Kartik Swami (Murugan Swami as known in Southern India) Temple amidst serene environs of Himalayas. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya and is situated on a big rock atop the highest cliff around known locally as ‘Swaminath danda’ (Swaminath-Kartik Swami, Danda-Mountain in Garhwali). It is at an altitude of 3050 m above the sea level, in Rudraprayag District of Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. This is the only temple dedicated to Lord Murugan or Kartikeya in Uttarakhand and one of only a few in whole Northern India. There is a Bhairon temple just 100 meters before Kartik Swami. The splendid 360-degree views of the snow clad Himalayas from the shrine is a very rare sight to find elsewhere. Chaukhamba peaks, Kedarnath peak are so clearly visible from here. Catching glimpse of sunset and sunrise on these peaks from Kartik Swami a captivating experience. Every year a huge festival and holy Yagna is celebrated at the temple for 11 days during the first half of June month. During these 11 days, the idol of Lord Kartik Swami would stay in the temple and for rest of the year it stays and worshiped in a nearby village named Swanri. Kartik Swami temple is opened throughout the year and is very easy to reach, also being very less commercialized; this place maintains its simple and natural calmness, which is very soothing to the soul.
Route to Kartik Swami: The temple is located on the Rudraprayag-Pokhri route, 38 km from Rudraprayag. It can be reached by a 3 km lovely trek from Kanak Chauri village which is the road head to it, The trek passes through thick lush green forest. The road from Rudraprayag to Kanakchauri is nice one, some stretch of it passes through the Rhododendron forests with Himalayan scenic beauty. On the way there are some other famous shrines too, some of them are Nari devi temple in village Nari, tilted at angle of almost 30 degree, and Lord Tungeshwar (or Tungnath) temple in village Falasi. The same road is connected to Badrinath highway via Pokhri and meets it at Karanprayag also it connects to Kedarnath highway at Banswada via Mohankhal and Chandannagar. So anyone willing to visit temple alongwith Kedarnath and Badrinath pilgrimage can do so easily without taking a detour.
Accomodation at Kartik Swami: There are some newly built nice wooden cottages in Kanakchauri village, which is road head of trek route to temple. One can stay there to have a nice experience of serenity of Kartik Swami trek and around. Also one can stay at ashram near temple. You need to take flour, rice, tea and some other grocery along.
Legend of Lord Kartik Swami: Kartik Swami is worshiped as Hindu god of war and victory, worshiped primarily in southern India specially with Tamil influenced areas as Lord Murugan or Lord KumarSwami. He is believed to be General of army of devas. Skanda Purana , One of the holy Puranas, is all dedicated to him. The famous legend about lord Kartik Swami is that once Lord Ganesha the younger brother of him and he fought over the privilege of worshiping first. When they approached their parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, they were told that, one who takes the complete round of universe and comes back first will only get the privilege to worship. Lord Kartikeya had Peacock as his conveyance whereas Lord Ganesha had Mouse So Ganesha was skeptical about winning. So when Kartik started taking round but Lord Ganesha rather taking round of universe showed his intelligence and took round of parents Shiva and Parvati saying that for him whole universe is in them so taking their round is same as circling real universe. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were impressed by Ganesha’s wisdom and granted him the privilege of worshiping first. When Lord kartikeya came back after circling Universe, he came to know this and got angry terming this an injustice, Lord Kartik swami then gave his Flesh to Mother Parvati and bones to Father Shiva and left Mount Kailash for ever.