Kedarnath is a Hindu pilgrimage town located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is famous for the Kedarnath Temple, which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India. You can read amazing facts about Kedarnath here.
Facts About Kedarnath
Here are 15 interesting facts about Kedarnath that may surprise you.
1. One of the Char Dhams
Kedarnath is one of the four Char Dhams, which are considered the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The other three Char Dhams are Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. The Char Dhams are located in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India and are believed to be the abodes of various Hindu deities.
According to Hindu mythology, visiting the Char Dhams and taking a dip in the holy rivers that flow through these places is believed to cleanse one’s sins and grant them liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Visiting the Char Dhams is an important aspect of the spiritual journey for many Hindus, and the pilgrimage attracts a large number of devotees every year.
2. Dedicated to Lord Shiva
Kedarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. According to Hindu mythology, Kedarnath is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlinga, which is a representation of his infinite nature and is considered to be a powerful symbol of his presence.
The Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India and is considered to be one of the holiest Hindu shrines. The temple is believed to have been built by the Pandavas of the Mahabharata fame, and it has undergone several renovations over the centuries.
It is also believed to be one of the Panch Kedar, which are the five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Garhwal Himalayas.
3. Kedarnath Height
Kedarnath is located at a high altitude of 3,583 meters (11,755 ft) above sea level in the Garhwal Himalayan range, making it one of the highest and most remote pilgrimage sites in India. The town is situated in a valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks, and the terrain is steep and rocky.
One of the amazing facts about Kedarnath is that due to its high altitude, Kedarnath experiences extreme weather conditions, with temperatures dropping below freezing point during the winter months. The region is also prone to heavy snowfall and landslides, which can make the trek to the temple challenging and dangerous.
Despite the difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions, Kedarnath remains a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists who come to seek blessings and experience the natural beauty of the region. The trek to the temple is considered a test of one’s physical and mental endurance and is an important part of the spiritual journey for many Hindus.
4. History and Significance of Kedarnath
Kedarnath has a rich historical significance in Hindu mythology and is believed to be one of the most ancient pilgrimage sites in India. According to legend, the Pandavas, the heroes of the Indian epic Mahabharata, visited Kedarnath to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and to atone for their sins after the great war.
The Kedarnath Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, is believed to have been built by the Pandavas in ancient times. The temple has undergone several renovations over the centuries, and the current structure is believed to have been built in the 8th century AD by the famous Hindu philosopher and theologian, Adi Shankaracharya.
Apart from its religious significance, Kedarnath also played a significant role in the development of the Himalayan region as a center of spiritual and cultural exchange.
The temple attracted scholars, ascetics, and pilgrims from all over India, who brought with them their own cultural and religious traditions, contributing to the rich and diverse heritage of the region.
5. Challenging Trek (Facts About Kedarnath)
Trekking to Kedarnath Temple can be challenging and demanding, especially for those who are not used to high-altitude treks or are not physically fit. The trek to Kedarnath is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) long and takes around 6-7 hours to complete. The route is steep and rocky, with narrow pathways and uneven steps, which can be difficult to navigate, especially during bad weather conditions.
One of the unknown facts about Kedarnath is that the trek to Kedarnath starts from Gaurikund, which is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the town of Sonprayag.
From Gaurikund, visitors have to walk along the Mandakini River and cross several small streams and bridges before reaching Kedarnath. The last few kilometers of the trek are particularly challenging, as the altitude increases rapidly, and the air becomes thin, making it difficult to breathe.
Lakhs of pilgrims and trekkers visit Kedarnath every year, seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva and experiencing the natural beauty of the region.
Visitors are advised to prepare themselves physically and mentally before undertaking the trek and to carry essential items such as warm clothing, sturdy footwear, and a first-aid kit, as well as sufficient food and water supplies.
6. Limited Yatra Time(Facts About Kedarnath)
Kedarnath yatra or pilgrimage to Kedarnath Temple is limited to a specific time of the year due to the extreme weather conditions in the region.
This is one of the unique facts about Kedarnath is that the temple remains closed for six months during the winter season, from November to April, as heavy snowfall and landslides make the trek to the temple dangerous and almost impossible.
The temple reopens in late April or early May, depending on the weather conditions, and remains open until the first week of November. During this time, the region experiences pleasant weather, with clear skies and moderate temperatures, making it conducive for trekking and pilgrimage.
However, even during the yatra season, the temple may sometimes be closed temporarily due to bad weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall or snowfall, or due to maintenance work or other unforeseen circumstances.
Visitors are advised to check the official website or consult with the local authorities before planning their trip to Kedarnath. It is important to note that the trek to Kedarnath can be challenging and requires adequate preparation, so visitors are advised to plan their trip well in advance and to follow all safety guidelines and precautions.
7. Kedarnath Weather is Unpredictable
The weather in Kedarnath is unpredictable and can change rapidly, even during the yatra season. The region experiences a subarctic climate, with cold winters and cool summers, and is prone to heavy rainfall, snowfall, and landslides.
During the monsoon season, which lasts from July to September, the region receives heavy rainfall, which can trigger flash floods and landslides, making the trek to Kedarnath dangerous and even life-threatening. In 2013, a massive flood and landslide caused widespread destruction in the region, causing significant loss of life and property.
During the winter season, which lasts from November to April, the region is covered in a thick blanket of snow, making the trek to Kedarnath impossible. The temple remains closed during this period, and the entire region is virtually inaccessible due to the harsh weather conditions.
Even during the yatra season, visitors are advised to be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions and to carry adequate clothing and equipment to protect themselves from cold, rain, and snow. It is also important to follow all safety guidelines and precautions, such as avoiding trekking during bad weather, staying on designated paths, and carrying sufficient food and water supplies.
8. Strongest Temple Structure
One of the amazing facts about Kedarnath is that the Kedarnath Temple is considered to be one of the strongest temple structures in the world, and there are several reasons for this.
Firstly, the Kedarnath Temple is located in a region that is highly prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters. To withstand the severe weather conditions and seismic activity, the temple was constructed using sturdy stones and mortar, which were interlocked.
Secondly, the temple has a unique architecture that makes it highly resistant to earthquakes. The temple’s foundation is constructed using large stone blocks that are buried deep into the ground, providing a strong base. The walls of the temple are inclined inwards, and the stones are placed in a specific pattern to provide greater stability. The temple’s wooden roof is also supported by stone slabs that are placed at an angle, making it less susceptible to damage during an earthquake.
Thirdly, the Kedarnath Temple has undergone several renovation and restoration works over the years, which have strengthened its structure further. The latest restoration work was carried out after the devastating 2013 floods, and it involved the use of modern construction techniques and materials to make the temple even more resilient.
Kedarnath Temple’s sturdy construction, unique architecture, and constant maintenance have made it one of the strongest temple structures in the world. Despite facing several natural disasters over the years, the temple has remained standing, a testament to the skill and dedication of the ancient Indian builders who constructed it.
9. Kedarnath Temple Timings
The timings of Kedarnath Temple vary according to the time of the year and are subject to change due to weather conditions and other factors. During the yatra season, which lasts from late April or early May to the first week of November, the temple is generally open from early morning until late evening.
- The morning darshan or puja usually starts at around 4 or 5 am and continues until 12 pm, after which the temple closes for a few hours for cleaning and maintenance.
- The evening darshan or puja usually starts at around 3 or 4 pm and continues until 9 or 10 pm, after which the temple closes for the day.
However, visitors are advised to check the official website or consult with the local authorities before planning their trip to Kedarnath, as the timings may sometimes be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances or special occasions.
10. Lingam Made of Stone (Facts About Kedarnath Shivling)
One of the amazing facts about Kedarnath is that Kedarnath Lingam is made of stone and is believed to be a self-manifested or Swayambhu lingam, which means that it is not made by human hands but was naturally formed. The lingam is a symbol of Lord Shiva and is worshipped by devotees who visit the temple to seek his blessings.
The Kedarnath Lingam is about 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) in height and is situated in the inner sanctum or Garbha Griha of the temple. The lingam is believed to have been installed by the Pandavas, the legendary heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, who is said to have built the temple to atone for their sins and to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
The lingam is also associated with several legends and myths, which add to its significance and sacredness. According to one legend, the lingam was once hidden by Lord Shiva himself to protect it from the demons, who were jealous of its power and wanted to destroy it. The lingam was later rediscovered by the Pandavas, who were guided to it by Lord Shiva himself.
The Kedarnath Lingam is considered to be one of the most sacred and powerful lingams in India and is revered by millions of devotees who visit the temple every year.
11. Symbolic Bull – Nandi (Facts About Kedarnath)
In Hindu mythology, Nandi is the sacred bull that serves as the mount or vehicle of Lord Shiva, the supreme god of destruction and transformation. Nandi is believed to be a symbol of strength, power, and fertility, and is revered by devotees of Lord Shiva.
At the Kedarnath Temple, a large statue of Nandi is situated outside the main temple entrance, facing the shrine of Lord Shiva. The statue is about 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and is carved out of stone.
The presence of Nandi outside the temple is symbolic of his role as Lord Shiva’s loyal mount and devotee, who is always ready to serve and protect his master. Nandi is also believed to be the gatekeeper of the temple, who allows only the pure and worthy devotees to enter the shrine and receive the blessings of Lord Shiva.
According to legend, Nandi was once a powerful demon who was defeated and tamed by Lord Shiva, who then blessed him with immortality and made him his loyal servant. Since then, Nandi has been revered as a symbol of loyalty, devotion, and service, and is worshipped by millions of devotees all over India.
12. Legends and Myths of Kedarnath
Kedarnath Temple is associated with several legends and myths from Hindu mythology, which add to its significance and sacredness.
Here are some of the most popular legends and myths associated with Kedarnath:
- Pandavas and Kedarnath Temple: According to legend, the Kedarnath Temple was built by the Pandavas, the legendary heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, who is said to have built the temple to atone for their sins and to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The temple is also believed to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas or the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva.
- Kedarnath Lingam: The Kedarnath Lingam is believed to be a self-manifested or Swayambhu lingam, which means that it was not made by human hands but was naturally formed. The lingam is associated with several legends, including one where it was hidden by Lord Shiva himself to protect it from the demons, who were jealous of its power and wanted to destroy it.
- The legend of Nandi: As mentioned earlier, Nandi is the sacred bull that serves as the mount or vehicle of Lord Shiva. According to legend, Nandi was once a powerful demon who was defeated and tamed by Lord Shiva, who then blessed him with immortality and made him his loyal servant. The presence of Nandi outside the Kedarnath Temple is symbolic of his role as Lord Shiva’s loyal mount and devotee.
- The legend of Bhima Shila: Bhima Shila is a large rock located near the Kedarnath Temple and is associated with a legend from the Mahabharata. According to the legend, Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, was unable to complete his pilgrimage to Kedarnath Temple due to his physical strength. In response, Lord Shiva appeared before him in the form of a buffalo and allowed Bhima to stand on his back, enabling him to reach the temple and receive his blessings.
- The legend of the Ganges: The river Ganges is believed to have originated from Lord Shiva’s locks, and is considered to be a sacred river in Hinduism. According to legend, the Pandavas came to Kedarnath to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and to perform a special yajna or sacrifice. However, they were unable to perform the yajna due to the absence of the Ganges. In response, Lord Shiva appeared and allowed the Ganges to flow from his locks, enabling the Pandavas to perform the yajna and seek his blessings.
These are some of the popular legends and myths associated with Kedarnath Temple, which have contributed to its spiritual significance and popularity among devotees.
13. Other Attractions near Kedarnath
Apart from the Kedarnath Temple, there are several other attractions in and around Kedarnath that are worth visiting. Some of the popular attractions are:
- Vasuki Tal: Vasuki Tal is a high-altitude lake situated at an altitude of 4,150 meters above sea level, about 8 km from Kedarnath. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is considered to be a sacred place. It is also a popular trekking destination among adventure enthusiasts.
- Shankaracharya Samadhi: Shankaracharya Samadhi is the final resting place of Adi Shankaracharya, the great philosopher, and theologian who founded the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy. The Samadhi is located near the Kedarnath Temple and is considered to be a sacred place.
- Gandhi Sarovar: Gandhi Sarovar is a glacial lake situated at an altitude of 3,900 meters above sea level, about 6 km from Kedarnath. The lake is named after Mahatma Gandhi and is considered to be a scenic spot with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
- Bhairav Temple: Bhairav Temple is a small temple dedicated to Lord Bhairav, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple is located near the Kedarnath Temple and is considered to be a powerful shrine where devotees offer prayers to seek the blessings of Lord Bhairav.
- Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary: Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Himalayan range and is home to several species of flora and fauna, including snow leopards, musk deer, Himalayan black bears, and several species of birds. The sanctuary is a popular destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
These are some of the popular attractions in and around Kedarnath, which offer a glimpse into the natural and cultural beauty of the region.
14. Panchkedar – Five temples of Lord Kedar
One of the amazing facts about Kedarnath is that Kedarnath is part of the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, which is a set of five holy shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India. The other four shrines in the Panch Kedar circuit are Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar.
- Legend has it that after the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas wanted to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone for the sins committed during the war.
- However, Lord Shiva was angry with them and didn’t want to meet them. To evade the Pandavas, he took the form of a bull and fled to Guptkashi.
- The Pandavas found him there and tried to capture him, but Lord Shiva disappeared into the ground, leaving behind his hump.
- The hump is said to have emerged at Kedarnath, while the other parts of his body were discovered at the other four shrines in the Panch Kedar circuit.
The Panch Kedar pilgrimage is considered one of the holiest pilgrimages in Hinduism and attracts a large number of devotees every year. Each of the five shrines has its own unique significance and is considered a sacred place of worship for Lord Shiva’s devotees.
The Panch Kedar pilgrimage requires significant effort and endurance to complete, with each shrine located at a high altitude and requiring a trek to reach. However, the stunning natural beauty of the Garhwal region and the spiritual significance of the pilgrimage make it a memorable and rewarding experience for those who undertake it.
15. Kedarnath Flood
The Kedarnath flood occurred on June 16, 2013. It was a catastrophic flash flood that resulted in massive destruction and loss of life in the Kedarnath region of Uttarakhand, India.
The flood was triggered by heavy rainfall, which caused the melting of glaciers and led to flash floods and landslides. The disaster had a significant impact on the region’s infrastructure, with roads, bridges, and buildings destroyed, making it challenging for rescue and relief operations.
The Kedarnath Temple, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus, was also affected by the flood. The temple and its surrounding areas were submerged under water, and the debris and landslides damaged several structures.
The disaster resulted in thousands of people dead or missing, and many villages and buildings were completely washed away or buried under debris. The Indian government and the state government of Uttarakhand launched a massive rescue and relief operation to help the affected people.
The disaster had a profound impact on the region, with many families losing their homes and livelihoods. The reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts took several years, with the authorities focusing on rebuilding damaged infrastructure, providing housing to the affected families, and enhancing the region’s resilience to natural disasters.
The Kedarnath flood of 2013 serves as a reminder of the devastating impact that natural disasters can have and underscores the need for proper planning and preparedness to mitigate their impact.