Kedarnath, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim sites is perched at an altitude of 3584 metres amidst towering snow-clad Himalayan peaks on the head of river Mandakini. Kedarnath is one of the most sacrosanct pilgrim spots of North India and is flocked by people from all corners of the globe. Besides its religious significance, those who love to conquer the rough terrain of Garhwal also visit it. Lapped in the green hills of the Himalayas, the serene atmosphere here, offers an ideal tourist retreat.
Each of the four holy shrines of the Char Dham is located at a height of 3,000m above the sea level. The four temples in a geographical context form two distinct groups, that of Badrinath-Kedarnath and Gangotri-Yamunotri, with the common starting point at Rishikesh. Badrinath-Kedarnath lies towards the north-east of Rishikesh. Of these sites, Badrinath and Gongotri are directly accessible by road while Kedarnath is reached by road followed by a short trek of 15km from the Gaurikund road head.
The average maximum temperature is around 15°C from May to October. The average minimum temperature is about 8°C. At other times, the mercury touches zero. Rainfall is about 1475mm. The best season to visit Kedarnath is around May to October.
According to a legend, Lord Shiva wished to elude the Pandavas, who had come to seek penitence for having killed their kin in the battle of Kurukshetra. He took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, found Shiva amongst a herd of cattle. Having identified the meanest and most arrogant of the herd as Shiva, Bhima is said to have grabbed him by the hindquarters. What remains at the shrine in Kedarnath is the rear end of the bull, with the rest of its body scattered throughout the Garhwal. Shiva divide into the ground leaving behind him a hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol. It is the main site of the Panch Kedar temples.
The 8th century shrine built by Adi Shankaracharya enshrines one of the twelve sacred Jyotirlings of Lord Shiva. The Jyothirlinga here resembles a hump of a bull. In front of the temple door is a large statue of Nandi as a guard. The mandapa walls are adorned with idols of the five Pandavas and Draupdi. There is also an image of Lord Ganehsa. The shrines closes for the winters on the first day of Kartik (October to November) and re-opens in Vaisakh (April to May).
Kedarnath Tour Information
It is located just behind the Kedarnath temple. Adi Shankaracharya after establishing four sacred Dhams is said to have gone into his Samadhi here at an age of 32 years.
Chorbari Glacier (3km)
River Mandakini emerges from here and later merges into the Alaknanda at Rudraprayag.
Kedarnath Tour Information
Pilgrim site famous for the ancient temples of Vishwanath and Ardhnareshwar.
It is the winter residence of Lord Kedarnath and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath.
Trekking base for Kedarnath. There is a temple dedicated to Gauri (Parvati) and hot water springs of medicinal value.
Koteshwar Temple (3km)
The cave temple of Lord Shiva lies on the banks of Alaknanda. It is said that Shiva meditated here before going to Kedarnath.
Kedarnath Tourism Information
The ‘Panch’ or five Kedar lie in the valley between the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. According to legends, after the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas repented the killings of their cousins kauravas and came here seeking forgiveness from Lord Shiva. But, Shiva eluded them and took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. When Pandavas sighted him, he submerged into the ground leaving behind his hump, whichis worshipped at the shirne of kedarnath. His arms are believed to have appeared at Tungnath, his face at Rudranath, navel at madmaheshwar, his matted hairs and head at kalpeshwar. These five most sacred Shiva temples of Garhwal came to be known as the ‘Panch Kedars’.
Son Prayag (20km)
The sacred confluence of river Basuki and Mandakani lies on the main Kedarnath route, about 5km from Gaurikund. Trijuginarayan, 12km from son Prayag is said to be the site of Lord Shiva and parvati’s marriage.
Rudra Prayag (86km)
The pilgrim site on the confluence of river Alaknanda and Mandakini is named after Rudra, an aspect of Lord Shiva. Accoding to a legend Lord Shiva appeared here as ‘Rudra’ to bless narad Muni. An ancient shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva in theform of ‘Rudra’. Rudraprayag is of immense significance for the pilgrims of Chardham Yatra, as it is the junction for visiting Badrinath and Kedarnath Dham.
The Panch Prayag
‘Panch Prayag’ or the five most sacred river confluences of the Garhwal Himalayas are of immense religious importance. These are
It is set on the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, on the Rishikesh – Badrinath route, about 87 km from Narendra Nagar.
On the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers.
It is 12km from Joshimath on the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga Rivers.
It is the confluence of Alaknanda and mandakini rivers, about 21km from Karnaprayag, on the main route to Badrinath. The famous Gopalji temple is situated here.
It is situated on the sacred confluence of Alaknanda and Pindari rivers and is known for the Karna Temple and the Uma Devi Temple.
This beautiful small lake has a mystic mythological background. Around a kilometer away from Kedarnath, one takes a picturesque trek to this place. It is this place from where the Pandavas ascended to heaven, and hence, the place is famous and pious for the followers of Hindu religion.
Vasuki Tal is 6km from Kedarnath at an altitude of about 4135m above the sea level. This lake is extraordinary, surrounded by high mountains and offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
Gauri Kund is around 15km away from Kedarnath. The trekking base to Kedarnath and the road head, this village has a temple dedicated to Gauri and also thermal springs of medical value.
Triyuginarayan is the mythological venue where the wedding Lord Shiva and Parvati was solemnized. It is a short trek of 5km from Son Prayag. An eternal flame, which is said to have been the witness to the marriage, burns in front of the temple even today.
Car Festival of Bhatli
This festival is celebrated at Dadhibaman Temple of Bhatli on the Trwitiya Tithi of Asadha. On this day, Lord Dadhibaman rides on the chariot and sets out on a journey to Mausima Mandir. The Lord stays in Mausima Mandir for 9 days and again on the Dasami or Asadha, the return Car Festival is celebrated. On this day, the Lord returns to his temple. There becomes a huge gathering of devotees at Bhatli. This ar festival is said to have affinity with that of Puri. So it is famous in Western Orissa.
Sital Sasthi of Barpali
This festival is celebrated in Barpali on the day of Sasthi in the month of Jestha, every year on the occasion of the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. There is a huge gathering of devotes at Barpali. It Is a mobile yatra. May folk dances and cultural programmes are organized which the people enjoy at night. For the last few years, it has also been celebrated in proper Bargarh town.
Bali Yatra of Khuntpali
This yatra is celebrated on the sand-bed of river Zeera at Khutpali on the day of Karthika Purunima. On this occasion, Lord Shiva is worshipped with all serenity on the sand-bed. During this, many trade fares are held on the sand-bed at Khuntpali.
Baisakh Mela of Nrusinghanath
This mela is celebrated from Triyodasi to Purnima in the month of Baisakh at Nrusinghanath. It is celebrated on the occasion of Nrusingha janma and also known as Narsingh Chaturdashi Mela. There becomes a huge gathering of devotes on this occasion.