The awe-inspiring town of Kedarnath is one of the most prominent Hindu shrines nestled in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand at a height of 3581 m above sea level. The place is the source of pious Mandakini River. This sacred town is visited by plenty of devotees, especially during the summer season to worship one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The religious environment of the place certainly captivates the attention of the visitors. Besides being a place of religious importance, it is also a paradise for nature lovers. It contains stunning snow-clad Himalayan Mountains, crystal-clear rivers, lush-green forest cover, magnificent valleys and wildlife along with many splendid tourist destinations. The tourist destinations in Kedarnath include some of the magnificent places, which are as follows:
Kedarnath Temple, situated between the Kedarnath Mountain Ranges, is an important pilgrimage destination, where the Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is placed. The temple was found in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya. Tourists can see the idols of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses inside the temple. The figure of Nandi Bull, considered the ‘Mount’ (Vahana) of Lord Shiva is located outside the temple as a guard. There is also a Mandap in the premises of the temple where certain religious ceremonies are organized. The Kedarnath temple is opened for tourists on Akshaya Tritiya and closed on Bhai Duj because the shrine becomes unreachable during the winter season, due to very heavy snowfall. According to legends, after the end of the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas came here to seek redemption for their sins.
It is the temple of Lord Bhairav who is believed to shield the Kedarnath Dham during the winter season. People from various corners of the world throng this place and pay homage to the Lord. Bhairavnath is also known by different other names such as the Kaal Bhairav and Kshetrapal. The main weapon of the Lord is Trishula and his vahan is a dog.
The Samadhi of Adi Guru Shankaracharya is nestled next to the Kedarnath Temple. Legends have it that he took Samadhi here at the very young age of 32 after establishing the divine Char Dham – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. The resting place of Shankaracharya provides a blissful and secluded location for the visitors where they can get a complete peace of mind and shrug off all their worries. The devotees can also find the hot water spring that is believed to be created by the Saint himself to minimize the stress of his followers suffering from the harsh climatic conditions.
The Kedar Massif
It is a beautiful Massif (group of mountains) formed by three peaks – Kedarnath, Kedar Dome and Bharatekuntha. The Kedarnath Mountain is nestled at an elevation of 6830 m and is a very challenging hike. It is important to note that the oxygen level is very low here and the visitors can take the route from Kedarnath Temple to Bharatekuntha to avoid breathing-related problems.
Chorabari Tal (Gandhi Sarovar)
It is a magnificent lake that is situated about 1 Km from the holy Kedarnath Temple. The ice floating over the river makes for a wonderful sight and certainly entices the tourists. Chorabari Tal is also known by the name Gandhi Sarovar because some ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed in the lake. It is also believed that the Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, went to heaven from this place. The lake is enveloped by the thick forests of rhododendron trees.
Located at an elevation of 14,200 ft, the splendid Vasuki Tal is a pristine lake enveloped by the beautiful snow-capped Himalayan mountain ranges. In order to visit the lake, the tourists are required to cross the Chaturangi and Vasuki Glaciers. It is important to note that the glaciers are replete with lots of fissures and to cross them safely, the tourists must take a guide along. The best time to plan a visit to this place is between the months of June and October as the climate remains pleasant during these months.
Gaurikund, nestled at an altitude of 1982 m is an ancient temple, which is addressed to Goddess Parvati. It is believed that she worshipped here to please Lord Shiva. There is also a hot water spring known as Gaurikund that is not only of great medicinal value but also helps in purifying the sins of devotees who visit it. The temple contains the metallic statues of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the periphery of Alaknanda River. It was built in the year 1972 and contains various kinds of exotic flora and fauna. Pine, alpine and oak trees form the flora of the region. The various animals found in the sanctuary are snow leopards, jackals, black bears, Sambhar and so on. The sanctuary also safeguards the Kedarnath musk deer that is on the verge of extinction. The place is also a paradise for the bird watchers as they can get a wonderful opportunity to see different kinds of colorful birds such as the flycatchers, Himalayan Monal pheasant, grey-cheeked warbler and koklass pheasant.
Sonprayag is a beautiful, small village that is situated at an altitude of 1829 m. It is also a place where the two holy rivers, Sone-Ganga and Mandakini, meet. It is believed that a dip in these rivers will bring good fortune and blessings of the almighty. Visitors must visit this place during their Kedarnath Yatra and have a memorable experience. The snow-clad mountains and captivating appeal of the place entice plenty of visitors each year. Embellished by the splendid environment and gushing waters, the place offers an absolute calmness to the devotees.
Situated in Triyuginarayan village in Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand, the temple is addressed to Lord Vishnu. The temple was constructed by the Pandavas in Dwaapar Yug. The village, which is enveloped by dense forests, is believed to be the place where the marriage between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati took place. A perennial flame (havan kund) that is still burning in front of the temple is believed to have witnessed the sacred matrimony.
It is one of the must visit places near Kedarnath Dham. The place is a perfect destination for the devotees to take some rest during their Kedarnath Temple Yatra. Guptkashi is well known for the Ardhanareeshwar and Vishwanath temples. The temples reflect the great architectural style of the ancient times. According to the legends, Lord Shiva hid here for a brief period of time to avoid a meeting with the Pandavas.
Kalimath is a holy place dedicated to Goddess Kali. The place is located at an elevation of around 1800 m close to Ukhimath. There are around 108 Shakti Peethas in India and Kalimath village is one of them. According to legends, it is place where the Goddess killed the demon Raktavija. Many devotees visit the Goddess Kali temple here, especially during the Navratras.
It is the winter abode of Lord Kedarnath, situated at an elevation of 1317 m above sea level in Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand. Devotees pay homage to the Lord in Ukhimath during the winter season, when the main Kedarnath Temple is closed. The majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks certainly hypnotize the visitors. The temple can be visited round the year. From Ukhimath, tourists can visit many places such as the Madhmaheshwar, Tungnath, Deoria Tal and many other serene destinations.
It is a pristine natural lake situated in the state of Uttarakhand in India. The lake is surrounded by dense green surroundings and snow-covered peaks. The reflection of the magnificent Chaukhamba peak in the lake certainly amazes the tourists. It is also a great destination for fishing and bird watching. The place can be quite easily reached through buses and jeeps. The best time to visit Deoria Tal is from July to September and from December to February.
Chopta, popularly known as the ‘Mini Switzerland’ is nestled in at an altitude of 2900 m above sea level in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It is essentially a picturesque valley that entices tourists from various parts of the world. The stunning views of the Himalayan ranges, such as Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba from Chopta certainly remains glued to the heart. The whole area is rich in diverse flora and fauna. The valley is surrounded by different kinds of trees like pine, rhododendron and deodar. The tourists can visit this place in winters from December to February and enjoy trekking in snow.
Agastyamuni is a renowned temple of Sage Agastya that is located around 70 kms from Kedarnath on the banks of the River Mandakini. The sage meditated in this place for one year. Tourists can see the stunning carvings of the Hindu Gods and Goddess on the walls of the temple. Devotees throng this temple in large numbers during the festival of Baisakhi. The tourists can also enjoy fishing in the Mandakini River and have an unforgettable experience.
The Kedarnath excursion is of great religious importance as many devotees undertake a sacred Kedarnath trip to attain complete peace of mind, body and soul.