All about the holy Char Dham Yatra
In the eighth century, eminent Hindu thinker and reformer Adi Shankaracharya initiated the Char Dham Yatra to revive the Hindu religion. Adi Shankaracharya weaved four sources of sanctified rivers into a sacred circuit pilgrimage. Nestled in the lap of Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand are the hallowed shrines of Char Dham. The Hindu pilgrimage yatra (tour) of Char Dham comprises Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. The temples of the Char Dam locations are considered profoundly sacred by the Hindu religion.
Furthermore, these shrines mark the spiritual sources of four sacred rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, Mandakini, and Alaknanda. This makes Char Dham the most prominent pilgrimage circuit in the country. It is the final wish of every Hindu to pay homage to these holy shrines at least once in a lifetime to reach salvation (Moksha). Therefore, Char Dham Yatra is taken up generations after generations to keep up visiting these pilgrimages each year.
Uttarakhand government declares the dates for the inaugural and closing of the Chardham yatra every year. It typically commences during the end of April and concludes by early November. Every year between April and November witnesses the arrival of devotees in huge numbers who fearlessly endure the unforgiving climate, the deceitful mountain paths, and waiting to engulf them.
Badrinath is snuggled in the serene Garhwal valley of Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, on the banks of the expansive Alaknanda River at an altitude of 11,204 feet. At the foothills of the triangle-shaped and snow-covered Nilkantha peak is the Badrinath Temple. The Badrinath Temple is a sanctuary of Lord Vishnu in his avatar of Badrinarayan. Badrinath is among the 108 Divya Desams manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Besides that, Badrinath is likewise among the Panch Badri temples, particularly Yog Dhyan Badri, Adi Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Vriddha Badri, and Badrinath temple.
The Kedarnath Temple devoted to Lord Shiva is a prominent Hindu holy place and journey, pulling in pilgrims worldwide. Kedarnath lies near the origin of the Mandakini River, the Chorabari Glacier, and is supported by the chilly Himalayan pinnacles. At a rise of 11,755 foot with Gaurikund being the nearest road to Kedarnath, it is around 14 kilometers away. Kedarnath is the place where a form of Lord Shiva is revered as one of the twelve jyotirlingas.
The Gangotri Temple devoted to Goddess Ganga is the purest in the country, attributing to be the origin of the most worshipped Hindu river, the Ganga. As indicated by folklore, the stone on the site filled in as a swab to save the earth from the devastation the river might have caused as it spilt out of Shiva's dreadlocks in heaven. Gangotri, at the height of 10,170 foot lies on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, Ganga being called Bhagirathi till it arrives at Devprayag, where Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda to create the Ganga.
The Yamunotri Temple is devoted to Goddess Yamuna, portrayed by a dark marble symbol in the sanctuary. Yamunotri is the go-to place to look for the endowments of Yamuna and save themselves from the anguish of death, as Devi Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of Death. It is believed that a plunge in the Yamuna, who is the daughter of Surya and sister of Yama, purifies you of your bad karma. Situated at an elevation of 10,803 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas, Yamunotri is around 40 kilometers from Barkot in Uttarkashi.
Kedarnath - The Divine Shrine of Lord Shiva
Tracing back to 1200 years, the ancient Kedarnath Temple is juxtaposed against the mammoth Chorabari Glacier, the Mandakini River's head. Soaring at an altitude of 3586 metres, Kedarnath bestows a grandeur sight, enclosed by the lofty Kedarnath Peak and other snow-capped mountains. The commemorated Kedarnath is one of the most revered pilgrimages of Lord Shiva in India. The heavenly Kedarnath Temple is a part of Chota Char Dham, but it also is the most important Dham among Panch Kedar. In Hindu tradition, it is considered that Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light. Therefore, there are twelve such Jyotirlingas scattered around India while standing Kedarnath the highest of them. The Chamoli district of Uttarakhand embraces more than 200 shrines devoted to Lord Shiva in itself, the most significant being Kedarnath.
Devoted to Lord Shiva, the Kedarnath Temple is exceptionally designed and constructed. The Kedarnath sanctuary is worked of huge and equitably cut dim stone chunks over an enormous rectangular stage. It has a "Garbha Griha" for reverence and a Mandap, well-suited for congregations of explorers and devotees. Outside the temple entrance, a huge sculpture of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. The sanctuary is climbed through huge grey steps, which lead to the sacred sanctums. We can discover engravings in the Pali language on the steps. The inward dividers of the temple sanctum are decorated with figures of different divinities and scenes from folklore.
The travel and tourism scope here is fostered by elements of natural exquisiteness and spiritual enthusiasm. Kedarnath sees an influx of devotees and travellers all-round the year. Apart from the main Shiva Temple, the remote location of Kedarnath, nestled amidst towering frosty mountains, flanked by deep gorges and crystal streams and rivers, makes it a tranquil destination for all. However, off late, Kedarnath has been in the limelight after it was showcased in the film 'Kedarnath', starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan. The film also portrayed the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. Post the release and success of 'Kedarnath', Kedarnath has seen an influx of pilgrims and travelers from all around the globe.
History and Significance of Kedarnath:
The origin of the Kedarnath temple and the stone hump worshipped at the temple can be traced to the incredible epic of Mahabharata. Legend has it that in the wake of crushing Kauravas in the battle of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. After all, they had killed Kauravas, who were their kith and kin. In any case, Lord Shiva wouldn't pardon them, turning the Pandavas more steadfast in their will to pursue forgiveness. Lord Shiva avoided them constantly and, while escaping, took refuge at Kedarnath as a bull. On being followed, the Lord jumped into the earth, leaving behind his hump on the surface at Kedarnath.
What's more, that is the hump found inside the sanctuary, as a cone-shaped stone foundation, and is revered as Lord Shiva incarnated in his Sadashiva structure. The Lord's arms showed up at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the navel at Madmaheshwar, and his locks with head at Kalpeshwar. That is the way Kedarnath and the four previously mentioned holy places are treated as Panch Kedar. Panch implies five in Sanskrit and Kedar, meaning powerful, another name of Lord Shiva; the defender and the destroyer.
Kedarnath Dham Yatra Route
The nearest road to Kedarnath, Gaurikund, is well-linked by motorable roads and highways to important locations in Uttarakhand. State Transport busses can be accessible from ISBT Kashmiri Gate New Delhi to Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Srinagar. Busses and Taxis to Gaurikund are well accessible from significant points of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Pauri, Rudraprayag, and Tehri. Gaurikund is also linked with Ghaziabad by National Highway 58.
The Kedarnath Trek is 16 kilometers moderate to vertical trek, which requires a decent degree of physical stamina. Before going on the trip, each explorer needs to check if they are fit for trekking. You can arrive at Kedarnath from Gaurikund, the nearest street head, around 14 kilometers away. You can avail services such as Palki/Dandi, Kandi, and Mule/Ponies on your trek. You can book these Kedarnath Trek offices from the booking counter at Gaurikund/Sonprayag.
Weather and Climate at Kedarnath
The sacred town of Kedarnath is open to pilgrims and travelers from May to October/November. November onwards, the temple closes down for winter, and the Lord Shiva statue is temporarily shifted to Ukhimath. The area encounters wonderful and balmy summers, while winters are extremely cold with regular extensive snowfall.
May to June is at Kedarnath is extremely wonderful with a reasonably chilly environment. Summers is ideal for sightseeing and the sacred Kedarnath Dham yatra. Downpours mark the monsoon months of July to September with a dip in temperature. The district is inclined to incidental landslides, and travelling can be troublesome. Therefore, travellers have to be extra cautious and check the weather before embarking on their journey to Kedarnath.
Accommodations at Kedarnath
Kedarnath temple is a major tourist destination, and pilgrims book their hotels way ahead of time. Affordable Rooms in hotels and dharmshalas are accessible for under Rs 500 and provide comfortable lodging with basic facilities. Hotels located close to the temples charge around Rs 1200 and offer better amenities with heater-on-demand service.
Many private hotels are available at Sitapur near Sonprayag, which is around 20 kilometers from Kedarnath). Government Guesthouses are available both at Sonprayag & Guptkashi and can be booked online. However, your stay must be booked well in advance as these guest houses are booked throughout the year.
Overview of Kedarnath Dham Yatra
Kedarnath Location: Rudraprayag, Gaurikund, Garhwal, Uttarakhand.
Best time to visit Kedarnath: May to October are the best months to visit Kedarnath. During the winter months, the town remains closed due to heavy snowfall.
Nearest Railway Station to Kedarnath: Rishikesh at 228 kilometers
Nearest Airport to Kedarnath: Jolly Grant Airport at 248 kilometers
Highlights of Kedarnath: Kedarnath Temple, Char Dham Yatra, Trekking, Garhwal Himalayas, Hindu Pilgrimage, Panch Kedar, Jyotirlinga and Rudra Cave.
Options to Kedarnath Temple: Trek or Helicopter from Phata