The Celestial Jyotirlingam
Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands
one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas' of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an
altitude of 3584 mts. on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of
Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus.
Kedarnath is a majestic sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau
surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in the
8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an
earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall
are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology.
Outside the temple door a l
arge statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath temple is
said to be more than a 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and
evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy
slabs were handled in the earlier days. The temple has a " Garbha Griha"
for worship and a Mandap apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A
conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in
his Sadashiva form.
Kedarnath is situated in the Uttar Kashi district of the northern state of
Uttaranchal. Very close to the Indo-Chinese border, it is the source of
the Mandakini River. It is couched in the scenic locales of the Garhwal
Himalayas at 3583 meters above sea level. It is very cold in the winters
with the ground being covered with snow. In the summers, the mercury
barely crosses the 20°C mark. The place experiences about 150 cm of
rainfall during the monsoons and so the best time to visit is between May
and October. Kedarnath is near to Rishikesh (234 km) and Dehradun (250
According to legend, Lord Shiva wished to elude the Pandavas, who had come
to seek penitence for having killed their kin in the battle of Kurukshetra.
He took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. Bhima, one of the
Pandava brothers, found Shiva amongst a herd of cattle. Having identified
the meanest and most arrogant of the herd as Shiva, Bhima is said to have
grabbed him by the hindquarters. What remains at the shrine in Kedarnath
is the rear end of the bull, with the rest of its body scattered
throughout the Garhwal. Shiva dived into the ground leaving behind him a
hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol. It
is the main site of the Panch Kedar temples.
There are Four Other Kedars
Three of these (barring Kalpeshwar) are in mountain meadows at higher
altitudes than Kedarnath. The climb to Rudranath is the most strenuous
though worth the trouble, as this meadow is one of the finest in Garhwal.
Legend has it that when the Pandavas sought penance following the great
war of the Mahabharata they came in search of Lord Shiva. Arriving at this
site they found that Shiva had elusively taken the form of a bull. Bhim
the strongest of the Pandavas went after Shiva who dived deep into the
ground. Only Shiva's tail was left in Bhim's hand. This spot is known as
the Kedarnath and is also considered the main Kedar. The rest of Shiva's
body emerged at four other places in Garhwal - Tunganath, Madhyamaheshwar,
Kalpeshwar and Rudranath.
These five Kedars are worshipped as Panch Kedars
Shiva's arms came out at Tungnath. The Tungnath temple is at an
altitude of 3,680 m and is the highest Shiva shrine among the Panch
Kedars. However it is the easiest to reach from Chopta, the nearest
Shiva's face is worshipped at the Rudranath temple. It is about
2,286 m above sea level and is 23 km from Gopeshwar. 5 km of the
distance is motor able and 18 km is on foot. The trek passes through
wild orchards and picturesque bugyals (meadows) and involves
trekking over high ridges (sometimes 4,000 m). The temple site
provides magnificent views of Hathi Parvat, Nanda Devi, Nanda
Ghungti, Trishuli and many other peaks. There are a number of holy
kunds or ponds near the Rudranath temple like Suryakund, Chandrakund,
Tarakund. The entire area is utterly enchanting and unmatched in
scenic beauty. Anusuya Devi temple is located on the trek to
Rudranath involving an additional trek of 3km.
Pilgrimage Attractions in Kedarnath
- Kedarnath Temple
The present temple,
in 8th century A.D. by Adi Guru Shankaracharya lies adjacent to the
site of an ancient temple built by Pandavas. The walls of the
exquisitely architectured temple are embellished with figures of
deities and scenes from mythology. The temple has a conical lingam -
the main idol, a statue of Nandi - the celestial bull, a 'garbha
grab' for worship and a 'mandap' for assemblies of piligrims and
visitors. The temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old.
- Shankaracharya Samadhi
Behind the Kedarnath Temple lies the samadhi or the final resting
place of Adi Guru Shankaracharya. It is believed, after establishing
the four dhams in India, he went for his samadhi at an early age of
Chorabari (Gandhi Sarovar) (2 kms.)
A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is
believed to have departed to heaven. The floating ice on the
sparkling waters of the lake is a fascinating sight.
- Vasuki Tal (6 kms.)
A picturesque lake, 4,135 mts. above sea level is encircled by lofty
mountains and offers a commanding view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
- Gaurikund (14 kms.)
The trekking base to Kedarnath. A temple dedicated to Gauri and
thermal springs of medicinal value are noteworthy.
- Sonprayag (20 kms.)
The confluence of Son Ganga and Mandakini rivers. The road to
Triyuginarayan diverts from here.
- Triyuginarayan (25 kms.)
A 5 kms. trek from Sonprayag, it is the mythological venue of the
marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.An eternal flame, which
is said to have been a witness to the marriage, burns in front of
the temple even today.
- Guptkashi (49 kms.)
The temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanath are noteworthy.
- Ukshimath (60 kms)
Winter home of the deity of the Kedarnath Temple and the seat of the
Rawal of Kedarnath.
- Agastyamuni (73 kms.)
Famous for the temple dedicated to sage Agastya.
- Chandrashila (93 kms.)
The Chandrashila peak provides a rare view of snow-clad peaks. The
rhododendron Forests and alpine meadows dominate the trek
fromTungnath to Chandrashila.
- Deoria Tal (68 kms.)
Sari village is the last bus terminus on Chopta-Ukhimath road from
where a 2 kms. trek leads to Deoria Tal. This beautiful lake at an
altitude of 2,438 mts. gives the spectacular reflection of snow
capped peaks in the lake water. Ideal spot for angling and bird
How To Reach
- By Air
Nearest Airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (251 kms.)
- By Rail
Train From Rishikesh (234 kms.)
Train From Kotdwar (260 kms.)
Approachable on foot from Gaurikund, which is connected by road to
Rishikesh, Kotwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill
stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region.
Wallpapers of Kedarnath Temple