Kedarnath Temple is located in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand in the Garhwal Himalaya region at an elevation of 3680 meters above sea level.
Temple is considered one of the holiest destinations (Char Dham) of Hindus and is the highest of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The magnificent Mandakini river flows from near the temple.
During summer, a large crowd of tourists visit this shrine to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. You may also read a story of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati’s marriage in Triyuginarayan Temple which falls on the way of Kedarnath Temple.
History of Kedarnath Temple
It is said that the temple of Kedarnath was suppressed in snow for 400 years, but still, it remained safe. From the 13th to the 17th century, a small ice age came in which a large area of Himalayas was buried under ice.
There is no historical evidence about the age of this temple. Some say that it was built by Raja Bhoj of Malwa who ruled from 1076 to 1099 AD, but according to a large number of historians, this temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
Some stories also said that history of the construction of Kedarnath Temple dates back to about 5000 years or Dwapara Yuga. Later, Adi Guru Shankaracharya renovated the Kedarnath temple.
There are many mythological stories related to the Kedarnath temple, one of which is the Mahabharata period. The history of Kedarnath temple is found in Mahabharata. It is said that Pandavas worshipped Kedarnath Shivling at this place, after which Janmajaya, a descendant of Pandavas, built this temple.
Build and Structure of Kedarnath Temple
The temple is built on a quadrangular base with large slabs of stone. On the stairs leading to the sanctum sanctorum, the Pali language inscriptions can be seen.
The holy Dham of Baba Kedar is built-in Katyuhari style. Large brown coloured stones are used in its construction. The roof of the temple is made of wood, on which the gold urn is kept. At the outer gate of the temple, a huge statue of Nandi is situated.
Shiva lingam is situated in the shrub of the bull in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is worshipped in the form of Lord Shiva.
The pilgrims worship Lord Ganesha, Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Krishna, Kunti, Draupadi, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva along with Riddhi Siddhi, besides Lord Shiva.
Story of PanchKedar
It is believed that the Pandavas wanted to get rid of the sin of fratricidal murder (killing of family members) when they were victorious in the war of Mahabharata. For this, they wanted to get the blessings of Lord Shankar. But Lord Shiva was angry with Pandavas.
The Pandavas went to Kashi to see Lord Shankar, but Lord Shankar did not meet the Pandavas there. They came to the Himalayas looking for them. Lord Shiva did not want to come in front of the Pandavas, so they migrated from there and settled in Kedar. On the other hand, the Pandavas were also determined, they followed them to Kedar.
Lord Shankar took the form of a bull and went in a herd of other animals. The Pandavas had suspected that Lord Shankar was present in the herd of these animals. Then Bhima took his huge form and spread his legs over two mountains.
All the other cows and bulls got out, but Shankar Ji was not ready to go under his feet by taking the form of a bull. Then Bhima pounced on the bull with full force, but the bull began to enter in the ground.
Then Bhima caught the back part of the bull. And Lord Shankar was pleased to see the devotion and determination of the Pandavas. Lord Shiva immediately freed the Pandavas from the sin. Since that time, Lord Shankar is worshipped in the form of the back of the bull in the Shri Kedarnath Dham.
Surrounding of Kedarnath Dham
Kedarnath Dham and the temple are surrounded by mountains on three sides. On one side there is about 22 thousand feet high Kedarnath and on the other side there is 21 thousand high Khetkund and on the third side is 22 thousand 700 feet high Bharatkund.
There is a confluence of five auspicious rivers as well, those are Mandakini, Madhuganga, Kshirganga, Saraswati and Swarnagouri. Some of these rivers are considered imaginary.
Weather in Kedarnath
Kedarnath is situated at an altitude of 3680 meters above sea level. There is cold temperature generally. The average temperature of Kedarnath is 5.1 °C | 41.2 °F. Most of the time it rains and snowfalls here.
How to Reach Kedarnath Temple
The nearest airport to Kedarnath is Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun at a distance of 239 km. Travellers who wish to come by rail can book their tickets till the Rishikesh railway station located at a distance of 227 km.
From Rishikesh pilgrim needs to take a taxi or bus to reach Gaurikund. There is no direct connectivity of Kedarnath by road, hence pilgrim will have to walk 14 to 17 Kilometers uphills route. Gaurikund is the last bus stop before Kedarnath Dham.
People also can use Helicopter to reach Kedar Dham. Helicopter services will be availed from Sirsi, Phata & Guptkashi helipads. Companies like Pawan Hans, Thumby Aviation Pvt. Ltd., Utair India Pvt. Ltd., Indocopters Private Limited, Himalayan Heli etc are available.
Best Time to Visit Kedarnath Dham
The temple is open only for 6 months during summer. The time between May to October is considered ideal for visiting Kedarnath as the weather is very pleasant during this time. The natives of Kedarnath also migrate in winter due to heavy snowfall.
- The temple of Kedarnath Ji opens around 6:00 am for general visitors.
- The regular aarti is performed from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm with the five-faced Lord Shiva’s statue duly decorated.
- Kedarghati is covered with snow in winter. Although the opening and closing of the Kedarnath temple are auspicious, it usually closes before the 15th of November (two days before the Scorpio Sankranti). And after six months * ie Baisakhi (13-14) April) it opens for pilgrims.
- For six months (in winter) the Panchmukhi statue of Baba Kedar is brought to Ukhimath.
Tourist Places Near Kedarnath
The following must-visit places near on the way of Kedarnath Dham.
Tomb of Adi Guru Shankaracharya
Tourists visiting Kedarnath must visit the tomb of Adi Guru Shankaracharya, located near the temple. Shankaracharya was a famous Hindu saint who is known for spreading awareness about Advaita Vedanta. After the discovery of the four Dhams, at the age of 32, he took samadhi at this place.
Sonprayag is located at a distance of 19 km from Kedarnath and at an altitude of 1829 m. It is primarily a confluence of the Basuki and Mandakini rivers. This place is popular because of the magical powers of water here. According to folklore, people get Baikuntha Dham just by touching this water.
Vasuki Tal is another prominent place situated at a distance of 8 km from Kedarnath and 4135 m above sea level. The lake is surrounded by the hills of the Himalayas, which adds to its beauty. The magnificent Chaukhambha peak is also located near this lake. To reach Vasuki Tal, one has to cross the Chaturangi and Vasuki glaciers, which requires immense stamina.
Triyuginarayan Temple is a place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu performed the duty of brother of Parvati in this divine marriage, while Brahma became a Priest.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1972, is located in the valley of the Alaknanda River. The sanctuary is spread over an area of 967 sq km. Thick trees of pine, oak, birch, bugyal and alpine are found in the sanctuary.
Due to the diverse geographical location of this place, various types of plants and animals are found here. Animals such as bharal, cats, goral, wolves, black bears, white leopards, sambhar, and tahr can be easily spotted. The reserve also preserves endangered creatures like the Kedarnath musk deer.
Other Visiting Places Near Kedarnath Valley
The tourists visiting Kedarnath should also stop in Guptkashi. There are 3 temples in this area, which include the ancient Vishwanath temple, the Manikarnik Kund and Ardhanarishwar temple. The Ardhanarishvara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one can see the idol of Lord Shiva as half male and half female.
The Vishwanath temple also has statues of several incarnations of Lord Shiva. Bhairavnath Temple is also located at a distance of about half a km. This temple is dedicated to Bhairav, one of the lords of Lord Shiva. The idol of the presiding deity in the temple was installed by Shri Bhikund, the first Rawal of Kedarnath.
Gaurikund is a major attraction of Kedarnath at an altitude of 1982 m. There is an ancient temple which is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvati. According to folklore, on this place, Goddess Parvati did penance to get Lord Shiva as her husband. In Garikund there is hot water pond, which not only has medicinal properties, but it also frees people from their sins.
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