Hitchhiker’s Guide to Kedarnath 1
Details of Kedarnath Temple :
The temple at Kedarnath, the Jyotirlinga of Shiva is open only for six months of a year (April-November).The temple is at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft) on the shores of Mandakini river. Like Badrinath, in Kedarnath also, the head priest or Rawal, is traditionally chosen from the South Indian state of Karnataka from Veerashaiva community .
The legend of Panch Kedars :
Kedarnath is part of the legend Panch Kedars relates to the Pandavas. After the Pandavas defeated and killed the Kauravas in the epic Kurukshetra war. They wished to atone for the sins committed during the war. Thus, they handed over the reins of their kingdom to their kin and left in search of lord Shiva and to seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi , believed to be Shiva’s favourite city and known for its Shiva temple. But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive to Pandavas’ prayers.He assumed the form of Nandi and hid in the Garhwal.
Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to Garhwal. Bhima then standing astride two mountains started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden Kashi” — the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). Bhima immediately recognized the bull to be Shiva. Bhima caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the bull-formed Shiva disappeared into the ground to later reappear in parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheshwar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar.
The Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five different forms, built temples at the five places for venerating and worshipping Shiva. They were thus freed from their sins. After building the Panch Kedar temples, they meditated at Kedarnath for salvation, performed yagna and then through the heavenly path called the Mahapanth , attained salvation
Day 5 Started with the Darshan of Badrinarayana followed by breakfast. After that, we spent some quality time there enjoying the beauty of Himalayas .
We planned to visit Mana village which is the last village of India to tibet boarder and is just 4kms away from there .But due to the problem with the transport we decided to head back in our path.As we don’t have a direct bus (Buses from here will start in the morning 4 and 5 p.m.), we started to take private transport. As we planned to go to Valley of flowers and Himkud Sahib ,we took transport to Govind ghat but we learnt that road to these places was closed.
There was transport only to Joshimath from there so we went there. Joshimath is also a major tourist destination for cable cars and the famous Auli which is skiing destination in India. Joshimath is also the one of the four maths established by Adi Shankaracharya, other three being Puri, Dwaraka and Sringeri.
From Joshimath, I have given farewell to my friends as they got direct transport to Srinagar, from there they headed to Haridwar and I went on to Chamoli as I was headed to Kedarnath. From Chamoli, I took another vehicle to Karnaprayag. From there, after a long wait, got transport to Rudraprayag .
Even though I planned to go to Sonprayag on the same day, as I planned to climb Kedarnath next day , I didn’t get any transport to there. So I stayed at Rudraprayag for the night after checking details of the transport for next day.