Kedarnath is the sacred pilgrimage in Hinduism which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The holy shrine holds an important significance which is among 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva and this is on the highest altitude. It is also from one of the Panch Kedar temples and has to be visited first in the order. Not only this, the temple is among the Chota char dham of Uttrakhand.
Kedarnath is the Sanskrit word where Kedar means field and Nath refers to Lord Shiva. According to Mahabharat, when Shiva took form of a bull and caught by Pandavas then he buried himself under ground and the hump was held by Bhima. So, swyambhu shivlinga (self manifested) in the form of hump is worshiped here. Origin of temple is found by Pandavas and later revived by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century.
The magnificent temple is located in Rudra Himalayan range of Uttrakhand at an altitude of 11,755 ft from sea level. The snow covered Kedar peak stands straight behind the temple and the place is very close to origin of river Mandakini. Pilgrims experience immense peace because of mesmerizing Mandakini river, great scenic beauty in form of snow clad mountains and the divine environment make Kedarnath an ultimate spiritual journey to carry on.
Recently Kedarnath has gone through major flood in 2013 where lakhs of people lost their lives. Even after that, pilgrims visit every year with unshakable faith in God.
Pashupatinath, other half of Kedarnath
It is believed that the other half of head portion of bull appeared at of Kathmandu, Nepal where Pashupatinath temple is built. It is also considered one among Dwadash Jyotirlinga. One should visit both the temples as Pashupatinath is the another half of Kedarnath
Pashupatinath means lord of all living beings. The uniqueness of the Shiv linga is it has 5 faces i.e East face is Tatpurusha, North is Vamadeva, West face is Sadyojata, South face is Aghora and the upward face is Nirakara.
Trekking starts from Gaurikund and will continuously ascend. Little bit preparations will be of great help during trek. Proper paved paths are made all along, but sometimes it becomes very narrow as this is the same path for ongoing and return routes with hikers and pony walking together. Take care of the winter clothes and protection from rain.
View during trek is just awesome when you are surrounded by mountains all around with running clouds. Similar to other Shiv dhaam, you will feel the energy from environment and other pilgrims of going forward and touch feet of Lord Shiv. Chanting Om Namah Shivaay, Har har mahadev or Bam bam bhole itself gives you lot of energy when you get drained out.
Gaurikund – 6 kms – Rambara Bridge – 4 kms – Jungle Chatti – 3 kms – Bheembali – 4 kms – Linchauli – 4 kms – Kedarnath Base Camp – 1 kms – Kedarnath Tremple
Temple opening and closing time
Temple opening and closing time depends on the Hindi dates. During winters due to heavy snowfall in this region all the routes are closed, hence the shrine is also closed for 6 months.
It opens for pilgrims on Shubh muhrat of Akshay tritiya around April or May with huge celebrations and gets closed on the occasion of Bhaiya Dooj (Oct- Nov) after Pooja Archana. After that the idol is shifted to Ukhimath where Lord Shiva is worshiped. It is believed that when the temple is closed for pilgrims, then all the Gods perform Pooja inside the temple.
How to reach
First reach Rishikesh and take bus service till Gaurikund which is at distance of 215 kms. It will take around 1 complete day to reach there. You can opt to stay there in Sonprayag and start the journey next day early morning. Or, you can book taxi from Haridwar taxi stand where many taxis run for Char dham yatra.
Trek distance and other options :
- Trekking: It trek starts from Gauri kund, you have to hike for 22 kms on the paved path but it gets very steep sometimes. So, take care of the health, walk slowly and take less breaks.
- By Horse: You can hire horse also from Gaurikund. Rates may vary.
- By Helicopter: There are various places from where you can avail helicopter services. Pre-booking is must and do check the revised rates and rules for helicopter. Helicopter services are from Dehradun, Gauchar, Agustmuni, Phata, Sitapur.
Difficulty level : Medium
Options for stay
You can opt to stay in Sonprayag and there are many tents options on the way to temple. Just go and check for the availability. Pre-booking is recommended at the time of high rush during season of opening of temple.
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