Tungnath Mandir, one of the Panch Kedars, is acclaimed as the highest Shiva temple in the world. This temple is located at an elevation of 3680 m above sea level in the Tungnath Mountain Range.
According to Hindu mythology, the temple was built by Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. The literal meaning of Tungnath is ‘Lord of the Peaks’. The arm of Lord Shiva is worshipped at this temple, which represents the North Indian style of architecture. At the main entrance of the shrine, there is a stone figure of Nandi Bull, who according to Hindu mythology is the mount of Lord Shiva.
The idols of popular Hindu sages, such as Kala Bhairav and Vyas, are also enshrined in the temple along with the images of the Pandavas. Besides, small shrines of different gods and goddesses can be seen around this temple. The temple remains closed between November and March due to heavy snowfall.
Madhyamaheshwar Temple, devoted to the Hindu Lord Shiva, is situated in the village of Mansuna in Chopta. This temple is perched at an elevation of 3497 m above sea level. The Panch Kedar includes Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar and Kalpeshwar, in the pecking order. Thus, the temple comes at the fourth position in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage.
In this temple, devotees worship the stomach of Lord Shiva. According to a popular belief, the temple was built by the Pandavas, the mythological characters from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. It is believed that the Pandavas, who were guilty of killing their cousins Kauravas in the war of Kurukshetra, went to seek forgiveness from Lord Shiva.
However, the angry Lord Shiva transformed himself into the bull, 'Nandi' and hid in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. When the Pandavas saw the bull in Guptakashi, they tried to stop it forcibly but to no avail. Later, the body parts of Lord Shiva reappeared at five different places. The Madhyamaheshwar Temple is built at the place where the stomach of Lord Shiva was believed to have been discovered.
Kalpeshwar Mandir is located at an altitude of 2134 m above sea level in the Urgam Valley. In this temple, the ‘Jata’ or matted hair of the Hindu Lord Shiva is worshipped. This is the fifth in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage and can be visited year-round. This small stone temple can be reached through a cave passage.
A legend has it that the popular sage Arghya used to meditate under the Kalpavriksha tree in the temple. He is also believed to have created a nymph called Urvashi at this spot. The priests of the temple are Namboodiri Brahmins from South India and are said to be the disciples of Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary is located on Chopta-Gopeshwar Road and sprawls over an area of 5 sq km. This sanctuary is enveloped with dense forest, and visitors can enjoy splendid views of nature. This sanctuary is renowned for breeding musk deer.