What is Kedarnath Yatra Dham and Who is worshipped and why?
There are 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, and Kedarnath Yatra Dham is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The jyotirlinga in Kedarnath Dham was created by Pandavas. During the epic Mahabharata period, Pandavas fought a battle against their own brothers and loved ones. In that battle, they killed their own family members.
They did a cruel deed and got cursed for doing “Brahmahatya”. Now for atonement after doing such deed lord Krishna and saint Ved Vayas the writer of Epic Mahabharata told them to worship and find lord Shiva it’s only Shiva who can set them free from Frightful deed.
Guptkashi is on the way to Kedarnath Yatra Dham. Bhim among the Pandavas was able to recognize that its lord shiva in the form of a bull, and lord Shiva didn’t want them to see him so, he tried to run but Bhim caught his tail and lord Shiva banged into the mountains and the body of the bull was divided into several parts.
The torso from his body remained at Kedarnath and till today his torso is worshipped. The face fall is Rudranath, his arm fall at Tungnath, hairs at Kalpeshwar and hind part of his body in Madmaheshwar. Lord shiva manifest in front of Pandavas and told them that in Kalyug no one can visually see me they can worship my “Pind” in Kedarkhand.
In search of Lord Shiva, they came to the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. They started doing austerity for lord shiva. But Lord Shiva was really angry with them and didn’t manifest in front of them.
Pandavas became frustrated and desperate, then lord shiva decided to manifest but in secret form and he decided to take the form of a bull to test Pandavas if they can make out that the bull is lord Shiva itself or not. The place where lord shiva stayed is known as “Gupt Kashi” and there is a Vishvanath temple also in GuptKashi.
Guptkashi is on the way to Kedarnath Yatra Dham. Bhim among the Pandavas was able to recognize that its lord shiva in the form of a bull, and lord Shiva didn’t want them to see him so, he tried to run but Bhim caught his tail and lord Shiva banged into the mountains and the body of the bull was divided into several parts. The torso from his body remained at Kedarnath and till today his torso is worshipped. The face fall is Rudranath, his arm fall at Tungnath, hairs at Kalpeshwar and hind part of his body in Madmaheshwar. Lord shiva manifest in front of Pandavas and told them that in Kalyug no one can visually see me they can worship my “Pind” in Kedarkhand.
Detail explanation of the journey
Kedarnath Yatra Dham is the third Dham among the four holy dhams of Uttarakhand located in Guptkashi. Yatra starts in the “City of God” which is Haridwar. If you are from Delhi or any other part of India, you can take a flight to Delhi airport or to Dehradun Airport. In Haridwar, you see the evening Ganga aarti. The next day journey towards Kedarnath Dham starts Rishikesh the journey towards Devprayag will start.
Prayag means “SANGAM” or the meeting point, Devprayag is the meeting point of the Alaknanda river coming from Badrinath and Bhagirathi river coming from Gangotri. Devprayag is the point where the Ganga river is formed.
When we will move further from Devprayag you will reach Srinagar and on the onward journey, we will come across the next point that is Rudraprayag which is the meeting point of two rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini river. In Rudraprayag, there is a Rudranath temple.
When goddess Sati did the abandonment of her body then Lord Shiva was taking her body towards the Himalayas and there were tears in his eyes and as those tears fall on the ground several Rudraksha plants were grown there naturally (Rudra = lord Shiva; Akash = tears) and from those plants, we get a fruit named Rudraaksh. From Rudraprayag, the route is divided into two parts one goes towards Badrinath Dham and the other goes towards Gaurikund. Now via the Agastya muni ashram and Tilwada market, you will reach Guptkashi.
At Guptkashi your journey of that day will come to a halt and night stay will be at Guptkashi itself. One can have night stay also in Phata, Sitapur, and Rampur as per the convenience if you opt for the Helicopter ride because these places are having Helipad. Otherwise, it is best to stay in Guptkashi because it is having multiple options for the Hotel and also have the major facilities required.
The next morning as you will start for the onward journey toward Kedarnath Yatra Dham. On the other side of Guptkashi, you can see Ukhimath where Doli of lord Shiva comes during winters, from Gupta Kashi approx. 8 km on the route you will reach Phata from where you can board a helicopter on the Helipad. The second helipad is at Sehsi, after Phata you will reach Sitapur which is 10km away from Phata.
Other than a helicopter if you choose to go by trek then from Gupta Kashi to Sonprayag (2km away from Sitapur) where the Mandakini river from Kedarnath and dev Ganga coming from Triyugi Narayan. You will be taken in a hired cab till that point.
After that a local cab is hired for the distance of approx 5km to Gaurikund, the point from where the trek is starting, on one side you will see hot water stream which got destroyed in natural calamity caused in 2013 and on the other side you will see Mandakini river.
After having a bath in Gaurikund and getting biometric done, Trek will start and you will reach Bhimbali, from Bhimbali you will cross the bridge and from there Kedarghati will start. The next stop after Bhimbali is Rambada. Before the natural calamity of 2013, people use to halt in Rambada. The hotel and many other facilities were there in Rambada, but sadly all got destroyed.
After crossing Rambada you will come across Jungle Chatti and from here you will head your way straight towards Kedarnath Yatra Dham. Other than trekking you can also opt for horse and Doli, it will take approx. 4 hours to reach the temple by horse. If you start early in the morning then you can return back to Guptkashi on the same day otherwise you need to take one night stay in Kedarnath as well.
As you will reach the holy temple of Kedarnath you will see the river Mandakini flowing by its side, on the other side you will see a huge stone named Bhim Shila. It is named Bhim Shila because Bhim placed that stone so as to protect the temple from getting distracted. Natural calamity caused in 2013, would have distracted the temple but it was saved by Bhim Shila and it is also worshipped by the devotees.
After offering prayers and Prashad in the temple You can also visit Bhairon temple, Ram Gufa where Lord Rama meditated for Lord Shiva and Shankaracharya samadhi. You can further visit Triyugi Narayan Temple where Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati got remarried.
To reach Triyugi Narayan you need to come back to Sonparayag from Gaurikund and from Sonprayag you can sit in your cab, from there you can ask the driver to take you forward Triyugi Narayan which is approx. 12 km away and only a small vehicle can go as the route is very narrow.
You can still see the burning havan Kund there during all 12 months of the year. Kunda like Saraswati Kund, Lakshmi Kund, Brahma Kund and Vishnu Kund are present in Triyugi Narayan. Other than this you can visit Vishwanath temple and Ardh Nareshwar temple (Half body of lord Shiv and Half of goddess Sati).
Now you will return back and on the return journey, you can visit Ukhi math which is 16 km from Guptkashi. After darshan, you can move forward to Rudraprayag and then to Srinagar and after that back to Devprayag. On the return journey, you can do sightseeing of Rishikesh and return back to your place with sweet memories of this journey.
Places to be visited in Kedarnath
While going on a pilgrimage tour to Kedarnath Yatra Dham you can visit some nearby places which are as follows.
Vasuki Tal is located at a distance of 8 km from Kedarnath Dham in Uttarakhand. It is a glacier lake which attracts a lot of tourists and the view is also terrific from this place.
Adi Guru Shankaracharya was the one who constructed the four Dhams of Uttarakhand. On the way toward the Kedarnath Yatra Dham devotees can pay homage to his samadhi.
This is a temple that is approx 1000 above sea level. it is dedicated to the saint Agastya Muni.
Chandrashila is a good place to experience an adventure like Trekking, the level of trekking is not very difficult, so it is a good place for beginners. It is located at a height of 3679m.
Sonprayag is the confluence point of river Mandakini and Vasuki meets. It is located at a distance of 19 km from Kedarnath.
Kedargiri Kund is formed by Kedarnath, Kedarnath gumbaz and Bhartekuntha mountain. Many glaciers like Mandakini flowers from here.
According to mythology, Gaurikund is the place where Goddess Sati did Severe austerity for Lord Shiva. This small village is located at a height of 1972 m. you can get holy water in Gaurikund which can immune the human body from various diseases.
Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary is located in the Alaknanda river valley. This wildlife sanctuary was constructed in the year 1972 near Kedarnath yatra Dham.
Triyugi Narayan is a newly discovered tourist attraction where Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati Got Remarried. The fire in the Kund is still there and this destination is famous among couples.
Devprayag is the confluence point of two rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. Devprayag is the point where the Ganga river is formed.
Rudraprayag is the meeting point of two rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini river. In Rudraprayag, there is a Rudranath temple.
Phata is situated on Gopeshwar- Gaurikund route. It is located 14 km away from Guptkashi. You can board a helicopter for Kedarnath from Phata.
Sitapur is a small village located in Kedarnath yatra Dham which is 7km before Gaurikund. You can again board a helicopter from the helipad in Sitapur.
It is named Bhim Shila because Bhim placed that stone so as to protect the temple from getting distracted. Natural calamity caused in 2013, would have distracted the temple but it was saved by Bhim Shila.
Things to Carry
You need to take your woolens with you because it generally remains cold throughout the year and especially at the night. You also need to take your first-aid remedy kit including vomit medicines, banded in case of any miss happens, and also the oxygen cylinder because it is a must as the trek is very hard. A raincoat is also very important because rainfall and snowfall can happen at any time.
Best Time to Visit
The door of the temple opens on the day of “Akshay Tritiya” of summer and the dolly of Lord Shiva is shifted in the temple from UkhiMath. From May to June and from till November start is the best time to visit. Akshay Tritiya of winter is the time when the door of the temple closes again for six months.
Where Can You Stay
If you are coming from Delhi or any other state then you need to have two days’ stay at Haridwar and two days’ stay at Guptkashi. The reason why only Guptkashi is that there are more choices among hotels and all facilities including hospitals, petrol pumps. Otherwise, you can also stay in Sitapur, Phata and Rampur but with fewer facilities.