Journey to Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva lies in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 11755 ft. It is among Panch Kedar, 12 Jyotirlinga and Char Dham yatra. This place holds an important significance to be visited as per mythology. It is believed that temple is built around 5000 years ago by Pandavas. Please have a look at story behind the temple and Panch Kedar.
Started the journey
By taking name of Shambhoo, we friends in group of 5 started our journey from Gaurikund on 30th Sept,2018. Time was around 6:30 AM and it was bit cold due to height and river Mandakini flowing by side. Gaurikund is a well equipped market from where you can buy every thing for your journey, but carry cash as there are no ATMs.
We bought wooden sticks and started from the market. Not to worry about the food and water, as there would be lot of shops on the way. All you need is faith and courage.
Total length of the trek is 22 kms which looked pretty descent but we had to cover it in single day. From Gaurikund itself, you would come across lot of pony options as well and they charge around Rs 2000.
From very starting, you will come across lush green Kedar valley and Mandakini river on your right hand side.
After hiking for an hour we took much necessary break for tea. No matter hows the taste but I believe tea is the only savior when you are in mountains. On the way, I met few people came from Nepal to complete darshan of Kedarnath after visiting Pashupainath in Kathmandu which is the other half of Kedarnath. They had complete 1 month of travel plan in India and had great knowledge of sacred places.
The Mandakini river looks like milk when it splashes on stone and the peaceful sound coming from it is incredible which actually adds beauty to the journey. Everybody tries to click shot of the view, but it gets more and more beautiful when you move ahead. So, there is no perfect picture of the view, it just has to be felt.
Gaurikund to Rambara is around 7 kms and the path is descent. But after this point once you cross Rambara bridge where the above picture is taken, the path suddenly becomes very steep. We sat and relaxed for sometime, had maggi and tea. Then mentally prepared ourselves for the journey which actually had to begin from this point. It was around 10 and sun was totally out. We took our jackets and tied around waist. It was becoming steep and we had to halt after every 10-15 minutes. You can see zig-zags all the way for endless kilometers, which looks easy but its not. We attempted few shortcuts also escaping zig-zags which eventually saved our time and energy. Try shortcuts only when others are doing it.
This place has seen the worst in June,2013 where Lakhs of people lost their lives and pilgrimage was halted for indefinite time. But thanks to Govt and people of this region who have continuously made efforts, so that pilgrims will not face any problems. They have made the new path which is well paved, and labors continue to work all the time repairing damage due to landslides. So, sometimes even if they ask for tip I think we should come forward and help them. Because what they are doing for us day and night is a tremendous effort.
Looking at the beauty of the place, we were actually in heaven. Clouds circling around, river flowing down, lush green valley and sun is playing hide and seek. What a wow!
After crossing all the zig-zags, finally we arrived at the place where it looked flat. What an accomplishment! But the best thing of the trek is, you never know what’s next coming to you. In addition to the tiredness, it started raining. It was around 3 PM, we were told that temple will be closed by 4 and will be re-opened at 6 PM for evening Aarti. We tried to speed up, but by that time everyone was almost exhausted. The clouds were chasing, we continuously hiked as we had to reach our guest house.
First glimpse of Kedarnath shrine
At distance of about 1 km, I saw group of Kedar peaks mostly covered with clouds, and then figured out Kedarnath temple just below the peaks. After having first glimpse, I folded my hands and closed eyes for few seconds, it was an over whelming moment for me.
We booked Kedardome GMVN dormitory accommodation, which was at 500 mtrs from the temple. Finally we reached there and relaxed for an hour as we had to attend evening aarti.
I came out of room at 5 PM and was like woww… what a view.
There are lot of shops nearby temple where you can get every Pooja essentials at reasonable price. We bought prasad and headed towards temple. It was damm cold that time, but crowd was gathered to attend auspicious aarti of the Lord of Lords Shiv Shambhoo. The atmosphere was filled with extreme positive vibes and holy chants all around. Its all together a beautiful feeling to be absorbed.
We stood in queue and went inside the temple, but no one is allowed in the Garbh-grah (Sanctorum) in evening. I looked at Swayambhu (self manifested huge stone) which was beautifully decorated and had darshan from distance. After coming out, we again joined the crowd for Aarti.
We were there for around 2 hours and came back for dinner. We had to sleep and again go to temple early morning to perform pooja in Garbh-Grah. It was 10 PM, I again went to temple to click some pictures in night. This is the time, it was actually very peaceful having only few people nearby temple except Sadhus who spend night there itself.
Soon, I will be posting about experience of the Garbh-grah and entire second day journey. Also, some useful information regarding trekking, accommodation and other stuff. Stay tuned.
OM NAMAH SHIVAAY!