Kedarnath dham in Uttarakhand is one of the Chardhams in the Chota Chardham Circuit. It is an auspicious dham dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thousands of devout pilgrims, especially Shaivites make a beeline to Kedarnath Dham every year, braving the challenges of perilous path and remote temple location. You’ll find train of pilgrims in thousands making their way to the Kedarnath Shrine as a part of their pious duty in life to pay tribute to the Lord and ask a petition for their sins. Kedarnath thus is a vital part of the Chota Chaar Dham Yatra.
The town is nestled in the lap of the Himalayas at an elevation of about 3,583 m above sea level near Chorabari glacier. The town is surrounded by breathtaking snow capped peaks and the nearest road is Gaurikund, which is at a distance of about 14 Kilometres. The town suffered massive destruction during the flash floods of 2013 which caused torrential rains in Uttrakhand state.
Places to See and Things to Do
- Kedarnath Temple: The temple of Kedarnath is situated in the middle of the Plateau at an altitude of 3584 meters above sea level. It is an ancient temple built during the 8th century and forms the main structure of attention at Kedarnath. The temple is built of large and evenly cut slabs of stone. There is a main chamber of the temple that is called the Garbbha Griha.
- Samadhi of Adi Shankracharya: Behind the temple at Kedarnath is located the Samadhi or final resting place of Adi guru Shankracharya. Guru Shankaracharaya played a pivotal role in reviving the Hindu religion. It is believed that he undertook the work of establishing the four places of Hindu pilgrimage which are also called the Char Dhams after which at an early age of 32 he took Samadhi here.
- Bhairav Nath Temple: This is the temple of the deity of Lord Bhairav who guards the main temple of Kedarnath during the cold months of winter. It is situated to the south of the main temple.
- Kedarnath wildlife Sanctuary: This sprawling sanctuary covering an area of over 967 sq km was established in 1972. The sanctuary is home to temperate forests, which include low and coniferous, alpine and Bugyals. It is home to a wide variety of faunas as well which includes reptiles, mammals, birds and primates.
- Vasuki Tal: Rimmed by the awe-inspiring Himalayan range, this beautiful lake attracts tourists in quite large numbers.
- Gandhi Sarovar/Chorabari Tal: It is a beautiful lake 1 km away from Kedarnath. The eldest Pandav Yudhisthira is believed to have left for Heaven from this lake.
- Gupta Kashi: It is an important stop-over for pilgrims. It is named so as Lord Shiva refused to meet Pandavas after the kin-destructive war of Kurukshetra.
- Chandra Shila: A perfect spot for trekking, it charms the tourists by its picture postcard scenic grandeur.
- Agastya Muni: It is 20 km from Rudraprayag, the temple is named after Agastya Muni who is believed to have meditated here.
- Kedarnath Mountain: The two peaks- Kedarnath Peak and Kedanath dome – together form the Kedarnath Mountain.
- Rambara: It is a small hamlet town few km away from Kedarnath.
- Gaurikund: It is dedicated to goddess Parvati, and is the starting point of the Kedarnath trek.
- Triyuginarayan Temple: A 5 km trek away from Sonprayag, this ancient temple has Akhand Dhuni which bears the memory of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
There are two ways to reach the town. One is the traditional 14 km trek on a paved bridle path or on ponies or palanquin service which are available for hire from Gaurikund. On the way you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the sublime Nature and it would definitely appear to you, as it were, deep spirituality and sublime beauty, pervades the ambiance in this abode of God. Gaurikund is well connected by road from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and other well known hill stations nearby of Garhwal and Kumaon region in Uttrakhand. From Gaurikund, the bridle path passes through Rambada, a hamlet located at a distance of 7 km. The alternative way to reach Kedarnath is by helicopter service from Dehradun, on days when the weather is clear.
Accommodation and Food
One can enjoy benefits of wonderful accommodation in Kedarnath with a blend of charm and delight. There are hotels which are quite reasonable. Being a tourist destination the hotels have many rooms and all the basic amenities. There are various types of hotels ranging from luxury to budget ones and even Dharamshalas, Ashrams and Guest houses. All the hotels are located in the city and are easily accessible. You can sample local cuisine in these hotels. Since it is a Pilgrimage town, you’ll mostly get pure vegetarian Indian food here and many guest houses and ashrams even come with self-cooking provisions. However the streets of Kedarnath are dotted with countless restaurants for you to give your palate a varied warm treat whenever you feel like.
To sum up, Kedarnath is one pilgrimage destination which every pious Hindu should visit at least once in his lifetime. It would be a soul uplifting, spirit enlivening and on the whole, a total exhilarating experience!
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