Kedarnath, a Hindu holy shrine is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Considered as one of the Char Dham, it is located at an elevation of 3584 meters above sea level in the Himalayan ranges, the most remote place among Chardham Circuit. The holy shrine of Kedarnath is beautified by Mandakini and celestial view of snow-capped mountains. It houses one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and more than 200 temples dedicated to Lord Kedar (Lord Shiva). It is this religious connection that makes Kedarnath Yatra so popular amongst the masses.
Legends say the Kedarnath Temple built by Adi Shankaracharya were existed even in the time of Mahabharata. The saga goes like this – Pandavas were feeling guilty after the getting triumph over Kauravas so they wanted to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Pandavas performed a strong penance in Kedarnath for Salvation. Lord Shiva took refugee as a bull in the Kedarnath. However, Bheem immediately recognized Lord Shiva as Bull and captured him but bull disappeared and immediately repapered in parts and each part denoting a specific place. It really should not come as a surprise that Kedarnath, with such illustrious mythological background, evokes great enthusiasm amongst masses as they line up to book their place for the Kedarnath yatra package that would take them on Kedarnath Yatra.
These five are also known as Panch Kedar.
- Hump – Kedarnath
- Arms – Tunganath
- Nabhi & Stomach – Madhyamaheshwar
- Face – Rudranath
- Hair – Kalpeshwar
One can reach the main temple shrine of Kedarnath via trekking. Trekking includes steep climbing of 14 Kms after leaving the paved path at Gaurikund. Way to Gaurikund is well connected from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Kumaon, and Garhwal. Horses or palanquins can be rented to cover the trekking area. Helicopter service is also available for visitors.
Kedarnath experiences heavy snowfall during the winter season so the temples remain closed for a period of six months. Along with residents the Palki of Lord Shiva also relocated to Ukhimath, a place near Guptakashi for a period of six months.
It is indeed a testimony to the feelings that people feel towards Kedarnath that Kedarnath Yatra is so revered and looked up to by the masses. It can well be said about Kedarnath that of all the religiously popular places in the country Kedarnath Yatra is amongst the most popular. It is for this reason that a tour to this place sees a virtual stampede of devotees who jostle with each other to catch a glimpse of their favorite deity. The importance of Kedarnath Yatra can be understood from the fact that though it is being carried out for centuries its popularity has not faded and the enthusiastic participation of masses for the Kedarnath Yatra Packages clearly suggests that the popularity of Kedarnath Yatra package would only enhance in the days and years to come.
On the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya (Last week of April or first week of May) temple shrine opens and closes after performing the Aarti ceremony on the day of Bhai Dooj (Last week of October or first week of November).