Amidst the mountain scapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at the altitude of 3,581 mts. above the sea level on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest piligrimage for the Hindus. Kedarnath is the third stopover for Char Dham pilgrimage.
Then origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata. According to legend, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Ahiva to atone their sins after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeking took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of Bull. On being followed, Lord Shiva dived into the ground, leaving behind his hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idole on the shrine. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva are worshipped at four places - The arms (bahu) at Tungnath, mounth (mukha) at Rurdnath, naval (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar. Together with Kedarnath, these places are known as the Panch Kedar/font>.
The lingam at Kedarnath is pyramidal, unlike its usual form. A statue of Nandi - the celestial bull stands at the entrance of the temple and exquisitely carved image adorn the interiors of the temple.
During the winter shrine is submerged in snow and hence closed. The ideal time to visit is between April to November (Avoid rainy season July - August). One can reach Kedarnath through a 14 kms. long trek from Gaurikund.
At Kedarnath passengers would get assitance from GMVN which would guide them for Priority Darshan etc. As Kedarnath is situated at high altitude few pessengers may require Oxygen, which is available at Kedarnath.
The present temple, build in 8th century A.D by Adi Guru Shankaracharya lies to the adjacent to the site of an ancient temple build by Pandavas. The walls of the exquisitely architectured temple are embellished with figures of deities and scenes from mythology. The temple has a conical lingam - the main idol, a statue of Nandi - the celestial bull, a garbha griha for worship and a mandap for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. The temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old.
Behind the Kedarnath Temple lies the samadhi or final resting place of Adi Guru Shankaracharaya. It is believed, after establishing the four Dhams in India, he went for his samadhi at an early age of 32 years.
A small lake from where Yudhisthira the eldest of the Pandavas, is believed to have departed to heaven. The floating ice on the sparkling waters of the lake is a fascinating site.
A picturesque lake, 4,135 mts. above the sea level is encircled by lofty mountains and offers a commanding view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
The trekking base of Kedarnath. A temple dedicated to Gauri and thermal springs of medicinal values are noteworthy.
Approachable on foot (14 kms.) from Gaurikund