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21 AUG

KEDARNATH DHAM

INTRODUCTION

Located in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand and nestled at a height of 3600 mts, Kedarnath Dham is possibly the most celebrated and revered Shiva temples of India.  Everything is special out here with the lofty snow-clad peaks hovering over the temple to the thin air that reverberates Shiva with every breath.   Kedarnath temple is one of the 12 Jyotir Lings or the cosmic light which signifies Lord Shiva of India and is also the most important temple among the Panch Kedars of the Garhwal Himalayas. The original temple dates back to thousands of years back by the Pandavas but the current temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya where a conical rock formation is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sada Shiva form. During the winter months of October and early November, the symbolic idol of Shiva is carried to Ukhimath where it is worshiped while the whole temple is submerged in snow. The temple is again re-opens in Vaisakh during the months of May – June.  

THE LEGEND

Just like Gangotri, there are many legends of Kedarnath. One such legend is one where Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareswar to unite with Lord Shiva as Ardhanareshwar. Another such legend has it that Nar and Narayan, the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu practiced severe penances at Badrikashram in front of a Shivalingam. When Lord shiva gave them the divine appearance, they requested him to make Kedareshwar his permanent abode. Lord Shiva  thus manifessted himself in the form of Jyotirlingam. It is also believed Pandavas reached Kedarnath to seek forgiveness for killing their brothers in the battle of Kedarnath and Lord Shiva appeared them in form of bull to test them. Also it is said that Arjuna, one of the Panch Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva here to attain the divine weapon, Pasupataastra.

 

HOW TO REACH

Kedarnath does not have direct motorable road to reach the temple and one has to reach Gauri Kund before they embark on foot, pony or palki on an arduous 14 kms trek to the Kedar Kund. There are chattis on the way where one can spend the night. Those who are not acclimatized to the cold, however, are advised to spend the night at Rambada.

 

Kedaranth was considered as highly inaccessible till the helicopter services were introduced recently. Many private and public helicopter services are available now in season time from places around Gauri Kund like Phata, Gupt Kashi, Sitapur, Sonprayag etc. The 10 minutes chopper ride to /fro the temple has made the travel unimaginably easy.

EXCURSIONS

Gauri Kund : This is the place  where Gauri or Parvati mediated in order to marry Lord Shiva. It consists of a small temple and a natural thermal springs that offers refreshing bath to pilgrims before they embark for the holy darshan of Kedareshwar. A little away is the temple of Sirkata (headless) Ganesha where Lord Shiva had beheaded Ganesh and then later attached the head of an elephant on his headless body.

 

Chorabari Tal or the Gandhi Tal: Fed by Chorabari glacier, the serene and pristine Chorabari Lake can be reached after undertaking a trek of less than 4 km from the Kedarnath town. It is also known as Gandhi Sarovar as some of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed in its waters.

Bhairav Temple: Within the Kedarnath temple complex is a small temple dedicated to Bhairav nath ji who guards the temple compound when the shrine is closed in winters

 

Vasuki Tal: Located about 8 kms from Kedernath, this is crystal blue lake is located at an height of 3135 mts. The trek is pretty tough and one needs to traverse thru glaciers and steep slopes to reach the place.

 

FESTIVALS RELATED TO KEDARNATH

Badri Kedar Festival This eight days spanned festival presents a galore of renowned artists from every nook and corner of the country. At Badri-Kedar festival you would indeed get to catch a glimpse of Indian art and culture at its very best.

 

Shravani Annakoot Mela This festival is held in the month of August, on the day preceding ‘Raksha Bandhan’. On the Annakoot Mela day food prepared from the newly harvested fresh paddy is offered to Lord Kedar as ‘Prasadam’. Also a special Puja ritual is performed on that day during which the Kedarnath ji Shivling is decked with a mixed paste made from newly –harvested rice, corn, wheat, many other grains as well as pulses.

 

Akshaya Tritiya  – This signifies the return of the Lord Shiva back to Kedarkund from Ukhimath with lots of pomp and gaiety. The temple is decorated lavishly with lots of singing, dancing and lots of cultural activities.

 

Samadhi Puja The day on which Kedarnath Temple closes, a Samadhi Puja is performed quite ceremoniously. It marks the temple shut down ceremony. Temple committee makes arrangements for this Puja for interested devotees.

 

 


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