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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Kedarnath Temple | One of the Top 12 Jyotirlingas of India

Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple | One of the Top 12 Jyotirlingas of India

Kedarnath, you read it as a single word but, I see the whole world in this single word. You heard me right, “Kedarnath” means “a lord on the field”. The definition is derived from Sanskrit. The whole world follows this single word. Kedarnath temple is a sacred pilgrimage center in Northern India. It is a divine temple of Hindu God Shiva. This temple is located in the Garhwal region of river Mandakini, in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India dedicated to Lord Shiva and also a part of Char Dham of India. Kedarnath temple is situated at the height of 11700 feet from sea level. It is one of those temples from India which is open only for six months due to the bad weather in the surrounding area. The base village to reach here is Gauri Kund near Sonprayag in Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand state.

What is the History behind the Kedarnath Shrine?

In epic Maharashtra, after Pandavas defeated the Dhartarashtras, they sought forgiveness for killing their own family members, as their enemies also happened to be their cousins. Lord Shiva refused them, Pandavas continued their quest for absolution from lord Shiva. Later Lord Shiva dove into the ground in the form of a bull to elude them. He left his hump behind at Kedarnath below Mandakini River, where a magnificent stone temple was built in the 8th century by Guru Shankara. Another portion of lord Shiva's bull form is worshiped at other Kedar Shrines.

How to reach Kedarnath Temple?

Kedarnath temple is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand state, India. Kedarnath is an uphill trek of 18 km long that starts from the village Gauri Kund. To reach Gauri Kund you first need to reach village Sonprayag and then share taxis to Gauri Kund village. (Distance from Sonprayag to Gauri Kund is 4 km). This can be reached by following different ways of transportation.

By Air

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun, Uttarakhand state. From the airport, the distance is 240 km to Kedarnath temple. Daily flights are available from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai to Jolly Grant Airport.  

By Train

There is no direct railway station to Kedarnath. The nearest railhead is either a Rishikesh or Haridwar in Uttarakhand, India. These two major railways stations are accessible from the different states of India. After getting down at the railway station take a local bus or share taxis to reach Sonprayag. There are different share taxis from Sonprayag to Gauri Kund.

By Road

Kedarnath is well connected to New Delhi and Dehradun by bus network in a private vehicle. If you get down at Delhi then take a direct bus to reach Dehradun or Haridwar or Rishikesh. From here plenty of options are available to reach further to Sonprayag and Gauri Kund. One can also hire a self-drive cab from Delhi or Dehradun. Shared taxis are also an option to reach Kedarnath.

Private and GMOU buses are available from Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Dehradun to reach Sonprayag.

Private bus fare is 500 to 600

GMOU bus fare is 400 to 500

AC or Volvo buses are not available for Sonprayag.

All the buses running towards Sonprayag leave early in the morning between 3am to 7am.

Gauri Kund to Kedarnath Trek

Reaching to Kedarnath temple is not a difficult task, however, the trek that starts from Gauri Kund and ends at Kedarnath summit point is a little tiring. But, if you are an adventurer then you will definitely love it. Many Devotees flock to Kedarnath to pay a visit to the ancient shrine of Lord Shiva.

Before one starts for the Kedarnath trek, do prepare your small traveling bag and leave early morning from Sonprayag. Though you find it only an 18 km trek, due to high altitude one may find it difficult and tiring. The trek level is moderate to difficult. The route goes exactly parallel to the river Mandakini that offers breathe taking view of the surrounding Himalayan Mountain. The road goes through the market area of the Gauri Kund village. Those who are allergists of trekking, horses, and Pittu's are available that take you to the summit point.

Kedarnath Temple
Gauri Kund village parallel to Mandakini river is the starting point of the trek

Kedarnath Temple
Mandakini river looks so attractive

The initial road starts with crossing the Ghoda Padav place near Gauri Kund. Ghoda Padav is the place from where you can take a horse to reach the Kedarnath temple. The old trek routes from Rambara village to Kedarnath temple had been completely demolished in the flood of 2013. The new trek route begins from Gauri Kund. The trek route is very easy and offers different sceneries to the trekkers. The route is zig-zag and offers the view of ample waterfalls on the route. One has to follow the foot track towards the temple. The route is not steep but yes due to low oxygen levels, you will feel dehydrated throughout the trek. You may find many trekkers on route including old age; this will motivate you towards your destination. After a walk for a few hours, you cross the Bridge of Mandakini River. The view from this bridge is astonishing and it will wander you.

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath temple trekking route

Kedarnath Temple
Mandakini river crossing bridge

As you cross the Bhimbali area on route to Kedarnath, you will get the first glimpse of the snow-capped mountain. This view will energize you. While trekking in high-altitude areas, do not take a long break. Once your body lost the heat then you will find it tougher to restart the trek. Do not be overconfident while trekking. Keep your eyes on the trekking route because most of the time the horses coming from the back can hit you or can also cause some injury. Keep drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty. As you reach closer to the temple the route becomes more slippery due to the glacier. You may slip while walking on the hardened ice, one has to be careful. There are small huts available on the trekking route that sells Parathas, snacks, tea, and some cold drinks. Once you reach your final destination the glimpse of the Kedarnath temple will leave you speechless. The craze of Lord Shankar in the youth is worth praise. The area surrounding the temple was completely destroyed in the 2013 flood. Now there is a lot of improvement in the trek route of the Kedarnath temple. The surrounding mountain of the temple is completely immersed in the snow and this is the peculiarity of the Kedarnath temple. There is a statue of Nandi (Lord Shivas Bull) in front of the temple and one is inside the temple. The architecture of the temple looks exquisite. The temple walls look amazing with the carving of statues of Parvati, Krishna, Draupadi, and 5 Pandavas. The inside of the temple has beautiful Shivlinga that represent the hump of the bull. Trekking doesn’t stop here; you can also extend your trek further to Charobali tall, Vasu ki tall and Bhairav Temple situated a few km away from Kedarnath temple.

Kedarnath Temple
First glimpse of the Kedarnath temple with the snow-capped mountain in the background

Kedarnath Temple
Trekking route covered in deep snow

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Dham view from the top

Kedarnath Temple
Helicopter landing site near Kedarnath temple

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath temple is incomplete without visiting Bhairav temple

Ideal Time to Visit Kedarnath temple

Kedarnath temple is situated at the height of 11500 feet is open only for 6 months in the year. Temple normally closes in the first week of November month and it opens in the April or May months depending on the Shubh date. The same timing is applicable in the other three Dham’s also.

Spending your summer in a snow-capped area is preferable. April to June is the ideal time to do Char Dham yatra including the Kedarnath temple. This is the time when the weather is soothing and warm, unlike the chilling temperature of the winter, and you can also explore the surrounding place as per your comfort level.

The monsoon is unpredicted in the Himalayan Mountain; you may witness very heavy showers from July to September month. When this area received rain then it can lead to several landslides in this area resulting in blockage of the roads. This road blockage can sometimes ruin your entire plan. Always take proper information if you’re planning to visit in monsoon time.

Winter from October to November is freezing temperature in the Himalayas. It will test your endurance level and leave you breathless. No doubt you will get to see one of the best views in this month but, be prepared to face minus temperature on summit point. Due to this weather condition, the temple closes in November. The area surrounding the temple gets covered with heavy snow. No one is allowed to visit here once the temple gets close.


Stay Option at Kedarnath Temple

There are many stay options available at Sonprayag, Gauri Kund, and near Kedarnath temple.

Hall Stay

A common hall is available for stay in Sonprayag and Gauri Kund area. You will be charged 300 per person per bed and this is also budget-friendly for those who want to do this trip at nominal charges.

Room Stay

Room stay available at Sonprayag, Gauri Kund, and near Kedarnath temple. A decent room with a geezer facility will cost you around 3000 to 6000 per room. If you are a solo traveler or in a small group then it is better to join a big group to contribute to a large room.

Tent Stay

Tent stays are available at the base camp 1 km before the temple. You can also pitch your own tent at any place. No one is going to take objection. You will get a stay at your convenience.

An in-season stay near the temple will not be available due to the large crowd and due to unavailability of the rooms. It is always better to go with proper details.

What Food is Available at Kedarnath?

Being situated in the Pahadi area, there are many huts available that sell the Parathas, Dal Rice, Rajma Rice, and Maggy with some nominal charges. You may get tea and cold drinks also. Don’t expect continental food in the Pahadi area. Sometimes you have to make adjustments for the food, no doubt food is very tasty and people cooking food are so kind.

Bhandara is available at the Sonprayag parking area and near the Kedarnath temple. They offer Dal rice to the visitors at no cost.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Plan Your Kedarnath Trip

  • If you are not a regular trekker then please avoid trekking to Kedarnath, you will suffer a lot if you are not a regular trekker.
  • Helicopters, Horses, and Pittu’s rides are available to reach Kedarnath temple, Charges for these range from 2300 INR to 2800 INR per person for a single way.
  • Carry your own foods like dry fruits, chocolates, glucose to keep you energized throughout the trek.
  • Portable washrooms are available at every 1 or 2 km, so no worries
  • Locker rooms are available at Sonprayag and Gauri Kund village. (50 INR per bag per day)
  • Carry an Insulator bottle that will keep drinking water hot, you can refill this bottle at every food stall.
  • Carry proper woolen/fleece cloths to keep you warm at night time.
  • An oxygen cylinder is available at the base point on a rent basis.
  • Carry a normal first aid box with the mountain sickness medicine kit.
  • Do not litter the area around the Kedarnath temple.