Shri Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim sites is perched at an altitude of 3583 metres amidst towering snow-clad Himalayan peaks near the source of river Mandakini. It is the third pilgrim spot on the Char Dham Yatra circuit. Devotees cleanse their body and soul with sacred waters of
‘Yamunotri and Gangotri and proceed for the pilgrimage to Kedarnath. Pilgrims also carry the sacred waters of Ganga from Gangotri to worship Lord Shiva at Kedarnath.
Kedarnath Temple : The magnificent shrine of Lord Shiva was built by Adi Shankracharya in 8th century A.D. and is one of the most important temples of. India.
According to mythological legends, the temple was originally built by the Pandavas, who were absolved from the sin of gotra-hatya (killing their own brethren) in the battle of Mahabharta, by Lord Shiva over here. The temple is made of extremely large and evenly cut grey stones and set on a rectangular platform with the towering snow-clad Kedardome peak in the backdrop. The first hall of the shrive has statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi and Virabhadra. The garbh griha or the inner sanctum enshrines one of the twelve sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The Jyotirlinga resembles a hump of a bull and is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
The walls of mandap or assembly hall are adorned with idols of the five Pandava brothers and their wife
Draupdi. There is also an image of Lord Ganesha. The outer pradakshina path of the shrine has a number of idols and small temples.
In front of the temple door is a large statue of Nandi bull as a guard. The morning puja (ritual prayer) at the temple is known as ‘Nirvana Puia’ and the evening prayers are called Sringar Darshan’. During the morning prayers the shivlinga is worshipped in its natural form and offering of ghee (clarified butter) and water are made. While in the evenings the deity is bedecked with flowers and ornaments and a golden umbrella is suspended from above.
The temple closes for the winters on the first day of Kartik (Oct. – Nov.) and re-opens in Vaisakh (Apr.-May). The opening date of the shrine is fixed on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivratri by the priests of Ukhimath temple, the winter home of Lord Kedarnath.
Shankaracharya Samadhi: The Samadhi temple of Shankracharya lies just behind the Kedarnath temple. Adi Shankracharya, the great Indian philosopher and seer consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and travelled across India and parts of South Asia. He founded the four mathas (monasteries) in four corners of India to revive Hinduism and went into samadhi over here at an early age of 32 years.
Bhaironath Temple: The temple dedicated to Bhaironathji, the guardian deity of Kedarnath is located a little away from Kedarnath. Bhaironathji is ceremoniously worshipped at the opening and closing of Kedarnath temple, as it is believed that the deity protects this land from evil, when the Kedarnath temple is closed.
Kunds: Kedarnath is dotted with a number sacred Kunds (ponds) of immense religious importance. The most important are – Shivkund, Retkund, Hanskund, Udakkund, Rudhirkund etc.
Vasuki Tal (6 kms) : The charming lake is nestled at a height of 4, 135 metres amidst snow covered lofty peaks. It affords an awe inspiring view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
Gaurikund (14 kms.)
It is the last motor head on the Kedarnath route and one has to trek from here to visit the Kedarnath shrine. According to mythological legends, Goddess Parvati (Gauri) is said to have meditated here to win a consort in Lord Shiva. When the Lord agreed the celestial couple were married at Triyuginarayan. An ancient temple dedicated to Gauri (Parvati), enshrines metallic idols of Gauri and Mahadev (Shiva). Nearby is a hot water spring with curative powers.
Son Prayag (19 kms.)
The sacred site lies on the confluence of river Sone Ganga and Mandakani, on the main Kedarnath route, about 5 kms. from Gaurikund.
The lofty mountains in the backdrop adds to it beauty and grandeur. The devotees believe that by mere touch of the holy water of Son Prayag, one attains the ” Baikunth Dham”.
The road to Tiruginarayan bifurcates from here.
Triyuginarayan (25 kms.)
It is about 14 kms. (including 5 kms. trek) from Son Prayag. According to mythological legends it was the venue of Lord Shiva and Parvati’s marriage. It is believed that the eternal flame around which the marriage was solemnised, still burns in front of the temple.
Guptkashi (49 kms.)
This important pilgrim site set at an altitude of 1479 metres is known for the ancient temples of Vishwanath and Ardhnareshwar. The Manikarnik Kund here is said to be the confluence of two streams of Ganga and Yamuna. It is believed that the place is named Gupt or hidden, as Lord Shiva went into hiding over here for some time to evade the Pandavas, who were seeking forgiveness for killing their own brethren in the epic battle of Mahabharta.
- Altitude: 3,583 metres (11,755 ft)
- Best Time: May-June & Sept-Nov
- Darshan Timing: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM / 3PM-5 PM – Closed for Darshan
- Places to visit: Bhairav Nath Temple, Adi Shankaracharya temple, Vasuki Tal(8 km trek), Trijugi Narayan, Vishwanath Temple.
- How to reach: Rishikesh – Rudraprayag – Guptkashi- Gaurikund – Kedarnath Temple.
- Where to Stay : Gaurikund, Sitapur, Sersi, Phata, Guptkashi.
- Trek / Walking : 18 kms Trek from Gauraikund to Kedarnath Temple.
- Helicopter Service: Yes, available only for online booking.