Madhyamaheswar – as the name suggests “Madhya” means “middle” and “maheswar” is the other name of Lord Shiva, is a place where the middle (Madhya) or belly part (navel or nabhi) of the Shiva is worshipped. Situated at an elevation of 3497m from sea level, this scenic beauty is located in Gaundhar village of Garhwal Himalayas in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It is fourth in the pecking order of the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, comprising five Shiva temples in the Garhwal region.
It is believed that originally this temple was built by the Pandavas, from the epic Mahabharata to absolve their sins. It was later revived in the 8th century AD when the great Hindu seer shri Adi Shankaracharya visited the Himalayas to revive Sanatana Dharma. Priests at this temple are from South India and at this particular temple they are called “Jangamas” of the Lingayat caste who hail from Mysore in Karnataka state. In winters the palanquin of lord Shiva is taken to Ukhimath, where the worship takes place for the whole season.
Madhyamaheswar trek is situated in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in the northern Himalayas. The sanctuary is famous for the Himalayan Musk Deer (state animal of Uttarakhand) and is protecting this endangered species. It is also one of the largest biodiversity in India boasting of most varieties of flora and fauna that found here.
There is also an old temple known as Buda (old) Madhyamaheswar, located 2 kms away from Madhyamaheswar on the ridge which looks straight up at the commanding Chaukhamba peaks. Gaundhar and Kalimath are two important places on the route to Madhyamaheswar. Kalimath is of importance for the large number of pilgrims who visit the place for spiritual comfort and hence it is called the Sidh Peeth (Spiritual centre). Kalimath is famous for the temples to goddesses Mahakali and Mahalakshmi, and god Shiva and one of his ferocious forms – Bhairava. Gaundhar is at the confluence of Madhyamaheswar Ganga and Markanga Ganga rivers and offers enchanting views.
Madhyamaheswar can only be accessed by foot and has rewarding views. It is a trail that has a plethora of things to watch out for. This 3-day, 32 km trek goes through quaint hamlets, coniferous forest and grasslands with the Madhyamaheswar Ganga river flowing beneath it. The view of the first light of the sun on the Chaukhamba massif from Buda Madhyamaheswar is mesmerising which is worth all the efforts. With the beauty of lovely peaks and elegance of nature, Madhyamaheswar offers some of the best scenic views in Uttarakhand.