Kedarnath - Char Dhams
Kedarnath, The Celestial Jyotirlingam - Kedarnath, the ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range in Rudraprayag District of the northern state of Uttarakhand. 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 Tungnath, face at Rudranath, belly at Madmaheswar and the locks of hair with head at Kalpeshwar. All the five shrines are worshiped as 'Panch Kedar'. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.
This thousand years old built temple is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large gray steps leading to the holy sanctums we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps. The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata.The statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva, stands at the entrance of the temple as a guard. Inside the temple, there are marvellous sculptures of Kedaragouri, Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, Karthikeyan etc.
A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries.Besides its affiliation with Siva, Kedarnath is also believed to be the site of Shankaracharya's samadhi (achievement of beatified afterlife). The Bhairavnath temple which is situated to the south of the main temple of Kedarnath, is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the deity who guards the main temple in winter when it is closed.
The original temple (now extinct ) with 12 Jyothirlingas, was built by the Pandavas at the present site and Adi Sankaracharaya restored the present Kedarnath temple. The Samadhi of Adi Sankaracharya lies behind this temple.
What the history says
According to legend, after Mahabharat the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva for his blessings to get rid from the sin of killing of their brothers, Kauravas.But the Lord eluded them by taking the form of a bull in Kedarnath and when followed further by the Pandavas, he went down into the earth, leaving behind the hump there.
Best time to visit
The shrine is covered by snow for 6 months in a year (closed from Oct-Nov up to Apr-May) so the best time to visit Kedarnath is May to October as at the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath. At this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.
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