Kedarnath Temple is a holy pilgrimage site for the followers of Hinduism. It is located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. This temple built in the lap of nature fascinates anyone. Along with its natural beauty, this area is also important from the point of view of spirituality. Every person who goes here experiences spirituality in a new form. That’s why every year lakhs of devotees come here to visit. This region comes under Himalayan mountain region. Therefore, due to the natural climate change, this temple opens for its devotees only from the month of April to November. This temple remains closed from December to March due to extreme cold in December and heavy snowfall.
Meaning of Kedarnath:-
Kedarnath is made of two words. Kedar is called region or area in Sanskrit and Nath means Lord or God. This place is also called the land of Shiva. So it is called kedarnath temple.
Kedarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is counted among the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Along with this, this temple is one of the Chardham pilgrimages and it is also a part of Panchkedar. Although this Jyotirlinga is swambhoo (self-created) , but people believe that the first construction of the temple here was done by the Pandavas. Then later Adi Shankaracharya had renovated this temple 1200 years ago.
Short Note on Panchkedar:-
Kedarnath Temple is also a part of Panchkedar. Panchkedar is a group of 5 Shiva temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in Uttarakhand. All these temples come in the Garwal region of Uttarakhand. Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar and Kalpeshwar together form Panchkedar. It is said about Panchkedar that it was built by Pandavas.
Short Note on Uttrakhand/Chhotha Chardham Yatra:-
Kedarnath Temple is also a part of Small Chardham Yatra or Chardham of Uttarakhand. Badrinath, Kedarth, Gangotri and Yamunotri together form this Dham. All these pilgrimages come in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand.
Location of Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple is located in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. This temple is in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas of Uttarakhand. The Mandakani river which originates from the mountains of the Himalayas flows at a distance of about 35 kilometers from Kedarnath. Mandakani river covers a distance of about 81 kilometers between Rudraprayag and Sonprayag. Badrinath temple is about 41 kilometers from Kedarnath. Badrinath’s darshan has special importance along with Kedarnath’s darshan. If a devotee leaves after visiting Kedarnath without visiting Badrinath, then his journey becomes futile.
All kinds of means are available to visit Kedarnath temple. The nearest airport here is Jolly Airport, which is 22 kilometers from Dehradun and the distance from here to Kedarnath Temple is about 239 kilometers. Rishikesh is the nearest railway station for the devotees coming by rail. The distance of Kedarnath from Rishikesh Railway Station is about 221 kms. From here, devotees go to Sonprayag by bus or private car to reach Kedarnath Temple. To go from Sonprayag to Gaurkund, the devotees go by sitting in the official Ambedasor car. Only government train runs between Sonprayag and Gaurikund. Prior to 2013, private vehicles also used to run on this route, but it was closed in 2013.
The distance of the track from Gaurikund to Kedarnath Temple is about 18 kilometers. No type of transport facility is available from here. From here the devotees either have to walk or take pittu or palanquin on rent as per their convenience. Who take them to Kedarnath temple. It takes at least 7 to 8 hours to cover the distance from Gaurikund to Kedarnath.
Importance of Kedarnath Mandir
The importance of Kedarnath temple has a special place in Hinduism. This temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva which further adds to its importance. We can understand the importance of this temple also from its religious and historical point of view. Religiously speaking, the belief and miracles associated with this temple tells that there is a special relationship between the devotee and God in Hinduism. This temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva on earth. Apart from this, this temple is a part of Panchkedar and is also one of the Chardhams of Uttarakhand.
Historically, this temple can also be called a historical heritage of Hindu religion and India. The age of this temple is not clear to anyone, but it is believed by all that Adi Shankaracharya ji got it renovated about 1200 years ago. Many great saints of Hindu religion have come here and had darshan of Lord Kedarnath, which explains its historical importance.
History of Kedarnath Temple
The history of Kedarnath temple is related to the Pandavas. Regarding the construction of the temple, it is believed that it was first constructed by the Pandavas.
According to a legend, when the war of Mahabharata ended, the five Pandavas were very sad. He was accused of killing his brother (Gotra Dosh) and of killing Brahma (of killing his guru Dronacharya, who was a Brahmin from the same caste). Then Lord Krishna told him to go to the shelter of Lord Shiva to get rid of this defect.
There is also a story that after the Mahabharata war, Maharishi Valmiki goes to the Pandavas and tells them to worship Lord Shiva to get rid of Brahmahatya.
After this, the five Pandavas come to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi to see Lord Shiva. Kashi Nagri is one of the most favorite places of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was deeply saddened by the treachery and destruction caused by the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war and did not want to accept their prayer. So he assumed the form of Nandi (bull) and hid in the Garhwal region. When the Pandavas did not find Lord Shiva in Kashi, they also went to the Himalayas in the Garhwal region. He then started searching for Lord Shiva in the Garhwal Himalayan region. Then Bhima recognized Lord Shiva as a bull in the Gupta Kashi and he caught hold of his tail and his hind legs with his hands to catch him. When Lord Shiva was recognized and caught by Bhima, he disappeared into the land.
When Lord Shiva was recognized by Bhima, the place where he meditated, the hump of Lord Shiva’s form of Nandi appeared, his arms appeared in Tungnath, his face appeared in Rudranath, the surface of the navel and abdomen in Madhyameshwar and his hair in Kalpeshwar Seen. When Lord Shiva appeared to the Pandavas in five different forms, they were very pleased and worshiped Shiva and got their temples constructed at those five places.
According to a story, when Bhima catches Lord Shiva in the form of Nandi and tries not to let Lord Shiva leave with him, he holds him so tightly that Nandi (the bull) explodes and splits into five different appeared in different parts in different places. These five places are famous as Kedarnath, Tungnath, Madhmayeshwar, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar. Pandavas worshiped at these five places and got the temple constructed. Then it was later named as Panchkedar. After this Pandavas did penance in Kedarnath to attain salvation and then Mahapanth (Mahapanth is also known as Swargarohini.) They went to heaven through the heavenly path.
About Kedarnath Temple
The Kedarnath temple has been built on a six feet platform. The main part of the temple is the mandapa and the circumambulation path around the Garva Griha. On which Shraddhalu circumambulates the Kedarnath temple. In the outer courtyard of the temple, Nandi bull is seated as the vehicle of Lord Kedarnath. The structure of the temple can be divided into three parts.
2. middle part
The Jyotirlinga of Lord Kedarnath is established in the central part of the sanctum sanctorum. Shri Yantra of Gaurinandan Ganesha and Mother Parvati is seated in front of Jyotarlinga. Along with this, there is a natural sacred thread on the Jyotirlinga and a rhinestone garland on its back. Apart from this, there are 4 big pillars around the Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, which are called the four Vedas and on this the lotus roof of the temple rests. An akhand-Jyoti burns in the western part of Jyotirlinga which has been burning for hundreds of years. A team of management of Kedarnath temple continuously takes care of this akhand-Jyoti.
The story of death of Adi Shankaracharya in Kedarnath
One thing about Kedarnath is also believed that the great philosopher Adi Shankaracharya of the 8th century died here. The biography based on Madhava’s Sankalpa-Shankara-Vijaya says this although the story based on the ancient Sankara-Vijaya of Anandagiri state says that he died in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. There is a memorial in Kedarnath, which is marked as the death place of Adisankaracharya.
Tradition of Kedarnath Temple
Some traditions and rules in the Kedarnath temple have been going on for centuries. Like temple worship – Shiv Pind is given a natural bath in the morning and after bath a paste of ghee is applied on it. After that aarti is performed by lighting incense lamps. The priests of Kedarnath temple are ancient Brahmins from this region only. Their forefathers have been worshiping this Shivling since the time of Nar-Narayan and Daksha Prajapati. King Janmejaya, the grandson of Pandavas, donated the entire Kedar area to the ancient Brahmins here for worship, then only these people worship here.
When the entire Kedarnath is covered with snow during winters, the temple is closed on a specific day, usually on Bhaiduj, which falls after Diwali. When the temple is closed, the five-faced idol of Lord Shiva is taken to Ukhimath and duly worshiped there until the temple reopens. When the snow melts, the doors of the temple are opened again for darshan on Akshaya Tirtiya, which falls in the month of April.
Why is ghee applied to Kedarnath Jyotirling?
When the Jyotirlinga is given a natural bath in the Kedarnath temple, a paste of ghee is applied on it. There is a story behind this tradition. Once a mace war started between Lord Shiva and Bhima to obtain the Mashishrupa. Later, when Bhima repented, he started massaging Lord Kedarnath with ghee. Even today Baba Kedarnath is massaged with ghee to keep this incident alive..
Bheem Shila in Kedarnath
In the year 2013, a terrible nature tragedy took place in the state of Uttarakhand, which also affected the Kedarnath Valley. In the year 2013, on 16th and 17th June at 7:30 p.m. there was severe flood along with landslides. More than 6000 people had died in this natural disaster. On June 16, at around 8:30 pm, a huge amount of water started flowing from Chorabari below the Mandakani river. Who destroyed everything that came in his way. On June 17, 2013, at around 6:40 am, water again started flowing heavily from Saraswati river and Chorabari. Big rocks, huge amount of silt and boulders also started flowing with the flow of flood.
In this flow, a big rock came and stopped behind the temple and it stopped the flow of water coming towards the temple and the Malwa flowing along with it. In which the temple was saved from having any kind of roof. However, all the shops and hotels nearby were destroyed. In this devastation, that big rock protected the temple, so people considered it a miracle of God and this rock was named Bhim Shila. Devotees going to Kedarnath also worship him. After this tragedy, the Kedarnath temple remained closed for one year.
After the tragedy, when the Archaeological Survey of India examined the foundation of the temple, they found that the temple is absolutely fine and the temple has not suffered any damage. To assess the health of the structure, foundation, and walls of the temple, the team of Jeet has also surveyed here many times and they also said that the temple is absolutely healthy and there is no danger to it.
Why is Kedarnath called Jagrut Mahadev?
Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is also called Jagrut Mahadev because he never disappoints his devotees. There is one such story which is very popular.
Once a poor Shiva devotee went to Kedarnath to have darshan of Baba Kedarnath. He reached Kedarnath Dham after a long journey. When he reached Kedarnath temple for darshan, the doors of the temple were closed. He requested the priest of the temple that he had come from a long distance to visit Baba. Please open the doors of the temple.
The priests of the temple were bound by their rule, they told the Shiv devotee that once the doors of the temple were closed, they would open only after 6 months. You also go away from here because it is going to be very cold here now. Saying this the priest of the temple went away.
Even after the priest left, the devotee of Shiva continued to sit near the same temple. Gradually it started getting evening and the cold also started increasing a lot. That’s why that Shiva devotee sees a Jatadhari monk who walks towards him. That saint comes and sits near the devotee of Shiva and asks him where did he come from? Shiv bhakt tells his whole story that how he comes after a difficult journey to have Baba’s darshan. That saint arranges food for that devotee of Shiva and burns it today so that he does not feel too cold. After that, that saint says that now I am going, you will definitely visit Baba Kedarnath in the morning.
That Shiv devotee was also very tired from the journey, he slept there after having food. When morning came, he woke up and he saw that the priests of the temple were moving towards the temple. When he sees those priests, he asks them that you were supposed to come after six months but you have come only today. When the priest looked carefully, he found that it was the same person who had come after the doors of the temple were closed. Then the priests asked out of curiosity that you have been here for the last 6 months and you have endured such a severe cold. Then that Shiva devotee narrated the incident of the previous night to the priests that how a Jatadhari Baba came to meet him in the night and went away after lighting the food and fire.
When the priest heard this incident, he understood that it was a miracle of Lord Shiva who changed the period of 6 months in just one night for his devotee. That priest fell at the feet of that devotee of Shiva and said that for you Baba himself had come out of the temple to give you darshan. After this incident Lord Shiva also came to be known as Jagrut Mahadev for the Kedarnath Temple.