Kalpeshwar is the last and fifth temple in the list of Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit. With paying obeisance at this sacred temple, the Panch Kedar pilgrimage is accomplished. This beautiful cave temple is situated in the Urgam valley of Chamoli district of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 2134m above sea level. Here the Lord Shiva is worshipped in his matted hair form. Kalpeshwar is surrounded by dense woods and also terraced fields.
In mythology, it is said that the Pandavas of the epic Mahabharat set up this temple when they were roaming in the Himalayas in search of Lord Shiva to absolve their sin of killings in Kurukshetra war. Later the shrine was built in 8thCentury AD by seer Shri Adi Shankaracharya when he visited the Garhwal Himalayas. According to legends,it is said that this place was much preferred by sages since ancient times for meditation. Particular mention is made of sage Arghya who through his austere penance created Urvashi, the famous apsara (nymph) at this place. Sage Durvasa (son of Atri and Anusuya) 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.Once, when Pandavas were in 13 years of exile, during their stay here, sage Durvasa visited them along with his disciples to test them. He 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. Krishna materialised on the scene and solved the problem.
At this small stone temple, pilgrim’s approach through a cave passage where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of matted tress (jata), so the Lord Shiva is also called as Jatadhar or Jateshwar. The trail to this sacred shrine goes through thick forests and lush green terrace fields. There is also an old Kalpavriksha tree here which is said to be the wish-granting tree.
Kalpeshwar is the only Panch Kedar temple which is accessible and open throughout the year. All other Kedar temples are closed during winters. The temple priests at this temple are the Dasnami’s and Gossains, who hails from South India are the disciples of Shri Adi Shankaracharya. The Namboodiri brahmin sect who worship at Badrinath and Kedarnath are from Kerala.
This shrine is a delight for the tourists with striking views of valley with terraced fields and lush green forests. Trekking in this rocky terrain is a favourite task of the trekkers as this place is full of the adventurous trekking routes.