Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga, the highest among the twelve Jyotirlingas of the country, is situated on the Kedar peak of the Giriraj Himalayas. Mountains on three sides surround Kedarnath Dham and the temple. On one side, there is about 22 thousand feet high Kedarnath; on the other side, there is 21 thousand 600 feet tall Kharchkund; on the third side, there is 22 thousand 700 feet high Bharatkund. There are three mountains and a confluence of five rivers here – Mandakini, Madhuganga, Kshirganga, Saraswati, and Swarngauri. Some of these rivers no longer exist, but Mandakini, a tributary of Alaknanda, still exists. Kedareshwar Dham is on its side. There is heavy snow in winter and tremendous water in the rain.
This is the largest Shiva temple in Uttarakhand, built by joining huge boulders of cut stones. These boulders are brown. The temple is built on a platform about 6 feet high. Its sanctum sanctorum is relatively ancient and is believed to be around the 80th century.
Kedarnath Temple History
According to the myth, Mahatapasvi Nar and Narayan Rishi, the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, used to do penance on the Kedar horn of the Himalayas. Pleased with his worship, Lord Shankar appeared and, as per his request, granted him a boon to reside forever in the form of Jyotirlinga. This place, Kedarnath Parvatraj, is situated on the horn named Kedar of the Himalayas.
This temple was first built by the Pandavas behind the existing temple, but due to the ravages of time, this temple disappeared. Later in the 8th century, Adi Shankaracharya built a new temple, which remained buried under ice for 400 years.
According to Rahul Sankrityayan, this temple is from the 12-13th centuries. Historian Dr. Shiv Prasad Dabral believes that Shivs used to visit Kedarnath even before Adi Shankaracharya; even then, this temple existed. The pilgrimage to Kedarnath is considered to have been going on for more than a thousand years.
Kedarnath Temple Architecture
Kedarnath Temple is 85 feet tall, 187 feet prolonged, and 80 feet wide. Its walls are 12 feet wide and made of powerful stones. The temple has been erected on a 6 feet high platform. It is surprising how such heavy stones were brought to such a height and carved into the shape of the temple. Mainly how this huge roof was supported on pillars. The interlocking technique has been used to join the stones together. This power and technology have successfully kept the temple in the middle of the river.
The temple’s sanctum sanctorum has four strong stone pillars at the four corners near Ardha, through which circumambulation occurs. The ardha, which is square, is polished on the inside and is relatively new. The auditorium is vast and grand. Its roof rests on four huge stone pillars. The massive canopy is made of a single stone. There are eight male idols in the gallery, which are very artistic.
Temple Opening Timing
The temple doors are closed in winter on the second day (Padwa) of the Diwali festival. The lamp keeps burning for six months. The priests respectfully close the curtains and take the god Kedarnath to Ukhimath for six months. The portals of Kedarnath open after six months in May, after which the journey to Uttarakhand begins.
No one lives in and around the temple for six months, but the surprising thing is that for six months, the lamp keeps on burning, and the worship goes on continuously.
Places to Visit in Kedarnath
Kedarnath places of interest that you can enjoy during your visit. Kedarnath Dham is one of the four Dhams of Hindus, surrounded by beautiful valleys of nature. Although Kedarnath Dham is a vast holy place of faith, the beauty around it also does not hold back from attracting tourists. The calm atmosphere and natural beauty of the devotees immersed in the love of God seem nothing less than a miracle. Here you can see the temple’s beautiful art style, the devotees’ faith, the snow scattered on the mountains, the strong winds blowing in the beautiful valleys, and the vital flow of the Mandakini river. On coming here, the flow, the noise of the water made yesterday, etc., can be seen. There is a lake at some distance which is worth seeing. This lake also has its importance. In Kedarnath Dham, you can visit places of interest like Trijuginarayan, Kedarnath Temple, Gauri Kund, Son Prayag, Adi Shankaracharya Temple, Bhairavnath Temple, Vasuki Tal, Phata, Rudra Cave, etc.
This temple, located in Rudraprayag of Uttarakhand state, is devoted to Lord Shankar. Apart from being an ancient temple, it is also included in the twelve Jyotirlingas. The mountains surround the Kedarnath temple amid the Himalayan mountains. Due to the unfavorable climate, this temple remains open for darshan only between May and November in a year. Apart from this, this temple is always covered with snow, making visiting here very difficult.
Due to the popularity and religious importance of the temple, lakhs of people visit here every year. By the way, factual information about the construction of the Kedarnath temple is unavailable. But it is said that Adi Shankaracharya renovated it. This temple is built in the Katyuri style, which looks very beautiful.
Adi Shankaracharya Temple
Among the top tourist places of Kedarnath, the Lord Adi Shankaracharya temple present here also has excellent glory. This temple is about 50 meters behind Kedarnath Temple and Bhim Shila. Adi Shankaracharya temple is recently built about 25 to 30 feet below the ground. The temple has a 20 feet high idol of Shankaracharya made of black stone, which is very attractive.
To reach the temple of Adi Shankaracharya, there is a path from the right side which leads directly to the circular idol. Many sages and saints gather inside the temple, which makes this place even more beautiful. The beauty of the surrounding Himalayan peaks can be seen in front of the entrance of this temple, which gives peace to the mind.
Bhairav Nath Temple is situated on a vast mountain about 1 kilometer from Kedarnath Temple. A metalled road to the Bhairav Nath temple passes through a nearby mountain. This temple is west of Kedarnath Temple, where you must cross a bridge.
This is must visit sightseeing of Kedarnath Temple. The atmosphere around this temple is very peaceful and relaxing. Due to being present on the hill, beautiful views are seen all around here.
Triyuginarayan is a famous Hindu pilgrimage located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. This scenic village is situated at the height of 1,980 and offers panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains of the beautiful Garhwal region.
The center of attraction of this place is Triyugi Narayan, also known as Trijugi Narayan Temple, which is dedicated to the preserver god Vishnu. The architecture of this temple is similar to Badrinath temple.
Vasuki Tal will be about 6 kilometers from Kedarnath Dham at an impressive altitude of 14200 feet above. It is a beautiful lake. This lake is built at a height, so one has to climb a lot to reach it.
Gauri Kund is famous among tourists for its miraculous effect. The hot water here is the main attraction. Gaurikund is a temple dedicated to Mata Parvati, which is of artistic style.
Phata is a small village situated on the way to Kedarnath in Uttarakhand. Strategically and commercially located on the Gopeshwar-Gaurikund road, Phata is famous for the helipad used by pilgrims dwelling in Kedarnath Dham. His famous epic of Mahabharata to Ganesha in what is now known as Vyasa Gufa (cave).
Located about 20 km from Kedarnath, this place is surrounded by majestic snow-clad peaks. It is situated at 1829 meters, a famous tourist destination. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Parvati’s marriage occurred here. Here the Mandakini river meets the Basuki river, and it is also believed that just by touching the water here, a person attains Baikunth Dham; that is why the devotees coming to Kedarnath do not forget to visit this place.
Located one and a half kilometers from the Kedarnath temple complex, Rudra Cave is an underground meditation cave built by the Nehru Mountaineering Institute and a part of the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam’s guest house chain. It is also known as Dhyan Gufa. The shelter is built across the river Mandakini and provides facilities for a peaceful spiritual practice at the holy site of Kedarnath.
Best Time To Visit Kedarnath
The adequate time to visit Kedarnath is between September to October and May to June when the snow melts, and there is no rain. May is a peak month and tends to be crowded.
How to Reach Kedarnath Temple
By Air: Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to Kedarnath, located at a distance of 238 km. It is well connected to Delhi with daily flights—well-connected roads to Gaurikund with Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis are available from Airport to Gaurikund.
By Train: There is no railway station in Kedarnath. The nearest railway station from Kedarnath is Rishikesh Railway Station. Located around 210 km from Gaurikund, Rishikesh Railway Station is well connected to almost all major cities of India, and regular trains run regularly.
By Road: Tourists can take regular buses from Rishikesh and Kotdwar to Kedarnath. Private taxis can also be hired from these places. The National Highway (538 km) from Delhi to Mana remains open throughout the year. Kedarnath is also accessible on foot from Gaurikund, which is connected by state buses to Rishikesh, Dehradun, Kotdwar, and Haridwar. Bus fares vary depending on the season.