Guptakashi, A fairly large temple town located in the Kedar-khanda (‘khanda’ means “sector”), in Garhwal Himalayas of Rudraprayag district in Uttrakhand, India. It’s known for its ancient Vishwanath Temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva, which is similar to the one in Varanasi (Kashi). The other well known temple here is dedicated to Ardhanareshvara, a half man half woman form of Shiva and Parvati.
This temple town is located on the way to the Kedarnath, one of the Chota Char Dhams and Panch Kedars. It has the scenic backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of Chaukhamba and enjoys a salubrious weather throughout the year.
Linked to the Pandavas the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, The name Guptakashi has legendary significance. Popularly-narrated legend holds that subsequent to the Kurukshetra war of the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas on the advice of Lord Krishna and other sages wished to atone for their sins of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya committed by them during the war by seeking pardon from Shiva and also pray for his blessings before attaining salvation. But Shiva was not willing to meet them since he was annoyed with them for the unjust events of the war.
He, therefore, avoided meeting them at Kashi and went incognito as the bull Nandi to Guptakashi in Uttarakhand. But Pandavas pursued him to Guptakashi and recognized him in the disguised form of Nandi. When Bhima, the second Pandava brother tried to hold the bull by its tail and hind legs, Nandi vanished from Guptakashi, into the ground (into a cave for hiding), but reappeared later as Shiva in five different forms namely, hump at Kedarnath, face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks at Kalpeshwar. The vanishing act of Shiva gave the name Guptakashi (hidden Kashi) to this place on the bank of the Mandakini River. In the upper reaches of the Bhagirathi River, there is another Kashi, called the Uttarkashi (North Kashi).
Mythology also states that Shiva proposed to Parvati at Guptakashi (on the road to Kedarnath) before they got married in the small Triyuginarayan village at the confluence of Mandakini and Sone-Ganga rivers.
Another legend declares that when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb demolished the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in 1669, and constructed Gaynvapi Mosque (he had even renamed Varanasi as Mohammadâbâd), the Shiva Linga was shifted to Guptakashi for safe keeping. But the original linga of Kashi Vishwanath is stated to have remained here from the time it was shifted.
Its religious importance is considered next to that of Varanasi, believed to be the most pious of all Hindu pilgrimage places.
The snow sparkling view of the Chaukhamba peak is a lovely sight to behold in the morning hours from here. The valley has large magnolia trees (locally called Champa) that provide a sweet scented atmosphere to the place. The temple of Madhyamaheshwar is 25 kilometres (16 mi) northeast of Guptkashi. The road from Guptkashi to Kalimath and the trek from Kalimath to Madhmaheshwar provide the scenic beauty of Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks.
Guptkashi is becoming more important for a night stay on trip to Sri Kedarnath as there are good hotels, guest houses and camps , it is also because of the Phata , Sita Puri and Sirsi helipad , people prefer to stay here.
Places To Visit in Himalayas
Triyuginarayan Temple is a Hindu temple located in the Triyuginarayan village. The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Its fame is credited to the legend of Lord Shiva’s marriage to goddess Parvati witnessed by Vishnu at this venue and is thus a popular pilgrimage centre. A special feature of this temple is a perpetual fire, that burns in front of the temple. The flame is believed to burn from the times of the divine marriage. Thus, the temple is also known as Akhand Dhuni temple.
Chopta is an unspoiled natural destination lying in the lap of the Uttarakhand Himalayas and offers views of the imposing Himalayan range including Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba. It is located at an elevation of 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) above sea level. Chopta village is surrounded by forests of pine, deodar and rhododendron and is rich in flora and fauna include rare species of birds and musk deer.
Gaurikund, A Hindu pilgrimage site and base camp for trek to Kedarnath Temple. Situated at an elevation of 18,200 feet above mean sea level in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is the second highest lake in the world after Tso Sekuru which is located at the height of 18,284 feet above mean sea level(Tibetan Plateau). Gauri Kund is connected with Shiva’s wife Parvati, also known as Gauri. In Hindu folklore, Gauri committed to penance involving many ascetic and yogic practices to win over Shiva’s affections. Local tradition claims that Gauri Kund is the spot where Gauri lived while carrying out these practices and it was here that Shiva finally admitted His love for Her. They were married at Triyugi Narayan, which is located nearby. There are hot springs in Gaurikund and they are converted to bathing places.