Kedarnath Jyotirlinga in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand

Jyotirlingas are Lord Shiva's sacred shrines; it is thought that Lord Shiva himself visited these locations. In India, there are 12 of them. Therefore they have a particular place in the hearts of worshippers.

Jyotirlinga is Sanskrit for "light column or pillar." The 'Stambha' sign reflects the fact that there is no beginning or end to existence.

When Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were debating who was the ultimate deity, Lord Shiva came as a column of light and instructed each of them to discover the ends. Neither could they. It is thought that the jyotirlingas are placed where these columns of light fell.

The region's historical name is Kedarnath, which means "Lord of the Field" or "Kedar Khand." The Kedarnath temple, set among picturesque snowy slopes and valleys filled with green meadows, is a must-see for sightseers from all over the world, not only pilgrims.

Kedarnath is one of four important pilgrimage sites — the Chota Char Dam, along with Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri – that devotees want to visit.

Where is the Jyotirlinga of Kedarnath?

This temple, located in Uttarakhand at an elevation of approximately 3,500 meters above sea level, is the tallest of India's 12 jyotirlingas. It is situated in the Garhwal Himalayas at the confluence of the Mandakini and legendary Saraswati rivers.

Kedarnath Temple's unique features

The temple is constructed of massive stone slabs atop a rectangular pedestal. On the stairs, there are Pali inscriptions. On the interior walls, there are images of numerous deities and situations from Hindu mythology. At the entryway, a massive statue of Shiva's mount, the Nandi Bull, keeps watch.

The jyotirlinga is a conical rock structure inside the temple that represents Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva avatar.

What is the significance of Kedarnath Jyotirlinga?

The mythology behind this well-known place of worship is that following the Mahabharata battle, the Pandavas did penance to atone for their misdeeds — slaughtering their relatives. They were instructed to seek Lord Shiva's forgiveness to do so. They looked everywhere and eventually found Lord Shiva at the location of the jyotirlinga in Kedarnath today.

Lord Shiva is supposed to have hidden from the Pandavas because he was unwilling to forgive them for their deception and crimes during the conflict. He disguised himself as a bull and vanished into the earth.

Bhimasena, the second Pandava, sought to drag him out of the earth by pulling on his tail and rear legs. On the other hand, Lord Shiva buried himself deeper and only resurfaced in fragments in several locations - the hair and head in Kalpeshwar, the face in Rudranath, the navel and stomach in Madhyamaheshwar, the arms in Tunganath, and the hump in Kedarnath.

The Pandavas erected temples to Shiva in these five locations, known as the Panch Kedars. This absolved them of their sins.

Lord Shiva also vowed to remain at the sacred location as a triangle jyotirlinga. This is why Kedarnath is so well-known and respected among devotees.

The Pandavas erected temples to Shiva in these five locations, known as the Panch Kedars. This absolves them of their sins.

Lord Shiva also vowed to remain at the sacred location as a triangle jyotirlinga. This is why Kedarnath is so well-known and respected among devotees.

Interesting facts about the Jyotirlinga of Kedarnath

  • The first of the Panch Kedars is Kedarnath.
  • While nearby regions were severely devastated by the 2013 floods, the Kedarnath temple itself was unaffected.
  • Winters are harsh at Kedarnath due to its high elevation, rendering the shrine inaccessible. As a result, it is only available to the public from April to November. Every year, it shutters on the first day of Kartik (October-November) and reopens in Vaisakh (April-May). The murtis (idols) from the Kedarnath temple are transported to Ukhimath and revered for six months throughout the wintertime

What is the best way to get to Kedarnath Dham?

By road

Kedarnath is well connected by road to major cities like Rishikesh (189 kilometers), Bangalore (2484 kilometers), Nagpur (1421 kilometers), Delhi (458 kilometers), and Chandigarh (387 km). You may take the railway to Dehradun, Kotdwar, or Haridwar, or you can fly to Dehradun if the weather permits.

Haridwar to Kedarnath

Every morning, buses depart from Haridwar towards Gaurikund. Reservations may be made at the Garhwal Mandal Owners Association office, located just in front of the train station. If there are no Landslides, the trek to Gaurikund takes about a whole day. The bus ride is breathtaking because most of the 240-kilometer drive is on a ghat road with numerous mountains in the background and the Ganges River following you all the way.

Starting from New Delhi

Buses to Haridwar run approximately every half hour. The journey by car takes 6 hours. You may also travel by rail, which will take 4-6 hours. You may travel directly to Kedarnath from Haridwar, but it is also feasible to spend at least one day there - this lovely city is located on the Ganga. If your group is more than 5-6 people, you should consider hiring a jeep. If your jeep is quick enough, you can go to Gaurikund in 9-10 hours. Please keep in mind that the route between Rishikesh and Gaurikund will be blocked from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Kedarnath may be reached by private automobile or cab

If you opt to drive your own vehicle/car, ensure it has adequate ground clearance because the road is littered with pebbles. Life will be a lot easier with a strong engine. There is parking obtainable in Gaurikund; nevertheless, just shared taxis operating between Gaurikund and Sonprayag may use it due to the Gate system.

On the route to Kedarnath, there is a gate system

There is a fatak (gate) in Sonprayag, about 5 kilometers below Gaurikund, to ensure that buses and vehicles drop pilgrims. There are shared taxis accessible from SonPrayag to Gaurikund that operate in a sequence. It guarantees that there are no traffic jams, although it adds some time to the trip. It is best to park your car at SonPrayag and take a bus to Gaurikund.

Gaurikund transportation

Kedarnath is only accessible after an arduous 18-kilometer trek over a paved trail from Gaurikund, which is linked by road from Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and other significant hill towns in Uttaranchal's Garhwal and Kumaon districts. If you reserve directly at the booking desk, the costs for Horses, Dandies, and Ponies are set. You may check the most recent government prices for Ponies and Palki and book exclusively from them to receive the best pricing.

By plane

The nearest airport to Kedarnath is the Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun, which is around 239 kilometers away. In actuality, this airport is closer to Rishikesh (about 16 km) and takes approximately 20-30 minutes to get there. To go to Joshimath, you may either take a cab or a bus from there. Kingfisher Airlines links Dehradun airport with New Delhi via its Kingfisher Red service, which departs New Delhi airport at 11:35 a.m. and 03:20 p.m., respectively, and arrives in Dehradun at 12:30 p.m. and 04:20 p.m.

Helicopter flight to Kedarnath

Kedarnath is easily accessible through helicopter services, which operate from several locations around Uttarakhand. Phata, Sirsi, Guptkashi, and Dehradun are some of the major cities from where you may take a helicopter to Kedarnath.

Taking the train

Rishikesh (215 kilometers), Haridwar (241 kilometers), Kotdwar (246 kilometers), and Dehradun are the closest railway stations to Kedarnath (257 km). Rishikesh is not well served by rapid trains, and Kotdwar has a limited number of trains. Nevertheless, Haridwar railway station, located 25 kilometers from Rishikesh, has superior connections to Howrah, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi.