Tungnath Temple: The Highest Shiva Shrine in the World, Tilting at 6-10 Degrees

Nestled amidst the breathtaking peaks of the Himalayas in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, the Tungnath Temple stands as a testament to spirituality and architectural marvel. Believed to be over a millennium old, this sacred site dedicated to Lord Shiva has recently gained attention due to its unique position—tilting at 6-10 degrees, a fact revealed by a 2023 study conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The Tungnath Temple, perched at a staggering 3,680 metres (12,073 feet), not only holds the distinction of being the highest Shiva temple in the world but also stands as the highest among the Panch Kedar temples. Its name, meaning “Lord of the peaks,” truly befits its status as a crown jewel amidst the grandeur of the Himalayan giants. In 2023, the temple was rightfully declared a monument of national importance, signaling the need for its preservation and that of its surroundings.

Tungnath And Mahabharat:

The temple’s rich history is intertwined with the epic Mahabharat, where the Pandavas, in an attempt to atone for their sins, are believed to have established Tungnath. Another legend attributes the rediscovery of the temple to the revered 8th-century philosopher and saint, Adi Shankaracharya. Some scholars argue that the Katyuri rulers built it in the 8th century. Regardless of its origin, Tungnath remains an incredible spiritual destination.

Built in the Nagara style of architecture, the temple’s simplicity and elegance house a sacred shivling worshipped as Lord Shiva. Its antiquity, spanning over 1,000 years, adds to the awe-inspiring atmosphere of this sacred site.

Preserving Tungnath:

While the temple welcomes pilgrims from May to November, it faces challenges beyond its spiritual significance. The 2023 ASI study revealed the temple’s tilt by five to six degrees and smaller structures in the complex by 10 degrees. This has sparked awareness about the need for preservation efforts to ensure Tungnath continues to inspire generations.

How To Reach Tungnath:

Reaching Tungnath is an enchanting journey in itself. A scenic 5-kilometer trek from Chopta, often referred to as the ‘Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand,’ leads pilgrims to the temple gates. Shivratri witnesses a surge of devotees making the arduous trek. From the temple, a panoramic view of Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, and Chaukhamba awaits, making the journey spiritually rewarding.

As Tungnath grapples with the challenges of preservation, its spiritual and historical significance continues to draw pilgrims seeking solace in the highest abode of Lord Shiva.

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