Traditionally the third stop in Chardham pilgrimage, Kedarnath is a pure, pristine and picturesque town in North India’s Garwal region. The place is marvelously beautiful surrounded by majestic Himalayan peaks, shimmering streams & waterfalls and lush green oak forests. At jaw-dropping altitude of 11,746 feet above sea level, this area features a cool refreshing climate that always enchants its visitors. Unlike other destinations of chardham Yatra, Kedarnath is a bit tricky to access.
From Gourikund, it is about 14km trek northward, and can be accessed on foot only. However, ponies and palanquins are also available for the pilgrims who can’t trek through the steep routes to the temple. On the way to Kedarnath, pilgrims experience fascinating vistas of nature at almost every step. Spectacular scenery of snow-clad mountains, deep flowery valleys and beautiful River Mandakini all along the way make your experience truly delightful. The trek to the temple is steady ascending that passes though a thick forest of Himalayan oak and rhodo¬dendrons (majorly).Visitors find the route very fagging until Garuda Chatti, but after that it becomes feasible till the end.
The main temple of Kedarnath is dedicated to lord Shiva, who is said to be immortal or deathless. It is beautifully built in Katyuri-style with extremely large, heavy and evenly cut stones. The interior of the temple is divided into three parts named as garbhagriha, the darshan mandap and sabha mandap. Beautiful figures of various deities adorn the inner walls of Assembly halls. There is an imposing, both in size and style, stone idol of Nandi standing as a guard outside the temple door. The lofty, snow-covered peaks in backdrop add more to its azure. Come here in the months of monsoon, however not advised to due heavy snowfall & land sliding, and the area turns magically beautiful with rare Brahma Kamal flowers.
According to a Hindu legend, the Pandavas set out on a pilgrimage to meet Lord Shiva in Himalayas in order to get rid of sins of killing their own brother. Unwilling to give them darshan, lord shiva assumed the form of a bull and hided himself in a herd of cattle. The second eldest son ‘Bhima’ recognized the lord and tried to catch him. But Shiva tried to sink into the earth, and Bhima could catch the back portion of the beast. After that, Pandavas pleased the lord by prayer asked him to make them free from sin. It is believed that praying in front of lord Shiva’s idol in Kedarnath temple gives the devotee Moksha after death.
The opening day for Kedarnath temple is not fixed, due to weather uncertainty, though it often opens on Akshaya Tritiya and closes on Bhaiya Duj. During winters the region features heavy snowfall, and that’s why the temple remains closed during this time. Visiting the temple is not a hassle (except of the trekking on feet) as regular buses and taxis operate between Rishikesh and Gaurikund.
Know about Kedarnath – The Divine Adobe of Lord Shiva!