Rudranath Temple is one of the 'panch kedar'(five shiva) temple, located in the Garhwal region of the Himalayan Range in Uttrakhand, India. It is beleived to be built by the Pandavas, protagonist from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata (fun fact - total word count in Mahabharata is 1.8 millions source ).
But how is it the toughest shiva temple? you may ask. So let me tell you that it is located at an elevation of 3600 meters from sea level and to reach there you have to trek almost 25 kilometers by foot through forest, meadows, grasslands, in fog and challenging conditions.
We reached Sagar village,a small village known as Sagar Village in Chamoli District and started our trek at noon.
Trekking through the Woods
We had a long journey ahead. At first there are two seperate routes to the trek, one from the stoned paved path and other by a trail crossing the forest. We took the trail for maximum adventure, which was the worst decision probably, later on that.
The first stop was like a few kilometers away and we had a rough idea of how much time it would take. Btw, we didn't bring a guide with us (was a mistake) and even didn't had like a proper map other than google maps on our phones. We were trekking through the forest.
Crossed a few river streams, and kept walking on that less travelled trail, we had a problem soon. Those trails divided into two and we took one of the trail as we just had some sense of general direction, so just kept on walking.
It all started going downhill
At around 5 pm it started raining and the clouds came with darkness (literally and metaphorically). We were no way near the first base and were not so sure that we were going on the right way. Another half an hour passed by and its getting dark, the rain was pouring down heavily now, and we had no mobile network. We were regretting our decision to not take any guide with us. Anyway, we keep on walking, at around 6:30 pm it was pitch black and we were now so tired, might have gone the wrong way. Anyway after looking at google maps (with no connection) we could just see that we have to move north-west, thats all we knew. We kept walking for another half an hour and still nothing to see. No camps, no locals, no service on our phones. As we were mentally preparing for somehow making a camp and just wait it out. A friend saw a light coming from a distance, everyone filled with excitement and started walking towards it and in no time we were there. It was a camp and we rested for the night there.
So, that was the initial struggle we had but after that we never chose any other side path, just remained on the main trek route. That was enough adventure for us all.
You can see the view from the above image what we experienced in the morining. That was a majestic view and we have left the woods behind for good. This is a small 'bugyal' called Lithi Bugyal.
A Bugyal is a high altitude alpine grass lands, or meadows, in Uttarakhand, India. They are locally referred to as 'nature’s own gardens'. They can be flat or sloped, and are carpeted with green grass and seasonal flowers. source
We Still needed to cover something like 18 km. So we ate our breakfast, packed out bags and left the camp early in the morning.
We reached Panar Bugyal in just a few hours and it was a pure wonder of nature. Literally nature's own Garden. And the view was simple amazing as well. We could see some of the highest Himalayan peak from there.
We still had a long journey ahead of us. So the break was cut short and we started walking again. We were already tired but still determined and the trek continued. At noon we reached a place called Pitradhar.
Pitradhar is the peak of this mountain, having an elevation of 4000 meters above sea level. This is the highest point of our trek to Rudranath Temple. At this point the oxygen level drops in the air and you feel more tired and exhaused. This is probaly the toughest part of the journey for everyone.
We were so tired😅. Had to take a break. But the weather was so beautiful and the mix of clouds and fog, it was like a place in heaven.
We still had a few kilometers to cover to reach our final goal, Rudranath Temple. So, we again gathered our energy and started trekking. Untill this point we were basically walking uphill and now we had a relativly easier path to follow. The view all along the route was beautiful, weather would change in half an hour completely, one moment you have the sun shining and the other you are surrounded by thick fog of clouds. It was truely a great experience.
We finally reached Rudranath temple at around 2:00 pm, which was quicker than we expect, because the trek after "Pitradhar" was relatively easy.
You can hardly see in the video, but in the distance through the fog you will catch a glimpse of the Temple. Now we could see it and our tired legs filled with energy again.
To see this temple, we trekked through woods, meadows, hills and finally were here. It is such a rare sight that only a few people have seen it in pictures as well.
We offered our prayer inside the temple and the priest closed the gate (it was time for the diety to be left alone). Taking pictures of inside the temple is strictly prohibited and you will not easily find any images of the inside of this temple. It is very sacred Shiva Temple. To read more about the temple click here.
One one knows exactly how old is the temple, but it could well be older than 500 years, in this present state.
On the left of the temple, we see structure carved from the rocks,maybe these five smaller temple like structures represent 'panch kedar'(all 5 shiva temple in the Garhwal region) temples, this being the fourth one.
Anyway it was getting colder and we decided to trek back to Panar and stay there in the camp for the night.So, we travelled back and reached Panar camp at the evening and stayed there for the night to rest and freshen up for the journey back to the Sagar Village, where we started 2 days ago.
On the next morning, we started to descend but didn't took the path from the woods, we sure learnt our lessons on the first day😅. We had to go downhill but still our legs were so tired and took so long. Each step was like going through a deep swamp. But the the views were just magical and it was a completly different view that we see from everyday that keep us going.
We reached Sagar Village village at 2 pm. Our car was parked there and after having lunch and some rest we travelled back to from car. That took another 12-14 hours to reach our home safely in Haryana.
Many people when asked about their favourite destinations in India, some will say Goa, some Kashmir other will say famous monuments like Taj Mahal, but to experience something like that and go somewhere where a few people have visited before, its a great feeling. Despite the tough and challenging terrain, it was really worth it. I suggest you go and experience this trek, especially if you are an Indian.