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Kedarnath Temple

Jai Kedar! Jai Kedar!  Shouts of pilgrims and devotees chanting name of the holy lord can be heard echoing through the mountains as they catch a glimpse of the temple from Garurchatti. This Darshan or brief glance of the temple from a certain position shortly after the pilgrims commence on their journey towards the holy site located much higher in the mountains is known as Deo Dekhni.  Such is the significance of Kedarnath Temple nestled in the lap of the magnificent snow laden peaks of Himalayas in the background enhances the sanctity and tranquility surrounding the shrine. Considered as one of the holiest and sacred pilgrimage sites, Kedarnath falls within the Chota Char Dham Yatra where the Kedarnath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Kedar) is positioned in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand near Mandakini River, a tributary of Ganga.

Kedarnath Temple

History of Kedarnath Temple

Situated at an elevation of 3583 meters above sea level, shrine of Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingams in India. The temple is speculated to have been constructed around 8th Century by the guilt driven Pandavas who after winning the battle of Kuruskhetra against the Kauravas  were seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva who was hiding in the mountains. In order to absolve their sins and seek penance they came to this region however Lord Shiva took asylum in Kedarnath and camouflaged as a bull plunged into the ground leaving behind his hump. The other 4 portions of his body respectably fell in Tunganath, Kalpeshwar, Madmaheswar and Rudranath which combined form the Panch Kedar. It is this temple which was later resurrected by Adi Shankaracharya when he visited this shrine.

Kedarnath Temple

The temple comprises of a Garbagriha which houses the holy idol of Lord Kedar (Shiva) previously known as Kedar Khand in the shape of a triangle, a mandapa and a Nandi statue carved out of rock sits just outside the temple. The interiors of the temple are filled with sculptures of religious deities, gods and goddesses and mythological stories are inscribed and depicted on the walls. Statues of Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Nandi- Shiva’s Bull, Virabhadra and Draupadi are installed within the temple of Kedarnath.

According to legend, once Nara Narayan (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) started praying and meditating on a trip to Badrika village where Lord Shiva appeared. Nara Narayan expressed his desire that Lord Shiva should reside permanently in this place for welfare of mankind. Hence Shiva manifested himself as a Jyoti and came to be known as Kedareshwar.

Worship and Time to Visit Kedarnath Temple

Pilgrims are of the view and belief that they can absolve their sins on a trip to Kedarnath where Lord Shiva will bless them. Thus thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit the shrine after a 14 kilometer trek through the mountains to reach Kedarnath. Behind the temple, the Samadhi temple or tomb memorial of Adi Shankaracharya is located.

Kedarnath Temple

The temple rituals are headed by a head priest (Raval) who hails from the Veerashaiva community in Karnataka and he accompanies the deity to Ukhimath during winter months when the temple remains closed. However the Raval does not perform the puja in the temple; his assistants perform all the rituals as per his instructions.

As a result of utmost weather conditions, the temple of Kedarnath remains open from April end (Akshay Tritiya) to mid November (Karthik Purnima). In the months of winter, the deities are transferred to Ukhimath near Gaurikund where they are worshipped for 6 months.

How to Reach Kedarnath Temple

Pilgrims and devotees have to reach the temple of Kedarnath through a 14 kilometer trek from Gaurikund via Rambada which is a tiny village 7 kilometers away from Kedarnath and pilgrims normally rest or take refuge here for a night. However the flash floods which occurred in the region around June 16-17th, 2013 devastated the temple town when the Chorabari Lake breached its boundaries and swept away through the town resulting in heavy loss of life and property. Luckily the temple remained intact except a few cracks on its outer walls as a huge boulder which was swept away along with debris got stuck on the rear of the temple saved it from major damage.

Kedarnath Temple

Devotees and pilgrims considered this event sacred as despite mass destruction caused by the flood water, the temple remained unscathed. But as a consequence they have to take a long detour up to 17 kilometers as Rambada has been wiped out completely. But the holiness of Kedarnath has been bolstered even more forcing pilgrims to undertake this toilsome trek to seek the almighty’s blessings.

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