Kedarnath is one of the most beautiful temples of Lord Shiva located in the Himalayan range. The uniqueness of this holy place is, it’s only open for visiting between the month of April and November. The devotees of Lord Shiva perceive this temple as one of the most challenging temples to visit. It is believed that all your sins will be washed away, and you will secure a place in heaven by visiting this temple. However, the journey is not an easy feat due to its treacherous route. The temple and its surroundings provide a soothing, peaceful, and spiritual feeling to its visitors. Kedarnath has been a great pilgrimage center since ancient times and many yogis started their spiritual journey from this temple.

A serene place that is closely associated with the mighty Pandavas, upholds a beautiful legend of its own. According to the mythology, Pandavas built the Kedarnath temple to ask forgiveness from Lord Shiva after the Mahabharata wars. Unfortunately, Lord Shiva refused to meet them. Although there is no documented evidence on Kedarnath temple history, there is another form of a story. It is believed that the Kedarnath temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya during the 8th century. Many researchers are still wondering how a temple would have been craved by bringing so many heavy stones at such a height.

The third tale is that of Nara and Narayana. The two incarnations of Lord Vishnu made severe sacrament in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of a Shivalingam shaped out of the earth. Thus, Lord Shiva was pleased with their devotion and granted them a boon. Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries. Lord Shiva granted their wish and Kedarnath became his home.
Kedarnath temple is located in the scenic surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini that joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag. This place is approximately 150 miles away from Hardwar and 132 miles north of Hrishikesh and is accessible by foot.

In the year 2013, massive flash floods swept through Uttarakhand and destroyed the whole city. However, the Kedarnath temple stood firmly throughout the natural disaster and escaped with minor damage. Some religious scholars claimed that nothing can ever happen in this holy temple, no matter, how big the calamity comes as the temple is being protected by its main deity.  The geologists discovered that the temple of Kedarnath was under snow for nearly 400 years and the temple not only survived being under the snow for 400 years but also escaped any serious damage from glacial movement. Divine intervention or just great Indian engineering? Either way, the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva has survived the test of time and nature!

Kedarnath is reachable via helicopter and trekking. Gaurikund is the last motorable point before Kedarnath. From there, it’s 14km up the mountains. One can walk up, ride a pony, or be hauled up in a palanquin. Alternatively, you can take a very short helicopter ride from Guptakashi and then walk up the short distance to seek the blessings of Shiva.

One would feel blissful just by thinking about visiting the temple. It is a temple that people should visit at least once in their lifetime. My only wish is to visit this temple before I depart from this world. Kedarnath is the heaven on the earth.

– Ruthira Nair

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