Let’s throw up a name to narrow down your search for the next vacation destination – Ukhimath! It’s an offbeat destination with an inescapable charm and harmonic vibe. Whether alone or with friends and family, this quaint town invites you to be close to God, admire the natural splendor, and satiate cravings for adventure. As someone who calls Ukhimath his second home, let me guide you through the town’s best sights, sounds, and smells. An itinerary and useful travel tips are just a bonus.
Ukhimath: An Overview
Ukhimath or Okhimath is a small, peaceful town in the Rudraprayag District, Uttarakhand. We know it best as the host to Lord Kedarnath during winters when Kedarnath is off-limit due to heavy snow. As if even gods feel safe and blessed in this sleepy little town. You will find it at an elevation of 1315 meters above sea level, surrounded by lofty peaks, and 41 km from the district headquarters.
|District: Rudraprayag||Region: Gharwal|
|State: Uttarakhand||Country: India|
|Elevation: 1315 meters||Coordinates: 30°31′06″N 79°5′43″E|
|Famous for: Religious Tourism||Festivals: Madhyamaheshwar Mela|
Ukhimath has an ideal location with several tourist attractions located nearby, including Tungnath (3rd Kedar), Madhyamaheshwar (2nd Kedar), Deoria Tal, and more. Situated in the heart of the town, the famous Omkareshwar Mandir is the prime attraction here. Ukhimath is also a vantage point for scenic and divine views of Kedarnath, Neelkanth, and Chaukhamba peaks. It’s a place to visit if you want to blend in with nature and go back with refreshed senses and a desire to come back.
Ukhimath: Etymology & Legend
As a prominent historian, Dr. Om Prakash Sharma puts it, “How Ukhimath got its name is a mystery. However, a popular legend links it to the marriage of Usha (Daughter of Banasura) and Aniruddha (Grandson of Lord Krishna). As Usha entered wedlock here, the place acquired the name, Ushamath. As the language evolved, Ushamath colloquially changed to Ukhimath with time. The suffix “Math” indicates the presence of a religious institution or monastery in the area in the past.”
- Suggested Reading: Kedarnath Story: Unveiling the Legends
Why You Should Visit Ukhimath?
Ukhimath is a mix of nature, religion, history, and culture. If you are still apprehensive about visiting this sleepy town, let’s give you reasons to think otherwise. Here’s why you should visit Ukhimath.
Where Deities Feel Safe:
The higher reaches are off-limits for common folks during long and harsh winters. At that time, the presiding deities of Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar temples seek refuge in the Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath. Each year after Diwali, when the locals transport the Dolis of these deities to Ukhimath, the town comes alive with ceremonies. It’s a spectacle no one can afford to miss. Source.
Cultural Melting Pot:
Ukhimath represents the merger of Garhwali and Kumaoni traditions passed through generations. The town introduces you to a different world from colorful festivals and rituals to folk dances and food. Just interact with the locals, and their warmth will change your worldview. Even language isn’t much of a barrier here, as most locals can speak and understand Hindi.
If you are pursuing the Char Dham Yatra, Uhkimath would be your overnight stoppage. The town is just 45 kilometers from Kedarnath, which is an integral part of the Char Dham, alongside Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. Besides being the winter seat of Lord Kedarnath and a key pilgrimage stop, Ukhimath is a sacred place in its own right. It is home to several temples like Omkareshwar Temple, the Parvati Temple, the Mahadev Temple, the Usha Temple, and The Mandhata Temple.
The ancient temples in Ukhimath are architectural wonders that invoke awe and reverence. Come and marvel at their elaborate structures, clever stone engineering, and intricate designs. They not only transport you back into the past but also make you wonder how craftsmen with ordinary tools created extraordinary structures that have endured the test of time and the wrath of the elements.
If you think Ukhimath is all about religion, think again. Surrounded by lofty hills, lush forests, pristine lakes, and stunning landscapes, it is as beautiful as it gets. The town dons different hues in different seasons, from lush greenery in summers to pristine white in winters. Just take time from your busy schedules to experience nature in its raw form. Trust me, it’s a life-changing experience.
Sitting pretty on the middle reaches of the Garhwal mountains, Uhkimath is a trekker’s delight. Its tailormade location makes it an entryway to some popular trekking trails with varying lengths and difficulty levels. Depending on your fitness and other factors, the best trekking options include:
The impressive elevation of 1311 meters (4301.18 feet) influences the Ukhimath climate. Like any hill station in Uttarakhand, Ukhimath experiences four distinct seasons and a fairly pleasant climate all year round. The mercury here usually hovers around -0.9 degrees C and 36 degrees C with January being the coldest month and June, the warmest. The precipitation is more in summers with spells of snow expected in winter. Here is a detailed season-wise breakdown of Ukhimath weather.
Quick Weather Insights:
|Annual high temperature: 28.06ºC||Coldest Month: January (6.01ºC)|
|Annual low temperature: 15.75ºC||Wettest Month: August (358.35mm)|
|Average annual precip.: 92.31mm||Driest Month: November (1.75mm)|
|Warmest month: June (36.89ºC / 98.4ºF)||Days with no rain: 254.45 days (69.71%)|
|Average Humidity: 49.9%||Days with rainfall: 110.55 days (30.29%)|
Data Courtesy: https://www.weather-atlas.com/en/india/ukhimath-climate
1. Summer (March to June):
- Unlike the plains, you can expect mild and comfortable summers in Ukhimath.
- On any given day, the temperature stays between 15°C and 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
- However, the mercury can shoot up to 36°C in June, the hottest month of the year.
- At this time of the year, the blue skies and pleasant weather are great for trekking.
2. Monsoon (July to September):
- The wet season brings heavy rainfall to Ukhimath, which leads to excessive humidity.
- August comes across as the wettest month, experiencing about 358.35mm of rainfall.
- Due to heavy rainfall, trekking trails are less accessible, slippery, and potentially dangerous.
- You can expect favorable temperatures, usually ranging from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F).
3. Autumn (October to November):
- During autumn, Ukhimath is a sight to behold.
- By now, the wet season is over, leaving the region lush and green.
- The temperature is bearable and the chances of rainfall are negligible.
- During a typical autumn day, the mercury hovers around 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).
- This season is tailormade for trekking and sightseeing due to clear skies and cool temperatures.
4. Winter (December to February):
- With the onset of winter, the mercury takes a drastic dip in Ukhimath.
- In January, the temperatures can plummet to as low as -5°C to 10°C (23°F to 50°F).
- The greatest possibility of snowfall is in January, the coldest month of the year.
- Rare though, the town might receive spells of snow in December and February.
- Due to excessive snow, the higher-altitude trekking routes are often off-limits.
- The town serves as a winter seat for the Kedarnath deity during this season.
- Temp. 1: Average High Temperature, Temp. 2: Average Low Temperature
- Temperature: In Celsius, Precipitation: In mm, Humidity: In Percentage. Sunshine: in hours
Data Courtesy: https://tcktcktck.org/india/uttarakhand
The Best Time to Visit Ukhimath:
It depends on what you wish to do. Let’s help you choose the best time as per your preference.
Pilgrims and Religious Travelers:
- Best Time: Consider visiting in summer (May to June) and autumn (September to November).
- Why: During these months, the pleasant weather allows you to explore the town and nearby temples. By mid-November, the Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar deities visit Ukhimath for their winter stay. This is your opportunity to experience religious ceremonies.
Trekkers and Hikers:
- Best Time: Late spring (May to June) and autumn (September to November).
- Why: You can make the most of favorable weather and great trekking conditions during this time of the year. Even the trails are easily accessible and dry after excessive rains.
- Best Time: Autumn (September to November) and early spring (March).
- Why: It’s a godsend for nature lovers, as the town offers the most stunning landscape during these seasons with lush greenery and clear mountain views. Nothing should stop you from enjoying the natural beauty and clicking some Insta-worthy pictures.
- Best Time: Winter (December to February).
- Why: To the delight of a winter enthusiast, Ukhimath transforms into a snowy wonderland in January. Also, it’s the best time to seek the blessings of Madhyamaheshwar and Kedarnath deities in their winter abode. However, plan a trip only if you can withstand the chill.
- Best Time: Maha Shivaratri (February or March) and Doli Yatra (November)
- Why: Watching the culture come alive during Maha Shivaratri and Doli Yatra is an experience. The vibrant processions and time-honored rituals take you closer to the spirit of Ukhimath.
- Best Time: Monsoon season (July to September).
- Why: Since this is the off-season, you can end up saving big on accommodation and travel costs. However, rain and dangerous trekking trails might interfere with your plans.
Places to Visit In and Around Ukhimath
By now, you know a thing or two about Ukhimath. It’s time to broaden your horizons with a detailed list of famous temples and places to visit in and around Ukhimath. They should be on your bucket list for a wholesome and memorable Ukhimath experience. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1. Deoria Lake
Come, be enamored by the charisma of an emerald lake encircled by lush greenery and snow-kissed Chaukhamba, Banderpanch, Neelkanth, Kalanag, and Kedarnath peaks. The mesmerizing reflection of the Chaukhamba peaks in the crystal clear waters of the Deoria Tal Lake creates a spectacle that no one can afford to skip. Because the lake lies in the heart of the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary, it is a hub for spotting wildlife that comes here to satisfy their thirst at specific times of the day.
Deoria Lake is located on the Ukhimath-Chopta route at a height of approximately 2386 meters above sea level. You can access it on foot from Ukhimath via a 7 km (4.3 mi) trek or via a car to Sari Village. Although camping is prohibited near the lake, you can pitch a tent in the nearby meadows for a night of stargazing and bonfires. Feel free to stay at the Sari Village to experience village life. Speaking for the name, it comes from the legend that suggests the lake to be a bathing place of Devtas.
- Elevation: 2386 meters
- Coordinates: 30°31′20″N 79°7′40″E
- Distance from Ukhimath: 7 km (4.3 mi) Trek
- Ideal for: Camping, Trekking, Wildlife, Birding, Village Tourism
Entry Fee Indians Foreigners INR 150 INR 500
Madhyamaheshwar is the 4th temple on the Panch Kedar circuit, dedicated to Lord Shiva who is depicted with a belly and navel here. The temple is closed during winter due to heavy snowfall and the silver Shiva deity is moved to Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath. Sitting pretty at an elevation of 3,497 m in the Gaundar Village just 18 km from Ukhimath, the temple is an architectural marvel.
Surrounded by verdant forests and terraced fields, the Madhyamaheshwar temple features a black stone lingam that resembles a human navel. Made of massive stone blocks, the main shrine bears Nagara architecture, just like most temples in the region. Within the temple premises stands two other temples, one dedicated to Devi Parvati and the other to Ardhanarishwara. Just walk a few meters across the ridge, and you will come across the ‘Vriddh-Madmaheshwar’ temple.
- Elevation: 3,497 m (11,473.1 ft)
- Coordinates: 30°38′13″N 79°12′58″E
- Distance from Ukhimath: 18 Kilometers
- Ideal For: Pilgrimage, Village Tourism, Trekking, Camping
When it comes to religious significance, nothing comes close to Kedarnath. It’s the most prominent of the Panch Kedars and also a part of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Devotees from across the world visit the temple to be free from sins and achieve salvation. You can trace the roots of this ancient temple to Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. However, legends link it to Pandavas from Mahabharata.
- Suggested Reading: Kedarnath Temple History
Pandavas, according to Hindu mythology, sought to meet Lord Shiva after the Mahabharata war to be pardoned for their transgressions. Lord Shiva got enraged and converted himself into a bull. The bull dug a hole in the ground and sunk into it. It is said, the bull’s hump surfaced at Kedarnath, and the navel and abdomen appeared at Madhyamaheshwar. Likewise, Tungnath received arms, while face and hair appeared at Rudranath and Kalpeshwar, respectively. Ukhimath to Kedarnath distance is 25 km. Read More.
- Elevation: 3584 M (11759 Feet)
- Coordinates: 30.7346° N, 79.0669° E
- Distance from Ukhimath: 25 Kilometers
- Ideal For: Pilgrimage, Trekking
Chopta is often referred to as Uttarakhand’s Switzerland. The peaceful abode is covered with the cool breeze and long and tall pines and deodars. A perfect weekend getaway from the blazing city horns and excess carbon footprints.
- Elevation: 2,608 m
- Coordinates: 29°57′N 79°05′E
- Distance from Ukhimath: 1 hr 35 min (48.2 km) via NH 107
- Ideal For: Sightseeing, Trekking
5. Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev
Also known as Devaria Nag Temple, Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev temple is one of the attractions near Ukhimath. Dedicated to Nag Dev, the temple is said to be about 1000 years old and home to a miraculous “Swayambhu” Lingam. According to locals, nobody created the black stone lingam. Rather, it emerged all by itself. Just pour milk on it, and the milk will not mix with the water.
In the Garbagriha of this small temple sits a few idols of Lord Shiva, Devi Shakti, and a Nandi next to the lingam. The calm and soothing environs with diverse flora and fauna make for a perfect trek to the temple. You can access the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev temple via an easy 900-meter trek from Saari village. Just walk another kilometer uphill, and you will get to Deoria Tal Lake.
- Elevation: 2380 meters (7808.399 ft)
- Distance from Ukhimath: 32 min (14.1 km) via NH 107A
- Ideal For: Pilgrimage, Village Tourism, Trekking, Camping
Guptkashi isn’t just another religious site but also a natural paradise. Perched in the lap of towering, snow-clad peaks, this sleepy little town stuns you with its natural beauty and calmness. The sight and fragrance of magnolia flowers that are plenty in the region, fill you with joy. Situated 12 km from Ukhimath, Guptkashi lies en route to Kedarnath, in the verdant Mandakini river valley.
As expected, you come across a variety of sacred sites in Guptkashi, which makes it an important spiritual destination. Among them all, the Vishwanath Temple stands out for its spiritual significance and intricate architecture. Other worth-visiting sites include Manikarnika Kund, where according to legend, the Ganga and Yamuna merge. Even the ancient Ardhnarishwar Temple deserves a visit.
If you cannot trek to Kedarnath, feel free to hire a helicopter ride from Phata, 14 km from here.
For Helicopter Bookings, click here
- Elevation: 1319 meters (4327.5 feet)
- Coordinates: 30.5229° N, 79.0777° E
- Distance from Ukhimath: 54 min (18.3 km) via NH 107A
- Ideal For: Pilgrimage, Sightseeing
Tungnath is a Shiva temple with a history dating back to the eighth century. Situated In the Rudraprayag district, Tungnath is the second temple on the Panch Kedars route. In Tungnath, Shiva’s hands are worshipped. Read More.
How to Reach Ukhimath?
Here is how to get here via air, rail, and road.
- Air– The Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun is 196 km away from Ukhimath and is connected well with flights across major cities.
- Rail– Rishikesh, about 170 km from Ukhimath. It receives passenger trains all around the week from all major city centers in North India.
- Road– Ukhimath has sound road connectivity. You can prefer state-run buses or private buses and cabs to get to Ukhimath.
Ukhimath, being a holy town, offers an extensive range of hotels, guest houses, and resorts to suit every need, preference, and budget. Let’s walk you through some good options to stay and eat here.
Visit it for decent accommodation, good North Indian and Garhwali food, and friendly service. Best of all, the prices are easy on the pocket, making it ideal for budget-friendly travelers.
|Google Ratings: 4.9/5||Price Range: INR 1200 to 1500|
|Contact Number: 98976 32054||Email: email@example.com|
- Map Location: Here.
2. Rustic Star
In Sari Village, this is the best place to stay or eat. The food is superb and so is the accommodation. Even the prices are pocket-friendly. Also, the hotel is close to the entrance of the Deorital Trek.
|Google Ratings: 4.8/5||Price Range: INR 1600 to 1800|
|Contact Number: 073510 03030||Location: Saari Village, 246469|
- Map Location: Here.
If budget is not an issue, feel free to lodge here during your Ukhimath trip. Revery’s blue-hued cottages offer great accommodation, delicious food, and a calm environment, ideal for families.
|Google Ratings: 4.5/5||Price Range: INR 4500 to 5000|
|Contact Number: 82182 03240||Location: Ukhimath Tala Mastura Rd, Huddu|
- Map Location: Here.
When in Guptkashi, make GMVN guest house your vacation home. The sprawling property offers all amenities you need for a comfortable and safe stay, whether alone or with family and friends.
|Google Ratings: 4.3/5||Price Range: INR 3200 to 3500|
|Contact Number: 095680 06659||Location: Kedarnath Road, Guptkashi|
- Map Location: Here.
“A green, no alcohol, only vegetarian” hotel welcomes you to camp in its well-equipped tents with all modern amenities. Roam in the open spaces or use the yoga room for meditation, it’s up to you.
|Google Ratings: 4.4/5||Price Range: INR 4000 to 4500|
|Contact Number: +91 8755575907||Location: Village Rudrapur, Guptkashi|
- Map Location: Here.
Your search for low-budget accommodation in Ukhimath ends with Bharat Sevashram Sangha. You can access 2-to-6-bed Non-AC accommodations with basic facilities starting from INR 1000.
|Price Range: INR 1000 to 2000||Contact Number: 08069266004|
|Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Location: Gopeshwar Road, Ukhimath|
- Map Location: Here.
Note, DKG does not work as an affiliate to the recommended hotels and service providers. All recommendations are unbiased, based on the writer’s personal experience.
Ukhimath, located in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal area, is known for its Garhwali delicacies. Chainsoo, Phaanu, Baadi, Roat, and Bhatt ki Churdkani are some of the classic dishes available in every authentic Garhwali Dhaba or restaurant. You can also expect Chinese and North Indian cuisines here. So, nothing stops you from having a great time at a good eatery with your family after sightseeing. Also, don’t forget to sample the delectable Bal Mithai and Singauri for dessert. Alcohol and non-vegetarian foods might be hard to find since Ukhimath is a sacred destination.
- Suggested Reading: Famous Food of Uttarakhand
Ukhimath: Traveler’s Tips
Come spend your next long weekend in the lovely, pious, and pure town of Ukhimath. It holds an important place in regional history and religion, as the winter home to the Madhyamaheshwar and Kedarnath deities. Religion aside, the town also treats you to nature’s beauty, fascinating culture, and warm hospitality. You can come here to seek blessings, connect with nature, go on amazing treks, or simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
If you love adventure, some of the most popular treks in the region will exceed your expectations. No matter why or when you visit, you’ll find Ukhimath as beautiful and peaceful as it gets. So, if you’re looking for an off-beat destination to explore, Ukhimath is waiting for you with open arms. So, get your act together, swiftly book your tickets, and experience a wonderful vacation with your loved ones while taking a religious trip around town.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Ukhimath located?
You will find Ukhimath in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, India, between 30.51488 North Latitude and 79.095964 East longitude.
What is the significance of Ukhimath?
Ukhimath is one of the prominent religious places in the region. For centuries, it has hosted the deities of Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar during winters when these places are closed due to heavy snow. Even the town itself is home to several ancient temples.
How can I reach Ukhimath?
Ukhimath is accessible by road almost all year round. If you are coming by train, you need to reach Rishikesh, about 170 km away. Alternatively, you can fly to Jolly Grant Airport, 196 km away, and take a bus or cab to Ukhimath.
When is the best time to visit Ukhimath?
It depends on your interests and vacation goals. Late spring and autumn are generally ideal when the skies are clear and the temperature is bearable.
What are the popular treks near Ukhimath?
It is home to a few popular treks like Deoria Tal, Tungnath-Chandrashila, and Madhyamaheshwar.
What is the significance of Deoria Tal?
Deoria Tal is an emerald lake with religious importance where, according to legend, Devtas used to take a dip. Known for its reflection of Chaukhamba peaks, it lies in the heart of Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary.
Where is Omkareshwar Mandir located?
The famous Omkareshwar Mandir, which hosts the Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar deities, is in Ukhimath.
Can I visit Ukhimath in winter?
Yes, the town is accessible in winter. However, you should be prepared to deal with cold temperatures and snowfall.
What is the distance between Ukhimath and Kedarnath?
The distance between Ukhimath and Kedarnath by road is approximately 42 kilometers.
Are there any festivals celebrated in Ukhimath?
Yes, the town celebrates Maha Shivaratri, Madhyamaheshwar Mela, and other festivals with enthusiasm.
What is the architecture of the Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath?
The Omkareshwar Temple features Nagara architecture with a distinct Kalasha rising over the Garbagrhia. The intricate stone carvings are also a part of the overall construction.
What is the significance of Madhyamaheshwar in Ukhimath?
Madhyamaheshwar is one of the Panch Kedar shrines and holds great religious significance.
Are there accommodations available in Ukhimath?
Yes, Ukhimath offers a range of accommodations, from budget to mid-range options.
Is Ukhimath a starting point for the Char Dham Yatra?
Yes, Ukhimath is often the starting point for pilgrims embarking on the Char Dham Yatra.
Can I find local markets in Ukhimath?
Yes, Ukhimath has local markets where you can purchase souvenirs and religious items.
What are the nearest airports to Ukhimath?
The nearest airports are Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.
What are the precautions to take when trekking near Ukhimath?
Ensure you have proper gear, acclimatize to the altitude, and check weather conditions before trekking.
Is photography allowed in Ukhimath temples and religious sites?
Photography is usually allowed but it’s advisable to ask for permission, especially in temples.
What is the significance of the Mandakini River in Ukhimath?
The Mandakini River is considered sacred, and its waters hold religious importance for pilgrims and locals alike.