Heavenly Abode, The Lord of the field,
A small town in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath one of the famous pilgrim destinations in India. It is known as the Chota Char Dham that includes the other Dhams, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. It lies at an altitude of 3553 m near Chorabari Glacier, the head of river Mandakini. It is the most remote of the four Char Dham sites and is flanked by breathtaking snow-clad peaks.
Kedarnath is named after King Kedar. According to mythology, King Kedar ruled Kedarnath during the Satya Yuga. It is believed that the temple existed even during the time of Mahabharata. It is the place where Lord Shiva absolved Pandavas from the sin of killing their own cousins Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra. Another story goes as, it is believed that in order to evade the Pandavas, Lord Shiva hid in the form of a bull at Kedarnath, and when found by the Pandavas, he went further into the earth leaving the hump on the surface.
The famous Kedarnath temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and is thronged by thousands of tourists each year. Other than Kedarnath temple, Bhairavnath temple, Chorabari Tal, Shankaracharya Samadhi and Hans Kund are some other religious places near Kedarnath.
Shankaracharya, a famous Hindu Philosopher took Samadhi at an age of 32 years in this particular place after he discovered the Char Dhams. It is named after him, Sankaracharya Samadhi. In the confluence of River Basuki and Mandakini. We find the magical water, which is believed to have powers. According to legends, individuals who touch this water find a place in the Baikunth Dham.
Kedarnath is cold for the most part of the year, however, May to June and September to October are the best time to visit Kedarnath. Monsoons fall from July to August and bring heavy rainfall, causing landslides and hindrance due to which tourists should make plans accordingly.
At the basin of River Alaknanda is the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, established in the year 1972. The sanctuary is spread across an area of 967 sq. km and is covered with pine, oak, birch, bugyals and alpine trees. A wide variety of flora and fauna is found in the region, owing to the diverse physical and geographical characteristics of the place. The sanctuary also protects the endangered species of Kedarnath Musk Deer. Animals like bharals, cats, gorals, jackals, black bears, snow leopards, sambhars, tahrs, and serows, are frequently spotted. Bird watchers can spot different kinds of birds like flycatchers, monals and grey-cheeked warblers. There are 3 temples in the region, which include the ancient Vishwanath Temple, the Manikarnik Kund, and the Ardhnareswar Temple. Ardhnareshwar Temple is famous for housing the idol of Lord Shiva in the form of a half-and-half woman. The Vishwanath Temple also enshrines the idol of Lord Shiva in many of his incarnations. Another popular temple of Kedarnath is the Bhairav Nath Temple, which is situated at a distance of 0.5 km. The temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, who is supposedly the gana of Shiva. There is an ancient temple here, which is devoted to the Hindu deity Parvati. According to legends, Goddess Parvati meditated here to seek Lord Shiva as her husband. There is a hot water spring in Gaurikund, the water of which not only has medicinal value but also helps in washing away the sins of the individuals.
How to reach
The place is well connected by air, railways, and roads too to reach Gaurikund. From there, it's a trek to reach Kedarnath.
How to Reach by Flight
Jolly Grant airport of Dehradun at a distance of nearly 250 km from Kedarnath is the nearest airport to Kedarnath. This airport is well connected with Delhi airport and other cities in India.
Also, there is an option to reach Kedarnath by Helicopter: Helicopter services operate from various places in Uttarakhand. Some of the prominent places from where you can get Helicopter to Kedarnath are Dehradun, Gauchar, Agustmuni, Phata, Sitapur.
How to Reach by Train
The nearest railway stations to Kedarnath are at Rishikesh which is around 200 km, Haridwar is around 240 km, Dehradun is 257 km and Kotdwar around 246 km. Though Rishikesh is not connected by fast trains and Kotdwar has very less number of trains, they do have the alternatives of Haridwar railway station, 25 km from Rishikesh is better connected with New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, and Howrah.
How to Reach by Bus
One can get regular buses from various places in Uttarakhand, such as Dehradun, to Gaurikund. Gaurikund which is on NH 109 is the nearest motorable area from Kedarnath. There are inter and intra-state bus services that runs around it. These buses connect the vicinity with Chamoli, Srinagar, Tehri, Pauri, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttarkashi, Haridwar, and many other destinations.
How to Reach by Road
Kedarnath is well connected through road via,cities such as Chandigarh, Delhi, Nagpur, Bangalore, and Rishikesh.
There are buses from New Delhi go to Haridwar almost every half an hour. The road takes 8 hours. One needs to keep in mind that road from Rishikesh to Gaurikund will be closed from 8 pm to 4 am.
From Haridwar, everyday morning buses start to Gaurikund. Advance bookings can be made at GMOA (Garhwal Mandal owners Association) office in front of the railway station. It takes almost one full day journey to reach Gaurikund if there are no Landslides. The bus journey is very beautiful because most of the 240 km is ghat road journey with many mountains around and river Ganges following you throughout the way.
If one chooses to travel by your own vehicle/car, you could choose the NH 109 to reach Gauri Kund.
How to travel within
To reach Kedarnath one has to complete a steep 13 km trek through a paved path. Horses or palanquins are available for rent from Gaurikund. The charges are not fixed for Horses, Dandies, and Ponies if you book directly. You can check the Govt rates and book from there only to get the best rates.
A well-planned trip is necessary for the trip to Kedarnath Yathra or the Kedarnath Trek. Since the Flash flood disaster in 2013, the Govt has restricted the number of people traveling per day for the Kedarnath route.
Steps to plan:
The 2 ways to get registration for the Chardham yatra and Kedarnath yatra are direct registration in public places like railway station, marketplaces, bus stands in Haridwar and also at the Chardham Yatra terminal in Rishikesh and online registration with your IDs.
2. Medical Fitness Certificate:
A medical certificate is necessary for the yatra. This certificate can be obtained from the medical centers at Guptkashi and Sonprayag. The blood pressure and your medical history are checked. Medications are given for minor issues. If you have any major issues with the health then you will not be allowed t go to Kedarnath by trek. Then you have an option to take the helicopter services.
3. Booking for Ponies or Palkies:
There are Government counters available for booking ponies and palkis at fixed rates.
4. Preparing for the Trek:
Jeeps are available to reach Gaurikund which is 16 km by trek. A normal person takes around 07 hrs to reach Kedarnath from Gaurikund by trekking. There are safety measures and the trekking route is around 8 ft to 10 ft wide and it has an iron railing on the edge. They have made proper shelters for tourists to take rest after every 400-500 meters. They have also built emergency helipads at Gaurikund.
5. Getting to Kedarnath:
Once you reach Kedarnath, you see the helipad, camps and cottages for the tourists. The temple is just 500 mt from this place. Once you enter your whole world changes. One has a heavenly experience and should visit it at least once in their lifetime.
6. Visiting Places nearby:
Plan for the trips to the below places,
The Chandrashila trek