Kedarnath Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand state of India . Kedarnath temple in the lap of Himalayan mountain in Uttarakhand is also one of the Char Dham and Panch Kedar along with being included in the twelve Jyotirlingas. Kedarnath temple history runs over thousands of years and must be known to every devotee.
This article covers various aspects of the Kedarnath Temple and its history which are segregated in the following chapters:
- Who built Kedarnath Temple?
- Kedarnath Temple Shivling
- Where is Kedarnath Temple?
- Kedarnath Temple Height
- How to reach Kedarnath Temple
- Kedarnath Temple History
- Kedarnath Temple Architecture
- History of Kedarnath Temple
- When is Kedarnath Temple open for darshan?
- Kedarnath Yatra
- Order of worship at Kedarnath Temple
- How to go from Kedarnath to Badrinath?
Who built Kedarnath Temple?
Kedarnath temple was built by King Janamejaya, the grandson of Pandavas. The temple is made of stone made of Katyuri style.
Image Courtesy: Mohit_devli, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Kedarnath Temple Shivling
The Swayambhu Shivling situated here is very ancient. Adi Shankaracharya got this temple renovated. The Shivling of Kedarnath temple located here is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas , and is counted among the Chardham and Panch Kedar of Hinduism.
Where is Kedarnath Temple?
Kedarnath is a town in Rudraprayag District of Garhwal Circle in the state of Uttarakhand , India. It is 86 km away from the district headquarter, Rudraprayag. It is famous because of Kedarnath Dham , which is a holy place for the followers of Hindu religion.
Kedarnath has great glory. Badrinath and Kedarnath are the two main pilgrimages in Uttarakhand, both of them have great importance. In relation to Kedarnath, it is written that the person who travels to Badrinath without seeing Kedarnath, his journey becomes fruitless and the result of seeing the Nar-Narayan-Idol along with Kedarnath is said to be the attainment of liberation from all sins.
Kedarnath Temple Height
The temple of Shrikedarnath is a grand and huge temple built at a height of 3,593 meters. The world famous Kedarnath Temple (3,562 m) is situated at a height of 3,562 m, built in the Katyuri style, at the foot of the Kedarnath mountain peak, near the Mandakini river that originates from the Chauribari glacier. It is believed to be built more than 1000 years ago. Even today the complete truth is not known about how this temple was built at such a height. This place was named Kedar after King Kedar who ruled in Satyuga. King Kedar ruled over seven continents and he was a very pious king. He had one daughter and two sons. The names of the sons were Kartikeya (Mohanyal) and Ganesha . Ganesha is world famous as the king of wisdom and Kartikeya (Mohanyal) Shakti. He had a daughter called Vrinda who was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi . Vrinda did penance for 60,000 years. This place is also called Vrindavan after the name of Vrinda.
How to reach Kedarnath Temple
There are two ways to reach here. The first is a 14 km long paved walkway which starts from Gaurikund . Gaurikund is connected to major places of Uttarakhand like Rishikesh , Haridwar , Dehradun etc. The second route is the air route. Recently, the state government has started helicopter service from Agastyamuni and Phata to Kedarnath named Pawan Hans and their fare is reasonable. Due to heavy snowfall in winter, the temple is closed and no one stays in Kedarnath. Guptkashi , the palanquin of Lord Kedarnath during the six months from November to AprilIt is shifted to a place called Ukhimath near People here also go from Kedarnath to live in nearby villages. According to the 2001 Census of India  Kedarnath has a population of 479, of which 98% are males and 2% are females. The literacy rate is 63% which is higher than the national average of 59.5% (male 63%, female 36%). 0% are under 6 years old.
There is no historical evidence about the age of this temple, but Kedarnath has been an important pilgrimage for a thousand years. According to Rahul Sankrityayan it is of 12-13th century. According to a Raja Bhoj Stuti received from Gwalior, they have been built which belonged to the period of 1076-99. According to one belief, the present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya which is next to the earlier temple built by the Pandavas in the Dwapar period. There is something inscribed in the Pali or Brahmi script on the large gray steps of the temple, which is difficult to know clearly.
Kedarnath Temple History
Once upon a time, the Pandavas came to Kailash in search of Lord Shiva for salvation. But he left there without giving permission to the Pandavas. Continuing their journey in search of the Lord, the Pandavas come across a herd of cows grazing in the Himalayas and realize that the Lord is hidden in the form of a bull. Soon Bhimasena became a giant and stood on top of the cowherd. At that time Lord Shiva tries to hide under the earth in the form of a bull. Realizing this, Bhimasena tries to restrain the bull and holds it by the hump on its back. When the giant touched that part turned into rock. Later the Pandavas built a temple there. And centuries later Shankaracharya rebuilt this temple. The rules and regulations made by Shankaracharya are still being followed in Kedarnath today. Given that Adi Shankara’s time was ~500 BCE, the Kedarnath temple history must be older than that.
The pilgrimage priests of Kedarnath ji are ancient Brahmins of this region, their ancestors have been worshiping this self-styled Jyotirlinga since the time of sage-muni Lord Nar-Narayan, whose number was 360 at that time. King Janamejaya, the grandson of the Pandavas, gave them the right to worship in this temple, and they have been making pilgrims worship since then. From the time of Adi Guru Shankaracharya, Rawals and priests of the Jangam community from South India worship the Shiva Linga in the temple, while on behalf of the pilgrims the worship is done by these Tirtha Purohit Brahmins. The priests have pucca dharamshalas for their hosts and other travelers in front of the temple, while the buildings of the temple priests and other staff are on the south side of the temple.
Kedarnath Temple Architecture
This temple is built on a six feet high square platform. The main part of the temple is the mandapa and the circumambulation path around the sanctum. Outside the courtyard, Nandi is seated in the form of a bull vehicle. There is no authentic mention of who got the temple built, it is said that this temple was renovated by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
The temple is built on the ghat of Mandakini, there is darkness inside and only with the help of the lamp, Shankar ji is seen. Shivling is self-manifest. On the front side, the pilgrims offer water and flowers and on the other hand offering ghee to the Lord, they meet with full arms, the idol is four cubits long and one and a half hands thick. The temple has huge idols of five Pandavas including Draupadi. There are many ponds behind the temple, in which Achaman and Tarpan can be done.
The temple can be divided into three parts: 1. Garbha Griha, 2. Middle part 3. Assembly hall. Swayambhu Jyotirlinga of Lord Shri Kedareshwar ji is situated in the middle of the sanctum.On whose front part is the figure of Ganesh ji as well as the Shri Yantra of Mother Parvati. The natural yogyopavit on the Jyotirlinga and the natural crystal garland on the back of the Jyotirlinga can be easily seen. There is a new lingakar deity in Shri Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga, that is why this Jyotirlinga is also called Nav Linga Kedar, this is confirmed by the local folk songs.
There are four huge pillars around the Shri Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga, which are considered to be the symbol of the four Vedas, on which the roof of the huge lotus-like temple rests. On the western side of the Jyotirlinga there is a monolithic lamp, which has been burning continuously for many thousands of years, whose responsibility to watch and keep burning continuously has been the responsibility of the pilgrimage priests since ancient times. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are decorated with beautiful attractive flowers and artefacts. From behind the four giant pillars located in the sanctum sanctorum, the Swayambhu Jyotirlinga is circumambulated around Lord Shri Kedareshwar ji.In the earlier times, Jaleri made of beautiful cut stones was made around Shri Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga. Shri Yogesh Jindal, Manager, Kashi Vishwanath Steel, Kashipur had installed a new eight mm thick copper jaleri in the temple sanctum (year 2003-04). The doors have been made of silver (silver) by some other donor with the inspiration of his pilgrimage priest. The attic of its sanctum is gilded with gold.
The worship of the temple is believed to be one of the Shri Kedarnath Dwadash Jyotirlingas. In the morning, the Shiva-Pind is bathed naturally and ghee is applied on it. After that the aarti is performed by lighting incense-lamps. At this time, pilgrims can enter the temple and worship, but in the evening the deity is adorned. They are decorated in a variety of interesting ways. Devotees can only see it from a distance.
History of Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath temple history, i.e., the establishment of this Jyotirlinga in a nutshell is that Mahatapasvi Nar and Narayan Rishi, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu , used to do penance on the Kedar Shringa of the Himalayas. Pleased with his worship, Lord Shankar appeared and according to his prayer, granted him the boon to reside forever in the form of Jyotirlinga. This place is situated on the ridge called Kedar of the Kedarnath mountain range Himalayas.
The story of Panchkedar is believed to be such that the Pandavas wanted to get rid of the sin of fraternity after being victorious in the war of Mahabharata. For this they wanted to get the blessings of Lord Shankar , but they were angry with them. Pandavas went to Kashi to see Lord Shankar, but they did not meet him there. They reached the Himalayas searching for them. Lord Shankar did not want to give darshan to the Pandavas, so he disappeared from there and settled in Kedar.
On the other hand, the Pandavas were also determined to persevere, they followed them and reached Kedar. By then Lord Shankar took the form of a bull and he joined other animals. The Pandavas were suspicious. so Bhima took his huge form and spread his legs on two mountains. All the other cows and bulls left, but Shankar ji was not ready to go from under the feet of the bull. Bhima pounced on this bull forcefully, but the bull began to concentrate on the ground. Then Bhima grabbed the part of the triangular back of the bull. Lord Shankar was pleased to see the devotion and determination of the Pandavas. He immediately freed the Pandavas from their sins by giving darshan.
Since that time Lord Shankar is worshiped in Shri Kedarnath in the form of the body of the bull’s back. It is believed that when Lord Shankar disappeared in the form of a bull, the upper part of his torso appeared in Kathmandu. Now there is the famous temple of Pashupatinath. Shiva’s arms in Tungnath, face in Rudranath, navel appeared in Madmaheshwar and Jata in Kalpeshwar. Therefore, with these four places, Shri Kedarnath is called Panchkedar. Here are the grand temples of Shiva.
The history of Kedarnath temple holds that it was built by the Pandavas or their descendant Janmejaya. It is also popular that the temple was renovated by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya. There is a samadhi of Shankaracharya ji in the back side of the temple. The construction of this temple by Rahul Sankrityayan is said to be between 10th and 12th century. This temple is a wonderful and attractive specimen of architecture. The sharp rock in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is worshiped in the form of Lord Shiva in the form of Sadashiv.
When is Kedarnath Temple open for darshan?
The doors of Kedarnath temple open fifteen days before Mesh Sankranti. The doors are closed at the time of worship of Balraj at four o’clock in the night near Aghan Sankranti and on the day of Bhaiya Dooj, at four o’clock in the morning, with the samadhi of Ghrit Lotus and Vastradi to Shri Kedar. Gandhi Sarovar and Vasukital are near Kedarnath . To reach Kedarnath, one has to travel from Rudraprayag via Guptkashi, 20 km further to Gaurikund, by motorway and 14 km by foot, passing through moderate and steep slopes.
The date of opening of the temple is decided by the priests of Omkareshwar temple located in Ukhimath after the calculation of Hindu calendar. Due to the unfavorable climate here, this temple opens for darshan only between April and November.
Kedarnath Dham Yatra is one of the important four temples of the holy Chhota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand. Chhota Char Dham Yatra is organized every year. Apart from Kedarnath Yatra other temples are Badrinath , Gangotri , and Yamunotri . The date of opening of the temple is fixed every year to join the Kedarnath Yatra.
The opening date of Kedarnath temple is announced every year on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya and Maha Shivratri. And the closing date of Kedarnath temple falls on Bhai Dooj after Diwali festival around November every year. After this the temple gates are closed for the winter period.
Order of worship at Kedarnath Temple
In the order of worship of God, morning worship, Mahabhishek worship, Abhishek, Laghu Rudrabhishek, Shodashopchar worship, Ashtopchar worship, Sampoorna Aarti, Pandava worship, Ganesh worship, Shri Bhairav worship, Parvati worship, Shiva Sahasranama etc. are prominent. The dakshina (fee) that is taken by the temple committee from the public for worshiping in Kedarnath temple, the committee also changes it from time to time.
How to go from Kedarnath to Badrinath?
The distance from Kedarnath to Badrinath is approximately 315 kms. The distance of 315 kms also includes an 18 km foot trek from Kedarnath to Gaurikund. Sonprayag is the place where all the vehicles are parked at a distance of 5 km from Gaurikund. It takes about 7 to 8 hours to cover the distance from Sonprayag (Kedarnath) to Badrinath by road. There are two road routes from Kedarnath to Badrinath. Helicopters can also be booked from Phata, Guptkashi or Sirsi helipads near Kedarnath to reach Badrinath.
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