Atop 3584 mts, this is one of the Char Dhams and one of the busiest pilgrim centres in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is believed that in order to evade the Pandavas, Lord Shiva hid himself in the form of a bull at Kedarnath, and when found by the Pandavas, he went further into the earth leaving the hump on the surface.
Kedarnath is popular for its ancient Shiva Temple, shrines, Himalayan ranges and undulating landscapes. Marked by the Kedarnath temple, near Chorabari Glacier, the area is flanked by the Kedarnath peaks and countless more ranges with peaks silver with snow. The most remote of the Char Dhams, and maybe hence, one of the most majestically beautiful, Kedarnath remains closed for the six months of winters due to unbearable temperatures and heavy snowfall.
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Kedarnath has an unparallel beauty, surrounded by snowy peaks. It is one of the holiest pilgrims in North India and amongst the four Dhams.
Cold throughout the year. As it is placed at a high altitude, one has to trek 16 km which may be difficult for some.
Kedarnath is great for people who are looking for a religious getaway to Dham Yatra. Adventure seekers may also find it a great location for trekking.
Many Ashrams and Dharamshalas provide accommodation facility. There are also private hotels available in the area.
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Situated at an altitude of 3584 m, Kedarnath, is the home to the famous Kedarnath Temple. It is one of the four Dhams and highest among twelve Jyotirlingas. It is the host to many tourists and pilgrims who come here to visit the renowned temple and enjoy a family getaway. Kedarnath is a picturesque place at the head of Mandakini river which takes a 14-16km trek to reach the temple, starting from Gaurikund. While here, you may also trek 3 km ahead to visit the beautiful lake, Chorabari Tal. Trekking 4 km ahead, you can find Himalayan peaks being reflected in the crystal clear waters of Vasuki Tal. Every place you visit here has some mythological importance and you will never get enough of the stories of these places.
Kedarnath temple is one of the highest temples in the country. It is located near the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand and houses one out of the twelve Jyotirlingas in the country. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it worships the Lord as Kedar Nath, meaning the master of Kedar Khand, the name by which the region was known earlier.
There is no road access available to the temple and it can only be reached through a tough, uphill 18 km long trek which starts from Gaurikund. Kedarnath is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim sites and earlier completing a journey to the sacred temple was considered no less than an accomplishment for the religiously inclined.
However, the tough journey is now much simpler because of the daily helicopter service which plies from the helipad in Phata village in Kedarnath. Some operators also offer a helicopter service from the town of Agustmuni in Rudraprayag.
Devotees can visit Kedarnath temple and return the same day as helicopter service plies at regular intervals from Phata and Agustmuni helipads. 5-seater helicopters are operated by different tour companies.
The last helicopter back to Phata leaves at 11:10 AM and those who wish to have an overnight stay at Kedarnath can choose to take this flight the next day. Even with a same day return flight, devotees get around 1:30 hours for darshan in the temple.
Accommodation options are available at both Phata and Kedarnath.
Cost for a round trip from Phata-Kedarnath-Phata comes to INR 6500 per person with extra applicable taxes. One way helicopter rides can also be booked subject to seat availability. A one-way ticket costs between INR 3,000 to INR 3,500 with applicable taxes.
The mythology of Kedarnath is an interesting one. It is said to atone for their sins for committing fratricide and killing of Brahmans; the Pandavas were advised by Lord Krishna to seek Lord Shiva and ask for forgiveness and blessings before reaching salvation. Lord Shiva, however, was furious at the Pandavas for committing unjust, violent acts in the Kurukshetra war. He subsequently hid from their sights, even going incognito as a bull. The Pandavas relentlessly pursued Shiva for penance and found him in his disguised form of Nandi. When Bhima tried to hold the bull from its hind legs and tail, it vanished and hid into the ground, but later reappeared as Shiva in five different forms, with the hump situated at Kedarnath. This triangular shaped rock is worshipped in the inner sanctum, also known as garbagriha, of the temple. Another legend is when Shiva appeared before the worshippers Nara-Narayan, they requested him to stay there in his true form for human welfare. Therefore, Shiva decided to reside as a Jyoti in the snow-clad Himalayas in a place known as Kedar. That is why he is also called Kedarnath or Kedareshwara.
The disastrous flash floods of 2013 wreaked a great havoc in the Kedarnath Valley and other parts of Uttarakhand. Vicious cloudbursts were the prime reason for this tragedy. Due to its proximity to the surrounding Chorabari glacier, the area around the temple suffered unspeakable damage. Terrible amount of casualties were observed- the death of hundreds of pilgrims in the vicinity of the temple, shops and hotels in Kedarnath washed away in the torrential floods, and the roads were destroyed. The holy temple itself did not suffer any major damage. In what can only be called a miraculous act, a huge rock got stuck behind the temple and protected it from the destructive floods. The temple unbelievably withstood the calamity, suffering only a small crack in one of its four walls. But the entire valley suffered a huge loss of life and property.
Day 1- Reach Gaurikund early morning where the trek to Kedarnath starts. Named after Goddess Parvati, it houses Gauri Temple where Lord Shiva accepted to marry Goddess Parvati. Trekking to the shrine of Kedarnath is an easy one but you may want to keep yourself covered from the cold, along with comfortable shoes to walk freely. You can spend time in the temple after your trek and then take a refuge in hotels nearby. After resting for a while and having lunch, you can go for shopping in the local markets in the evening. Day 2- You can leave for another trek after an early breakfast, ahead of Kedarnath. After a 3km trek, you'll find Chorabari Tal. It is a beautiful lake, also known as Gandhi Sarovar. It is an easy trek but you may want to look out while crossing the waterfall in the way. After sightseeing there for a while, you can trek 4 km ahead to another such crystal clear lake. It is a moderate trek with the lake located at an altitude of 4150 m. Head back down to the hotel after rejuvenation with nature. Day 3- You could trek back down to Gaurikund and visit places nearby Kedarnath. Mountains always have a scope for exploration.
Options for eating out can get very limited at Kedarnath. Don't expect huge, well laid out restaurants. One might find a number of dhabas and eateries dotting the area, though. It might be a good idea to carry some packed food and drinks. Also, only vegetarian food is available and alcoholic beverages prohibited in Kedarnath.
- Kedarnath is one of the most sacred and significant religious centers of the country. Do respect and be sensitive towards local beliefs and religious sentiments.
- Carry your identification proofs and documents. They may be required at some check points.
- Carrying a first aid kit is an essential and especially medicines for altitude related problems. It might also be a good idea to get a check up before you go for a trek at a high altitude as such.
- Carry proper and heavy woolens.
By Shyam Rohera
It is advisable to go kedarnath with 3 year old child, what will be climate over there?