Madhya Maheshwar – June 2018 – Part 1
Madhya Maheshwar is the place where Shiva’s Madhya or belly is said to have surfaced when the Pandavas were on his trail to seek forgiveness for killing their cousins. It is supposed to be the fourth temple in the Pancha Kedar trek. I had already visited Kedarnath, Tungnath and Kalpeshwar Mahadev as part of a previous piligrimage. Details of that trek have already been elaborated elsewhere in this blog. But that was in 2015 and now it is 2018. So the hankering to go back to the midst of the king of the mountains started afresh. It propelled me to make my plans and drove me to pack all the necessary stuff.
Initially, the journey took me via Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dev Prayag where again I was stunned by the contrasting colours between the waters of the Bhagirathi and Alakananda. Look at the green colours of Bhagirathi and the muddy like waters of the Alakananda river as they converge in Dev Prayag to form the mighty Ganga.
To reach Madhya Maheshwar, you need to first reach Ukhimath. Ukhimath, as was stated before, is named after Usha, the daughter of Banasura.
Ukhimath is the winter seat for the five shrines of Pancha Kedar. Before reaching Ukhimath, I wanted to make a small detour to Kalimath which branches from the Kedar route at Gupt Kashi. The route to Kalimath is entirely by road with less than five minutes walk to the temple. It is an awesome route that crosses the Mandakini and has nice descent and ascent on the other side. It crosses a picturesque valley, goes across the noisy Mandakini and starts ascending on the other side.
We get down on the road and have to walk for about 5 minutes over a bridge to approach the temple on the other side.
Kalimath is known as a Sidda Peeth (Spiritual Center) since pilgrims visit this place for spiritual comfort. Kali is worshipped as a yantra (symbolic form) here. There is no physical form for her. The yantra is wrapped in a red cloth and kept in a circular sanctum here. Devotees offer prayers to the yantra. This is also considered a bali sthal – a place where some people offer animal sacrifices to appease the Goddess.
There is also a central sanctum that actually contains a very old idol of Kali in the form of Goddess Lakshmi. This is the sattvic form of Kali i.e. it is more of a benevolent version of the idol. The idol of Lakshmi is very small and has a perpetual fire opposite it. Logs are said to be burning continuously for a period of three Hindu yugas.
The main temple is in the conventional Uttarkhand style.
Notice the black window in the front which is blackened by the perpetual fire burning inside.
Night Stay At Ukhimath
After completing my yatra to Kalimath, I retraced the path back to the Kedar road and from there proceeded to goto Ukhimath where I intended to camp for the night. Our inn called Hanumant Inn is near a village called Tala that is about 7-8 kms from Ukhimath. This has been a problem since we had to pay extra fares for the cab. It is best if you can obtain accommodation in central Ukhimath itself. But the views from the room were just out of this world. With uncertain dreams about the impending trek, I rested here for the night.