Kedarnath Dham – Experiencing one of the four Char Dhams
About Kedarnath Dham
Kedarnath Dham is a sacred pilgrimage, situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand state of India. Dham is dedicated to Lord Shiva which is located on the bank of river Mandakini and in the range of Garhwal Himalayas. Dham is counted in one of the Char-Dham Yatra and Panch Kedar of Uttarakhand and this is the fifth and highest Jyotirlinga out of 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India. The literal meaning of Kedar is “Ke” for moksha and “Dar” for Door, we can also say “Door to moksha”.
Altitude: 3584 meters
Location: 30°44′6.7″N 79°4′0.9″E
Area: 3 sq km.
In Hindu Culture it is said that even though there are several holy places to visit on this earth but Kedarnath Pilgrimage is unlike any other. A person, who visits this temple and pays obeisance here at least once in a lifetime, is free of the cycle of life and death. It is also believed that during Satyug, two incarnations of Lord Vishu, Nar and Narayana, meditated here. Pleased with their meditation, Lord Shiva showed himself to them and asked them to ask for a boon but both the saints, true to their character and refused to take anything for themselves, however, they requested Lord Shiva to settle down at this place as a Jyotirlinga for everyone’s well being. Since that time, it is believed, that Lord Shiva has been present at this place in the form of Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga. So, in this holy place, Jyotirlinga was established in Satyug.
After Mahabharata Pandavas come to see and meet Lord Shiva as a pilgrimage to seek forgiveness for killing their relatives and cousins, Pandavas did meditation and Yajna here. As Lord Shiva did not want to forgive them, instead of his real identity Lord Shiva appears in a form of a bull, and Pandavas recognizes him and grabs the tail of the bull but Lord Shiva disappears under the ground after that bull hump is shown in this place. After seeing Lord Shiva they proceeded straight to heaven from here. Hence the temple worships Lord Shiva as a bull hump. This holy place, this temple was first built by King Janmajeya, one of the Pandavas’ descendants in the memory of his ancestors. Over the centuries, many saints and sages have used this place for their spiritual meditation, one of whom was Adi Guru Shankracharya who took Yog Samadhi here after praying to Lord Kedareshwar.
Opening and Closing Timings
Temple is open to the public in the April month on the day of Akshaya Tritya and closed in the November month on the day of the Diwali festival. After closing the temple the deity of Lord Shiva shifted to Ukhimath where the deity is worshipped for the next six months.
You can offer Puja and Abhishek in Kedarnath in the early morning from 4 am to 7 am and in the evening time there is Archana and Paath from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.
April and May are the best months to visit Kedarnath, at that time the view is beautiful and there is freshness everywhere. Pre-winters September and October are also ideal to visit Kedarnath, just after the rains, the weather becomes very pleasant. July and August are the Monsoon months in Kedarnath and are difficult for devotees because of landslides and floods. It is advised not to travel during these months. November to March are the winter months the temple remains closed due to extreme cold weather and snowfall is common in Kedarnath at that time and the temple itself is covered with snow.
Accommodations facility is available in Kedarnath or nearby places, there is various Dharamshala at a very nominal price. You can also stay in Private hotels near Gaurikund, Sonprayag, and Guptkashi. If you are staying the night at Kedarnath, you should try to book a place in advance.
Places visited in Kedarnath
Gaurikund Temple: Gaurikund place is a religious place in the route of Kedarnath and a starting point for the trek to Kedarnath. From Gaurikund, it is a 16 km trek to Kedarnath. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, It is said that Goddess Gauri did meditation here to win over Shiva’s affections.
Sonprayag: Sonprayag is a spiritual place in the route of Kedarnath and the confluence of two rivers, river Basuki and river Mandakini. It is 17 km from the Kedarnath.
Guptkashi: You can find this place on the way to Kedarnath, where the ancient Kashi Viswanath Temple is located. It is believed that Maa Parvati and Lord Shiva Meditate here. If you are travelling through this route, you can stay here and enjoy the beauty of this place.
Devprayag: Devprayag is very well known for the confluence of Holy river Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda. At Devprayag, the river resulting from the Sangam of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers is called the Ganga river. This place is symbolic also because of the ancient belief that among the different parts of the body of Lord Vishnu, present in different religious locations across this region; his Devprayag is one of the three locations, apart from Gaya and Badrinath.
Triyuginarayan Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati. A good option for visitors, it is 13 km from Sonprayag, but you should do booking at Triyuginaryan, there are not many guest houses to stay.
Shankracharya Samadhi: This place is well known as the final destination of Adi Shankaracharya, he get disappeared with his body or take Samadhi. It is located in Kedarnath behind the temple.
Bhairavnath Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairavnath, 2 km from the Kedarnath Temple. The trip is incomplete without went here, It is said that Lord Bhairavnath guards the temple during the winter season.
Rudra Cave Kedarnath: The Cave is underground and known for meditation, constructed by Nehru Mountaineering Institute and it is also a part of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam. It is located half km from Kedarnath Temple.
How you reach Kedarnath Dham
Delhi – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar- Rudraprayag – Tilwara – Kund – Guptkashi – Sonprayag – Gaurikund – Kedarnath
By Air: Nearest airport to reach Kedarnath is Jolly Grant Airport located in Dehradun. The airport is well connected to major cities of India. After that, you can take a taxi or buses to reach Kedarnath.
By Train: Nearest Railway Station is Rishikesh, trains to Rishikesh are frequent from Haridwar. Taxi and buses are available from Rishikesh to reach Kedarnath.
By Road: Buses and Taxi easily available to Haridwar or Rishikesh, after that Same you can again take taxi or buses to Sonprayag or Gaurikund. NH58 is well connected from Ghaziabad to Gaurikund.
Heli Services: You can take helicopter services, it depends upon the distance. The helipad is a half km from Kedarnath Temple.
Distance (approx) from major Cities to Kedarnath
Delhi: 441 km
Haridwar: 235 km
Rishikesh: 210 km
Devprayag: 135 km
Srinagar: 101 km
Guptkashi: 46 km
Sonprayag: 21 km
Gaurikund: 16 km