Kedarnath stands as one of India’s most significant Hindu pilgrimages and temples, located in Uttarakhand here. As part of the revered Chhota Char Dham Yatra, Kedarnath is a deeply spiritual site that boasts one of India’s 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva himself. A visit to this temple promises profound peace and an unforgettable experience for those who choose it.

Situated on the Garhwal Himalayan Range in Rudraprayag District, Kedarnath Temple is accessible only from Gaurikund through a trek and remains open for mere six months – April to November – due to extreme snowfall during other parts of year.

From November to May, the deity from Kedarnath Temple is relocated and worshipped in Ukhitmath. It is believed that a pilgrimage to this site dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as Kedar – protector and destroyer of all – brings Moksha or salvation. Set among snow-capped peaks near Chorabari Glacier with Mandakini River gaping before it, thousands flock every year due its religious magnetism.

The majestic Kedarnath Temple stands strong today, despite the catastrophic floods of 2013 that ravaged the entire valley. It is believed to have been reconstructed by Adi Shankaracharya atop a grand rectangular dais thousand years ago, which was originally constructed by the Pandavas using colossal stone slabs. Miraculously, it emerged unscathed from this cataclysmic event!

The Kedarnath Temple has a captivating history that is entwined with the mythical Mahabharat tales. After their battle of Kurukshetra, Pandavas were burdened by guilt for killing their cousins, the Kaurava’s and desired Lord Shiva to absolve them from their sins. Unfortunately, they faced His wrath instead.

The Pandavas began their journey to Kashi in search of Shiva, only to be informed that he had gone off towards the Himalayas. Making haste for the mountains, they were dismayed when Shiva refused to offer them salvation with ease; thus, he decided to conceal himself as a buffalo at Guptakashi. As soon as they arrived there too and spotted an unusual looking bovine amongst them, Bheema grappled onto its tail causing it burst into pieces before their eyes!

According to folklore, the mythical buffalo’s hump fell in Kedarnath, thus birthing the holy site of the Kedarnath Temple. The other body parts of this mythological creature dispersed across four more places – Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpeshwar and Madhyamaheshwar – also known as Panch Kedar. After forgiving Pandavas’ sins for their transgressions, Lord Shiva chose to manifest himself at Kedarnath in a Jyotirlingam form.

Nar and Narayana, two distinguished incarnations of Lord Vishnu, performed before an earthen Shiv lingam at Bharat Khand Badrikashrama. After being pleased by their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared to them and asked what they wished for. In response, the duo requested that He remain in His Jyotirlingam form permanently at Kedarnath temple – a request which the Lord humbly obliged. Consequently, these revered figures are honored in this sacred site to this day.

Unfortunately, no cars or buses are allowed all the way up to Kedarnath Temple. One must trek 16 km from Gaurikund, with a moderate path for the initial 7km and an increasingly steep ascent after Rambara followed by 3 km of undulating terrain. It will take around 7 hours in total to reach your destination!

As you traverse Gaurikund to Kedarnath, rest assured that your comfort and safety are prioritized at each checkpoint with medical facilities, tea stalls, washrooms and police stations. Additionally, if desired before starting the trekking journey – ponies or horses can be booked for a fee of approximately INR 3200 round trip which is predicted to take 4-6 hours. For those travelling from larger cities like Haridwar, Dehradun or Rishkesh have convenient access via roadways as well.

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