The holy town of Kedarnath lying closer to the Mandakini River in Uttrakahand at the Rudraprayag district is one of the sacred abode of Lord Shiva where one can find one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. At an elevation 3584 m above the sea level, the Kedarnath Temple is the perfect abode for the Hindu devotes to catch the different embodiments of passions of Lord Shiva- love, hatred, fear, death & mysticism which are expressed through his various forms.
The Location, the Temple
Kedarnath Temple, more than 1000 years old is the emblem of one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificent temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. Over a thousand years old, the 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. And the present temple is built by Adi Shankaracharya, the famous Hindu reformer and existed even during the time of Pandavas of the famous epic- ‘Mahabharata’. The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. The temple has a “Garbha Griha” for worship and a Mandap, pertinent for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors.
One of the sacred shrines of the Char Dham Pilgrimage Tour, the Kedarnath Dham attracts tremendous devotees to find the glittering images & sacred symbols of Lord Shiva. A visit to Kedarnath Temple is also an impressive part of Do Dham Yatra where Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light.
The legend reveals that Pandhavas being accused of killing the kith and kin of Kauravas undertook a pilgrimage to absolve themselves from this sin. They reached Kailasa by crossing the tough trails of Guptakashi to Gaurikund and received darshan of Lord Shiva to get their sine washed away. The Lord then pleased with them appeared in the form of triangular shaped Jyotirlingas and since then this glorious image of Lord Shiva is being worshipped by the mass devotees from all across the world.
The Jyotirlinga is the supreme partial reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. Thus, the Jyothirlinga shrines are such places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Each of the twelve Jyothirlinga sites holds the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva.
Sight-seeing & Excursion
1- Shankaracharya Samadhi: The Samadhi of Adi Guru Shankaracharya is located just behind the Kedarnath temple. It is being believed that after establishing four sacred Dhams in India, he went into his samadhi at an early age of 32 years.
2- Chorabari (Gandhi Sarovar): Only 1 km trek away from Kedarnath. Floating-ice on the crystal clear waters of the lake fascinates the visitors.
3- Gaurikund: It is the base for a trek to Kedarnath and serves as a road head. The village has a temple dedicated to Gauri and hot water springs.
4- Ukhimath: Winter home of the deity at Kedarnath temple and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath. It is connected by bus services to Rudraprayag and other major centres.
5- Agastyamuni: The temple of sage Agastya is the main attraction of Kedarnath Dham
6- Trijuginarayan: Legend reveals Trijuginarayan as the solemnized place for the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati. In front of the Shiva Temple is an eternal flame that witnessed the marriage. It can be reached by a 12 km drive from Sonprayag.
7- Tungnath: According to the Kedarnath myth, the arms of Lord Shiva appeared at Tungnath. He is worshipped here as one of the Panch Kedar. Tungnath Temple at an altitude of 3,680 mt is the highest Shiva shrine among the Panch Kedar but the easiest to reach from Chopta, the nearest road head.
Winter: – Sept. to Nov- cold during the day & chilly at night. (Dec. to march snow bound). Summer: – May – Aug- normal climate during days & comparatively cool at night. (Temp. Max. 17.9°C & Min. 5.9 °C)