According to the legend, after the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas went to sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins. But Lord Shiva, who din't want to meet them finally eluded. When the Pandavas came to know where Lord Shiva is, the Lord took the form of a bull to hide himself.
The Pandavas were not ready to accept it. One of the Pandava, Bhima tried his best to pick up the bull (Lord Shiva) but failed and the bull sacattered into pieces. The pieces sank into the earth but however Bhima managed to retain the hump of the bull (Lord Shiva)
Impressed by the determination of Pandavas, Lord Shiva finally blessed them and freed them from their sins. The lord then asked them to worship his hump at Kedarnath. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol in the shrine.
The other parts of bull's (Lord Shiva's) body went as Arms (Bahu) at Tunganath, Face (mukh) at Rudranath, Navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and Hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar.
These four shrines along with Kedarnath are worshipped as Panch Kedar. They are as follows:
Kedarnath is situated in the Rudra Himalaya range in Rudraprayag District of the northern state of Uttarakhand at an elevation of 3581 mts above the sea level. In Kedarnath lord Shiva is worshipped as one of the twelve Jyotirling (linga of light). This conical protrusion about five feet by four feet or 'Jyothirlingam' is worshipped as the idol in the Kedarnath temple. Other parts emerged at four other places: arms at Tunganath , face at Rudranath , belly at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks of hair with head at Kalpeshwar . All the five shrines are worshipped as Panch Kedar. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.
Tunganath, the 2nd Panch Kedar is set on the crest of a hill. It is the highest shrine on the inner Himalayan range. 3 kms. uphill from Chopta, Tunganath is reached through a path that wends through alpine meadows and rhododendron thickets. It lies just below the Chandrashila peak. At this temple at 3,886 mts, Shiva's arm is worshipped. The high altitude temple is a Seat of Swyambhu Linga or the Lord Shiva Incarnate.
Rudranath the 3rd Pancha Kedar is situated amid thick forest at a height of 2286 m. This shrine is 23 kms from Gopeshwer. In this natural rock temple the Mukh or face of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Neelkantha Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Neelkantha. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face, a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful indeed to behold.
Madhyamaheshwar, the 4th Pancha Kedar. It is located at the base of Chaukhamba peak at an altitude of 3289 mts. above the sea level , 30 kms northeast of Guptakashi.. Shiva is worshipped at Madhyamaheshwar in the form of navel - shaped lingum. This classic temple architecture belongs to the North-Indian style.
From here Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks are also visible. These peaks are said to be the entire ring of mountains associated with the life and times of shiva. The confluences of two streams at Gaundar just short of the temple, is one of the prettiest spots in the region. The temple can also be approached by a trek through the famous Sidha Peeth of Kalimath.
Kalpeshwar, the 5th Pancha Kedar is a small rock temple and a favorite location of meditating sages. This shrine is located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. above sea level. Here the locks (hair) and head, of Lord Shiva are worshipped as Jatadhar.
Rishi Durvasa is also believed to have meditated here under the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha. It is also said that Rishi Durvasa when, along with several disciples visited here. He told Draupadi that he and his disciples are hungry and thus expect some food from her. There was not a grain to cook for them at that time. This made Draupadi puzzled and sad. Scared with Rishi Durvasas anger she started praying Lord Krishna.