It was the early winters of 2015 when I first laid my eyes on the holy temple town of Guptkashi, when I first heard the name Guptkashi, I was confused on many occasions as to where was this place and why was it named so intermixing it with Uttarkashi. Since 2015 I have visited this town on multiple occasions during my sojourn to Kedarnath. I have marveled at the chaotic yet intense religious vibes that once can feel out here.
This article would be dwelling on two main religious monuments that are a must see for all those who visit this part of the world. The town has a history there is no doubts in that and one can trace its roots right back to the writings in “ShivaPuran “which speaks about the interaction between Lord Shiva and the Pandavas who were in search for him to ask for forgiveness in order to atone for their sins in killing their own family. There are many temple towns in our country which have deep significant religious links that run back into centuries and time periods, Guptkashi is one such place.
The town is all hustle and bustle with religion dominating the way of life , people had eked out their living using religious belief as the main bedrock. Just 14 kms ahead lies Sonprayag which is the start of the trek to Kedarnath shrine. The town is in the Rudraprayag distt in Uttarakhand, and is nestled amidst the scenic backdrop of the snow covered peaks of Chaukhamba on the right bank of the Mandakini. Close to Guptkashi are two venerable religious places to visit, TriugiNarayan and Kalimath, to know about these please read the article in the below pasted link.
So what does one come to Guptkashi for; the first and foremost is the Vishwanath temple, whose presiding deity is Lord Shiva in the form of Lord Vishwanath “Lord of the Universe “. The temple is made out of stones and the tower is adorned with a wooden frame. This is not an imposing temple at all, in fact there is not much crowds of devotees also hence one can see easily see the Lord and spend time in peaceful bliss with him. One can see the image of Lord Bhairava on the top tower of the main shrine with brightly painted lotuses all around the temple façade. Legend says that this was the place where Lord Shiva consented his desire to marry Goddess Parvati and the wedding was performed in Triugi Narayan temple (link below). The temple has an aesthetic aura which made me feel light and more in connect with the vibes emanating out here.
In front of the temple we have the Manikarnika Kund which have two underground streams representing Jamuna and Ganga which are constantly bathing the Shiva Linga installed there. Ganga emanates from an elephant mouth structure while the Yamuna emanates from a cow mouth structure. Manikarnika Kund and the main temple are perfectly aligned with each other and present a very soothing image to the devotee.
On the left of Vishwanath temple we have the temple dedicated to Ardhanarishwar. The temple idol is a synthesis of half man and half woman. The idol depicts the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The idol depicts the fact that the female principle of God is inseparable from the male. Legend speaks of Lord Mahadev enlightening Sage Bhringi with the concept of Shiva-Shakti and when he saw that Sage was unable to grasp the significance Goddess Parvati took away all elements of nature from his body resulting in which only ashes was left. This lesson cleared away the confusion from Sage Bhringi’s mind and he understood that Shiv-Shakti is one, one cannot exist without the other and their equilibrium is essential for the existence of creation. The form of Ardhnarishwar (half man-half woman) was displayed by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at that moment to all the celestial sages present.
There are many more temples all around the town but it is these three places that hold the key to the significance of the town and are a must visit for all those who make the effort to come to this region while on their way to the lofty reaches of Kedarnath shrine which is all-encompassing with the vibes of Lord Rudra himself.
|When to Visit||Co-join the visit with a trip to Kedarnath Shrine (Holi – Diwali). Avoid monsoons if you are perturbed by landslides|
|Places of stay||Moderately priced many hotels available|
|Nearby places of interest||Kedarnath , Kalimath , TriugiNarayan , Ukimath , Rudraprayag,Devprayag|
|Mode of transport||Bus operator services are present but I would recommend a personal taxi/self-driven vehicle if more than 01 member.|