Kedarnath Mandir (Hindi: ???????? ?????) is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the four major sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of the Northern Himalayas, and one of the 12 shrines known as Jyotirlingas (lingams of light). Here the god Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the "Lord of Kedar Khand," the historical name of the region.
History of Kedarnath
The Kedarnath temple is an impressive stone edifice of unknown date. It is believed to have been built by Adi Sankaracharya. The older temple existed from the times of Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath, according to the Puranas.
What to See at Kedarnath
Located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, it experiences extreme weather conditions that only allow the temple to open from the end of April to the beginning of November. The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund.
As one enters the main temple, the first hall contains statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the greatest guards of Shiva. An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia of the temple. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held.
No specific family of pujaris supervise rituals at Kedarnath, where the focus is on veneration of the stone lingam that rests in the inner sanctum of the temple. Behind the temple is the sam?dhi mandir of Adi Sankara. Tamil saints Nayanars of 1st century like Sundarar and Sambanthar praised the deity in their hymns famous by the name of Tevaram. The head priest (Rawal) of the Kedarnath temple belongs to the Namboothiri community, like the nearby Badrinath Temple. The Rawal moves along with the diety to Ukhimath during the winter season.
Quick Facts on Kedarnath
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- Kedarnath Temple - Wikipedia (some text incorporated under GFDL)
- Kedarnath: The Celestial Jyotirlingam - India Travelite
- Photos of Kedarnath - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Kedarnath, India
Below is a location map and aerial view of Kedarnath. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.