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, it is also visited by those who love to conquer the rough terrain of Garhwal. Lapped in the green hills of the Himalayas, about 3584m above sea level near the head of river Mandakini, the serene atmosphere here, with its cool and gentle breeze, offers an ideal tourist retreat.
According to 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 dived 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 Kedarnath Temple
The Kedarnath Temple is believed to have been built by the Pandavas and is almost 1000 years old. In the 8th century AD, it was refurbished by Adiguru Shankaracharya. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the idol is in the form of a pyramidal lingam. It is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country and is revered highly. The statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva, stands at the entrance of the temple. During the winters, the statue is carried to Ukhimath, and is reinstated in Kedarnath in the month of May. The breathtaking view of the Kedardome peak behind the temple is a major attraction.
The Samadhi of Adiguru Shankaracharya is located just behind the temple and is the final resting place of the saint. The Bhairavnath temple, situated to the south of the main temple of Kedarnath, is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the deity who guards the main temple in winter when it is closed.
A solid path from near the main bridge, before the town, crosses the Mandakini to the left of the valley, and ends 4 km away at the glacier. At its edge is the Chorabari Tal Lake, now known as Gandhi Sarovar, as some of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were scattered here. It is also said that Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, departed to heaven from this lake.
Close by, around 800 m from the lake, is the source of the Mandakini. One can also cross the river by the small bridge behind the temple, and scramble up the rough boulder-strewn moraine to meet the main track.
Location and Climate
Kedarnath is situated in the Uttar Kashi district of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Very close to the Indo-Chinese border, it is the source of the Mandakini River. It is couched in the scenic locales of the Garhwal Himalayas at 3583 meters above sea level. It is very cold in the winters with the ground being covered with snow. In the summers, the mercury barely crosses the 20°C mark. The place experiences about 150 cm of rainfall during the monsoons and so the best time to visit is between May and October. Kedarnath is near to Rishikesh (234 km) and Dehradun (250 km).
Kedarnath is accessible only after a steep 14 km trek through a paved path (horses or palanquins are available for rent) from Gaurikund, which is connected by road from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and other important hill stations of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions in Uttarakhand.The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, at a distance of 251 km from Kedarnath. The nearest railheads are Rishikesh (234 km) and Kotdwar (260 km), from where one can find trains to Dehradun. Kedarnath is approachable by road from all important places of the Garhwal hills-Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar, Badrinath and Gangotri. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.
Kedarnath had a population of 479. Males constitute 98% of the population and females 2%. Kedarnath has an average literacy rate of 63%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 36%. In Kedarnath, 0% of the population is under 6 years of age. During winter due to heavy snowfall, Kedarnath is transferred in the place called Ukhimoth.