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Shiva Taking the Form of Bull to hide from the Pandavas – The Story of the Panch Kedar

Panch Kedar Yatra is an important pilgrimage in Hindu Religion. It is the journey to five temples dedicated to Hindu God Shiva – who is worshipped in these temples in form of a Bull. The yatra involves journey to the Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath Temples in the Kedarkhand region in Uttarakhand in India. The form of Shiva that is worshipped in these temples are in form of a bull – a form that Shiva took to hide from Pandavas.

Legend has it that the Pandavas, after their victory in the Mahabharata, wished to pay homage to Hindu God Shiva to atone for killing their grand father, guru and relatives, the Kauravas. They feared gotra hatya sin – killing of one’s own kin.

Shiva was not ready to accept the homage and on seeing the Pandavas at Kedarnath, He disguised himself as a bull. However, the Pandavas realized that the Bull was Shiva.

Realizing that the disguise had not worked, Shiva in the form of bull tried to thrust itself into the ground. Bhima tried to hold the Bull to prevent it from vanishing. In the struggle that ensued, Shiva got torn into separate parts and manifested at various locations.

The head appeared at Jangam math in Bhaktapur in Nepal.
The hump of the Bull appeared at Kedarnath.
The arms appeared at Tungnath.
The face manifested at Rudranath
The Torso including the navel appeared at Madhya­mahesh­war.
The matted locks appeared at Kalpeshwar.

The five sites that fall in India - Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath – are referred to as Panch Kedar.

The popular belief is that Pandavas and their descendants built the temples at Kedarnath, Madhyama­heshwar and Tungnath.

Rudra­nath and Kalpeshwar are cave temples.

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