“Kedarnath Temple” A Holy Town And One of the Char Dam of Uttrakhand
Kedarnath Temple is located on the Garhwal Himalayan range nearby the Mandakini river in Kedarnath. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to God Shiva. Weather conditions are extreme, that’s the reason the temple is open for public between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to Kartick Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November) and the deities were taken to Ukhimath and worshipped for the remaining months. Lord shiva is devoted as Kedarnath “Lord of Kedar Khand”, which is the historical name of the region.
Devotees can not reach the temple directly by road. The route which is 14 kms away is a uphill trek from Gaurikund and Pony and manchan service is given to the devotees to reach the temple. The temple was made by Pandavas and later maintained by Adi Sankaracharya. The temple is a holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and the highest among 12. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, expounded in Tevaram. Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath.
Temple and Past Significance:
The temple is situated at an altitude of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), 223 km from Rishikesh, on the shores of Mandakini river. The perception regarding the temple is not clear but it is believed the Adi Shankara visited the place and constructed the temple in 8th century AD and on the other hand, the opinion of peoples says it was built by Pandavas.
Garbhagriha and a Mandapa temples which stands on a plateau surrounded by snow clad mountain and glaciers where devotees offer prayers. Mandapa temple used for religious dancing and music and is part of the basic temple compound.
There is a story behind the place called Guptakashi which is known as a famous shrine. Hindu history says at the time of the Mahabharatha war, Pandavas killed their relatives and undertook a pilgrimage to get free from this sin. But Lord Vishweshwara was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas. On learning this, the Pandavas left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Haridwar. At a short distance away Pandavas saw Lord Shankara, but Shankara hide himself. Then Dharmaraj told Shankara that: “Oh, Lord, You have hidden yourself from our sight because we have sinned. But, we will find you somehow. Once we took your Darshan our sins be washed away. The place, where Lord Shankara have hidden will be known as Guptakashi and become a famous shrine.”
The Pandavas went from Guptakashi (Rudraprayag) until they reached Gaurikund in Himalayas valleys in search of Lord Shankara where Nakul and Sahadev found a buffalo which look different. The Bheema took his mace and ran to catch the buffalo, but he was unsuccessful. He only manage to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was so intelligent that he managed to get run away from Bheema. The face of buffalo was not visible as buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheem pulled his tail in the tug-of war, the face of buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar. The place where face of buffalo was fallen known as Doleshwar Mahadev in Sipadol, Bhaktapur, Nepal.
For 4000 years people have been searching the head of Kedarnath who was in a shape of a buffalo. The hump-backed structure at Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath temple is worshipped as the torso of the holy bull.
Inside the temple there are statues of Pandavas (5 brothers), Lord Krishna, Nandi, The vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra (who was a solider or warrior of Lord Shiva). There are statues of Draupadi and other gods also. A medium-size conical rough stone formation is worshiped in the Garbagruha and considered as Sadashiva form of Lord Shiva.
The head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia is the unique feature of the Kedarnath temple. The carved can be seen in another temple nearby Kedarnath Temple where marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati was held.
Throughout the Puja (prayers) of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath temple the mantras (sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes) will be pronounced in the Kannada language. This is a custom which is going on from hundreds of years.
Kedarnath is considered as one of the famous and much in demand holy destinations. The Shiva Temple is the main attraction here is, which is a famous Hindu shrine and pilgrimage, attracting devotees from all over India and the world. Natural beauty of the place and religious zest boost the scope for travel and tourism here. The atmosphere of the place looks like quite peace on heaven on earth and a beautiful place to do meditation also. Tourists can find many pilgrimage place, trekking destinations, bird watching venue and snow-capped peaks as well near Kedarnath Dham.
Places to Visit Near Kedarnath:
- Deoria Tal
- Panch kedar
- The Kedar Massif
Best Time To Visit Kedarnath:
Weather conditions are extreme in Kedarnath. The temple opens for public only for 6 months and closed for the next 6 months, due to excess snow fall, landslides and harsh winters. The best to visit Kedarnath is during summers, especially between May till October.
- Make sure not to hurt any religious opinion, point of view, thought, attitude, belief, feelings of locals.
- Alcohol and non-vegetarian food is prohibited in the town.
- It is advised to check the weather conditions before you plan your trip.
- Eating options are limited in the town. So, take care of what you eat and drink.
- Carry first aid and medicines for emergency.
- Health check up is required before you make any plan, as it is located at a high altitude.
- Take your ID, passport, credit card and your important documents, for checking at any point can take place.
Government and private operators offered various tour packages. Tourists can booked their packages before reaching Kedarnath. Tourists can find cheap and luxury hotels according to their needs. The accommodation may be a bit on the higher side during peak season. Their is also availability of ashrams and Dharamshalas.
Small shops located in Kedarnath:
Tourists can buy accessories of the temples like Rudraksh Mala made of Rudraksh, precious stones, tulsi beads, herbs, can have photographs of Gods and Goddesses and framed pictures of temples.
How to reach Kedarnath?
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport near Dehradun, located 239 kilometers from Kedarnath. Frequent flights on regular basis from New Delhi is available for tourists. On the other hand, helicopter service is also given from various places in Uttrakhand to reach the temple.
Helicopter can be hired from the following locations:
Dehradun, Gauchar, Agustmuni, Phata or Sitapur.
- Rishikesh – 215 Km from Kedarnath
- Dehradun – 257 Km from Kedarnath
- Haridwar – 241 Km from Kedarnath
- Kotdwar – 246 Km from Kedarnath
Kedarnath can be reached via road from some of the major cities of India, such as Delhi (458 km), Chandigarh (387 km) and Rishikesh (189 km).