Next morning we were all set to leave for Kartik Swami temple. The temple is in the upper Garhwal region and is dedicated to the elder son of Lord Shiva - Kartikeya. Although one can find many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ram, Ganesha in the north but temples for Lord Kartikeya is more prominent in the South.
Kartikeya also known as Murugan, Skanda, Kumara and Subrahmanya, is the Hindu god of war. He is the son of Parvati and Shiva, brother of Ganesha, and a God whose life story has many versions in Hinduism. An important deity around South Asia since ancient times, Kartikeya is particularly popular and predominantly worshipped in South India and Sri Lanka as Murugan.
Kartikeya is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism. He is found in many medieval temples all over India, such as at the Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves.
The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly; he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near a peacock, dressed with weapons sometimes near a rooster. Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta. He has inspired many poet-saints, such as Arunagirinathar.
Kartikeya, as Murugan or Subrahmanya, is found as a primary deity in temples wherever communities of the Tamil people live worldwide, particularly in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Réunion. Three of the six richest and busiest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him. The Kataragama temple dedicated to him in Sri Lanka attracts Tamils, Sinhalese people and the Vedda people. He is also found in other parts of India, sometimes as Skanda, but in a secondary role along with Ganesha, Parvati and Shiva.
The temple can be reached after a 3 Kms hike from a remote village named Kanakchuri. The drive from Rudraprayag to Kanakchuri can take anyway from 3-4 hrs depending on the road conditions.
The best time to visit the temple is throughout the year however for more clear views of the Himalayan peaks and snow en-route one can plan in the month of Feb-March. During this time one can find Rhododendron or Buransh as called in the local language in abundance. Buransh is also the state flower of Uttarakhand. It is said and experienced by us as well that eating the Buransh flower can give instant energy and so you will find Buransh Juice to be one of the main items in Uttarakhand.
The temple is also famous for its trek route which is through a dense forest and ridges from where one can see a beautiful sunrise and sunset.
We reached Kanakchuri village by mid afternoon and were all set to start our hike. Remember to fill your water bottles and pack some snacks for the route. One can buy chocolates, fruits and enjoy hot maggi from the village shops as well.