Packed with religious and cultural significance, Uttarakhand’s crowning jewel, Kedarnath plays host to innumerable pilgrims that throng its sacred walls. Sitting in the lap of the majestic Himalayan range at a height of 3553m above sea level, the town of Kedarnath is located near the mouth of Mandakini River. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, thick lush forests and clean fresh air, Kedarnath makes for some stunning vistas.
Here are a few interesting facts about this fascinating temple:
1. Legend has it that in order to evade the Pandavas, Lord Shiva assumed the avatar of a bull here at Kedarnath. When he was discovered by the Pandavas, He drove himself into the surface of the Earth leaving only the hump as remains. Since then, Pilgrims have thronged the holy doors of Kedarnath Temple to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.
2. The temple is open for devotees only at the end of April (Akshay Tritiya) to November (Karthik Purnima). This is mainly due to extreme weather conditions in the town of Kedarnath.
3. Easily accessible through air, train and roads, the town of Kedarnath is very tourist friendly and many travel agencies offer tour packages for worship. However, one should be prepared for rough terrain and hilly regions owing to its high altitude.
4. It is believed that it was here that Lord Shiva appeared as a column of light or jyotirlinga when Lord Vishu and Lord Bhrama argued about the supremacy of creation. Kedarnath Temple is one of the twelve such jyotirlingas in India.
5. As one of the four cornerstones of the Chota Char Dham circuit, Kedarnath Temple is located in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and is an important tourist attraction.
6. The structure is believed to have been constructed by the Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankara in 8th Century AD. Its strong white marble exterior is a beacon for peace and harmony.
7. The temple consists of statues of the five Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. It also contains a statue of Draupadi and other deities within its halls.
8. The legendary temple can be accessed only by an uphill trek of 16 kilometres from Gaurikund which is another popular religious site. Arrangements for horses and ponies have been made for those unable to make the climb.
9. In 2013, Kedarnath was hit by unprecedented flash floods which caused mass destruction to the surrounding area and claimed thousands of innocent lives. According to various eye-witness a huge rock got stuck behind the temple which prevented the floods from sweeping away the entire building along with it.
10. In the aftermath of the floods, thousands of people were displaced and took shelter within the calming walls of the temple. Expert tests revealed that while there was minor destruction to the exterior, the temple has been restored and is safe for pilgrims to visit.
Allow Kedarnath to envelop you in its warm and tranquil ambience and feel your worries melting away. With the sounds of temple bells in the air, a visit to the temple will take you on a soulful journey within yourself and you will emerge completely rejuvenated.