Who built The Kedarnath Temple: Kedarnath temple history

The Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple is a revered Hindu pilgrimage site located in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the most sacred shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism.

The temple is situated amidst the breathtaking Himalayan mountain range, at an altitude of about 3,583 meters (11,755 ft) above sea level.

Kedarnath temple campus

Who built the Kedarnath temple?

The history of Kedarnath Temple dates back to ancient times and is intertwined with Hindu mythology. According to legend, the temple was originally built by the Pandavas, the five heroic brothers from the epic Mahabharata. After the great Kurukshetra War, the Pandavas felt guilty and burdened by the sins committed during the battle, particularly for fighting against their own kin.

Seeking salvation and divine forgiveness, the Pandavas embarked on a pilgrimage to various sacred places, accompanied by their spiritual guide, Sage Vyasa. Their journey led them to the sacred Himalayas, where they encountered Lord Shiva in the form of a bull. Lord Shiva, aware of their intentions, chose to hide from them by diving into the earth. Only his hump remained visible above the ground.

The Pandavas, recognizing the divine presence in the bull, tried to catch Lord Shiva, but their attempts were in vain. Instead, they decided to build a temple around the hump of the bull, honoring Lord Shiva’s manifestation and seeking his blessings. This temple is believed to be the original Kedarnath Temple.

Its Significance in Hinduism

Over the centuries, the temple has undergone several reconstructions and renovations due to natural calamities like earthquakes and avalanches. Despite facing numerous challenges, the unwavering faith of devotees and pilgrims has ensured the temple’s preservation and significance.

The architecture of Kedarnath Temple showcases exquisite stone craftsmanship, reflecting the ancient North Indian temple style. The main sanctum enshrines a Shiva Linga, which is the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva. The temple complex also includes various other smaller shrines dedicated to other deities and sages.

Every year, Kedarnath Temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists, especially during its limited open season from late April to early November when the region is accessible. The journey to the temple is an arduous one, involving a trek of approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Gaurikund, the last road head. Devotees undertake this pilgrimage with great devotion and reverence, considering it an essential part of their spiritual journey.

Kedarnath Temple’s remote and serene location amidst the majestic Himalayas adds to its spiritual allure, making it a place of solace and enlightenment for pilgrims seeking blessings from Lord Shiva and seeking liberation from the cycle of life and death. The temple’s historical and religious significance, coupled with its scenic beauty, makes it a cherished destination for devotees and travelers alike.

Today, the Kedarnath Temple stands as a significant religious and spiritual site, attracting thousands of pilgrims and devotees every year, especially during the summer months when the temple is accessible. The temple’s remote location in the stunning Himalayan mountains adds to its religious and scenic significance.

How to reach Kedarnath

Reaching Kedarnath Temple involves a combination of travel modes due to its remote location in the Himalayas. The temple is situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, India. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reach Kedarnath Temple:

1. Reach Rishikesh/Haridwar: The journey to Kedarnath usually begins from Rishikesh or Haridwar, two major cities in Uttarakhand with good connectivity by road, rail, and air. If you are traveling from other parts of India, you can reach Rishikesh or Haridwar via trains, buses, or flights. Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to Rishikesh.

2. Travel to Gaurikund: From Rishikesh or Haridwar, you need to travel to Gaurikund, which serves as the last motorable road-head to Kedarnath. Gaurikund is approximately 220 kilometers (137 miles) from Rishikesh and can be reached by road. Buses, shared taxis, and private cabs are available from Rishikesh to Gaurikund. The road journey takes around 8-9 hours, depending on the weather and road conditions.

3. Trek to Kedarnath: From Gaurikund, the pilgrimage to Kedarnath Temple continues on foot as there are no motorable roads beyond this point. The trekking distance is about 16 km. The trek can be completed in one to two days, depending on your pace and physical fitness.

4. Option for Helicopter: For those who cannot undertake the trek or have limited time, helicopter services are available from Phata, near Gaurikund, to Kedarnath. The helicopter ride provides a quicker and more comfortable option to reach the temple. However, it’s essential to book helicopter tickets in advance due to high demand during peak pilgrimage seasons.

5. Ponies/Dolis/Palkis: During the trek, you can hire ponies, dolis (palanquins), or palkis (palanquins carried by porters) to ease the journey, especially for elderly or physically challenged pilgrims. These services are available at Gaurikund and can be arranged on-site.

6. Accommodation: Along the trek route, there are several small guesthouses and accommodations available for pilgrims to rest and spend the night. It’s advisable to make advance reservations during the peak season, as accommodation options may get limited.

7. Yatra Registration: Before starting the trek, pilgrims are required to register at the Yatra Registration Counters in Rishikesh, Haridwar, or at Gaurikund.

8. Weather Considerations: The weather in the Himalayas can be unpredictable, especially during the monsoon season and winter months. It’s crucial to check weather forecasts and road conditions before embarking on the journey.

Reaching Kedarnath Temple requires determination, as the journey involves both physical exertion and spiritual devotion. The experience of visiting the sacred shrine, surrounded by the majestic Himalayas, makes the effort well worth it for thousands of devotees and travelers who undertake this holy pilgrimage every year.

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