Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand | Best time to visit (2024)
The Kedarnath Temple, located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, is a part of the Char Dham and the first pilgrimage site among the Panch Kedars and is seen as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
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History & its Structure
At an altitude of 3,584 meters, about 223 km from Rishikesh, on the banks of the Mandakini River, a tributary of the Ganges, surrounded by snowy mountains, is the holy temple of Mahadev. Where every year lakhs of devotees come from the country and abroad just to see Lord Shiva. The historical name of this area is “Kedar Khand”. Kedarnath Temple is built on a large rectangular platform with huge stone slabs. The strength of its structure can be gauged from the tsunami that hit Uttarakhand in 2013, which wreaked havoc all around but could not even touch the Kedarnath temple.
There are many beliefs regarding its establishment, it is believed that this temple is more than 1200 years old.
The creation of this temple is attributed to the time of the great epic “Mahabharata“. According to scholars, it was built by the Pandavas to repent for the fratricide and Brāhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins – the priest class) committed by them while winning the war during the Mahabharata and to please Lord Shiva.
The image of Kedarnath in the form of a lingam is of irregular shape, measuring 3.6 meters in circumference and 3.6 meters in height. There is a small pillared hall in front of the temple, which houses the images of Goddess Parvati and the five Pandava princes. Outside the door of the temple, a beautiful idol of Nandi stands as a guard. The temple has been continuously renovated over the centuries.
There are four more temples near Kedarnath, namely Tunganath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar which are Panch Kedar pilgrimage sites. Inside the Kedarnath temple, the hall houses statues of the five Pandava brothers, Krishna, Shiva’s vahan Nandi, and Virabhadra, one of Shiva’s guards. The idols of Draupadi and other deities are also installed in the main hall. There is also a Samadhi temple of Adi Shankaracharya behind the temple.
Way to reach the temple
There is no direct road leading to the temple, for this one has to trek 22 kilometers from Gaurikund. People prefer to climb this difficult trek with the help of sticks. Ponies (टट्टू) and mules (खच्चर) are available for the helpless and elderly people to climb. Heli services are also available, but this facility is usually costlier.
Note – Incidents of fraud often come to the fore regarding the booking of Heli services. To avoid such fraudulent activities, book tickets only from the official website operated by the government.
Heli Yatra Official Website (https://heliyatra.irctc.co.in/)
There is no strict dress code in the temple for now, but it is advised to wear decent clothes while respecting the dignity of Hindu culture.
Opening and Closing of Kedarnath Temple Shrine
The temple usually opens in Vaishakh (April–May) and closes on the first day of Kartik (October–November). Every year Kedarnath temple’s opening date is announced on Maha Shiv Ratri and its date and time depend on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya.
Best Time to Visit
The temple is open for devotees only for 6 to 7 months a year, during this time you can visit whenever you want. But summer (May -June) is considered to be the best time for sightseeing with pleasant weather when a moderately cool climate prevails. While it is very cold here in winter, the temperature remains minus, and snowfall is a regular occurrence.
Note – Monsoon months (July to mid-September) can see regular rains and temperatures drop too, so don’t forget to bring along basic medicines, a raincoat, and long boots. The region is prone to landslides from time to time, which can make travel difficult during the monsoon.
It is mandatory to register for temple darshan which is a free process. You can do this yourself through an online website/application or you can also get it done by reaching Gaurikund for the offline process. After registration, you will have to take a token before reaching the temple where your registration bar code can be scanned by the officials.
You can choose any one of the options given below for online registration –
- Tourist Care Uttarakhand Website (https://registrationandtouristcare.uk.gov.in/)
- Tourist Care Uttarakhand Application (Download Android App & iOS App)
- WhatsApp Facility – Mobile Number: +91 8394833833 – Type: “Yatra”
Offerings and Pujas
Arrangements are available for conducting all types of Puja/Paath/Aarti/Bhog, its fee may vary from time to time.
How to Reach
- Nearest Railway Stations – Rishikesh (approx. 220 km), Haridwar (approx. 240 km)
- Nearest Airport – Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun (approx. 255 km)
- You can reach Gaurikund by road with the help of buses and taxis. Private buses are easily available from Haridwar and Dehradun to Sonprayag, you can book seats online to avoid rush and arbitrary fares. If you want to travel on government buses, then buses run between Rishikesh and Sonprayag, whose fares will be between 600 to 700 rupees. The distance between Sonprayag and Gaurikund is only about 4 to 5 km, the bus does not go ahead till there. If you want, you can complete this route on foot or with the help of a taxi.
Nearby Hotels and Guest houses
- BKTC Guest Houses at Sonprayag & Guptkashi
- Bahuguna Residency
Note – You can choose Dharamshalas of various organizations available at Kedarnath. More budget options like guest houses and hotels are available in Sitapur, which is near Sonprayag and about 20 km from Kedarnath.
Location Map for Kedarnath Temple
What’s Worth Seeing Near Kedarnath Temple
- Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi – Pilgrimage
- Shri Bhairavnath Temple – Pilgrimage
- Vasuki Tal – Lake
- Triyuginarayan Temple – Pilgrimage
- Tungnath and Chandrashila Trek – Trek
Before starting the journey, do take information about the weather and see the news related to Kedarnath. To prevent loss of life, the committee may stop darshan in the temple during bad weather and landslides.
Note – Some people unnecessarily use pony and mule rides for their entertainment. Because of these hundreds of speechless animals die every year. It is our humble request if you are capable of climbing then do not use these animals at all. Due to hunger, thirst, and tiredness, these animals suffer and die there.
For more information, you can visit BKTC’s official website – https://badrinath-kedarnath.gov.in/