Weather :

Label : Top Attraction

Tags : Temple

Timings : 04:00 AM - 09:00 PM (Mid May - October)

Time Required : 1 - 2 hours

Entry Fee : Shuttle tickets - INR 1100. There are various packages available from tour operators from INR 50,000 per person onwards.

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Kedarnath Temple, Kedarnath Overview

The Kedarnath Temple, located on the Garhwal Himalayan Range in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, India, is one of the most prestigious and sacred Hindu temples as it is a part of Chhota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Situated at a height of 3,583 metres, the temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Set amidst the snow-clad and lofty mountains with Mandakini River flowing in front of it, the Kedarnath Temple witnesses lakhs of devotees every year due to its religious significance and sanctity.

The present Kedarnath Temple is believed to be re-constructed by Adi Shankaracharya, originally built by the Pandavas thousand years ago from enormous stone slabs over a large rectangular dais. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector, and the destroyer. It is one of the holiest shrine dedicated to the deity and it is believed that a journey to this holy land opens up doorways to "Moksha" or salvation. This abode of Lord Shiva can only be reached from Gaurikund through a trek and therefore, Kedarnath Temple is a treat for trek-lovers too. The mesmerizing views of Himalayas around, the balmy weather and pure ambience gives you a feeling of ultimate euphoria. The zeal of devotees just to get a glimpse of the lingam is worth admiring. The interesting history, the spiritual value and the fascinating architecture are amongst many reasons to visit Kedarnath Temple.

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Opening Dates of Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple will open on May 9, 2019, at 5:35 AM.

History of Kedarnath

The history behind Kedarnath Temple is very interesting as it is associated with mythical tales of Mahabharat. Pandavas, after the battle of Kurukshetra, felt guilty for killing their Kaurava cousins. So, they wanted Lord Shiva to absolve their sins but, Lord Shiva was annoyed with them. The Pandavas first went to Kashi to meet Shiva where they learnt that he was in the Himalayas. They proceeded for the Himalayas too but miffed Shiva did not want to absolve their sins easily. Therefore, he disguised himself as a buffalo and went to Guptakashi. The Pandavas reached Guptakashi too and spotted a unique looking buffalo. Bheema, one of the Pandavas, grabbed its tail and the buffalo was disintegrated in different directions.

It is believed that its hump fell in Kedarnath and hence, the Kedarnath Temple was born. The other parts of the buffalo's body fell places such as Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpeshwar and Madhyamaheshwar. These four places along with Kedarnath came to be known as the holy 'Panch Kedars'. Later, Lord Shiva forgave Pandavas' sins and decided to reside in Kedarnath as a Jyotirlingam.

It is also believed that Nar and Narayana, who were the two famed Lord Vishnu incarnations, gave a performance before an earthen Shiv lingam at Bharat Khand Badrikashrama. Lord Shiva was pleased and appeared before them. He requested them to make a wish. So, they asked the Lord to reside permanently at Kedarnath in the form of a Jyotirlingam. The Lord agreed to their wish and thus enshrined himself in the Kedarnath temple.

Trek to Kedarnath

You can reach Kedarnath after a 16 km long trek from Gaurikund. Horses or ponies are available to climb up this steep path. Though the flash floods of 2013 devastated Kedarnath, work is being done to revive it to its former glory. The trekking path to Kedarnath is a little different as of now. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering has set up sheds at every few kilometres where the devotees can rest during this arduous trek. 

To make it easier to get around, Palkis and Ponies have become a widely popular choice for tourists and pilgrims. 

Charges for both Palkis and Ponies depend upon the distance, nature of the trip (one way/round), uphill/downhill journey, same/next day return, and weight of the passenger.

Gaurikund-Kedarnath/Kedarnath-Gaurikund Charges

Type of Ride One Way Round Trip
Dandi (Palanquin) INR 3,950-5,050 (0-90 kg) INR 7,950-8,950 (0-90kg)
Kandi INR 5,80-1,400 (0-50 kg) INR 1,500-3,350 (0-50 kg)
Pony -- INR 1,100-1,400


Inside the Temple

The Kedarnath Temple which was built around thousand years ago with massive stone slabs stands on a raised rectangular platform. It covers an area of approximately 3 sq. km. Before the main temple, there is a low roofed hall which has images of Parvati and the five Pandavas. The walls are adorned with figures of other deities from Mahabharat. Outside the temple door, there is also a huge statue of Nandi cow which is also worshipped by the tourists and in the main temple, a conical rock is worshipped as Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple has been revived by Adi Shankara over the centuries.

Pooja and Rituals

There are different types of morning and evening poojas that are performed throughout the day in the temple. Devotees have to pay a specific amount of money to attend a particular Pooja. The morning pooja starts from 4:00 and lasts till 7:00. It includes:-

Mahabhishek - The cost of attending this pooja is INR 1700 per person.
Rudrabhishek - The Pooja is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is performed to wipe out all the sins. It costs INR 1300 per person to attend this pooja.
Laghurudrabhishek - This Abhishek is done to resolve issues related to health and wealth or to remove the bad effects of planets in the horoscope. This pooja costs INR 1100 to one person.
Shodasopachar Pooja - INR 1000 has to be paid for each devotee to attend this pooja. Besides these, Balbhog, general morning pooja and several other rituals are also performed which visitors can attend at nominal rates.

The evening poojas are held between 6:00 PM to 07:30 PM. These are:

Shiva Sahasranamam Paath - All the 1008 names of Lord Shiva are recited in front of Lord Shiva and proper Pooja and Abhishekam are done. INR 360 has to be paid for each person to attend this pooja.
Shiva Mahimastotra Paath - Devotees have to pay INR 360 per person to take part in this pooja. Shiva Thandavastotra Paath- The stotrams which have 16 syllables per stotra are recited as they describe Lord Shiva’s power and beauty. It costs INR 340 for one person.

Festivals celebrated in Kedarnath Temple

Besides seeking the blessing of Lord Shiva, you can witness the exciting and religious festivals which are held in the temple:-

1. Badri-Kedar Utsav - Organised in the month of June, this festival brings together the prominent artists from all over Uttaranchal to showcase their musical talent dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The festival is celebrated for 8 days.
2. Shravani Annakoot Mela - The Mela is celebrated on a day before the Raksha Bandhan. The entire Jyotirlinga is covered with cooked rice which is later distributed to devotees as Prasad. Several Poojas are performed on this auspicious day.
3. Samadhi Pooja -A grand Pooja is held every year on the Samadhi of the great Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The event is held on that day when the Kedarnath Temple closes for six months.

Tourist Spots Nearby

Apart from Kedarnath Temple, the place has many treasures for you which you can explore on your trip to the temple.

1. Triyuginarayan - It is believed that the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati took place in this temple. Through a short trek of 5 Kms from Son Prayag, you can reach this place. Also, the flame which was the witness to the marriage, burns in front of the temple even today.
2. Guptakashi - Located at a distance of around 49 Kms from Kedarnath Temple, this place is famous for the temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanathji.
3. Chopta - In the entire Garhwal region, Chopta gives you the most amazing panoramic view of the Himalayas. It is situated at a distance of 93 Kms from the temple which is a three hour drive.
4. Panchkedar - Kedarnath is just one of the temples of Panchkedar. You can explore the other four temples- Madmaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudranath and Kalpeshwer.
5. Vasuki Tal - The lake will give you a breathtaking view of Chaukhamba Peaks. This is a 6 Kms trek from Kedarnath Temple.
6. Gandhi Sarovar - Also known as Chorabari Tal, it is a small lake which lies at the foot of Kedarnath Temple. Shankaracharya Samadhi- For the devotees, this place provides a very serene and tranquil environment. It is said that Adi Shankaracharya, a great philosopher took a samadhi here.
7.Bhairavnath Temple - This temple is located just 1 km away from Kedarnath Temple. From here, one can get the entire view of Kedarnath Valley and Kedarnath Shrine.

Detailed Expenses

On your trip to Kedarnath Temple, you will have to bear expenses on accommodation, transport, food and other essentials. Here is the list of the necessities you need with prices:-

1. Hotels - There is a wide range of hotels that you will find in Kedarnath. The cost of five-star hotels is around INR 7,000. The minimum price for a hotel is INR 2,000.
2. Food - Usually food is included in the price charged by hotels. But, if you wish to eat in some other restaurant, it won’t be more than INR 1,000 per person.
3. Pooja Prices-  There are many kinds of poojas held in Kedarnath Mandir. The minimum price is INR 340 and the maximum is INR 1,700.
4. Pony or Horse Rides - If you wish to hire a pony or horse on your way to Kedarnath from Gaurikund, then you will have to pay a price which is fixed by the government every year. Usually, it costs INR 1,800 for one trip.

Best Time To Visit Kedarnath Temple

The most suitable time to visit the Kedarnath Temple is in the months of May to July. It is better to head out early in the morning for the temple since it is closed between 3 to 5 pm.

Stay Near Kedarnath Temple

You can find many decent hotels at cheap prices in Kedarnath. Some of them are-

1. Hotel Priyadarshani - Situated at the banks of River Mandakini, this hotel is just 42 Kms from Gauri Kund, the starting point of the trek to Kedarnath Temple. It has all the basic facilities tourists can ask for including AC rooms and vegetarian restaurant.
2. Char Dham Camp - Located amidst the picturesque surroundings, the camp can give you a lifetime experience of living in luxurious tents. Online room booking facility is also available. 
3. Hotel Himachal House - This hotel is also situated in Gauri Kund and provides you with a facility of online booking.
4. Shivalik Valley Resorts - Perched on the foothills of Kedarnath Temple, the hotel has deluxe rooms with amazing views of verdant and snow clad mountains. Facilities like restaurant, parking and conference room are provided. You can book your rooms in advance through its official website.
5. GMVN camps - These camps will be easy on your pockets as compared to Char Dham Camps. The price starts from INR 250. The quality of all the facilities is also not compromised. You will enjoy a comfortable stay here.

Besides the hotels and camps listed above, there are a plethora of other lodgings you may prefer.

Restaurants Near Kedarnath Temple

There are many restaurants serving you sumptuous vegetarian food. Some of them are Shivalik Valley Restaurant, Jai Maa Durga Restaurant, Hotel Bharat and Restaurant, Chauhan Hotel, Hotel Dev Dham and Hotel Vijay Palace.

Tips For Visiting Kedarnath Temple

1. Carry enough woollen clothes with you as temperature takes a dip after sun sets.
2. Liquor is strictly prohibited.
3. Take the basic emergency medicines with you.
4. Asthmatic people should take extra precautions as the altitude is high.
5. Carry mosquito or insect repellent to avoid diseases like malaria.
6. Avoid eating raw and cold food. Boiled or cooked food is safer.
7. During the yatra, don't relax at places where warning signs are seen.
8. To prevent sunburn, keep applying sun screens.
9. Avoid drinking tap water.
10. You need to obtain a medical fitness certificate before you can embark on the trek to Kedarnath. These can be obtained at Guptkashi and Sonprayag.

Shopping At Kedarnath Temple

You can find many shops glued together outside the temples in Kedarnath. In these hustling and bustling markets, you may not find branded items. But, the shops are stuffed with traditional and religious items. Some of the souvenirs you can shop for are-

*Framed photographs of Lord Shiva or of the temples
*Rudraksha Mala
*Other miscellaneous items like precious stones, handicrafts and herbs

There is not much to buy in Kedarnath but, carry enough cash as cards are not accepted by most of the shops.

How To Reach Kedarnath Temple

Unfortunately, vehicles are not allowed till the Kedarnath Temple. All the buses or cars are permitted till Gaurikund after which devotees have to trek around 16 km to reach the temple. The trekking route for the first 7 km is gradual, but it gets quite steep after Rambara for the next 7 km. The last 3 km are undulating and go up and down gradually. It takes around 7 hours to reach Kedarnath from Gaurikund. Medical facilities, tea stalls, washrooms and police stations at every checkpoint. Ponies and horses are also available on this trek and you can make a booking before you start the trek. The cost for the same is around INR 3200 for a round trip and takes 4-6 hours to reach Kedarnath. Gaurikund is connected via road through major cities like Haridwar, Dehradun and Rishikesh.

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