Kalpeshwar (कल्पेश्वर) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at an elevation of 2,200 m (7,217.8 ft) in the picturesque Urgam valley in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand state in India. The temple’s ancient legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of epic Mahabharata eminence is the fifth temple of the Panch Kedars (five temples) of Shiva’s five anatomical divine forms; the other four temples in the order of their worship are Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath and Madhyamaheshwar temples; all in the Kedar Khand region of the Garhwal Himalayas. Kalpeshwar is the only Panch Kedar temple accessible throughout the year. At this small stone temple, approached through a cave passage, the matted tress (jata) of Lord Shiva is worshipped. Hence, Lord Shiva is also called as Jatadhar or Jateshwar. It is approachable only by 12 km trekking from the nearest road head of Helong on the Rishikesh-Badrinath road
Many folk legends related to the Garhwal region, god Shiva and the creation of the Panch Kedar temples are narrated.
The most famous folk legend about Panch Kedar relates to the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Pandavas defeated and killed their cousins — the Kauravas in the epic Kurukshetra war. They wished to atone for the sins of committing fratricide (gotra hatya) and Brāhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins — the priest class) during the war. Thus, they handed over the reigns of their kingdom to their kin and left in search of the god Shiva and to seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi), believed to Shiva's favourite city and famous for its Shiva temple. But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive to Pandavas' prayers. Therefore, he assumed the form of a bull (Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.
Not finding Shiva in
the Pandavas went to Garhwal Himalayas.
the second of the five Pandava brothers, then standing astride two mountains
started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden
Kashi” — the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). Bhima immediately
recognized the bull to be Shiva. Bhima caught hold of the bull by its tail and
hind legs. But the bull-formed Shiva disappeared into the ground to later
reappear in parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in
Tunganath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheshwar, the face
showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar. The
Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five different forms, built temples
at the five places for venerating and worshipping Shiva. The Pandavas were thus
freed from their sins. It is also believed that the fore portions of Shiva
appeared at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu — the capital of . Nepal
A variant of the tale credits Bhima of not only catching the bull, but also stopping it from disappearing. Consequently, the bull was torn asunder into five parts and appeared at five locations in the Kedar Khand of Garhwal region of the
Himalayas. After building the Panch Kedar temples, the
Pandavas mediated at Kedarnath for salvation, performed yagna (fire sacrifice) and
then through the heavenly path called the Mahapanth (also called Swargarohini),
attained heaven or salvation.
After completing the pilgrimage of Lord Shiva's darshan at the Panch Kedar temples, it is an unwritten religious rite to visit Lord Vishnu at the Badrinath Temple, as a final affirmatory proof by the devotee that he has sought blessings of Lord Shiva
Another legend states that this place was much preferred by sages of folklore for meditation. Particular mention is made of sage Arghya who through his austere penance created Urvashi, the famous apsara (nymph) at this place. Durvasa, an ancient sage, son of Atri and Anasuya, considered an incarnation of Shiva, known for his short temper did penance and meditated under the Kalpavriksha, the wish fulfilling divine tree in the precincts of the temple. Further, it is said that Durvasa had given Kunti, mother of Pandavas, a boon that "she could invoke any of the forces of nature and they would appear before her and grant whatever she desired". Once, when Pandavas, were in exile here, in order to test them Durvasa visited them along with his desciples and desired to be dined by them. Unfortunately, there was no food available within the house to feed the surprise guests. Draupadi, wife of Pandavas, sought Lord Krishna's help.
materialised on the scene and solved the problem.
The temple priests at this temple also are the Dasnamis and Gossains, desciples of Adi Shankara. At Tungnath also the priests are Khasiya Brahmins. These priests hail from South India; the Namboodiri brahmin sect who worship at Badrinath and Kedarnath from Kerala, the Jangamas are lingayats from Mysore and the Dasnami Gossains belong to Adi Shankara’s group. The priests at the Rudranath temple are Dasnamis and Gosains.
The Kalpeshwar temple is located in the Urgam valley of the Himalayan mountain range near Urgam village (2 km) short of the temple). On the bridle path from Helang to Kalpeshwar, the enchanting confluence of the Alaknanda and Kalpganga rivers is seen. Kalp Ganga river flows through the Urgam valley. The Urgam valley is a dense forest area. The valley has apple orchards and terraced fields where potato is grown extensively.
Access to Kalpeshwar by road up to Urgam is from Rishikesh, a distance of 253 km on the Rishikesh-Badrinath road. Earlier the trek route existed from Helang to Kalpeshwar via Urgam village for a distance of 10 km . But now a good jeep-able road is constructed from Helang to Urgam, so from Urgam it's just 2 km trek to reach Kalpeshwar. The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant, Dehradun at a distance of 272 km and the nearest railhead, Rishikesh, is 255 km. Boodha Kedar temple surrounded by potato fields is seen on the trek route. Also seen is the Dhyan Badri temple at
, one of the Sapt
Badri (seven Badri) temples Urgam