The breathtakingly beautiful backdrop of Himalayan Mountains stays as silent witness to the glory of Lord Kartikeya abode in Rudraprayag district of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. There are few journeys whose paths are as beautiful and interesting as the destinations they lead us towards. Pilgrimage to Kartik Swami Temple in Uttarakhand is going to gift you one such rare opportunity.
Like many pilgrimages in Himalayas, there are two portions in which the journey till the sacred shrine of Kartik Swamy can be divided into. First, the trail that can be traversed by road. Next, the portion of the trajectory that demands of your physical effort – trekking. While the sight of the temple remains hidden until one has reached the end of the path, the temple bells ringing in the distance acts as promise for the devout traveler on his trek. In fact, the bells can be heard as early as 800 m away from the shrine. Also, one needs to ascend about 80 steps to climb till the temple.
Once inside, one can have a blissful darshan of Kartik Swami’s carvel idol on marble rock. The site reverberates with the spiritual magnetism associated with Kartikeya, who is called by the name Murukan in South India.
Legend of Lord Kartikeya
Lord Kartikeya is the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Many legends abound regarding this beloved God of Indian peninsula. It is noteworthy that both the children of Shiva family have had unusual birth stories. It is said that he was born when Lord Shiva’s semen accidentally slipped into the waters of River Ganga while he was making love with his divine consort Parvati. This was conserved by Agni Devta’s heat and incubated in Ganga River. Baby Kartikeya was thus born upon the banks of River Ganga. Beholding the luminous baby, the hearts of six Krittikas bloomed with intense desire to mother the child. Krittikas are said to be the bright stars in the night-sky whose Greek name is Pleiades. To quench the motherly desires of all the six Krittikas, Baby Kartikeya grew six more heads letting each of them to nurse him. Thus, the divine child was brought up by six mothers, and had too many people claiming him as theirs.
It is said that the numinous child let everyone enjoy their parenthood by spending time with each of them. He lets Maa Ganga cradle him while He is also the beloved Skanda for Maa Parvati, Kartikeya for Lord Shiva and Guha for Lord Agni.
Let us now move from the legend surrounding his birth to that which changed the trajectory of his life-path and lead to his abandoning his parents’ abode in Kailash. It all began with a playful competition between Kartikeya and Ganesha. Both of them were asked to make three revolutions of the entire world, and the winner would be gifted a prized mango. Lord Kartikeya took off suddenly on his divine vehicle Peacock to circumambulate the entire cosmos while Lord Ganesha began to quietly make rounds of his parents Shiva and Parvati, citing they represent the entire world to him. Moved by this demonstration of love and deep respect, Ganesha was declared the winner. When Lord Kartikeya returned after his stupendous feat and found his younger brother having already outshone him in his parents’ eyes, he left his parents’ abode in anger. It is said that Lord Kartikeya made the Palani hills in Tamil Nadu his sacred abode thereafter. Kartikeya is the beloved Murugan in South India.
The abode of Kartik Swami at Rudraprayag resembles his hill-top abode in Palani, in fact in a more majestic and glorious way. Many speculate that this must have been one of the Lord’s chosen stopovers before his journey to the south of Indian peninsula.
On Travelling Till Kartik Swami Temple
At Rudraprayag, the waters of River Alakananda merge with those of Mandakini. One must have heard of the stories of the infamous man-eater of the town, the leopard that was shot down by Jim Corbett in the early twentieth century. Rudraprayag has much more to offer than this interesting historical anecdote. In fact the district hides in her trails many such spots that are perhaps more beautiful than their famous counterparts in other areas of Uttarakhand.
Travelling to Kartik Swami Temple would necessitate one to travel to Kanakchauri from Rudraprayag. The 40 km drive would enchant you with the picturesque views of Himalayas that line the path. Once one reaches Kanakchauri, it is 3 km trek ahead to reach Kartik Swami Temple.
The sacred abode of Lord Kartikeya is ideally located at an altitude of 3,048 m providing the most amazing views of Himalayan ranges from its environ. The hilltop on which the temple is located can be accessed after trekking for about 3 km from the bus stand at Kanakchauri village.
A word on Trek to Kartik Swami Temple
Most of the trail that leads till Kartik Swami Temple passes through dense rhododendron Himalayan forests. The trail can seem steep at certain junctures, but the gradient of the overall trek is rather milder. It gains most of its altitude in one third of the trek, and the stretch can appear vertical therein. Everyone who traverses the trek swears by its immense natural beauty.
This is one of the treks where the final destination remains quite out of one’s vision even as one is on the last leg of the journey. The temple reveals its true majesty only as one climbs over the steep steps built as to let one ascend to its raised plateau. This feels quite symbolic of a soul’s ascension to attain its intimate home in Divine.
It is only when one actually reaches the zenith that one truly recognizes the actual height gained. Imagine being at such majestic height that all the surrounding hills appear comparatively smaller. The sheer height at which one is standing ironically ignites humility. The serenity and silence that the environ of Kartik Swami Temple provides is a true blessing for anyone who craves solitude.
One will find a hundred bells hanging in the temple complex. These come in different sizes and shapes. The musical cadence produced by their ringing when wind blows across the temple compound is noteworthy. There’s an interesting ritual behind the many bells hanging in there. It is believed that carrying a bell to the temple on the occasion of Kartik Purnima would render one’s wish true. In fact, a huge fair is held for the occasion of Kartik Purnima in Kanakchauri village. Also, the devout are seen to give combs and vermillion as offerings before Lord Kartikeya.
Magnificent Views of Himalayas from Kartik Swamy Temple
On the left of Kartik Swami Temple lies Uttarakhand’s Garhwal region. While on its right is the region of Kumaon. On days that aren’t cloudy, one is gifted magnificent views of many Himalayan peaks from the temple premises. These include the peaks of Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Hathi Parvat, Nanda Devi etc.
How to Reach Kartik Swami Temple
By Road: – As has been iterated in detail before, one needs to reach Rudraprayag before heading onto Kartik swami Temple. Rudraprayag can be easily accessed from most cities in Uttarakhand and rest of North India. One needs to travel about 40 km on Rudraprayag-Pokhri route to reach the village of Kanak Chauri. Kartik Swami Temple awaits you after a trek of 3 km.
By Rail: – The nearest railway station is at Rishikesh. It is about 140 km from Rudraprayag.
By Air: – Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun is the nearest airport.
Best Time to Visit Kartik Swamy Temple
That the temple remains open throughout the year is a true blessing. Although, experienced pilgrims cite the months between October and June as the best time to visit Kartik Swami Temple.
Kartik Swamy Temple celebrates two festivities in a year. These include the eleven day Kalash Yatra during the month of June and the auspicious Kartika Purnima which falls in the month of November.