Famous for/as: Pilgrim, Jyotirlinga
Languages: Gujarati, Hindi, English
Best Season: Mar – Oct
Weather: Summer 15 to 30°C
Winter 0 to 24°C
Altitude: 3583 m
STD code: 01372
Kedarnath is a town located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and has gained importance because of Kedarnath Temple. It is a nagar panchayat in Rudraprayag district. The most remote of the four Chota Char Dham sites, Kedarnath is located in the Himalayas, about 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level near Chorabari Glacier, the head of river Mandakini, and is flanked by snow-capped peaks. The nearest road head is at Gaurikund.
The town suffered extensive destruction during June 2013 from flash floods caused by torrential rains in Uttarakhand state.
Kedarnath is located at a distance of 223 km from Rishikesh in Uttarakhand and close to the source of Mandakini river at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level. The township itself cannot be called attractive, as it is built on a barren stretch of land on the shores of Mandakini river but the surrounding scenery of Himalayas and green pastures makes it a very attractive place for pilgrimage and trekking. Behind the town and Kedarnath temple, stands the majestic Kedarnath peak 6,940 m (22,769 ft), Kedar Dome 6,831 m (22,411 ft) and other peaks of the range.
Renowned for the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kedarnath pilgrimage offers the joy of a devout centre and the sizzles of an idyllic tourist spot. A serene place that is closely associated with the mighty Pandavas upholds a beautiful legend of its own. It says that in order to evade from the Pandavas, Lord Shiva made himself hidden in the form of a bull here at Kedarnath, and when noticed by the Pandavas the lord drudge himself in to the earth leaving the hump on the surface.
It is not just temples and shrines that Kedarnath is famed for. This lovely land on the majestic backdrop of the lower Himalayas is naturally bestowed with some of the wonderful vistas of nature. These yet to exploit beauty spots are adorned with an aesthetic charm that provides the onlookers a mesmerizing and captivating feeling.
Nestled in the midst of the imposing peaks of the Himalayas, this holy city with its breezy gentle wind offers an unflustered ambiance. Not only the pious but also those who love to conquer the rough terrain of Garhwal also visit this hilly terrain. The undulating landscapes of this snowy region offer delightful time of escapades. All most all the attractive locations are placed in a higher altitude, Kedarnath and its nearby fascinations proffer excellent opportunities to the brave and the courageous.
Kedarnath presents as a picturesque location, where one can feel the serenity and tranquility of nature in its full bloom amidst the sacred environs of holy shrines.
During winter due to heavy snowfall, the Temple is closed and no one stays in Kedarnath. For six months (November to April) the Palki with the utsava murti of Lord Kedarnath is transferred to a place near Guptakashi called Ukhimath. People shift their settlement too from Kedarnath to nearby villages. Around 360 families of Tirtha Purohit of 55 villages and other nearby villages are dependent on Kedarnath for livelihood.
2013 flash floods:
On 16 June 2013 at approximately 7:30 p.m., a landslide occurred near Kedarnath Temple with loud thunder followed by gushing of huge amount of waters from Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Tal down Mandakini River at about 8:30 p.m. which washed away everything in its path. On 17 June 2013 at approximately 6:40 a.m., waters rushed down River Saraswati and from Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Sarovar bringing along with its flow huge amount of silt, rocks and boulders. A huge boulder got stuck behind Baba Kedarnath Temple, protecting it from the ravages of the flood’s fury. The flood water gushed on both sides of the temple destroying everything in its path. Thus in the middle of pilgrimage season, torrential rains, cloud bursts and resulting flash floods nearly destroyed the town of Kedarnath. The town was the worst affected area by the floods. Thousands of people were killed and thousands of others (mostly pilgrims) were reported missing or stranded due to landslides around Kedarnath. Although the surrounding area and compound of the Kedarnath temple were destroyed, the temple itself survived. The Uttarakhand Chief Minister said that pilgrimage to Kedarnath would not be possible for next two to five years. The rescue operation resulted in more than 100,000 people being airlifted with the help of the Indian Army, Air force, NDRF and Indo-Tibet border police force. A helicopter (Mi 17) crashed during this exercise killing all 20 people on board (all of them were soldiers involved in relief and rescue work). The Air Force dropped logs to build pyres for mass cremations of the victims. It was reported that previously uncollected bodies were still being found one year after the tragedy.
Best Season / Best time to visit
Kedarnath has a cold climate for most part of the year and the best month for travel is May and June and from September and October.
Winter (November to April) is categorized by chilly days with average minimum temperature dipping below the freezing point.Snowfall is very common during the winter months.
Summer (May to June) are very pleasant with moderate climate, with average around 17°C. Summers is ideal for all sight seeing, temple visit and also for visiting nearby attractions.
Monsoon (July to August) are accompanied with occasional rains and also temperature drops down to 12°C. Landslides are common at this tiime.
Kedarnath is one among the holiest destination in the country where summer have cool and pleasant climate and is the right period to spend relaxing moments and visiting the Kedarnath temple. Winter on the other hand is snow bound and chilly and tourists should carry heavy woolens.
Chandigarh to Kedarnath 387 km
Delhi to Kedarnath 458 km
Nagpur to Kedarnath 1421 km
Bangalore to Kedarnath 2484 km
Rishikesh to Kedarnath 189 km
What To See And Do
Kedarnath is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrims of India with Lord Shiva as its residing deity. This holy site is situated perched at an elevation of 3,584mts above sea level in the foot of imposing snow bound Himalayan peaks. Mythology says that Pandavas wanted to wash their sins they committed during the great war of Mahabharata by killing their own brothers, so they wished to meet Lord Shiva. Shiva was angry with them and he didn’t want to bless them with his presence so Lord Shiva converted himself into a big bull and dug himself under the ground. The places where the body parts were founded were named as kedars. The hump of the bull was found here. The temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya in the early 8th century. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India and the main temple of Panch Kedar.
Chorabari Tal is a beautiful lake situated 3kms ahead of Kedarnath in the mouth of Chorabari Bamak Glacier. Chorabari Tal is a pristine lake which shows the reflections of the gigantic Himalayan peaks. Chorabari Tal is also known as Gandhi sarovar. The trek is easy but be careful while crossing the waterfall in between.
Gaurikund is the commencement point of the trek of 14kms to the sacred shrine of Kedarnath. The place is named after Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva and a temple Gauri is also situated here. It is believed that Lord Shiva accepted to marry Parvati at this place and married her in Trijuginarayan. The place offers vivid greenery with Vasuki Ganga flowing from below. Gaurikund is situated 66kms from Rudraprayag. The place also has natural thermal springs.
Vasuki Tal can be reached by a 7km moderate trek from Kedarnath. The lake is located at an altitude of 4,150mts above sea level surrounded by Himalayan peaks casting their shadows on the crystal clear water of Vasuki Tal.
Adi Shankaracharya was a great scholar and a saint who established four sacred dhams in India and after that he went to his Samadhi at an early age of 32.
Where To Stay
Many hotels and guest houses are available.
How To Get Around
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to Kedarnath situated at a distance of 238kms. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights. Gaurikund is well connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis are available from Jolly Grant Airport to Gaurikund..
The nearest railway station to Kedarnath is Rishikesh. Rishikesh railway station is situated 216kms before Kedarnath on NH58. Rishikesh is well connected by railway networks with major destinations of India. Trains to Rishikesh are frequent. Gaurikund is well connected by motorable roads with Rishikesh. Taxis and buses are easily available from Rishikesh to Gaurikund.
Gaurikund is the point where road to Kedarnath ends and an easy trek of 14km commence. Gaurikund is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand and northern states of India. Buses to Rishikesh and Srinagar are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Buses and Taxis to Gaurikund are easily available from major destinations of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Pauri, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Srinagar, Chamoli etc. Gaurikund lies on National Highway 109 which connects Rudraprayag with Kedarnath.