Kedarnath is a small town located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is situated at an altitude of 3,583 meters above sea level and is known for its beautiful surroundings and religious significance. The town is home to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The history of Kedarnath is steeped in legend and tradition, making it a popular destination for both pilgrims and tourists.
The name Kedarnath is derived from two words, “Kedar” meaning Lord Shiva and “Nath” meaning Lord. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is said to have appeared in the form of a Jyotirlinga at Kedarnath. This makes the temple one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus, who believe that a visit to Kedarnath can help them attain salvation.
The history of Kedarnath can be traced back to the time of the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. According to legend, the Pandavas, the five brothers at the center of the epic, sought Lord Shiva’s blessings and forgiveness for the sins they had committed during the Kurukshetra war. Lord Shiva, however, was not willing to forgive them easily, and instead took the form of a bull and disappeared into the earth. The Pandavas searched for Lord Shiva and finally found him at Kedarnath. Lord Shiva, pleased with the Pandavas’ devotion, forgave them and blessed them with salvation.
The temple at Kedarnath is said to have been built by the Pandavas. The temple’s architecture is an example of the shikhara style, which is a type of architectural style that is characterized by its spire-like shape. The temple is also known for its intricate carvings and sculptures that depict scenes from Hindu mythology.
The Kedarnath temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The first recorded destruction of the temple was in the 8th century, by the Muslim invader, Mohd. bin Qasim. The temple was rebuilt by the Gurjara-Pratihara king, Bhoja, in the 9th century. The temple was again destroyed in the 14th century, by the Muslim ruler, Sikandar Butshikan. The temple was rebuilt by the Raja of Garhwal, Rana Sanga in the 16th century. The temple was again destroyed in the 19th century by avalanches and landslides. The current temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya, the famous philosopher, and saint, in the 8th century.
Kedarnath temple remains open for the darshan only between the end of April to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon). During the winters, the murti (idol) of Lord Shiva is brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months.
Kedarnath is a popular destination for trekkers and hikers, as the town is surrounded by beautiful mountains and glaciers. The trek to Kedarnath is considered to be one of the most challenging treks in the Indian Himalayas, due to the high altitude and difficult terrain. However, the trek is also considered to be one of the most scenic and beautiful treks in the region, with breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
In recent years, Kedarnath has been hit by natural disasters, such as flash floods and landslides. In 2013, a devastating flash flood hit the area, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The Kedarnath temple and surrounding areas were also affected by the floods but were later restored to their former glory. In addition to its religious significance, Kedarnath is also known for its natural beauty. The town is surrounded by the beautiful Kedarnath mountain range and the Mandakini river flows nearby. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including the snow leopard, musk deer, and bharal (blue sheep).
Trek to Kedarnath is considered to be one of the most challenging treks in the Indian Himalayas, due to the high altitude and difficult terrain. However, the trek is also considered to be one of the most scenic and beautiful treks in the region, with breathtaking views of the Himalayas. The trek starts from Gaurikund, which is a small town located about 14 km from Kedarnath. The trek takes about 14 km one way. The trek can be done by foot or by pony or doli (palanquin) and it takes about 8 to 9 hours one way.
Apart from the temple, there are several other places of interest in and around Kedarnath. These include the Gandhi Sarovar, a glacial lake located near the temple, the Vasuki Tal, a high-altitude lake located at an altitude of 4,135 meters, and the Kedarnath Peak, which is the highest peak in the Kedarnath mountain range. Kedarnath is also a popular destination for adventure sports. The area is known for its paragliding, river rafting, and skiing. There are several adventure sports companies operating in the area, which provide equipment and guides for these activities.
In conclusion, Kedarnath is a small town with a rich history and religious significance. It is home to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is also known for its natural beauty, and it’s a popular destination for both pilgrims and tourists, especially for those who like adventure and trekking. The area has faced natural disasters, but the temple and the town had been restored and continue to be a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus.