Shri Kedarnath Dham Yatra Travel Guide 2024

Shri Kedarnath Temple

Shri Kedarnath Dham, which is one of the four Char Dhams in Uttarakhand, also known as Chota Char Dham, is located in the district of Rudraprayag on the Garhwal Himalaya ranges, on the shores of the River Mandakini. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva, after whom this famous pilgrimage destination in India has been named. The Shikhar, or the tower of the temple, which stands against the backdrop of the colossal Kedarnath Peak standing at 6,940 meters, lends it a mysterious and timeless aura. The temple is one of the highest altitude temples in the country, as it stands at an astounding elevation of 11,755 feet approx.

Shri Kedarnath Temple is surrounded by five temples, which are Badri-Kedar, Madhya Maheshwara, Tungnath, Rudranath and Kallesvara. The presiding deity is a conical shaped lingam which is 12 feet wide and 12 feet high. The front of a temple has a small pillared hall, which contains images of Goddess Parvati and the five Pandava princes from the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Outside the temple, a large statue of Nandi, the sacred bull and vehicle of Lord Shiva, stands guard at all times.

A fascinating feature of the temple is the head of a man which is carved in a triangular stone fascia. Just behind the Kedarnath Temple is the Shankaracharya Samadhi, where Adi Shankaracharya, the renowned Hindu philosopher and theologian, is believed to have attained moksha, or salvation.

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History of Shri Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple Uttarakhand
Kedarnath Temple in the Himalayas || Uttarakhand Tourism

Shri Kedarnath Dham, besides being one of the four Chota Char Dhams in Uttarakhand, is also one of the 12 Jyoti Lingas in India, besides being the highest. It is also considered to be the most important temple among the Panch Kedars, which are a group of 5 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The origins of Shri Kedarnath Temple is shrouded in mystery, as it’s not clear when and who built the temple exactly. There are, however, several interesting legends surrounding the temple. These make for some interesting reading, besides highlighting its spiritual and cultural significance in Hinduism and among the devotees.

The most famous legend associated with the Kedarnath Temple is this. At the end of the Kurukshetra War in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers were overcome with guilt. To repent for their sins for killing their own kith and kin, they sought to meet Lord Shiva on the advice of Sage Vyasa. However, Lord Shiva, clearly in no mood to forgive them, disguised himself as a bull and wandered the Himalayan mountains.

When the Pandava brothers did find him at last, he tried to disappear by sinking headfirst into the ground. Bhima, one of the strongest of the Pandavas, grabbed him by the tail. He could only get hold of the hump in the struggle that ensued. As a result, other body parts of Lord Shiva appeared at four other locations.

The hump appeared in Kedarnath, navel at Madhya-Maheshwar, two forelegs at Tungnath, face in Rudranath and hair at Kalpeshwar. The head of the bull appeared in Pashupatinath in Nepal.These five places where the body parts of Lord Shiva were found, came to be known as Panch Kedar. The first temple at Kedarnath was built by the Pandavas.

Kedarnath Temple Opening & Closing Dates 2024

Kedarnath Dham

The opening dates of the Kedarnath Temple are declared on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri, while the closing dates of the Kedarnath Temple are declared during Bhai Dooj, which is celebrated during the festival of Diwali. The opening date of Shri Kedarnath Dham in 2024 is 10 May.

Best Time to Visit for Kedarnath Yatra

Shri Kedarnath Temple

It’s important to remember that since the Kedarnath Temple is situated at such a high altitude, surrounded by the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, it remains cold throughout the year. Even then, the most comfortable time to visit it is from the months of May to June and September to October. The temple can also be visited during the monsoon season, which begins in July and lasts till August. Although this season is marked by floods and landslides, even then, it can be safely visited.

How to Reach Kedarnath Temple

Kedanath Temple
Shri Kedarnath Temple

Shri Kedarnath Dham< can be reached by air, rail and road, and can be reached by either of these means of transport.

  • By Air: The nearest airport to Shri Kedarnath Temple is Jolly Grant Airport, also known as the Dehradun Airport in Dehradun, situated at a distance of almost 238 kilometers. The airport operated daily flights to Delhi. The Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Gaurikund, which is the point where the motorable road to Kedarnath ends. Taxis can be hired from the airport till Gaurikund.
  • By Rail: The nearest railway stations to Shri Kedarnath Dham are Haridwar & Rishikesh Railway Stations, situated almost 216 kilometers away on NH 58. Frequent trains run to all the major destinations of India. Rishikesh and Haridwar both are connected by a motorable road to Gaurikund, and taxis as well as buses can be hired from Rishikesh to Gaurikund, the point where the motorable road to Kedarnath ends.
  • By Road: Regardless of whether you arrive by taxi, bus or any other private vehicle, you will have to stop at Gaurikund, which is the point where the motorable road to Kedarnath Temple ends. Gaurikund is well connected to all the major destinations of Uttarakhand and other parts of India.

Buses to Srinagar are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate in Delhi. Taxis and buses to Gaurikund are available from Rishikesh, Dehradun, Pauri, Haridwar, Chamoli and Uttarkashi. From Gaurikund, you will have to undertake a trek of almost 14 kilometers. Those who cannot take this trek because of physical difficulties or health related problems, can hire a palanquin or a pony.

Shri Kedarnath Dham Yatra By Helicopter

Kedarnath Yatra by Helicopter

Helicopter services to Kedarnath Temple are offered by the Uttarakhand government as well as private heli operators. The helicopter services to Kedarnath can be availed from Sitapur, Sersi, Phata, Dehradun and Guptkashi.

Weather in Shri Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath Dham Temple View

Shri Kedarnath Temple is situated at an elevation of almost 11,755 feet, so it receives cold weather throughout the year. It is cold even during the summer season, which begins in May and lasts till June. The average temperature during this time ranges between 9°C to 12°C.

The monsoon season in Kedarnath arrives in July and lasts till August, with the temperature dropping to around 10°C. The monsoon season is marked by heavy rains, landslides and floods. However, Shri Kedarnath Dham can be safely visited even this time of the year.

The winter season in Kedarnath Dham starts from November and extends till April. The extreme weather condition, which is marked by intense snowfall, blocks all means of transport. It becomes inaccessible to tourists. The season is marked by subzero temperature.

Best Places to Visit in and around Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath Peak View from Tungnath

Besides visiting Shri Kedarnath Dham, there are other attractions surrounding the temple which are religious but offer sightseeing opportunities as well.

  • Kedarnath Temple: Kedarnath Temple is one the four Char Dhams in Uttarakhand. It is devoted to Lord Shiva, and is situated at an elevation of 11,755 feet approx. It is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas as well as one of the Panch Badris (5 holy sites devoted to Lord Shiva in Uttarakhand).
  • Gaurikund: Gaurikund is the base from which the trek to Shri Kedarnath Dham commences. The village has hot water springs as well as a temple dedicated to Goddess Gauri.
  • Triyuginarayan: It is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site, located in the district of Rudraprayag, where the Kedarnath Dham is also situated. From here, you can enjoy picturesque views of the snow-covered mountains.
  • Vasuki Tal: Vasuki Tal is a glacial lake situated at almost 14,200 feet. It can be reached by a moderate trek of around 7 kilometers. The lake is surrounded by Himalayan peaks.
  • Sonprayag: Sonprayag is located en route to Shri Kedarnath Dham at an elevation of almost 1,829 meters. From here, you can enjoy spellbinding views of the Sonprayag valley as well as the snow-covered peaks.
  • Chorabari Glacier: Chorabari glacier is situated in the district of Rudraprayag. About 6 kilometres in length, it can be reached by taking a trek of less than 4 kilometers from the main town of Rudraprayag.

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