Kedarnath uttaranchal temples yatra
 
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Kedarnath Uttarakhand

Kedarnath UttarakhandPilgrims traditionally first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer abhishekams to Kedareshwara. The traditional pilgrim route is Haridwar - Rishikesh - Devaprayag - Tehri - Dharasu - Yamunotri - Uttar Kashi - Gangotri - Triyugnarayan - Gowrikund and Kedarnath. Alternatively, the route to Kedar from Rishikesh is via Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Ukhimath. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini. Mandakini joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag. Kedarnath is situated set amidst in the stunning mountainscape of the Gharwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River,of Uttar Kashi district of the northern state of Uttaranchal. Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. Kedarnath is a shrine, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the protector & the destroyer, situated 92 kms from Rudraprayag, at an altitude of 3,581 m above sea level. The shrine of Kedarnath is one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and also is one of the 4 sacred dhams of Uttaranchal. It is a scenic spot set against a backdrop of the Kedarnath range of mountains. The temple is more than 1000 years old.

Architecture
Situated at an elevation of 3,580 m (11,750 ft), this celebrated Hindu pilgrimage spot in the high Himalayas is dedicated to Shiva.An imposing sight standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by snow covered peaks. The temple faces south, which is an unique feature, as most temples face east. This temple is very solidly built. The Kedarnath Temple is believed to have been built by the Pandavas and is almost 1000 years old. The present temple built in 18th century A.D. by Adi Guru Shankaracharya lies adjacent to the site of an ancient temple built by Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with fixtures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Built of extremely large heavy and evenly cut gray Slavs of stones. It evokes wonder as to how these heavy Slavs had been handled in the earlier days.The enternce of the temple has a Conical lingam- the main idol, a statue of Nandi - the celestial bull of Shiva, a 'Garbha Griha' for worship and a mandap for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as lord Shiva in his sadashiva form. Inside the temple there is an irregular three-faced linga, representing the hump of Lord Siva when he took the form of a bull. It is about 9 ft long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet high. Pilgrims are allowed to touch the linga, perform worship, abhishika (bath), and massage the linga with ghee. There are deities of goddess Parvati and Ganesh in front of the main altar door. Outside the second door are Lord Krishna, the five Pandavas, their wife Draupadi, and their mother, Kunti. In the temple is a Laksmi-Narayana Deity which was installed by Adi Sankaracarya. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi bull stands as guard.
Uttarakhand Kedarnath Temple yatra

The interiors of the Kedarnath temple are exquisitely carved with image. It was at Kedarnath, narrates the epic Mahabharat, that Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandav brothers, departed to Heaven. Another legend has it that the Pandavas of the Mahabharat epic underwent severe penance's here to atone the killings of their kith and kin in the great battle of Kurukshetra and so established this shrine. The present temple is credited to Sri Shankaracharya while the remains of an earlier structure, believed to belong to the Pandava age, are seen behind this temple. The temple of Sri Kedarnath is visited by hundreds of devotes every year. According to a belief, Shankaracharya, the great philosopher, died here in about 820. Despite the antiquity of the site, the Kedareshvara temple here is of recent date. The sanctuary is contained within an unadorned curved tower with shallow projections and a timber roof at the summit. The projecting mandapa is gabled; its facade displays bands of curved ornamentation and decorated niches. Along with Badrinath, it is famous among the Hindus as one of their four prime pilgrimage centers. The structure of the temple is much like other temples in Uttaranchal. There is a large Nandi facing the main entrance. Inside the temple is a rectangular space with railings around it. All along the wall there are niches in which there are idols of the Pancha Pandavas, Parvati, Lakshmi & Narada. A small archway and a short flight of stairs lead to the deity. The method of worshipping is also unique. One is supposed to try to grab the large conical stone with both hands and embrace it. It is cold and damp in the confined space and during darshan time there is a fervent rush to embrace this Ashutosh linga. Outside at the north-east corner is a small temple of Ishaneshwar Mahadev.

Legend
According to one such legend Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareswar to unite with Lord Shiva as Ardhanareshwar. Another such legend has it that Nar and Narayan, the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu practised severe penances at Badrikashram in front of a Shivalingam. When Lord shiva gave them the divine appearance, they requested him to make Kedareshwar his permanent abode. Lord Shiva thus manifessted himself in the form of Jyotirlingam. Myths and legends coupled with the enehanting beauty of the Rudra Himalaya range gives this place a pristine beauty. It is believed that Arjuna, one of the Panch Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva to attain the divine weapon, Pasupataastra. After winning the Kurukshetra war, The pandavas after having won over the kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own brothers & sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. In order to seek salvation from the sins of war, they sought the advice of their mentor, Krishna. Krishna advised them to worship Shiva. Pandavas searched for Lord Shiva in the Shivalik mountains in the Tehri - Garhwal region.

Shiva led them to this site and here, assumed the form of Bull and started grazing amongst the cattle. The Pandavas devised a ruse, to seek Shiva, who had hidden himself amidst a flock of cattle. At dusk, when the cattle were taken back to their shelters, Bhim gigantic in stature , strongest and courageous of Pandavas stretched his legs across the mountains so that cattle could pass through his legs. As suspected, Shiva, in bull form refused to do so and instead sank himself into the earth. Realising quickly that this was the play of Shiva, Bhim bent downwards and could catch hold of the hump (back portion of the bull). Shiva, pleased with the determination of Pandavas, blessed them and granted them salvation from their sins. The hump, in conical form, is worshipped as Shiva (in the form of a Shivalingam).

Kedarnath including these four shrines is treated as Panch Kedar :
Kedarnath : The hump or the hinder part of the bull which was held by Bhim is worshipped as Lord Shiva.
Maddhyamaheshvra : Nabhi or the middle-part of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This is located at 21 kms from Ukhimath the abode for Lord Kedarnath during winter.
Tungnath : The Bahu or hand of the bull is worshipped here as Lord Shiva. It is located enroute to Badrinath and is 37 kms from Ukhimath, on a mountain in between Chamouli and Ukkhimath.
Rudranath: The Mukh or the mouth of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva here. It is about 19 kms from Mandal Chatti.
Kalpeshwar : The Jata or the hair of the head of bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This place is located about 8.7 kms from Helang, on the other side of the river Alaknanda.

Places to see
Shankaracharya Samadhi
Located behind the Kedarnath Temple is the Samadhi or the final resting place where the saint gave up his life.
Gaurikund (14 kms.)
The trekking base to Kedarnath. A temple dedicated to Gauri and thermal springs of medicinal value are noteworthy.
Gandhi Sarovar
Gandhi Sarobar is a lake 1 kms from Kedarnath. The lake has crystal clear water with ice floating on its surface. Vasuki Tal is another lake situated at an altitude of 4,150 m, offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks and other peaks nearby.
The Bhairavnath temple
Situated to the south of the main temple of Kedarnath, is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the deity who guards the main temple in winter when it is closed. The trekking base to Kedarnath is at a distance of 15 km and is named Gauri Kund, where there is temple dedicated to Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva. One can also find thermal springs of medicinal value here. At the confluence of the Son Ganga and Mandakani rivers is Son Prayag, at a distance of 20 km from Kedarnath. During the winters, the statue is carried to Ukhimath, and is reinstated in Kedarnath in the month of May. The breathtaking view of the Kedardome peak behind the temple is a major attraction.

Main Attraction
Held in the month of June, nothing could be a perfect manifestation of Hindu religion and culture. The Badri Kedar festival is held in the sacred shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath in the month of June. The festivities go on for a stretch of eight days. The festival makes an attempt to bring under one platform, the greatest artists of the country.

Best Season
It is very cold in the winters with the ground being covered with snow. During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow and hence is closed. The temple opens the first week of May and closes either the last week of October. May-June is the busiest time of the year. Worship of Sri Kedarnath is continued at Okhimath in the winter by the priest from the Kardarnath Temple.

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