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Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, Kedarnath is located in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between the months of April and November.
The temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, is said to be more than 1,200 years old. It was built by Adi Shankaracharya and is among one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. A visit to the Kedarnath temple is an integral part of the famous Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The yatra (pilgrimage) also includes visits to shrines like Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath.
The shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by lofty, snow – covered mountains, and during summer grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is simply enthralling. Kedarnath Temple is among the 275 temples of Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most powerful Shiva temples in the world) and is also the most important among the Panch Kedars.
Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. It is the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector and the destroyer.
Kedarnath is ancient and magnificent temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range, is over a thousand years old, built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large gray steps leading to the holy sanctums we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps. The present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya. The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. According to legends, the Pandavas sought the blessings of lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva (Indian God) eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into ground leaving behind his hump on the surface. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage.
May to June and September to October are considered the best months to visit Kedarnath Temple. There may be occasional rainfall but will not cause much disruption. Pilgrimage yatra resumes from the mid of this month. Go to high altitudes for enjoying snow.
Kedarnath is one the banks of the river Mandakini. Even though most of the distance is accessible by road, the last 14 km have to be reached through the trek. In the winter season, the climate will be freezing cold. None of the roads are visible in this season. Hence, Kedarnath temple is closed for six months in a year. All the other idols are kept and worshipped in Ukhimath during these months.
Mythological tales take us back to Mahabharata: The Pandavas travel to Kashi in search of Lord Shiva after the great war of Kurukshetra. Their intention was to get absolvation from all the sins created by war. Upon knowing this, Lord Shiva escapes to Uttarakhand by transfiguring himself in the form of a bull. Pandavas get to know this information and follow the lead from Kashi to Uttarakhand. Later, they identified the bull as Lord Shiva and begin to pray for his blessings. In fact, today's Guptakashi is the place where Pandavas found the bull. Finally, they succeed in pleasing the Lord and attain liberation.
Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, In the state of Uttarakhand.