Image by Rishu Bhosale

Guptkashi

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Guptakashi, Gupta Kashi or Guptkashi is a fairly large town located at an elevation of 1,319 metres (4,327 ft) in the Kedar-khanda ('khanda' means "sector"), in Garhwal Himalayas of Rudraprayag district in Uttrakhand, India.

Legend

Popularly-narrated legend holds that subsequent to the Kurukshetra war of the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas on the advice of god Krishna and other sages wished to atone for their sins of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya committed by them during the war by seeking pardon from Shiva and also pray for his blessings before attaining salvation.

But Shiva was not willing to meet them since he was annoyed with them for the unjust events of the war. He, therefore, avoided meeting them at Kashi and went incognito as the bull Nandi to Guptakashi in Uttarakhand. But Pandavas pursued him to Guptakashi and recognized him in the disguised form of Nandi. When Bhima, the second Pandava brother tried to hold the bull by its tail and hind legs, Nandi vanished from Guptakashi, into the ground (into a cave for hiding), but reappeared later as Shiva in five different forms namely, hump at Kedarnath, face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks at Kalpeshwar.

Mythology also states that Shiva proposed to Parvati at Guptakashi before they got married in the small Triyuginarayan village at the confluence of Mandakini and Sone-Ganga rivers.[7] However the old route of 14 km from Gauri Kund to Kedarnath via Rambara was completely washed away in the 2013 North India floods, and new route of 15-16 km was made by the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. The distance of Guptakashi to Kedarnath remains at 22 kilometers and 729.77 meters, which is most important to the celestial nuptials.

According to Puranic literature, Kashi and Kanchi (Kanchipuram) are considered as two eyes of Shiva. Keeping this connotation in view, six more "Kashi"s have been prescribed to be as sacred and spiritual as the main Kashi - Varanasi. Pilgrims, who cannot undertake the long journey to the main Kashi, can travel to the closest Kashi. The six other "Kashi"s cover all the regions of the country.