Kedarnath Temple in Himalayas
The Kedarnath is the most revered places amongst Hindus, and is one of the twelve “Jyotirlingas” of Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is situated in the Uttar Kashi district of the northern state of Uttaranchal. Very close to the Indo-Chinese border,and river Mandakini lying towards the head, Kedarnath is the place where the scholarly Adi Guru Shankaracharya enshrined Lord Shiva. Mythology describes Kedarnath as the prominent holy place where Lord Shiva purged Pandavas of their sins for killing their own cousins Kauravas in Kurukshetra battlefield. Kedarnath temple, over 100 years old, has a conical lingam, which serves as the main idol, a statue of Nandi or the celestial bull, ‘Garbha Griha’ which is a worship place and ‘Mandap’ for the pilgrims s to offer prayers.
The temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotirlingam of Shiva opens for only 6 months a year (April-November) when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries and it is closed when the sun enters Scorpio. The priests then go to Ukhimath, where the worship of Kedareshwara is continunously undergoes ther during the winter season.
Besides, other four Kedars where Lord Shiva appears in different forms include, navel at Madmaheshwar, the arms at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, and the matted hair at Kalpeshwar respectively. Along with Kedarnath, these four revered shrines are popular as Panch Kedars.
Kedarnath temple is also famous for kunds or pools or mini water tanks. These kunds are known for their religiosity and some of the most popular ones include, Shivkund, Retkund, Hanskund, Udakkund and Rudhirkund respectively. Some distance away from the Kedarnath’s temple lays the temple of Bhairavnathji. It is believed amongst the gentry and the pilgrims that Bhairavnathji stand as the vanguard and protect Kedarnath during the times of winter when it is closed for pilgrims, and is submerged under the snow. At a little distance, you’d find highway to heaven, also known as Mahapath, where the great Pandavas choose to go after being absolved by Lord Shiva.
Only few pilgrims are blessed to visit Kedarnath, and even more blessed are those who have the opportunity to Kedarnath on the moonlit night, when the snow clad peaks glitter in the enchanting silvery cover formed as the result of moon rays falling on the glistening snow. Considered amongst the peaceful and highly revered of the Hindu shrines, the word Kedarnath holds resemblance to Gold, which is amongst the costliest metals. There is a belief that any pilgrim who dies here enters into communion with Lord Shiva. The best time to visit Kedarnath is between May and October, and can be reached through trekking 14 kms. from Gaurikund.