Name : Kedarnath Temple
Location : Kedarnath town, Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand
Built in: : 8th Century AD
By : Adi Shankaracharya
Primary Deity : Shri Kedarnath (Lord Shiva)
Best time to Visit : End of April to start of November (except monsoon).
Distance : Airport: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant (251 kilometres)
Railway: The nearest railway station is Rishikesh (234 kilometres)
Kedarnath is counted amongst one of the holiest temples in the country and receives thousands of pilgrims each year. Dedicated to Lord Shiva (Kedarnath), the temple is very ancient, being over thousand years old, and is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata as well. It is the highest of the 12 Jyotirlinga in the country, situated in the Rudra mountain range of the Himalayas, near the Mandakini River.
Due to the high altitude, the temple is accessible only six months in a year and remains closed in the other six due to extreme weather conditions and heavy snowfall.
Dedicated to Kedarnath or the lord of Kedar (place), the temple dates back to over a thousand years and is a beautiful structure made of huge white stones. The temple has statues of Nandi and Virbhadra (Shiva’s vehicle and guard respectively) as well as of the Pandava brothers. The centre of the temple holds the ‘Shivalinga’, a conical stone that symbolises the God in his Sadashiv form.
Accessibility: The temple is not reachable by a road and can be reached by either of the two ways:
By taking a 14 kilometres long trail on foot from Gaurikund or
By hiring a helicopter from the newly started Pawan Hans Service by the Government.
The legend of Kedarnath as well as of the other four of the Panch kedar sites goes this way:
After being victorious in the battle of Mahabharata by killing their brothers, the Pandavas realised that they committed a great sin by doing fratricide (killing their own brothers). To seek redemption they asked lord Shiva to give them his blessing, cleansing their sin. Shiva, however, did not find them deserving of his blessing and evaded them.
The brothers started pursuing them and at Guptkashi, Lord Shiva took form a bull and dived into the ground, vanishing then and there. Later, the bull’s different parts emerged at different places, which later came to be known as the Panch Kedar. The bull’s hump appeared at Kedarnath.
Other Places to visit:
Behind the Kedarnath temple is the resting place of Adi Shankaracharya, the great philosopher of 8th century, who built the char dham of the Himalayas. It is said that after building these places of worship, he finally took rest at the young age of 32.
6 kilometres from Kedarnath temple, Vasuki tal is a tranquil lake, surrounded by the majestic Chakhumba ranges of the Himalayas.
14 Kilometres from the temple, this is the place from where the trek to Kedar Nath commences. Gauri Kund has hot water springs where people take bath before starting their long journey on foot.
This beautiful glacier lake is supposed to be the place from where Yudhishtir, the eldest brother of the Pandavas, departed for Heaven. The lake is at a distance of 2 kilometres from the Kedarnath temple and offers a great view of the mountains.