Guptkashi or Guptakashi is a Himalayan town located at an elevation of 1,319 metres above sea level in the Kedar-khanda in Garhwal Himalayas of Rudraprayag district in Uttrakhand, India.
The town is well known for its ancient Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is similar to the one in Varanasi (Kashi). There is another well-known temple here which is dedicated to Ardhanareshvara, a half man half woman form of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
Legends and Mythologies of Guptkashi:
According to the legends after the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas wanted to meet Lord Shiva for his blessings and forgiveness. But Lord Shiva avoided meeting them at Kashi as Shiva was very disappointed on them because of the war and went on hiding in the form of bull Nandi to Guptakashi in Uttarakhand. The Pandavas came her to find him to Guptakashi and recognized him in the disguised form of Nandi.
Another mythology is according to Puranic literature, Kashi and Kanchipuram are the two eyes of Lord Shiva. Six more Kashis are mentioned in the literature. These are as sacred and important as the Kashi (Varanasi). Pilgrims, who cannot undertake the long journey to Varanasi, can travel to the closest Kashi. The six other Kashis are scattered all around the country. Two of them are Uttarkashi and Guptakashi in Uttarakhand in Northern Himalayas.
The 3rd legend that Shiva proposed to Parvati at Guptakashi before they got married in the village of Triyuginarayan at the confluence of holy rivers Mandakini and Ganga.
Places to Visit Near Guptakashi:
Vishwanath temple an ancient and well-known temple in Guptkashi. Vishwanath temple is devoted to Lord Shiva – The Destroyer. This temple is made of ancient stones and wood frames.
In this beautiful lake, there are two sources of water, one is Lord Ganesha’s head and another is cow’s head. Manikarnika kund is located within the complex of Vishwanath temple is a place where Shiva linga is kept.
This important temple is located on the left of the Vishwanath temple. Ardhanarishwar temple is also devoted to God Shiva. The presiding idol in the temple is of half man and half women avatar Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva.
Chopta is a very beautiful village near Guptakashi. The trek to the world’s highest Shiva temple Tungnath starts from Chopta.
Gauri Kund is a Hindu pilgrimage site and base camp for trek to Kedarnath Temple. Gauri Kund is connected with Shiva’s wife Parvati, also known as Gauri. Gauri committed to penance involving many ascetic and yogic practices to win over Shiva’s affections.
Best Time to Visit:
The climate of Guptkashi is pleasant between the months of October and March. Summers are hot and humid and it is better to avoid the monsoons. Basant Panchami (Spring in March) and Pandava (harvesting in October) are the major celebrations in Guptkashi. You can enjoy the traditional dance forms such as Ghariyali, Chanchari and Jagar are performed in Guptkashi.
How to Reach Guptakashi:
A major network of roads via the NH109 highway connect Guptakashi to Rishikesh, Srinagar, Delhi etc. You can take state-owned bus services or a private cab to Guptkashi.
The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, which has good road connections to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore.