Every year, during summer tourists from all over the world visit this holy destination of Kedarnath in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand to get the blessings of almighty Lord Shiva. A Kedarnath pilgrimage is incomplete without a visit to the 1000-year-old Kedarnath Temple, which was built using large slabs of stone on a 6-foot-high rectangular base.
Besides this, tourists also visit the surrounding places in Kedarnath, such as Bhairav Nath Temple, Agastya Muni Temple, Gauri Kund, Chorabhari Tal, Mandakini River, Kedar Massif, Vasuki Tal, Shankaracharya Samadhi and others.
The Jyotirlinga at Kedarnath
The Jyotirlinga at Kedarnath is in the shape of a pyramid and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or cosmic light manifestations of Lord Shiva present in various parts of India. Moreover, Hindus believe that if people pray to the Jyotirlinga with purity in their heart, Lord Shiva will forgive them for their sins.
The Kedarnath Temple: This old and glorious temple is in the Rudra Himalayan range on the banks of the River Mandakini. This thousand year old temple was built using massive stone blocks over a large quadrangular podium. Climbing through the large steps that lead to the holy sanctum you will find Pali inscriptions on the stairs. The walls of the temple’s sanctum are decorated with figures of various divinities and sections from mythology. Outside the temple door, a large statue of the Nandi stands guard.
People worship a conical rock formation inside the temple as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiv form. The temple is 3,581 mt high surrounded by three lofty mountains the Kedarnath, Kharchkund, and Bharat Kund. Moreover, it is not easy to reach this temple. You can reach villages close to the temple using roads, however, to reach the temple you must trek the last 14 km from Gaurikund.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Kedarnath is from April to September. The temple closes on the first day of the Kartik month from October to March as the roads and areas surrounding the temple become snowbound. Do check for climate and temperature changes before you plan your holiday to Kedarnath.
Mythological Legends of Kedarnath Temple
There is plenty of mystery surrounding the temple, what with many believing it was built centuries ago. No one knows the true origins of the temple; however, it is one of the 4 pillars of the Char Dham Yatra. According to Hindu mythology, there are many legends and stories related to Jyotirlinga and other aspects of Kedarnath Temple.
For instance, one legend highlights the story about Narayana and Nara i.e. the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu. They performed penance before Lord Shiva’s lingam in Badrikashraya at Bharat Khand. Pleased with the dedication, penance, and devotion of Narayana and Nara, Lord Shiva gave them a boon. Both Lord Vishnu’s incarnations asked Lord Shiva to stay permanently in Kedarnath in the form of a Jyotirlinga so that all Shiva devotees could be free from their difficulties. Another legend says that Goddess Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva in Kedareshwar form to unite with him as Ardhanareeswara.
Yet another legend believes the Pandava brothers traveled to Kashi in search Lord Shiva for absolution from their sins after the end of the war at Kurukshetra. When Lord Shiva came to know about this, he changed into a bull and escaped to Uttarakhand. However, the Pandavas followed Lord Shiva to Uttarakhand and found him in Guptakashi in his bull form. The Pandavas prayed to get the Lord Shiva’s blessings and finally managed to please him to reach absolution. However, the most common story is that Guru Adi Shankaracharya built the temple in the 8th-century.
The mystery surrounding the Kedarnath Temple
Scientists believe the renowned Kedarnath Temple was under the snow for about 400 years. The structure of the Kedarnath Temple has several yellow lines that formed due to the slow movement of the glacier above the stones.
Scientists believe that Adi Shankaracharya built the temple during the eighth century and hence, it existed during the Little Ice Age i.e. between 1300 AD and 1900 AD.
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