Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is situated in the midst of the Garhwal Himalayas in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is situated at an altitude of 3,583 meters (11,755 feet) above sea level and is perched on the banks of the Mandakini River, making it one of the highest pilgrimages in the world. Its location amidst the snow-capped mountains adds an air of divinity to this ancient shrine. The history of Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is as intriguing as its natural surroundings. It is believed to have been built by the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata, with Lord Shiva himself as their guiding deity.
Where is the real Kedarnath Jyotirlinga Located?
Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Kedarnath is surrounded by the majestic Himalayan range, offering opportunities for trekking and exploring the breathtaking landscapes. The Temple features traditional stone and wood architecture. Its scenic location on the banks of the Mandhakini ice river amidst the Himalayas adds to its charm. The temple is believed to have been identified first by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
Legend of the real Kedarnath Jyotirlinga
The legend of Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is set against the backdrop of the Mahabharata, one of the great Hindu epics. The story revolves around the Pandavas and Draupadi, and their quest to seek Lord Shiva’s blessings.
After the Kurukshetra War, in which the Pandavas emerged victorious but at a significant cost, they felt remorse for having been a part of the battle that resulted in the death of numerous people, including their kin. Seeking forgiveness and redemption, they decided to meet Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva, being aware of their intentions, avoided direct encounters with them. He took the form of a bull (Nandi) to evade their pursuit. The Pandavas didn’t lose hope and continued to pray to Lord Shiva. They finally encountered the bull (Lord Shiva) in the Kedar region in the form of a massive hump.
Recognizing Lord Shiva’s divine presence, Bhima, one of the Pandavas known for his physical strength, tried to catch the bull by its hump. In response, Lord Shiva dived into the earth, leaving behind his hump.
The hump of Lord Shiva manifested as the divine Jyotirlinga, the formless and radiant lingam, at the very spot in the Kedar region. This lingam came to be known as Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, signifying the “Lord of the Field.”
he Pandavas, having realized the divine nature of the lingam, constructed a temple around it and began to worship Lord Shiva at Kedarnath.
he holy Mandakini River, which flows near the Kedarnath Temple, is believed to have originated from the locks of Lord Shiva’s hair. Pilgrims consider taking a holy dip in the Mandakini River to purify themselves before visiting the temple.
Kedarnath temple Architecture
The temple is built with huge stone slabs over a rectangular platform. There are inscriptions in Pali on the steps. There are figures of various deities and scenes from Hindu mythology on the inner walls. A giant statue of the Nandi Bull, Shiva’s mount, stands as a guard at the entrance.
The Jyotirlinga is in the shape of a conical rock formation inside the temple – Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
As discussed earlier, when the second Pandava Bhimasena, tried to pull Lord Shiva out of the ground by tugging at his tail and hind legs, Lord Shiva dug himself deeper and only reappeared in parts in different places which are now called as Pancha Kedara.
- HUMP : Kedarnath
- ARMS : Tunganath
- NAVEL and STOMACH : Madhamaheshwar
- FACE : Rudranath
- HEAD and HAIR : Kalpeshwar
The Pandavas built temples at these five places – the Panch Kedars – for worshipping Shiva. This freed them from their sins.
Lord Shiva further promised to stay in the sacred spot as a triangular jyotirlinga. This is why Kedarnath jyotirlinga is so famous and revered by devotees.
History and reference of Kedarnath Jyotirlinga in scriptures
One of the first references to Kedarnath is in the Skanda Purana which was written around the 7th and 8th century AD.
The present structure is believed to have been constructed by Adi Shankaracharya about 1,200 years ago. It stands next to the site of a temple that is said to have been built by the Pandavas.
How to reach Kedarnath Jyotirlinga
Reaching Kedarnath Temple, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites, requires a combination of road and trekking due to its high-altitude location in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reach Kedarnath Temple:
1. Reach the Base Location – Sonprayag:
- Start your journey by reaching the town of Rishikesh or Haridwar in Uttarakhand. These cities are well-connected by road and rail to major Indian cities like Delhi, Dehradun, and others.
- From Rishikesh or Haridwar, hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Sonprayag, which is the base camp for the Kedarnath Yatra.
2. From Sonprayag to Gaurikund:
- Once in Sonprayag, you can either trek or take a shared jeep to Gaurikund. Gaurikund is the last motorable point on the route to Kedarnath.
3. Trek from Gaurikund to Kedarnath:
- From Gaurikund, it’s about a 16-kilometer (10-mile) trek to reach Kedarnath Temple.
- You can choose to trek on foot or hire a pony or palanquin for assistance. Ensure that you are physically prepared for the trek, as it involves steep and uneven terrain.
- There are rest stops and small tea stalls along the way for refreshments.
4. Helicopter Services:
- If you prefer a quicker and more comfortable option, you can book a helicopter ride from Phata, Guptkashi, or Sersi to Kedarnath. Helicopter services are available during the pilgrimage season, but they can be subject to weather conditions.
5. Accommodation in Kedarnath:
- Kedarnath offers limited accommodation options. You can find guesthouses and dharamshalas (pilgrims’ lodges) for a simple stay. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during the peak pilgrimage season.
6. Visit Kedarnath Temple:
- After reaching Kedarnath, visit the sacred Kedarnath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Plan your visit to the temple early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and to experience the spiritual ambiance.
Please note that the Kedarnath Yatra season typically runs from May to November, and the temple remains inaccessible during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. Be prepared for changing weather conditions, and it’s advisable to consult local authorities, tour operators or the official website for the most up-to-date information and guidance regarding the pilgrimage.
Officil Website: Kedarnath official website