Considered to be one of the ancient and one of the holiest abodes of Lord Shiva the temple of Kedarnath is not only a vital pillar for the Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand but it is also a crucial part of the Panch Kedar Yatra in Uttarakhand. There are several legends related to the creation of this temple one of the most popular is how this place was visited by the Pandava brothers and established this temple in an attempt to ask for forgiveness from Lord Shiva for committing the crime of killing their kin. Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have resurrected this temple whose Samadhi is situated towards the back of the main temple and is not one of the most prominent holy destinations in India.
The temple is perched on a whopping elevation of 3,583 metres above sea level and at a distance of 223 km from the holy town of Rishikesh within the district of Rudraprayag. The entire valley of Kedarnath is lined by the holy river of Mandakini and is dotted with expansive lush green pastures and meadows. The temple offers awe-inspiring views of the surrounding majestic peaks of Kedarnath, Kedar dome along with other snowbound ranges.
Inside Kedarnath Temple The Shrine
Inside the temple sits an irregularly shaped lingam which is placed on a pedestal and goes as high as 12 feet with a circumference of 12 feet. There is small pillared hall right upon entrance which has pictures and images of the five Pandavas and lord shiva’s consort Parvati. Not only are there images but the interior of the temple also consists of statues of Lord Krishna, Pandava brothers, Nandi (the vehicle of Lord Shiva) and even Draupadi amongst other prominent gods of Hinduism. Taking pictures of the lingam inside the Garbhagriha is strictly prohibited and not allowed.
Best Time to Visit
Kedarnath temple remains open only for a selective few months in a year. The temple Kapat opens up for darshan during the holy and auspicious eve of Akshay Tritiya and shuts down during the holy day of Bhai Dooj. The temple remains open for pilgrims for duration of just 6 months and during this time the best time to visit is between the summer months of May to June since the weather is extremely pleasant and comfortable for travelling and from the winter months of September to October. The temple remains shut down for the remainder of the months where the temperature goes to as low as zero or even subzero levels.
Opening and Closing Dates
The opening and closing dates for Kedarnath Dham was decided on the holy eve of Basant Panchami no 14th February 2024, by the temple committee of Char Dham. The temple Kapat will open for darshan on the eve of Akshay Tritiya on May 15, 2024 and is scheduled to shut down on 2 November on the holy eve of Bhai Dooj.
The idol of the presiding deity will be brought in from Ukhimath (winter home of Kedarnath ji) on 13 May 2024 and the journey will be covered at duration of 2 days where it will once stop over at Phata and Guptkashi. The Kapat will open its doors early in the morning at 6:15 am after performing the traditional Bhairavnath puja.
The darshan takes place in two parts:
- Morning Darshan – 4 am to 3 pm
- Evening Darshan – 5 pm to 9 pm
The temple remains closed for darshan from 3 pm to 5 pm. Before 3 pm the devotees can touch the shiv lingam and perform Abhishek with ghee. After 5 pm touching the idol is prohibited but the pilgrims can get a glimpse of the presiding deity from a distance where the idol of the presiding deity is dressed in an emperor costume.
Sevas and Puja Rituals Performed At Kedarnath
Morning Sevas (between 4:30 am to 7 am):
- Maha Abhishek – takes place between 4:30 am to 6:30 am.
- Rudrabhishek – this puja is done to please the rudra form of Lord Shiva.
- Laghu Rudrabhishek – this Seva is said to get rid of all the health and wealth-related issues.
- Shodashopachar Pooja – this is a set of 16 traditional steps that are performed to nay lord.
Evening Sevas (between 6 pm to 7:30 pm):
- Sahasranamam Path – it involves the priest taking all the 1008 names of the lord along with performing Abhishekam.
- Mahimna Stotra Path – a path composed with praises for Lord Shiva
- Tandav Stotra Path – this is done to describe the power and beauty of Lord Shiva to the common man.
- Badri – Kedar Utsav – this 8 days festival generally takes place in the month of June and is attended by various artists from all over Uttaranchal who come together in one place to showcase their talents to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
- Shravani Annakoot Mela – this Mela takes place right before Raksha Bandhan where the priests cover the entire jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva with rice (which is later on distributed as Prasad to the devotees) along with performing a number of poojas on that day.
- Samadhi Puja – every year a grand puja takes place right on the Samadhi of Adhi Shankaracharya, and this day also marks the closing for the temple Kapat of Kedarnath.