Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu Temple located in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand state (India) in Rudraprayag District. Dedicated to God “Shiva” which is one of the three main Gods of Hindu Religion. It is considered one of the top hindu temples. It is located on the bank of Mandakini River. It is named after the mountain nearby “Kedar”. Kedar means Field in Sankrit and Shiva is known here as Kedarnath.What is the importance of Kedarnath Temple? : Kedarnath temple is highly respected among the Hindu religion followers. The places where it is believed Lord Shiva appeared himself is recognized as “Jyotirling”. There are 12 Jyotirlings in India and Kedarnath is fifth of them. Also only Jyotirling in the majestic Himalayan Mountains. Grishneswar, Trambakeswar & Bhimashankar in Maharasthra, Somnath&Nageswar in Gujarat, Baidyanath in Jharkhand, Omkareswar and Mahakaleswar in Madhya Pradesh, Kashi Vishwanath in Uttar Pradesh, Mallikarjun in Andhra Pradesh, Rameshwaran in Tamilnadu are other eleven Jyotirlings in India. Kedarnath is also part of one of the longest pilgrimage circuit and most famous pilgrimage circuit of India known as chardham. Badrinath, Puri, Dwarika and Rameswaram are ancient chardham but Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath is also famous now as Chardham. Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple every year. Devotees believe chanting and meditating here for Shiva will give peace of mind.
Kedarnath Temple Legends History & Stories :
Historically the temple is mentioned in Kedar Khand (SkandPuran). SkandPuran is considered 8th century old. In the SkandPurana Shiva explained to Parvati (His wife) thatKedarnath is like Heaven on earth. Rishi Nar and Narayan (considered incarnations of Vishnu) meditated here for Lord Shiva and got blessed. Although it’s not mentioned in Mahabharat, It is believed that after war of KurukshetraPandavaswanted relief from sin of killing own family members. For this the five Pandav brothers arrived at Kedar area to get blessed by Lord Shiva. However Shiva hide himself in the form of Bull (Mahish) among the other animals. When Bhim increased his size and put two legs on mountains, other animals passed below his legs but Shiva (in the form of bull) didn’t. So Bhim recognized Shiva and tried to catch him. However he was only able to catch back part of the bull. So Pandavas did penance (Tapasya) to please Lord Shiva. Finally Lord Shiva pleased with Pandavas blessed them. The back portion of bull as rock is now Shivlinga at Kedarnath Temple.
8th Century famous Guru Shankaracharya also believed to come here along with his students. At the age of 32 he Samadhi at Kedarnath. Shankaracharya Samadhi is also important place in Kedarnath. Shankaracharya has inspired to build temple here.
According to scientific research in recent years Kedarnath Temple is as old as 800 yrs (12th century) or even older. According to Wadia Institute Dehradun the Kedarnath area was under large amount of snow and temple was under the snow between 13th to 17th centuries approx. Outside stones of temple still has scratches due to that while inside temple stones are smooth.
When Kedarnath Temple was built?
There are multiple theories. It is believed that Pandav Brother or King Janamejay from family of Pandavas built the temple which was behind the existing temple but didn’t survived over the long time. Majority people believe that it was great religious leader AdiShankaracharya inspired to build temple here in 8th Century. Some people also believe that it was famous King Bhoj (Parmar Dynasty) has built temple here in 10th century who was.
Kedarnath Temple Architecture:
Temple architect is Pahadi similar to Katyuri style which is very famous around this areas. It is built from brown stones. Due to stones are interlocked together construction is strong to survive longer. Temple is constricted over the 6 feet high platform known as Chabutra. Kedarnath Temple is 85 feet high, 80 feet wide from front and back and 187 feet in length. Walls are up to 12 feet wide. GarbhGriha which has Shivlinga is accessed through Sabha Mandap. Pradakshina is also around GarbhGriha. Sabha Mandap or hall has wooden roof. Copper Kalash with gold layer outside is on the top of wooden Chhatri with copper layer outside.
What is inside the Kedarnath Temple?
In the Garbh Griha is Shivaliga made from black stone approx. 12 feet in circumference with irregular shape. In the hall has statues of Pandavas, Parvati, Krishna and Nandi (Bull).
What is the Opening and Closing Time Kedarnath Temple?
For general public temple is open between 5 AM to 8 PM (approx.). It is believed that 6 month it should remain open to worship for human and remaining 6 month for deities. Kedarnath Temple is opened 15 days before Mesh Sankranti and Closed on Bhaiyadooj Festival day. Generally Its open between May first week till nov first week according the above schedule. Panchmukhi Shiva Statue is carried out from Kedarnath Temple and established in Ukhimath. This statue will be worshipped in Ukhimath until the Kedarnath is opened once again.Ukhimath is 60 kmsfar from Kedarnath Temple. Statue will be put in Doli and devotees will walk along with Doli. Military band is also joins the DoliYatra which will also have one night stay at Gaura Devi Temple due to long distance. Pilgrims can also take bath in Hot Spring here.
What is the Schedule Kedarnath Temple?
Kedarnath Temple is taken care by Pandit known as “Rawal” here. It’s tradition here to have Rawal here from “Jangam Brahmins of Mysore” since the time of Shankaracharya. After cleaning the Shivlinga with water from Mandakini Saraswati Ghee etc is offered. Later Aarti is performed. During the Morning Prayer pilgrims are able to go closer compare to evening Aarti. However more decorations are done at the evening time. 5 AM is Morning Prayer time while evening its 7:30 PM. timings are approx. and some variations are there sometime.Rudra Abhishek, Maha Abhishek, Bal Bhog,Shodashopchar Pooja, Full day Pooja is also offered by temple to devotees at some additional cost.
What is the Best Time to visit Kedarnath Temple?
Morning and Evening Aarti time is crowded sometime but if you can reach early its worth. Aarti timings are 5 AM and 7:30 PM (approx.) Summer (May June) is busy season here so if you can visit in Sep Oct you will face less traffic so it’s better time to visit. July Aug is rain time which can cause some issues like road block while travelling.
Places to visit near Kedarnath Temple :
Bhairavnath Temple at Kedarnath : It is Located at 500 meters far from Kedarnath Temple. Dedicated to Bhairavnath it is considered that it protects Kedarnath when temple is closed.
Shankaracharya Samadhi : AdiShankaracharya (788 CE to 820 CE) is one of the most influential Advaita Vedanta teacher. He also started many traditions like ancient chardham and inspired to build many temples across india. His Samadhi is located just next to the temple.
Vasuki Tal : This Himalayan Lake is 7 kms far from Kedarnath Temple. It is accessible by trek only. Apart from high season there is very rare visitors traffic to this lake. It would be great pleasure for nature lovers.
How to reach Kedarnath Temple?
You can easily reach Kedarnath by air, train and by road.
By Air : - Jolly Grant Airport is 240km from Guptkashi from Guptkashi to Kedarnath Temple is 40kms by road & 22 Kms by trek. Jolly Grant Airport is a nearest airport to Guptkashi well connected to motor able road you can take easily taxi from outside the airport.
By train : - Rishikesh is nearest railway station of from Guptkashi. The distance between Rishikesh and Guptkashi 220 km. Taxi and buses are easily available outside the railway station.
By road : - Kedarnath Temple currently not accessible by vehicles. Nearest road for vehicles is at Gaurikund 14 kms down. 7-8 hrs will required normally for trek. Other option is by Mules / Palkhi / Kandi. Further 1.5 kms will be still required to cover by walk to temple.