Experience Oneness With The Divine At Kedarnath
Located 14 km above an uphill trek from Gaurikund, Kedarnath is one of the Chota Char Dhams in Northern India of Hinduism. The temple, which houses a Jyotirlinga was constructed by the Pandavas and was rebuilt by Adi Shankaracharya.
According to legends, the Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva with their penance here. Here are some interesting facts related to the temple-
As per Hindu mythology, the Pandavas killed their relatives during the Mahabharata war. To absolve themselves from the sin, they went on a pilgrimage. But Shiva was away to Kailasa in the Himalayas.
When the Pandavas came to know about this, they left Kashi and reached the Himalayas through Haridwar. They saw Shiva from a distance but he hid. But the Pandavas were determined to meet him so that their sins were washed away.
The place where Shiva hid is now a famous shrine called Guptakashi(Rudraprayag).
From Guptakashi, the Pandavas went to Gaurikund in the Himalayas to look for Shiva. There, Nakul and Sahadev came across a buffalo with a unique look. Bhima followed the buffalo with his mace. But he could not catch the buffalo though he was able to hit it with his mace. The buffalo hid its face in a crevice.
Bhima started pulling it by its tail. During the tug of war, the buffalo’s face went to Nepal while its hind part remained in Kedar. The place where the face fell is now called Doleshwar Mahadev in Sipadol, Bhaktapur, Nepal. From the hind part, a Jyotirlinga appeared. Shiva appeared from the light and by seeing him, the Pandavas were absolved from all their sins.
According to another legend, Nara and Narayana, two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand in front of a Shivalingam made from earth. Satisfied with their devotion, Shiva appeared before them and told them to ask for a boon. Both Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to make Kedarnath a permanent abode to ensure that people worshipping him gain freedom from all their miseries.
The first hall within the temple contains idols of the Pandavas, Krishna, Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle and Virbhadra, who is the guard of Shiva. The statue of Draupadi and others are inside the main hall. A medium-sized rough stone, which is the Sadashiva form of Shiva is worshipped in the sanctum sanctorum.
A unique feature of the temple is the head of a man is carved on a triangular stone fascia. This type of head is seen carved on another temple constructed close to the site where Shiva and Parvati were married. It is believed that the temple was reconstructed by Adi Shankara along with Badrinath and other temples of the region. It is believed that he attained mahasamadhi here. Behind the temple is his samadhi mandir.
Located at a short distance from Kedarnath is the temple of Bhaironathji who is worshipped before the opening or closing of the former. It is widely believed that Bhaironathji protects the land from evil during the time period when Kedarnath is closed.
Best Time To Visit Kedarnath
The best time to visit Kedarnath is during the summer when the weather is warm and mild.