Kedarnath

 

Kedarnath is located in the district of Rudraprayag of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. It is one of the Char Dham(Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri). A thousand years old Kedarnath temple is constructed amidst the beautiful mountainscape of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3581 ft., by large stone slabs on a rectangular platform. It is built at the head of the river Mandakini. In 8th century AD, the present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya just beside the temple built by the Pandavas earlier.

 

The walls of Mandapa of the temple are full of figures of deities like Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, Kunti and mythological scenes. There is a giant statue of Nandi Bull guarding the temple door. The devotees crowded in large number during May to October.The scenic beauty of the surroundings of Kedarnath Temple such as majestic snowy Kedarnath or Kedardome peak and other snow clad lofty mountains, enchanting meadows, green valleys in summer and forests of lower range of Himalaya mountains attracts tourists from all over the world.It is just like the divine land of the supreme God Shiva.

 

The lord of this temple is Lord Shiva, and the Jyotirlingam is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. As per mythology, Pandavas prayed to Lord Shiva for the redemption of their sin after killing cousins in the battle of Mahabharata. When they followed Shiva, he took the form of a bull and took refuge at Kedarnath. To escape from being tracked by Pandavas, Shiva dived into the ground leaving his hump as his manifestation at Kedarnath.

 

Including Kedarnath, Tungnath (forelegs/arms), Rudranath (face), Madmaheshwar(belly) and Kalpeshwar (hair) is known as Panch Kedar with other manifestations of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Sadashiva in the form of a conical rock.

 

As Garhwal Himalayas is prone to heavy snowfall, the temple remains open from the end of April to November that is from Akshaya Tritiya to Kartik Purnima. During winter the temple remains closed for six months due to extremely cold weather and heavy snowfall. In November the holy statue is carried down to Omkareswar Temple in Ukhimath in Uttarakhand and worshipped there. Again it is reinstated in Kedarnath Temple in Baisakh at the end of April.

 

 The ideal time to visit Kedarnath Temple is May to October but monsoon season should be avoided. Kedarnath Temple can be reached through paved road by 18 kilometers trek from Gaurikund. The visitors can avail the horses, pony, palanquin(doli) or Manchan services. Jolly Grant is the nearest airport 260 kilometers from Kedarnath, and rail station is Hrishikesh.

 

Kedarnath is well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, and Delhi by road. The pilgrims can also avail the helicopter service in peak time. In winter temple is closed due to heavy snowfall, and in monsoon, there is the risk of landslide. The Kedarnath Temple is facing the natural disasters like earthquakes, avalanches, landslide, flood, etc. for thousand years but still standing as newly built.

 

The "Sri Badarinath - Sri Kedarnath Temples Committee" manages the temple affairs. This committee provides facilities like the overhead shed for waiting pilgrims, public utilities, benches to rest. The committee also provides night shelters for very poor pilgrims in Badaripuri & Kedar Dham, free food(Bhandaras)and blankets, medical facilities like oxygen, first aid kits, etc. with ambulance services.

 

It also runs residential schools for local backward people under Gurukul system. Rest house, guest house, tourists lodge, ashram, and hotels are also available in the different location adjacent to Kedarnath. Online puja booking service for darshan is accessible by the devotees. As per the website of this committee, the number of pilgrims in Kedarnath is 4.71 lakhs in 2017.

 

Other places around Kedarnath temple are: Gaurikund, which consists of natural thermal springs; Ancient Gauri Devi Temple; Chorabari Tal also known as Gandhi Sarovar, a pristine lake fed by Chorabari glacier; Bhairav Temple of Bhairav Nath; Vasuki Tal, a crystal clear blue water lake; Triyugi Narayan Temple; Sonprayag; Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi; Phata; Kedarnath Helipad.

 

There are many shops, street markets, Tilwara Bazaar in Kedarnath for devotees and tourists with the collection of souvenirs, photographs of Kedarnath, Badrinath and other deities, genuine Rudraksha, crystals, Saligrams, Tulsi beads, precious stones, etc. 

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