Koteshwar Mahadev near Rudraprayag is a rustic cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is nestled on the pristine banks of river Alaknanda. A flight of stairs will guide you to this temple, where you can feel the divinity of the trinity.
The temple complex consists of a sanctum sanctorum and a cave, where a Shivlinga is installed. Apart from the Shiva temple, the courtyard showcases various shrines dedicated to Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Hanuman.
This ancient grotto temple is more than thousand years old. The colossal cave of this temple is a part of a huge mountain. The locals believe that the mountain is the holy abode of 10 million (1 koti) naturally formed Shivlingas. Hence the temple got its name Kotishwar or Koteshwar.
Koteshwar is one of the many avatars of Mahadev. It is believed that Koteshwar is the same spot where Lord Shiva engaged himself in serious meditation, before leaving for Kedarnath. According to the locals, the temple has marked its presence since the menace of Bhasmasur (the demon who got a boon from Lord Shiva to turn anybody into ashes by a touch of his hand). Seeking the power, Bhasmasur tried to bhasm Lord Shiva, who took refuge in this cave. Shiva then prayed to Lord Vishnu who took the Mohini avatar and tricked Bhasmasur to place his hand on his dead. Hence, the demon killed himself from his own power.
If you are an ardent follower of Lord Shiva then you shouldn’t miss this temple as it is a spiritual marvel. The temple beholds a majestic aura with holy river Alaknanda pecking the stairs of the shrine. One can savour the sight of water seeping through the crevasses of the rocky cave, anointing the Shivalinga. Many nature lovers and shutterbugs often visit this place to relish the view of Alaknanda carelessly flowing amidst the two gigantic mountainous terrains.
Summer and winter months are the ideal time to visit this temple. During Mahashivaratri, the temple sees a heavy flux of pilgrims who come here to enrapture in the holy-spirit.
The age-old Koteshwar Mahadev temple is located at a distance of 5 km from Rudraprayag. A brisk 1 km climb will make you reach this temple. To reach here one can hire a taxi, take a shared jeep or bus from Rudraprayag. The nearest railhead to this temple is at Rishikesh (142 km) and Dehradun (185 km). While Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport at 160 km is the closest airport to this temple.