Kedarnath is a Hindu holy town located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is a nagar panchayat in Rudraprayag district. The most remote of the four Char Dham sites, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Kedarnath is located in the Himalayas, about 3584 meters (11,657 feets) above sea level near the head(source) of river Mandakini, and is flanked by breathtaking snow-capped peaks. Kedarnath hosts one of the holiest Hindu temples and is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world. It is named after King Kedar who ruled in the Satya yuga. He ruled the seven continents and was a very saintly king. He had a daughter named Vrinda who was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. She performed austerities for 60000 years. Because of her, the land is named Vrindavan.

The Garhwal region of the Uttaranchal state of India captures every essence of Himalayan beauty. It’s in the Garhwal Himalayas that the sacred shrine of Kedarnath is situated. At an altitude of 3584 meters, Kedarnath is one of the most respected, sacred and holiest places of Hindus. One of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and one of the Char dham in Himalayas, Kedarnath offers ample scope of trekking and more importantly a divine experience of being near to the Almighty. Kedar is another name for Lord Shiva, the protector and the destroyer whose various forms express various passions like love, death and mysticism. All over Garhwal there are hundreds of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva.

According to the legend, which goes back to the time of Mahabharata, after the battle at Kurukshetra the Pandavas felt guilty of having killed their brothers (The Kauravas) and thus followed Lord Shiva to seek his blessings for redemption. However, Lord Shiva eluded them and took refuge here in Kedarnath in form of a Bull. On being found, he dived into the ground leaving his hump on the surface. His remaining parts appeared at four different places; arms at Tunganath, face at Rudranath, belly at Madhmeshwar and locks (hairs) at Kalpeshwar. The four shrines mentioned above along with Kedarnath form the Panch kedars. There’s a sixth one too called Bhawishya Kedar, which according to legend will come into existence once the present day Kedarnath ceases to exist after some catastrophe, which will change the topology of Himalayas.

The journey to Kedarnath starts from Rishikesh, the Gateway to the Himalayas. Kedarnath is some 225 km from Rishikesh. From Rishikesh one follows the holy river of Ganga to reach Deoprayag and then Rudraprayag. From Rudraprayag one road goes along Alaknanda to Badrinath and other goes along Mandakini to Kedarnath. Thus one leaves Alaknanda and follows the swiftly flowing blue waters of Mandakini. Following the Mandakini river through the deep forest covered valleys and mountains amidst breathtaking beauty of Himalayas one reaches Gaurikund, the last motor head to Kedarnath.

Kedarnath is 14 km trek from Gaurikund passing through lush green forest, which offers spectacular beauty. Huge snow clad peaks in the back drop and beautiful water springs en route. One can opt for the travel by Helicopter to reach Kedarnath, Helicopter services is available from Phata and Agustmuni which is enroute Rudraprayag to Gaurikund motor road. Surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks, Kedarnath temple is an imposing sight. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is some 1000 years old and was built in 8th century AD by Adiguru Shankaracharya. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The Samadhi of Adiguru Shankaracharya is located just behind the temple. The peaceful environment and beautiful surroundings of Kedarnath generates a divine feeling of being near to the God. Mother Nature is at her best in Kedarnath, showering all her blessings on this auspicious place.

It is very cold in the winters with the ground being covered with snow. In the summers, the mercury barely crosses the 20°C mark. The place experiences about 150 cm of rainfall during the monsoons and so the best time to visit is between May and October. The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya (April end or first week of May) and closes on Bhai Duj (October end or 1st week of November) due to heavy snowfall in winter and no one stays in Kedarnath. For six months (November to April) the Palki of Lord Kedarnath is transferred to a place near Guptakashi called Ukhimath. Ukhimath is the winter home of the deity of the Kedarnath Temple and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath.

The daily Pooja (worship) at kedarnath temple is performed by South Indian VEER SAIVA JANGAM sect priest.





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