Lord Shiva is powerful, and he has billions of devotees, who believe in him. In Uttarakhand, there are several temples dedicated to him and the most popular one has to be Kedarnath Temple. Kedarnath Temple is located in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. It is located near River Mandakini, and commercial vehicles are not allowed beyond a certain point. Devotees have to go on a 16 km trek to reach the temple. It is believed that before dying one must do a Char Dham yatra and Kedarnath happens to be one of the places any Lord Shiva devotee must visit!
History and Importance
As per the tales, the five Pandavas went to Kedarnath to search for Shiv Ji. When the five brothers won the Mahabharata and committed a sin, a saint told them to go and find the lord. The brother went to Haridwar and then to Guptkashi. Lord had taken the form of a bull, and Bheem identified him. Once the bull started sinking inside, Bheem held him by the tail, and during this tug of a war scene, the bull’s rear was in Kedar and the rest in Nepal.
Once this happened, a jyotirlinga was formed, and the five brothers could meet Lord Shiva. They asked for forgiveness for the horrible sin! The lord granted forgiveness and mentioned that he will now live in the lingam. Thus, all the devotees make their way to Kedarnath to seek forgiveness for their sins.
Additionally, it is an important center for anyone who is devoted to Lord Shiva. He has a strong presence and is also known as ‘the Destroyer’. He has the power to transform, create and protect.
Did you know that the exact date of the establishment of Kedarnath is unknown? Researchers went to the temple to conduct a thorough study. They found out that the main temple building was buried under thick snow for more than 400 years. Even in the ice age period, the temple did not get even a single crack. This is astonishing for the researchers and anyone who reads about this!
Places to See in Kedarnath
Although Kedarnath is a religious site, there are a few interesting places to see. When in Kedarnath, visit the 8th-century temple. It is amazing to find that the temple survived even after being covered with thick snow for 400 years! When such miracles happen, devotees, travelers, and explorers must visit and find out the true tale!
It is believed that the temple was rebuilt by the famous Adi Shankaracharya. Originally, it was built by the Pandavas after they received forgiveness from Lord Shiva.
Travelers should go to Vasuki Tal (a glacial lake) which is a pretty sight for sore eyes. If you are an adventure seeker, you can go for trekking till the Vasuki Tal. Chorabari Tal or Gandhisarovar Lake has located 3 km from Kedarnath. It has crystal clear water, and the surroundings are beautiful.
Nature and mountain lovers would find this place interesting. The 3 km trek will take you through the oak and deodar forests. The trek ends at Gandhi Sarovar. You can also take a palanquin or a pony till Gandhi Sarovar from Gaurikund.
Also known as Chorabari Tal due to its location near Chorabari Bamak glacier, this is a small lake having crystal clear water from the glacier. It is best to visit this place early in the morning due to the unpredictable weather of this place. There is a three-kilometer trek that starts from the iron bridge and finishes at the Gandhi Sarovar. The trek to Gandhi Sarovar is an easy one as most of the route is clean and smooth. As you pass through the valley towards the Gandhi Sarovar, you will also witness a beautiful waterfall. Travelers should keep water bottles and stuff to eat with them as there are no shops or tea stalls on this route.
This is a very small village situated at around 32 km before Kedarnath. Most of the people come to this place as the helipad used by travelers to Kedarnath is situated here. Hence, the place has its own commercial importance. Many travelers choose this place for an overnight stay or refreshments. If you are traveling from a helicopter, it will take only around 8 minutes to reach Kedarnath. Pinnacle Air, Pawan Hans, and some other air companies provide a 5-7 seater helicopter facility to Kedarnath. Travelers can book their seats online in advance to avoid the last-minute rush. It costs around 8000/person if you are planning to buy a return ticket.
En route Kedarnath Dham is another place of religious significance called Sonprayag. Sonprayag is situated at the confluence of two rivers known as Mandakini and Basuki. It is located at a height of 1829 meters above sea level. The place offers a scenic view of majestic snow-capped Himalayas and beautiful. green flora. Triyuginarayan Temple is also situated in the nearby Triyungi village of the Sonprayag region.
It is the starting point of the 16 km trek that goes directly to the holy shrine of Kedarnath. It is about 1,982 meters above sea level. The place has derived its name from Hindu Goddess Parvati. A Gauri temple is also situated in the area devoted to the Goddess.
Gaurikund is only 6 km away from Sonprayag. The Kund was known to be a hot spring that was destroyed after the 2013 floods. Only a small stream of the hot spring is left. Nehru Institute of Mountaineering has been granted the responsibility of granting permission to visit this place. According to Hindu Mythology, this was the place where Goddess Parvati meditated for a long time to win the Lord Shiva’s heart after which he accepted Parvati as his wife.
Vasuki Tal Lake
Vasuki Tal is a lake formed due to the melting of glaciers situated at the height of 14,200 feet above sea level. The lake is famous for Brahma Kamal (Brahma Lotus) and other Himalayan flora which contributes to making this place mesmerizing and divine. it is believed that Lord Vishnu took a bath in this lake on the auspicious festival of Raksha Bandhan. The lake also overlooks the beautiful sceneries of Chaukhamba peak in the region. The trek to this lake is small enough to be completed in a day. The trek to this lake can be a little difficult for beginners. The trek to this lake starts from Gaurikund and passing through Rambara, trekkers finally reach Kedarnath where they stay for the night continuing their journey the next day for around 7 km before reaching the Vasuki Tal.
Adi Shankracharya was a great Indian philosopher and theologist who is known to have established the foundations of Hinduism. Shankaracharya Samadhi is the place where is attained salvation (moksha), merely at the age of 32. It is situated on the backside of the Kedarnath temple.
The temple is one of the most religiously significant places for the Hindus located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. The scenic village stands on the edge at the height of 1,980 meters and offers beautiful views of lofty mountains. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and resembles almost the Badrinath shrine. It is believed that the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Paravati took place in Triunghi Village and the temple was built in the honor of Lord Vishnu who conducted the wedding. The Brahm Shila standing in front of the temple is known to be the place where the wedding took place.
Bhairon Baba Mandir or Bhairvanath Temple is situated on the south of the Kedarnath temple. The temple is devoted to Bhairav – the ferocious form of Lord Shiva, mainly associated with tragedy and destruction.
Also known as Kshetrapal, the Bhairav is known to be the protector of the valley and Kedarnath Temple. The pilgrims visiting Kedarnath temple, also pay tribute to the Bhairon baba as a ritual.
It is only half a kilometer away from the main Kedarnath temple. The cave is built by Nehru Mountaineering Institute and forms the part of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam’s Guest Houses chain. This underground cave offers an opportunity to meditate peacefully in the holy region of Kedarnath.
The cave is in operation since April 2018 and there are five caves in total that are being planned in the region. Rudra cave is around five meters long and three-meter wide. It is situated at about 12,250 feet above sea level. All the amenities including tea and food is provided in the cave for the pilgrims staying in it.
Garwal Mandal Vikas Nigam is responsible for the booking of the stay. Only one person is allowed at a time in the cave. One person can stay for a maximum of 3 days and a minimum of one day. Special permissions are required for the extension.
Trekking to Gandhi Sarovar is a much-loved activity. This is best for adventure seekers or anyone who wishes to see the crystal clear lake. The glacial lakes are a must-see and should be included in the list.
There is an Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi in Kedarnath.
Since the locals believe that Kedarnath temple was rebuilt by him, his samadhi holds a lot of importance. Reaching the Kedarnath temple is not the easiest task! The devotees walk till the temple, or they hire a pony or a “Pithoo”. The total walking distance is 14 kilometers.