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Kedarnath Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva located throughout the country and is the holiest shrine of Lord Shiva for the people having faith in Hinduism. Located in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath Dham is a place where a large number of devotees reach every year to offer their prayers to Kedar form of Lord Shiva, besides the hard and exhausting trekking of more than 16 kilometers. People walk over the glaciers, on the hills, and cross the bridges over rivers to reach their destination. The soothing effect of the vision of Lord Kedarnath, people chanting near the temple, and the purest form of nature is worth the hard work to reach there.
Let’s explore this majestic temple in more detail-
Location of Kedarnath Temple-
The Kedarnath temple is situated in Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand State of India, in the Rudraprayag district of Gharwal Himalayas. This temple gains more beauty by the virtue of River Mandakini flowing near it. This auspicious temple known for its elegance in the whole world is situated in a unique natural location. The approximate altitude of the Kedarnath temple from the sea level is around 3583 meters or 11,755 feet.
The approximate distance of Kedarnath from Rudraprayag is 95 kilometers. The distance of Kedarnath Dham from the major areas nearby is – 250 km from Haridwar, 230 km from Rishikesh, 264 km from Dehradun, 218 km from Badrinath, 350 km from Yamunotri, 334 km from Gangotri, and about 435 km from the National Capital Delhi.
History of the Temple-
According to the legends of Shiv Puran, two sage brothers named Nar and Narayan worshiped an idol of Shiv with full dedication and as a result, Lord Shiva offered them to ask for any boon. They both asked Lord Shiva to stay in Kedarnath for the betterment of the common people, and so he appeared as a Jyotirling in Kedarnath.
Another story is related to Pandavas from the famous epic of Mahabharat, who after the assassin of family members and sages in the war of Kurukshetra, came here to search for Lord Shiva to beg for his forgiveness and blessings. Lord Shiva took the form of a bull but was recognized by Bhim, who caught him from legs and tail. After that, Lord Shiv disappeared into the earth and reappeared into 5 parts at 5 different places. These five places are combinedly known as Panch Kedar and are Kedarnath (raised hump is worshiped), Tungnath (arms), Madhyamaheshwar (the navel and stomach), Rudranath (face), and Kalpeshwar (hair and head).
How to Reach the temple-
The main trekking for the temple starts from Gaurikund and is about 16 kilometers in distance, divided into parts named Jungle Chatti (4 km from Gaurikund), Bhimbali (3 km from Jungle Chatti), Linchauli (4 km from Bhimbali), and Kedarnath (5 km from Linchauli).
Compulsory and free biometric registration of visitors going to Kedarnath is done at Sonprayag, which is about 5 kilometers before Gaurikund.
Taxis are available from Sonprayag to Gaurikund at a rate of INR 20 per person at regular intervals.
The cost of a pony from Sonprayag to Kedarnath is around INR 2500 for one side journey.
Various facilities like post offices, medical relief points, washrooms, shops, shelters, drinking water, and, camps are available at short distances on the trek.
Where to Stay?
Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam has its own tents and rooms available at Kedarnath Base Camp, which can be booked at rates of INR 300 for tent, INR 990 for 6 bedded huts, and INR 750 for 10 bedded huts per bed. It is better to book rooms in advance during peak seasons to avoid any chaotic situations.
Timings of the Temple-
The doors of the temple are opened for people in the month of April on the day of Akshay Tritiya according to the Hindu mythology calendar.
The temple remains open for about 6 months and then, closed on the day of Bhai Dooj after the Hindu festival of Diwali, most probably in the month of November.
In this year 2020, the temple has the opening date on April 29 and the closing date on November 16. In the times, when the temple remains closed, the idol of the deity is moved to the Omkareshwar Temple in Madhya Pradesh.
The opening time of the Kedarnath temple in around 5 am in the morning, while there is no fixed closing time. The gates are open until the last devotee in the queue gets a sight of Lord Shiva in the temple.
Visit the temple in the months of May and June or September-October to avoid the unpredictable weather and monsoons in the months of July and August. Take proper arrangements of warm clothes along the journey as the temperature is cold and you can find glaciers even in the month of May. Generally, oxygen levels remain low as one reaches the top of the mountains so, carry proper medicines and first aid items with you. The trekking to the temple is of moderate difficulty and should be covered with taking halts at regular intervals and appreciating the views of nature. Do carry other necessary items like ID Cards, trekking shoes, woolens, caps, umbrellas, and raincoats.
Location on Map-