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 Madmaheshwar 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.
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 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 didn'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.
But 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 scattered 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 Tungnath , Face (mukh) at Rudranath, Navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and Hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar.
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.
|Location||Very close to the Indo-Chinese border.|
|Dedicated To||Lord Shiva|
|Built in||The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. The temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old.|
How to reach ?
|The nearest domestic airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 239 km from Kedarnath and operates daily flights to Delhi. Taxis are available from Dehradun airport to Kedarnath. Nearest international airport is Delhi.|
|The nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 221 km away. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the railway station which charge about Rs 3,000. One has to travel 207 km by road and the rest 14 km on foot to reach Kedarnath.|
|You can reach Kedarnath only after a trek of 16km through a paved road from Gaurikund. You can take horse or ponies to climb up the steep path. Gaurikund is connected by road from Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh and some other regions of Uttarakhand.|