Interesting Facts About Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple holds an important value for Hindus, especially considering its stature as one of the four pillars of the Char Dham Yatra. For Hindus, it is a place to be to wash your sins and achieve a position in heaven. Getting there, however, is not an easy course. But many still do and get to see the visually astonishing aspect of the temple with fresh air and snow-capped mountains. Kedarnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.

Interesting facts about Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple lies in the foothills of the Himalayan range at an altitude of 3600m above sea level, near the mouth of the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. There are forests and snow-capped mountains surrounding the temple. As mentioned before, Kedarnath is one of the four cornerstones of Char Dham Yatra.

Kedarnath Temple
Photo by Antony Mathew on

Pandavas are said to have constructed the temple, and then later, was renovated and restructured by Adi Shankara in 8th A.D.

The exterior of the Kedarnath temple is made of white marble as a sign of peace and harmony.

Rawal, a head priest runs the nuances of the temple. He is not involved directly with poojas himself. Instead, he teaches the Pujaris about it. In total, five priests rotate the position of head priest annually.

Kedarnath is, in fact, five temples concocted into one, hence the name panch kedar:

  1. Tung Nath: This is where Lord Shiva’s hands were found
  2. Madhyamaheshwar: This is where Lord Shiva’s abdomen was found
  3. Rudranath: This is where Pandavas saw Lord Shiva completely and found a stone statue of Shiva
  4. Kalpeshwar: This is where the hair and head of Lord Shiva were found
  5. Kedarnath: This is where the back of Lord Shiva was found, and there is a statue on the back. Legend has it that Lord Shiva went in-ground here as a bull and then his head appeared at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

The temple can be reached by traveling 16km uphill from Gaurikund, another religious site. One can take the help of pre-arranged horses and ponies to get there too. In the modern age, one can even take helicopter charters to this place. Back in the day, people only used to walk all the way.

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The Kedarnath temple remains shut for 6 months because of the harsh weather condition. One day after Diwali on the day of Bhai Duj, the temple shuts down and then reopens on Akshaya Tritiya in April or May. The Shiva statue during the time of closing is shifted to Ukhimath, near Guptikashi. Even the whole town shuts down with families moving to safer places since the weather can be really, really harsh.

The temple has statues of the Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Nandi, Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva, the vehicle of Shiva, Draupadi, and other deities.

According to Pancha Kedar Katha, Pandavas wanted to get rid of their sins of killing their own brothers in Mahabharata Yudda by getting the blessings of Shiva. They went to Kashi to meet him, but they couldn’t since Shiva avoided them by going to Kedar. Pandavas conquered the rocky slopes and finally got there, and saw Lord Shiva in the form of a bull here.

Kedarnath Temple

There are many theories on how Kedarnath got its name. One of the most popular ones states that the name comes from its ruler King Kedar who ruled during the Satya Yug.

Kedarnath Temple Floods 2013
Image source – NDTV

In 2013, Kedarnath was almost brought to ruins when floods hit the temple causing massing destruction and taking the lives of many people. But a huge rock stuck behind the temple, and that one rock prevented the temple to be washed away. The exterior was damaged, but the interior was brought back to its original condition in no time.

Kedarnath renovation project 

When the Uttarakhand floods severely impacted the Kedarnath temple, which is devoted to Lord Shiva, in 2013, it was one of the preferred destinations of PM Modi, who has often spoken about his personal connection with it.

Upon coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the Modi government initiated a renovation project. As part of the “Swachh Kedarnath” initiative, which aims to enhance cleanliness and amenities for pilgrims visiting the temple, the Kedarnath Temple was refurbished in 2018.

PM Modi at Kedarnath

The floods of 2013 had made all of us extremely sad. That time I was not the Prime Minister, I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I came here to do all that I could for victims. Through the work we are doing in Kedarnath, we want to show how an ideal ‘Tirth Kshetra’ should be, how it should be pilgrim friendly and the wellbeing of the priests should be given importance.

Narendra Modi via Twitter