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Kedarnath Temple: The Epic Story of the Temple of Lord Shiva

Introduction

One of Hinduism’s most sacred places is the Kedarnath Mandir (Temple) nestled in the Himalayas. There are 12 Jyotirlinga temples in India, and this one is one among them. It is also one of the Char (4) Dhams, which includes Badrinath and Kedarnath, and one of the five Kedars, which include Yamunotri and Gangotri.

As a pilgrimage site since ancient times, the Kedarnath Temple has a rich history. In spite of this, it is unknown who built the first Kedarnath Temple and when it was completed. The legendary Pandava brothers are said to have built the temple according to a myth. There is no reference of Kedarnath in the sacred Mahabharata.

The Skanda Purana contains one of the oldest references to Kedarnath (7th and 8th century). In Hindu mythology, Shiva is said to have released the Holy Ganga from his matted hair (called “Jata” in Hindi) near Kedara.

Adi Sankaracharya is claimed to have erected the sacred temple of Kedarnath in the 8th century AD. The Pandavas of Mahabharat fame are said to have built a Shiva temple here, which Sankaracharya reconstructed.

This temple is only open to pilgrims from April to November each year due to the region’s unpredictable weather.

However, it is claimed that this temple was built by an ancestor of the Pandavas clan. One of his names was Janmajeya. The Shiva Linga in this location is really old.

An ashlar-style construction, in which stones are interlocked without the need for glue or cement is reported to have been used in the temple’s construction, making it similar to many other temples of the time period.

Hindus from all over the world come here to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva on an annual basis.

Also Read: Kedarnath Yatra 2022 Complete Trek Guide, Updates & Tips

History of the Kedarnath Temple

After the Mahabharata, according to legend, the Pandavas constructed the Kedarnath temple. After killing their Kaurav brothers to atone for their transgressions, the Pandavas are reported to have wished to seek forgiveness from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, on the other hand, refused to meet with them. That is why Lord Shiva took refuge in the town of Guptkashi in the Himalayan Mountains.

The Pandavas and Draupadi noticed a bull in Gupt Kashi that was extremely different from the other bulls. Bheem, the brother of the Pandavs, recognized the bull as Lord Shiva. Nandi, the bull, was disguised as Lord Shiva to hide from them. Only the bull’s tail was grabbed by Bheem, who tried to trap it but failed miserably.

Even though the shrine finds a mention in the Mahabharata, the current temple was allegedly constructed in the 8th century by Guru Adi Shankaracharya on his directions. According to legend, Raja Bhoj of the Malwa region constructed it in the second century. The deity’s murti (vigraha) is taken to Ukimath for the following six months after the darshan season ends in April-November. Worship is performed on-site by the god’s own priests, known as the Rawals (of Karanataka-origin).

The History of Panch Kedar

Lord Shiva resurfaced in five different incarnations in five different locations after vanishing from Guptkashi. These are hump at Kedarnath, towards the direction of Rudranath, in the fortress of Tungnathat Madhyamaheshwar, the navel and stomach Kalpeshwar’s hair locks (Jata). That’s how Panch Kedar came to be. For proof of the Pandavas’ story, Panch Kedar can be found. Their dedication and hard work impressed Lord Shiva. Finally, he was able to forgive them for what they had done.

The Connection of Nara Narayana

In the Badrikashrayain devotion to Lord Shiva, two incarnations of Vishnu, Nara and Narayana, underwent terrible penance. They were surprised to see Bhole Shankar himself in front of them. Requested Shiva to take up permanent residence to help the devotees after the Lord provided them with a favour. According to Hindu mythology, Shiva took the form of a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath in order to free all worshipers of Shiva from their afflictions.

The Connection of Mahabharat

There are stories that which the Pandavas felt guilty for the deaths of so many people during the Mahabharata conflict. Lord Shiva’s mercy was sought by handing up the throne to Parikshit, the grandson of the king, in Varanasi.

Shivji, in the form of a Bull, departs Varanasi/Benaras/Kashi with no plans to meet them and heads for the Himalayas (Nandi, the Bull). As the bull and the Pandavas arrive in Guptakashi, he reappears.

Five separate portions of the bull’s body appear in different locations of India: Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar, the locks at Kalpawar, and the hump in Kedarnath. He is said to have grasped the bull’s tail and forced him to stand before them and apologize to them for his actions. At Kedarnath, the first temple was erected by the Pandavas brothers.

The Panch (5) Kedar refers to the five locations where the bull appeared after diving underground.

Also Read: Top 20 Famous Historical Temples of Uttarakhand

Kedarnath was under Snow for 400 Years

According to a Geologist recently, the temple at Kedarnath was covered in snow for 400 years during the Little Ice Age. A few hundred years ago, there was a lot of snow at higher altitudes, which resulted in glaciers moving over the land and displacing large rocks and stones. This is the story.

A variety of people recorded important dates on the walls of temples, and these natural events will likely be documented for many more epochs to come. Scientists asserted that the temple had not only survived 400 years of ice but had also been spared any significant damage from glacial movement when the freezing temperatures began to melt away as they always did.

The Kedarnath flood of 2013

In addition to its stunning mountain temples, Kedarnath’s surroundings are a veritable picture postcard. It is remarkable that these temples were created hundreds of years ago, a monument to their architectural genius. Kedarnath’s resilience in the face of terrible floods in Uttarakhand a few years ago is unquestionably one of its most well-known features (in 2013 to be specific).

A lot of people think supernatural intervention saved Kedarnath, but technology had more to do with it. When the gates of a nearby dam opened without notice on June 16, that year, the temple’s granite walls provided a powerful barrier against the flood. This spared the majority of the town from being flooded, as well as preserving big swaths of surrounding forest! Despite all that it has through, the temple still remains.

Where is Kedarnath Located?

Shiva devotees flock to the Rudraprayag area of Uttarakhand to visit the sacred Kedarnath Dham. Even in the lower Himalayan mountain range, the air seems to be booming with the name of Lord Shiva, which is revered by the locals. Kedarnath Dham is located in a gorgeous position, near the Mandakini River’s source and at a height of 3,584 metres. For the Panch Kedars, Kedarnath is the most important temple of the 12 Jyotir Lingams (group of 5 Shiva temples in Garhwal Himalayas). Additionally, it is an important stop on Uttarakhand’s Chota Char Dham Yatra, enhancing the already impressive stature of the region.

There is a motorable road leading to the Kedarnath temple that extends all the way to Gauri Kund. The next step is a 14-kilometre hike to the Kedarnath temple. In addition to horses and palanquins (doli), helicopter services are available during the peak season of the yatra.

The spiritual mood created by the region’s unruffled, serene, and beautiful beauty more than makes up for the difficult travel to the huge Shiva shrine. The holy region of the supreme deity is well framed by the beautiful Kedarnath peak (6,940 metres) and other nearby peaks. The Kedarnath temple’s conical Shiva lingam is a singularity among Shiva shrines.

How to reach Kedarnath?

Gaurikund is the last location till vehicles may reach, and after that, pilgrims have to trek or rent a pony to traverse the distance of 16 km. Dehradun International Airport is the closest. You may go to Rishikesh by train, which connects to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata as well as other Indian cities.

Pilgrims can approach there by road as well, which is carefully maintained by the Uttarakhand Government. For six months of the year, heavy snowfall prevents entry to Kedarnath, making it inaccessible.

Conclusion

The Kedarnath temple is a very important place for Hindus. It is believed that those who die at this temple will be reborn as humans again. This makes it a popular destination for pilgrims seeking salvation. The temple is also said to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas, or pillars of light, which are said to represent Shiva’s presence on earth. Despite these disasters, the Kedarnath temple remains a popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus from all over India. Every year, thousands of pilgrims make the journey to this holy site to worship Lord Shiva and seek his blessings.