmaheshwar temple, this travel guide below will help you a lot.
The ancient stone edifice stands tall amidst the scenic backdrop of snow capped blue Himalayas, surrounded by verdant meads and lush green woods. The cool ambience is steeped with the chirping of the birds hiding in woods, fragrant breeze and sun-washed dale. This shrine of Lord Shiva is second of the Five Holy Places of Shiva or Panch Kedars. Madmaheshwar is also called as Madhya Maheshwar or Madhmaheshwar. Situated high up at an elevation of 3,265 m above sea level, it remains inaccessible during the winters.
It is an important pilgrimage site as it is one of the Panch Kedars and is a part of Pach Kedar pilgrimage circuit. Of the other four, Kedarnath, Tungnath and Rudranath should be paid a visit before Madmaheshwar. Kalpeshwar should be the last site to be paid visit. At these five holy places Lord Shiva appeared in his original form. According to mythical accounts, the bull’s hump fell at Kedarnath, the arms at Tunganath, face at Rudranath, navel at Madhmaheshwar and the hair-locks at Kalpeshwar.
Madmaheshwar shrine has various legends and myths surrounding it. One such refers to the times of Mahabharata era. After the Kurukhestra War, where Pandavas were themselves responsible for killing their own kith and kin, they decided to go for pilgrimage to wash away their sins. Advised by Krishna, they went to have a visit of Lord Shiva. But, he was so irate and annoyed with the conduct of Pandavas in the war he decided not to meet them. But, seeing them search and appeal fervently, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a ferocious bull to scare them off. Bheema, the strongest Pandava, felt that the bull is no ordinary one. So, instead of fleeing, he chased the bull. With full might, he captured the bull from the back, but finding a crevice by the side, the bull pushed its head inside. But, Bheema being strong enough and his strong backward pull scattered the beast into five parts, and gave rise to Panch Kedars. It is said that the navel of the bull fell here. The Shivling inside the sanctum sanctorum is shaped like a navel and hence christened as Madhya Maheshwar. Alternately, the locals also believe the Lord is a drunkard and affectionately is also called as Madmaheshwar.
Omkareshwar Temple at Ukhimath houses the Panch Kedar deities during the freezing winters when the shrines remain closed. The holy idols arrive in palanquins amidst chanting of sacred hymns and celebrations. It is interesting to note that the locals take the images of deities for a few days to honour and please them.
A steep trek of 2 km will reach a quaint shrine of Buda Madhyamaheshwar. Also called as Vriddh Madhyamaheshwar, it is an older temple and overlooks Chaukhamba Peaks. The antique shrine is just a pile of stones but provides splendid panoramic views of Kedarnath, Neelkanth, Trishul, Kamet, Panchulli, Chaukhamba (four pillars) when one reaches a small lake close by the temple.
If you are an avid trekker, you may consider a trek to Kanchani Tal. It is a 6 km trek from Madmaheshwar. But, the trek is considered tough even by experienced trekkers.
Best Time to Visit
The shrine remains open from May to October. The best time to visit Madmaheshwar is during the summers from May to mid-July. During the monsoons, the hilly terrains turn perilous and there are frequent landslides. It is best to avoid the monsoons. The autumn is also a good time to visit but the weather remains chilly. You need to pack enough woollens to encounter the freeze.
There are not much choices regarding accommodation. Only accommodation available at this remote part is home stay. The people here are helpful, warm and honest. The lodging is obviously not luxurious but comfy. The food is homely, hygienic and fresh. In short, accommodation is not much an issue. Alternately, the trekkers carry their own tents too. At places like Ransi, Gaundar, Bantoli which falls on the trekking path, there are also accommodations available.
It is a paradise for trekkers and hikers. Pilgrimage is also an important activity here. The remaining four Kedars also provide pilgrimage as well as beautiful treks through the beautiful meads and mountains. The picturesque scenic galore attracts numerous tourists around the world and the place offers numerous trekking routes.
How to Reach:
By Air: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun is the nearest airport 196 km away. From here, tourists reach Uniana village and then trek forward to the shrine.
By Rail: Rishikesh station is 181 km from Ukhimath. From there, Uniana to Madmaheshwar trek.