One of the best holy shrines to visit in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand state is the Kalpeshwar Temple of Lord Shiva. Kalpeshwar Temple is at an height of 2134 meters above sea-level in Urgam Valley of Chamoli district. The beautiful rock temple is surrounded with natural beauty, lush green forest and gives a complete view of Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Neelkant, Panchachullis, Bhandarpooch and the Chaukhamba peaks. All along the way from Helang to Kalpeshwar temple one can see a splendid view of Alaknanda and Kalpganga rivers. The dark rock Shivalingam is reached through a cave passage.
About the temple:
It is the fifth temple of the Panch Kedars (five temples) of Lord Shiva and the remaining four being Kedarnath, Rudranath, Tunganath and Madhyamaheshwar temples in order, all lying in the Kedar Khand region of Himalayas. The speciality of Kalpeshwar Temple is that is it is accessible throughout the year.
As per the ‘Skanda Purana’, Lord Shiva had explained the importance of Kalpeshwar to Goddess Parvati. It says that, Lord Indra was cursed by Rishi Durvasa for his sins and he had come here to meditate. Lord Shiva pleased with his devotion blessed him to regain his throne back. So it is strongly believed that whoever offers puja with devotion will be relieved from all their sins.
The legend on Panch Kedar temples says that the Pandavas of Mahabaratha pleaded pardon from Lord Shiva for the sins committed by them in the war of Kurukshetra. Lord Shiva not willing to pardon the Pandavas took the form of a bull. But when this form of Shiva was recognized by Bhima (the second Pandava), he tried to hold on to the bull’s tail and hind the legs. However, the bull vanished underground at Guptkashi and finally reappeared in five different forms: his hump at Kedarnath, head surfaced at Rudranath, arm at Tunganath, the stomach and navel at Madhyamaheshwar and jata (tress) at Kalpeshwar. Hence, Lord Shiva at Kalpeshwar is worshipped in the name of Jatadhar or Jateshwar.
Another legend says that this place was favored for meditation by sages of folklore. It is mentioned that Sage Arghya had created Urvashi (the famous apsara) unwillingly at this place. Another story says that ancient Sage Durvasa, known for his short temper had meditated under the Kalpavriksha (the wish fulfilling divine tree) in the temple was forgiven.
The disciples of Adi Shankara, the Dasnamis and Gossains are the temple priests till now. The local languages spoken are Kumaoni, Gadhwali and Hindi.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Kalpeshwar would be from April-June and September-October. Avoid visiting this place during winters and rainy season due to snowfalls and landslides.
How to reach:
Earlier the trek route existed from Helang to Kalpeshwar via Urgam village covering a distance of 10 kms. But now you can reach the temple by road from Rishikesh to Urgam covering a distance of 253 kms on Rishikesh-Badrinath road and just a 2 kms trek from Urgam to Kalpeshwar temple as a road is constructed from Helang to Urgam. The nearest airport is at Dehradun at a distance of 272 kms and Rishikesh Railways is the nearest station.