In 2013, a cloudburst caused an unprecedented flood in the valley of Rudraprayag that washed away the entire valley except for the temple, which made the people marvel at its architecture. A large rock among the debris acted as a shield of the temple in the flood and the temple suffered no major damage except a few cracks on the four walls. The Kedarnath temple is one of the Chhota Char Dhams of the Hindu pilgrimage. A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
History of the temple
According to the legend, when the Pandavas had won the great battle, they went on a journey to Varanasi to seek blessings from Lord Shiva and seek forgiveness for killing their cousins. However, Lord Shiva avoided meeting them as he did not wish to forgive the Pandavas so easily, thus hid in Guptakashi. When Pandavas arrived at the destination, Lord Shiva decided to take the form of buffalo so that they couldn't recognize him.
Upon coming across a peculiar looking buffalo the brothers recognised the lord. As Lord Shiva saw them coming closer he decided to run away again, Bheema, one the five brothers ran and held the buffalo by his tail which and the buffalo disintegrated in 5 parts. The Hump remained in Kedarnath, while the rest four parts fell in Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpeshwar and Madhyamaheshwar.
The architecture of the temple
The Pandavas worshipped the hump of the Buffalo and built the Kedarnath Temple from enormous stone slabs over a large rectangular dais. The temple was later reconstructed by Adi Shankaracharya, it is the structure that stands tall today.
The structure is built with massive stone slabs on a rectangular platform, covering the area of approximately 3 sq. km. A large stone statue of Nandi Bull stares at the shrine, guarding it, sitting right opposite it. It is believed that if you whisper your wish into Nandi bull’s ears it reaches the lord and he definitely fulfils it. There is one Garbha Griha which houses the primary idol of Lord Shiva. The idols of Lord Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi and Kunti find a space in the Mandapa section of the shrine.
The trek to Kedarnath Dham
The air around the temple appears to be reverberating with the name of Lord Shiva amid the mighty snow-clad peaks, enchanting meadows and forests of the lower mountain range of Himalayas. Situated in a breathtaking location, near the source of Mandakini River and at the height of 3,584 meters, Kedarnath Dham celebrates the greatness of Lord Shiva.
Steep climb stretching to 14 km from Gauri Kund brims with the abundant beauty of nature. The paved and steep path gifts the pilgrims the fantastic views of snowy-peaks, alpine meadows and delightful forests of rhododendrons.
Best time to visit the temple
It is best to visit the Kedarnath Temple between May and July, as the weather is comparatively nicer and warmer. Head out early in the morning as the temple closes between 3 P.M. and 5 P.M.
How to reach Kedarnath Temple
Unfortunately, there are no direct buses to the temple. The devotees once they reach Gaurikund through buses, they have to take a 16 km long trek up to the holy shrine. The first 7 km are easy as the slope is gradual, but after that from Rambara the climb gets steeper and the last 3 km are undulating and go up and down gradually. There are facilities like horses and ponies to help the devotees reach the temple, it can cost around 3,200 INR. You can get buses from Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun that take you to Gaurikund.