Kedarnath Dham: A Complete travel guide

Kedarnath Dham Yatra 

Kedarnath Dham, in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag area, is one of Shiva’s most important shrines. Among the mighty snow-capped peaks, exquisite meadows, and forests of the lower Himalayan mountain range, the name of Lord Shiva seems to be resonating in the air.
 
Kedarnath Dham, located near the Mandakini River’s source and at a height of 3,584 metres, honours Lord Shiva’s magnificence. The temple of Kedarnath is one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams and the most important of the Panch Kedars. It is also one of the most important temples on Uttarakhand’s famous Chota Char Dham Yatra, adding to the glory of the region.
 
The motorable route to Kedarnath temple goes to Gauri Kund and is accessible from major Uttarakhand attractions. After that, it’s a 14-kilometer journey to the Kedarnath temple. Ponies and palanquins (doli) are readily accessible, and helicopter services are also available during the yatra’s peak season.
 
The spiritual environment created by the region’s undisturbed, calm, and breathtaking scenery more than compensates for the difficult travel to Shiva’s enormous shrine. Behind the temple, the beautiful Kedarnath peak (6,940 metres) and other peaks offer a perfect background for the supreme deity’s holy land. The conical-shaped Shiva lingam of the Kedarnath temple is unlike any other Shiva shrine in the world.
 
Will reopen in the last week of April 2022 or early May 2022.
 

History of Kedarnath Dham 

Burdened by the guilt of murdering their blood relations, the Pandavas begged Lord Shiva’s forgiveness. Shiva, not wanting to let them off the hook so easy, disguised himself as a bull and roamed the Garhwal Himalayas. Shiva dove under the ground after being detected by the Pandavas. Bhim tried to catch him, but all he got was the hump. Other sections of Shiva’s body (in the form of a bull) appeared in other locations.

The bull’s hump was discovered in Kedarnath, the navel was discovered in Madhya-Maheshwar, two forelegs were discovered in Tunganath, the face was discovered in Rudranath, and hair was discovered in Kalpeshwar. Panch Kedar refers to these five sacred sites as a group. The original temple of Kedarnath is thought to have been built by the Pandavas; the current temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya, who restored and renewed the shrine’s splendour.

Places to visit in Kedarnath Dham

1. Kedarnath Dham 

Grey stone forms the majestic and impressive construction of Lord Shiva’s shrine. The 14-kilometer hard ascent from Gauri Kund is rich with natural beauty. As they travel down the paved and steep trail, pilgrims are rewarded with breathtaking views of snowy peaks, alpine meadows, and gorgeous rhododendron forests. A massive stone statue of Nandi Bull sits directly across from the sanctuary, guarding it. 

Lord Shiva’s primary idol is kept in only one Garbha Griha (pyramid-shaped rock). The Mandapa part of the shrine houses the idols of Lord Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, and Kunti. The temple has withstood natural disasters such as avalanches, earthquakes, and floods for nearly a thousand years, and it still stands as strong and beautiful as it must have been when it was built.

The temple’s gates are closed on the 1st day of Karthik (Oct/Nov) amid elaborate rites, and a mobile idol of Shiva is transported to Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath with the arrival of winter (Rudraprayag district). The Shiva idol is welcomed back and the temple is reopened after a six-month hiatus during the Hindu calendar’s Vaisakh (April/May) era.

2. Gaurikund

It is the beginning point for the walk to Kedarnath’s temple. Goddess Parvati (also known as Gauri) is said to have meditated here in order to marry Lord Shiva, according to folklore. It is made up of natural thermal springs that provide pilgrims with a rejuvenating bath before embarking on the holy darshan of Kedareshwar (the Lord of Kedar, Shiva).

In this area, there is also an ancient Gauri Devi temple dedicated to the goddess. The temple of Sirkata (headless) Ganesha lies half a kilometre from Gauri Kund. This is where, according to the Skanda Purana, Shiva beheaded Ganesha and then grafted the head of an elephant on his headless body.

3. Chorabari Taal

Chorabari Lake, served by the Chorabari glacier, is accessible from Kedarnath town after a short travel of less than 4 kilometres. It is also known as Gandhi Sarovar because a portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were buried in its waters. Along the way, there is a waterfall that must be crossed. It appears amusing, but caution should be exercised when traversing it.

4. Bhairav Temple

Another ancient and prominent temple may be found on the south side of the temple complex. It’s devoted to Bhairav Nath, who is claimed to guard the temple compound when the shrine is closed for the winter.

5. Vasuki Taal

At 3,135 metres, Vasuki, a crystal clear blue-water lake, is about 8 kilometres from Kedarnath. The walk through the unspoilt Himalayas is well worth the effort, despite the difficult climb that includes crossing glaciers.

Best Time to Visit Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath is best visited in the summers due to its frigid environment throughout the year. The months of May to June, as well as September to October, provide perfect weather for travellers to explore this area. The climate in Kedarnath is pleasant and cool during this time. Sub-zero temperatures and heavy rainfall characterise the winters in this region. Because monsoon season is characterised by torrential downpour, pilgrims must bring only a few basics when travelling to this pilgrimage site during the monsoons.

1. Kedarnath Dham in Summers

Kedarnath’s summers, which span from May to June, are pleasant, with temperatures ranging about 17°C. The weather is ideal for visiting the Kedarnath shrine as well as touring in and around Kedarnath. The weather remains moderate at this period, making this the best time to visit this location.

Remember to include a day pack, trekking shoes/comfortable walking shoes, trekking pants, windproof jacket, light woollen clothing, sun cap, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, torch/flashlight with additional batteries, walking stick, and personal necessities. It’s a necessary to have a water bottle with you. You should also bring some dried fruits, energy snacks, and energy drinks like as electoral (ORS)/Gatorade with you.

2. Kedarnath Dham in Monsoon

The monsoon season at Kedarnath begins in July and lasts through August, with temperatures as low as 12°C. Kedarnath is prone to strong rains and landslides during this season, so tourists should be prepared to deal with the challenges. To protect themselves from the strong rains, one must bring only a few things.

A day pack with rain cover, waterproof trekking/hiking shoes, trekking pants, windproof/water resistant jacket, thick fleece, woollen clothes, waterproof gloves, thick wollen socks, walking stick, raincoat/poncho, torch/flashlight with additional batteries, and personal amenities should all be carried. To avoid dehydration, bring a water bottle, as well as a few dry fruits to snack on and energy drinks.

3. Kedarnath Dham in Winters

Kedarnath’s winter season begins in November and lasts till April. The paths to Kedarnath are closed due to severe snowfall, so now is not the greatest time to visit. As a result, the Kedarnath Temple is closed throughout the winter months. Winters are severely cold, with temperatures dropping below zero. For the time being, Kedarnath is still covered with snow, rendering it inaccessible.

A raincoat/poncho, waterproof trekking/hiking shoes, trekking pants, windproof/water resistant jacket, thick fleece, woollen garments, waterproof gloves, thick wollen socks, walking stick, raincoat/poncho, torch/flashlight with additional batteries, and personal amenities should all be carried. Bring a warm water bottle, as well as a few dry fruits to snack on, to minimise dehydration.

How to reach Kedarnath Dham

1. Kedarnath Dham By Air

The nearest airport to Kedarnath is Jolly Grant Airport, which is located on the Rishikesh-Dehradun highway. To get to Gaurikund or Haridwar/Rishikesh, take a taxi.

2. Kedarnath Dham By Train

At all seasons of the year, regular trains run from Delhi to Haridwar and Dehradun. From here, take a cab or a bus.

3. Kedarnath Dham By Bus

Gaurikund is well-connected by road, with buses and taxis readily available from popular places like as Rishikesh, Dehradun, Uttarkashi, Tehri, Pauri, and Chamoli.

Sonprayag will be the last destination where you will have to park your car, bike etc. Then take a local Taxi to Gaurikund as no Tourist vehicle not even bikes are allowed after Sonprayag, only these local taxis will take you to Gaurikund which will cost you around INR 30 per person. 

How to Reach from Gaurikund to Kedarnath Dham

The roads leading to Kedarnath Temple only go as far as Gauri Kund. After that, you must travel for 16 kilometres to the revered site of Kedarnath Mandir. On the banks of the Mandakini River, the Kedarnath walk is wonderfully and naturally created. In between the Kedarnath walk, there are a few short rest stops.

To complete Kedarnath Trek you have 4 options:

1. By Trekking

Trekking is one option for those who have good health and stamina and wants to experience the best of Nature. Kedarnth trek from Gaurikund is 16 Km and quite hard when its Uphill and little less hard when its Downhill. It will take you upto 5-6 Hrs depending on your stamina that how much time will it take? But Let me tell you that the trek will be quite hard as this is my personal experience specially if you are not a adventure person.

2. By Chopper

If you have a large enough budget, you can also hire Helicopter Services during the Char Dham Yatra’s peak season. The spiritual environment created by the serene, sober, and breathtaking grandeur of the region compensates for the difficult travel to Shiva’s majestic abode.

The beautiful Kedarnath peak (6,940 metres) lies behind the temple, surrounded by other peaks, creating an ideal background for the supreme deity’s holy territory (Mahadev). The Kedarnath temple’s conical-shaped Shiva lingam (hump) is a distinctive feature and one of Lord Shiva’s 12 jyotirlingas.

( One Way: INR 2340, Round Trip: INR 4680 )

3. By Ponies

Let me tell you that we went by the Pony service but it was way far more painful and disgusting. The ponies are weak and not fed properly. There were 3 accidents that took place right in front of us when we were trekking uphill in ponies, so its quite dangerous. So, while coming downhill we preferred to trek to maintain our safety as while going downwards the ponies cannot make their balance well.

( One Way: INR 2500, Round Trip: INR 5000 )

Note: Lack of food and Warm water facilities weakens their (ponies) body and often leads to their death during the trek.

4. By Palkies

Many individuals look for Kedarnath Palki Charges on the internet. In fact, after the helicopter, it’s one of the most reliable and comfortable ways to arrive to the Kedarnath Dham. The majority of the time, devotees choose to travel to the Kedarnath Temple, however hiking to the temple might be difficult at times. Palkies and kandies are readily available in Gaurikund at reasonable prices.

Palki Charges: One Way: 4000 (upto 75 kg) and 4500 (upto 90 kg )
Kandi Charges: One Way: 1100 (upto 25 kg) and 2400 (upto 50 kg )

Accommodations in Kedarnath Dham

1. Cheap and Budget Friendly 

The Cheap and budget friendly GMVN ( Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam ) cottages are available at below prices:

GMVN Kedar Dome Cottages, Kedarnath: INR 250 Onwards
GMVN Nandi Complex (Base Camp), Kedarnath : INR 250 Onwards
GMVN Gaurikund Tourist Rest House: INR 600 Onwards
GMVN Nandi Complex Pre Fabricated Huts, Kedarnath : INR 750 Onwards
GMVN Rudra Meditation Cave, Kedarnath : INR 990 Onwards
GMVN Swargarohini Cottages, Kedarnath : INR 750 Onwards

2. Deluxe Accommodations

Deluxe hotels in Kedarnath near Kedarnath Dham are available in the range of INR 1000 – 5000 with dormitory services too:

Hotel Shri Hari
Yatra Hill Resort
New Shivalok
Himalayan Comforts
Kedar Valley Resort
Kedar Camps Resort
Alpine Camp
Kedar Kashi Cottage
Shivalik Valley Resort
Ghughuti Resort

3. Luxury Accommodations

Luxury Hotels are available near Kedarnath Dham at the rate of INR 7000 – 10000 as below:

Adhvanta Resort
Behl Ashram Hotel
Kedar Camp Resort
Hotel Ajay
Himalayan Home Stay
Kailash Residency
Kedar River Retreat

So, choose the best you want.

Kedarnath Dham has been in the wish list of many aged as well as young people too, the experience in itself is something which is once in lifetime kind of feeling.  

 

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About Preeti Bisht

She is a bird of passage. She loves travelling and sharing her travel stories. Emerse in her stories with her and follow her on blogging journey on UttarakhandTravelTourism.com

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