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Location : 16 km from Gaurikund Dedicated to : Lord Shiva
Altitude : 3,583 metres above sea level Built in : 8th century AD
Opened on : 9th May Closing on : On the day of Bhai Dooj
Situated on an elevation of 3,583 metres above sea level is one of the holiest Jyotirlingas in India and within the scenic district of Rudraprayag is the ancient temple of Kedarnath where lord Shiva is worshipped as the lord of Kedar Valley. Flowing past the temple is the holy Mandakini River and it is surrounded by snow bound peaks of the Kedar dome which allows you to have a 360 degree picturesque view.
The Temple of Kedarnath is also a part of the holy Panch Kedar Yatra as well and there are several shrines dedicated to lord Shiva in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. It is believed that taking this journey will grant you moksha and will earn you good fortune for life which means abatement from all the sins. The temple was resurrected during the 8th century by the great sage, saint, seer and philosopher Adi Shankaracharya who re-established this temple in an attempt to re-ignite the feeling of Hinduism amongst the Hindu population after having being ruled over by rulers and kingdoms from various different parts of the world. The temple is simple and humble looking and is said to have survived a massive mini ice age in Rudraprayag which means that it had been covered under snow for 400 years. No matter what the season of climate is the temple has been standing strong braving every condition ever since its creation.
This famous shrine of lord Shiva where he is worshipped in the form of a triangular stone structure is very old whose original date of construction is still unknown. There are several legends and story regarding the historical account of this legendary temple. One of the earliest stories about the temple’s construction is that the Pandava brothers are said to have gotten it constructed while they were on a lookout for lord Shiva asking for penance for the sin of killing their kin in the great Mahabharata war. Even way before that the temple is said to have been built by the twin brother’s Nar and Narayan who were avid Shiva devotees and prayed to the lord to settle there permanently and call Kedarnath as his forever home. The temple in itself is made using massive slabs complete with grey steps and various inscriptions on the walls in Pali language. Guarding the temple on the outside is the sculpture of Nandi the bull who is considered to be the Vahan or the vehicle of lord Shiva.
During the winter season when the region gets covered in heavy and thick snowfall the idol of the presiding deity is shifted to its winter home in Ukhimath where the devotees continue to visit and offer their prayer. Then later on during the holy eve of Akshaya Tritiya which falls during the April or May months the idol is then again carried off in a palanquin or a Doli to be worshipped by the devotees in the temple itself and it takes a journey of around 2 days to complete the journey.
By Flight – the nearest airport to Kedarnath for flights is located in Dehradun which is the jolly grant international airport at a distance of 235 km from Kedarnath. It caters to flight from different parts of India as well as Delhi. From here one can hire a taxi or a cab service for Gaurikund which is the final road head for Kedarnath temple.
By Train – the closest railway station for Gaurikund is located in Rishikesh which is at a distance of 243 km on NH 58. The roads from Rishikesh is well connected all the major and minor states of India and caters to a large number of crowd visiting the place in their private cars. Taxi and bus services can be easily availed in one of the many tour operators in Rishikesh / Haridwar for Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Tehri etc.
By Road – the final road head for Kedarnath i.e. Gaurikund is well connected with good quality and Motorable Roads. The buses running for Rishikesh, Haridwar, Srinagar etc. can be availed from the ISBT at Kashmiri Gate in Delhi. Taxis and bus services are available from major state in Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh to Gaurikund.
By Road – Gaurikund being the final road head one must cover a trekking distance of 16 kms via the paved paths with the palanquins, ponies etc. these can be booked at Gaurikund itself and should be availed by people only in a dire need for an alternate other than walking.
Winter (October to April) – This is the time of harsh cold and freezing temperatures where the minimum goes below zero. Entire temple region is covered in heavy snow fall and travelling is shut down.
Summer (May to June) – This is the perfect time for travelling to Kedarnath since the weather is pleasant with the absence of snow. It is also an ideal time to go on some nearby sightseeing. This is considered to be the most crowded time for pilgrim visit.
Monsoon (July to Mid - September) - The region gets covered in rain showers and this drastically brings down the temperature. The place surrounding the temple remains prone to unexpected landslides making travelling difficult.The temple of Kedarnath remain open for Darshan for the devotees from May to October / November and it remains closed off for Darshan and even visit for the rest of the year. The place experiences a pleasant and a cool temperature condition during the summer season and very cold and freezing temperature with snowfall during the winter months.