One of the holiest pilgrimages in north India, Kedarnath is situated in Uttarakhand at an altitude of 3584 meters above sea level, near the head of river Mandakini. It is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims and is one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage. Kedarnath along with Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri comprises the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage. It is the most remote of the four Char Dham sites and is flanked by breathtaking snow-capped peaks. Renowned for the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, a trip to Kedarnath is an exhilarating experience.
Like the other sites, Kedarnath closes on the first day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November) and reopens in Vaishakh (April-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.
According to legend, the temple came into existence as a result of five Pandavas’ search for Lord Shiva to atone for their sins for killing their brethren during the Kurukshetra war. Shiva avoided all attempts to meet the brothers. Shiva stopped at Kedarnath and acquired the form of a bull. The Pandavas through persistent efforts were able to trace him to Kedarnath. In no mood to please the Pandavas, Shiva in the form of the bull, started to force himself inside the ground, leaving only his hump above the ground.
The willpower and determination of the Pandavas impressed Shiva and he forgave their sins, blessed them and allowed them to worship him at Kedarnath. It is said that the stone-like structure that is worshipped here is the hump of the bull which Shiva had acquired. The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.
In and Around
Places to see in Kedarnath
This temple at the foothills of Himalayas is of great religious significance. It demands a tiring trek to have a Darshan of the deity. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and is closely associated with the Pandava princes from Mahabharata. The original temple built by the Pandava brothers was a stone structure and has undergone many renovations. It encompasses a hall that has the images of Pandava brothers, Nandi, Veerabhadra and Lord Krishna.
Situated just behind the Kedarnath temple is the samadhi of Adi Guru Shankaracarya. He took samadhi at an age of 32 years after establishing the four pilgrimages or the Char Dhams.
Bhairon Mandir is located 1 kms from the Kedarnath Temple. From the here one can see the entire Kedarnath valley and Kedarnath Shrine. It is believed that when Kedarnath dham is closed for winter due to heavy snowfall, the deity in form of bhairavnath protect the kedarnath temple complex as well as whole kedarnath valley.
Chorbari is a beautiful lake that is located just 2kms. from the Kedarnath temple. Here, one can see floating ice over the river which makes for a beautiful sight. It is believed that the eldest of the Pandavas, Yudhishthir went to heaven from this place.
Soneprayag is an important tourist destination because it is the meeting place of two important Himalayan rivers, the Son Ganga and the Mandakini. It is located about 20kms. from Kedarnath.
It is small kund (water source) around 200 mts from Kedarnath temple. Ratus kund also knows as ret kund due to sand in this small tank.
Base for a trek to Kedarnath & serves as a roadhead, the village has hot springs & a temple dedicated to Gauri.
6 km. At 4135 mtr. above sea level, this lake is extraordinary, surrounded by high mountains and offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary is located in the Chamoli district. One has to take the road from Haridwar – Rudraprayag and then to Sitapur which is about 226kms. away. The Kedarnath sanctuary was founded in the year 1972. In this beautiful sanctuary, one can easily spot animals like snow leopard, snow cock, tahr, musk deer, leopard, etc. Apart from the animals, many species of birds can also be found here. There is also a forest hut that is available for overnight stay.
Chopta is one of the most picturesque spot in the entire Garhwal region. It provides a beautiful view of the Himalayan ranges that surrounds it. It is situated on the Gopeshwar – Ulhimath road about 40kms. from Gopeshwar, at an altitude of 2,500 metres above sea level.
Deori Tal is a beautiful lake that is located at an altitude of 2,436 metres above sea level. It provides a breathtaking view of the snow capped mountain all around. It is the perfect place for angling as well as bird watching.
The peak at Chandrashila provides a very beautiful, almost unique view of the snow capped mountains. It is located about 93 kms. from Kedarnath. After reaching Tungnath, one has to undertake a trek to reach Chandrashila. The trek is beautifully decorated by rhodendron forests and alpine meadows.
Kalpnath is also known as Kalpeshwar temple. It is located about 160kms. from Kedarnath and is at an altitude of 2,134 metres above sea level. One interesting aspect of Kalpnath is that Shiva’s locks are worshipped at this place.
A very important pilgrimage spot for the tourists, Shiva’s face is worshipped here. It is located about 142 kms. from Kedarnath and is situated at a height of 2,286 metres above sea level. The Rudranath temple provides an enchanting view of the mountains that surround it. The nearby places like Anusuya Devi temple and a number of other holy spots are well worth a visit.
Just about 90kms. from Kedarnath and located at an altitude of 3,680 metres above sea level, is Tungnath. It is the highest shrine of God Shiva, and he is worshipped here in the form of arms. It is quite easily accessible by road from Kedarnath.
Madhmaheshwar is located about 25kms. north-east of Gopikashi. It is about 74kms. from Kedarnath and situated at an altitude of 3,289 metres. The best statue of Har Gauri in India, which measures over a metre in length, is located in the Kali temple, at Madhmaheshwar. The trek from Kalimath to Madhmaheswar is dotted with beautiful scenery all around. It is surrounded by the Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks.
Agastymuni is a very famous temple which is located about 73 kms. from Kedarnath. The temple of sage Agastya is the prime attraction of this place.
It is located about 49kms. from Kedarnath and is famous for its four temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanath which are worth a visit.
Gaurikund is located about 14kms. from Kedarnath. It is the main trekking base to Kedarnath. There is a temple located here that is dedicated to Gauri; there are also thermal springs located here that are believed to have curative powers. Located at an altitude of 1,982 metres above sea level, it is said that Goddess Parvathi as Gauri meditated here for a considerable amount of time, because she wanted Lord Shiva as her husband. There are also a couple of temples located here, which are dedicated to Gauri and Mahadev.
Trijuginarayan is a beautiful place that is located about 25kms. from Kedarnath and is a famous excursion spot. According to mythology, it is the place where the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvathi took place. It is a short trek of about 5kms. from Son Prayag.
Trekking near Kedarnath
Kedarnath Trek (14 kms)
Reaching Kedarnath is itself a moderate trek of 14 kms from. You will get lot of ponies, palkies and potters, to make your trek more comfortable. Rambara is the midway of the Kedarnath trek.
Vasuki Tal (6 kms)
This trek is 6 kms from Kedarnath Temple. It is a well known trek because of its panoramic beauty and it is a moderate trek.
Chorabari Tal (3 kms)
It is a small lake which is touched with Chorabari glacier in the foots of Kedarnath Parbat. It is also known as Gandhi Sarovar, as Mahatma Gandhi once did meditation here. The haunting environment and secluded surroundings compel all the visitors to feel the inner connection with the Almighty.
Bhairon Temple (1 km)
It is small trek to the nearby Bhairon Mandir. It is said that one should visit this open temple as well during their Kedarnath dham yatra.
The best time to visit Kedarnath is from April to October .
How to Reach
The nearest domestic airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 239 km from Kedarnath and operates daily flights to Delhi. Taxis are available from Dehradun airport to Kedarnath. Nearest international airport is Delhi.
The nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 221 km away. Pre-paid taxi services are available at the railway station which charge about Rs 3,000. One has to travel 207 km by road and the rest 14 km on foot to reach Kedarnath.
Visitors can board regular buses from Rishikesh and Kotdwar to Kedarnath. Private taxis can also be hired from these places. The National Highway from Delhi to Mana (538 km) remains open throughout the year. Kedarnath is also accessible by foot from GauriKund, which is connected by state buses to Rishikesh, Dehradun, Kotdwara and Haridwar. The bus fares vary depending on the season.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Shivalik Valley Resorts
NH-58, Sitapar, Post Rampur,
Village Narainkoti, Guptkashi,
Rudraprayag , Uttarakhand India
Where to Eat
Kedarnath is a strictly vegetarian place and alcoholic drinks are also not allowed here. There are a couple of hotels or dhabas, on the path leading up to the holy temple, which run from 4 am to midnight and serve basic Indian food. Prefer to eat cooked food or boiled vegetables.