Tourist Places in Kedarnath
About Kedarnath Tourism
Kedarnath is a pilgrimage centre located in Uttarakhand, India. It lies at a height of 3584 m above sea level and is one of the ‘char dhams’ identified by Hinduism as the most religious places. It is also the remotest and the hardest to reach dham of all the four places.
The place remains active only six months in a year during the summer months. It receives heavy snowfall during the winter months which makes it uninhabitable. The residents of Kedarnath shift to villages lying at lower altitudes during the winter months while Lord Kedarnath’s Palki is transferred to Ukhimath.
Kedarnath is named after King Kedar, who occupies a place in mythology. According to a mythological account, King Kedar ruled the present day Kedarnath during the Satyuga period. He had a daughter named Vrinda, who was Goddess Lakshmi’s human incarnation. Vrinda is supposed to have lived an ascetic life for 60000 years, praying to the Lord all the while. Vrindavan is named in honour of her.
However, the temple of Kedarnath is supposed to date back to the period of the Mahabharata. The Kedarnath Temple opens in the month of April – May every year and remains open till November, when winter sets in.
Kedarnath is the least accessible of all the four dhams. It’s a 14 km steep climb to the temple of Kedarnath and can be done on foot or on ponies. Ponies or horses are available on rent from Gaurikund. Other than foot, the journey of Kedarnath can also be made via a helicopter. Many private operators offer helicopter services in Kedarnath.
Kedarnath Temple, probably the most sacred Hindu shrine located in the great Himalayas, is believed to be constructed by Sankaracharya. Situated at the Garhwal region of Himalayas, this temple is one of the major Shiva temples in the country.
The temple contains one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva along with one of the Panch Kedars. Kedar is that form of Lord Shiva which embodies a passion of love, death, hatred, mysticism and fear by his several forms.
According to one of the popular beliefs, the temple has been constructed by the Pandavas. Tourists visiting the temple can see the statue of Nandi, the celestial bull of Lord Shiva placed at the threshold of the temple. In addition, the walls inside the temple are ornately carved with several images. The temple also contains a Shiva lingam, which is pyramidal in shape unlike its general form.
The statue of Lord Shiva is borne down from Garhwal to Ukhimath with the onset of winters in the month of November. This statue is then reinstated at this temple in the first week of May. During this period, the doors of this temple are opened for the pilgrims hailing from all over India to Kedarnath.
According to the mythology, the idol placed in the temple is identified with the rump of a bull. This is believed to be a disguise adopted by Lord Shiva so as to escape recognition by the Pandavas. The Pandavas were seeking repentance from him for killing their relatives in the battle of Kurukshetra. On pursuing him by the Pandavas, he dived into the ground and left behind a hump on the surface. This hump is also worshipped by the devotees at the shrine.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, sprawling over an area of 967 sq.km, was established in 1972. Located in the district of Chamoli, it is named after the famous Kedarnath temple. Situated on the catchment area of Alaknanda River, this sanctuary is home to temperate forests, which include low and coniferous, alpine and Bugyals.
Owing to its diversity in physiological and geographical features, the sanctuary is home to rich floral species. Trees of Oak, Pine and Birch are in abundance in this sanctuary along with several flowering plants.
In addition, the sanctuary also has a wide variety of fauna as well, which include reptiles, mammals, birds and primates. Black bear, leopard cat, jackal, snow leopard and common leopard are some of the animals that tourists can spot in this sanctuary. Some of the other animals residing in this sanctuary are sambhar, goral, tahr, serow, bharal and endangered musk deer.
Guptkashi, an ideal stopover place for the devotees travelling to Kedarnath, is famous for the Ardhanareeshwar and Viswanath temples. According to the Hindu Mythology, it is believed that Lord Shiva hid at this place for some time.
Viswanath temple, located within this destination is among the several incarnations of Lord Shiva. In addition, the temple reflects the architectural style and design of the bygone eras. Ardhanareeshwar, on the other hand, is a divine concept that depicts the idol in the form of half man and half woman.
The Ardhanareeshwar temple portrays Lord Shiva in the form of half male and half female. In addition, there are two streams of water located in the temple, which symbolises the two holy rivers, Ganges and Yamuna. Tourists can also see the image of Nandi bull, guarding the entrance of this temple.
Birds like grey-cheeked warbler, flycatcher and Himalayan monal can be spotted within this sanctuary. Besides, fishes like Gara spp., Barilius spp., Nemacheilus, Schizothorax sp. and mahseer Tor tor can be seen in the River Mandakini.
Shankaracharya Samadhi, the grave of Adi Guru Shankaracharya, is one of the most popular tourist attractions. Located slightly behind the Kedarnath Temple, it is also one of the most visited places in Kedarnath.
Sri Sankaracharya, a famous Hindu philosopher, is considered to be the renovator of the Kedarnath shrine. According to the chronicles of history, it is said that he had made relentless journeys so as to propagate his Advaita Philosophy.
Additionally, it is also believed that he came to Kedarnath and in 8th century he established this holy shrine along with one of his four Mathas. He attained Nirvana at this place at the tender age of 32 years.
Commencing from the Jyotirmath Ashram located at Badrinath; it is a popular belief that Shankara took a journey to the mountainous terrain of Kedarnath. This place has fated to be his ultimate resting place. He was accompanied by four of his most beloved disciples but then Shankara insisted on carrying the journey alone for the residual part.
At present, there is a spring of hot water, which is said to be created by Shankara. This spring of hot water was created so as to remove the suffering of his disciples, caused due to the extremes of climate.
Vasuki Tal, located at a distance of 8 km from Kedarnath, is one of the beautiful tourist spots in the state of Uttarakhand. Perched at an altitude of around 4,135 m above the sea level, the lake of Vasuki Tal is surrounded by great Himalayan mountain ranges. In addition, tourists can also enjoy beautiful view of the Chaukhamba peaks located nearby.
In order to get in touch with this natural lake, tourists travelling to this lake have to cross the Chaturangi Glacier as well as Vasuki Glacier. Both these Glaciers are filled with crevasses and in order to cross them, tourists require immense stamina. The best time to visit this beautiful lake extends from the months of June to October. During these months, the weather is mild and pleasant.
Agastyamuni, located at a distance of around 20 km from Rudraprayag, is a noted tourist spot of religious significance in the state of Uttarakhand. Perched at a height of 1,000 m this famous spot is situated along the bank of the beautiful river Mandakini. Famed for the temple in the name of sage Agastya, it is also believed that the sage had meditated here for almost one year.
Locally known as Agasteshwar Mahadev, the temple is consecrated to sage Agastya. The images of Hindu deities present inside this temple have been carved out on the stones of the walls. In addition, the place is also known for the fairs being organised here. Agastyamuni plays a host for a large fair that takes place during the festival of Baisakhi. During this fair, several devotees throng here so as to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi, while they worship and pay their obeisance to the deity.
Besides being a place of religious importance, tourists visiting here can also engage in fishing on the banks of river Mandakini. In addition, the town of Agastyamuni also serves as a base for Pawan Hans helicopter services. These services are available to Kedarnath Temple.
Bhairav Nath Temple
Bhairav Nath Temple, located within the vicinity of the main temple complex, is one of the most popular temples after Kedarnath temple. Dedicated to God Bhairav, the temple is located to the south of the main temple. According to a belief, during winter months due to the heavy rainfall, when the Kedarnath temple remains closed, the main temple complex is guarded by the deity placed in Bhairav Nath temple.
Chorbari, also known as Gandhi Sarovar is located at a distance of approximately 1 km from Kedarnath. It is believed that the eldest of the Pandavas, Yudhishthira, have departed to heaven from this sarovar.
Deoria Tal, located on Chopta-Ukhimath, is at a distance of around 3 km from Sari. Perched at a height of 3,200 m, the crystalline water of this lake offers beautiful images of the surroundings. It is believed that it is the same place where Pandavas were asked queries by Yaksha. The lake is surrounded by a deep wood cover. In addition, rhododendrons and the tree Mahal along with pure pallid flower heads are also located around the lake.
Triyuginarayan is located at a distance of 5 km trek from Son Prayag. Situated in a beautiful village in Rudraprayag, this place is famous for the old temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple located within the destination has its architecture and design resembling to the Kedarnath shrine.
In addition, the temple has immense mythological importance as it is believed that Triyuginarayan is the same place where Lord Shiva tied married knot with his consort Parvati. Moreover, it is also believed that a perpetual flame, which is lit in front of the Shiva temple, has witnessed the holy matrimony. Tourists visiting this sightseeing place can also make a visit to other attractions such as Vishnu Kund, Rudra Kund and Brahma Kund.
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