THE CELESTIAL JYOTIRLINGAM
Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the
twelve Jyotirlingas of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 mts.
on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages
for the Hindus.
The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata.
According to legend, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins
after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took
refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, HE dived into the ground,
leaving behind HIS hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol
in the shrine.The remaining
portions of Lord Shiva are worshipped at four other places - the arms (bahu) at Tungnath,
mouth (mukh) at Rudranath, navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar.
Together with Kedarnath, these places are known as the Panch Kedar.
The lingam at Kedarnath is pyramidal, unlike its usual form. A status of Nandi
the celestial bull stands at the entrance of the temple and exquisitely carved images
adorn the interiors of the temple.
During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow and hence is closed. The ideal time
to visit is between May to October. Kedarnath is reached through a 14 km. long trek from
Area : 3 sq. km.
Climate : Winter: Sep. to Nov. cold during the day and chilly at
Summer: May - August- Cool during the day and cold at night.
Rainfall : 1475 mm.
Best Season : May to October except monsoon.
Clothing : Light woollens in summer. Heavy woollens in winter.
Language : Hindi, Garhwali and English.
Airport : Jolly Grant, Dehradun (251 kms.)
Railhead : Rishikesh (234 kms.) Kotdwar (260 kms.)
Road : Approachable on foot from Gaurikund, which is connected by road to
Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and
Dharamshalas, Ashrams, Cottages and Tourist Rest House offer a comfortable stay.
The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Guru Shankaracharya
lies adjacent to the site of an ancient temple built by Pandavas. The walls of the
exquisitely architectured temple are embellished with figures of deities and scenes from
mythology. The temple has a conical lingam - the main idol, a statue of Nandi - the
celestial bull, a garbha grah for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. The
temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old.
Behind the Kedarnath Temple lies the samadhi or the final resting place of Adi Guru
Shankaracharya. It is believed, after establishing the four dhams in India, he went for
his samadhi at an early age of 32 years.
IMPORTANT FAIRS & FESTIVALS
- Nagnath (Feb.)
- Sardotsava, Joshimath (Feb.)
- Sardotsava Chamoli, Gopeshwar (Feb. - Mar.)
- Shivaratri, Gopeshwar (Feb. - Mar.)
- Nanda Devi, Nauti (Mar.)
- Maithan, Maithan (Mar.)
- Bishwat Sankranti, Karnaprayag/
8. Bikhot, Agastyamuni (April.)
9. Nautha, Adi Badri (May)
10. Kaviltha, Kaviltha (Jun.)
11. Naumi, Jasoli Haryali (Aug.)
12. Bhaikhal, Mela, Bhaikhaltal (Aug.)
13. NandaDevi, Bedni Bugyal (Sept.)
14. Nanda Devi, Lata (Sept. Oct.)
15. Krishna Mela, Joshimath (Nov.)
16. Gauchar Mela, Gauchar (Nov.)
17. Ansi Mela, Anusuya Devi (Dec.)
- Makar Sankranti (Jan.)
- Basant Panchmi (Jan-Feb.)
- Shivaratri (Feb.)
- Nandasthmi (Mar.)
- Holi (Mar.)
- Baisakhi (Apr.)
- Rakshabandhan ( Aug.)
- Mata Murti (Sept.)
- Lekhpal (Sept.)
- Janamashtami (Aug.-Sept.)
- Dusshera (Oct.)
- Deepawali (Nov.)
Chorabari (Gandhi Sarovar)
A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is believed to have
departed to heaven. The floating ice on the sparkling waters of the lake is a fascinating
Vasuki Tal (6 kms.)
A picturesque lake, 4,135 mts. above sea level is encircled by lofty mountains and
offers a commanding view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
Gaurikund (14 kms.)
The trekking base to Kedarnath. A temple dedicated to Gauri and thermal springs of
medicinal value are noteworthy.
Sonprayag (20 kms.)
The confluence of Son Ganga and Mandakini rivers. The road to Triyuginarayan diverts
Triyuginarayan (25 kms.)
A 5 kms. trek from Sonprayag, it is the mythological venue of the marriage of Lord
Shiva and Goddess Parvati. An eternal flame, which is said to have been a witness to the
marriage, burns in front of the temple even today.
Guptkashi (49 kms.)
The temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanath are noteworthy.
Ukhimath (60 kms.)
Winter home of the deity of the Kedarnath Temple and the seat of the Rawal of
Agastyamuni (73 kms.)
Famous for the temple dedicated to sage Agastya.
The five most important temples of Lord Shiva in Garhwal Himalayas - Tungnath,
Rudranath, Madmaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Kedarnath.
Madmaheshwar: (74 kms) Located at an altitude of 3,289 mts. above sea level, 25
kms. northeast of Guptkashi. There is a motorable road from Guptkashi to Kalimath. The
best statue in India of Har Gauri measuring over 1 mt. high is found in the Kali temple.
The trek from Kalimath to Madmaheshwar is distinguished by scenic mountainscapes. This
spot received the belly of Lord Shiva according to the Kedarnath myth.
Tungnath: (90 kms.): At an altitude of 3,680 mts. is the highest Shiva
shrine among the Panch Kedars where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of arms. It is
easily accessible. Nearest roadhead : Chopta.
Rudranath : (142 kms.):
The temple, where the face of Lord Shiva is worshipped, lies at an elevation of 2,286
mts. and is 23 kms. from Gopeshwar. 5 kms. of the distance is motorable and the rest 18
kms. is to be trekked. Wild orchards and picturesque bugyals or high altitude meadows
dominate the trek. The temple site provides a fascinating view of surrounding peaks.
Anusuya Devi Temple and a number of holy kunds nearby are worth a visit.
Kalpeshwar: (160 kms.): Located in the Urgam valley at an altitude of
2,134 mts. above sea level, the temple is a 10 kms. trek from Helong - the motorhead on
Rishikesh-Badrinath route. Here the locks (hair) with head of Lord Shiva are worshipped.
Chandrashila (93 kms.)
The Chandrashila peak provides a rare view of snow-clad peaks. The rhododendron forests
and alpine meadows dominate the trek from Tungnath to Chandrashila.
Deoria Tal (68 kms.)
Sari village is the last bus terminus on Chopta-Ukhimath road from where a 2 kms. trek
leads to Deoria Tal. This beautiful lake at an altitude of 2,438 mts. gives the
spectacular reflection of snow capped peaks in the lake water. Ideal spot for angling and