The Holy Shrine of Kedarnath (one of the 12 Jyotir Lingas in Hinduism) is a beacon light of India’s most refined secularism. It is situated at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), on the banks of the legendary Mandakini river, a tributary of Ganges. It is an impressive stone edifice of unknown date. The present structure is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century AD and is on a site adjacent to where Pandavas are believed to have built the temple.
It has one Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and a Mandap and stands on a plateau surrounded by mighty snow clad peaks and glaciers of the towering Himalayan Mountain Range. [One can see the majestic heights of Kedarnath peak 6,940 m (22,769 ft) and Kedar Dome 6,831 m (22,411 ft)].
The first hall inside Kedarnath Temple contains statues of the five Pandava brothers and Draupadi, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. A medium-size conical rough stone formation is in the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) is the ruling deity, Lord Kedarnath Ji. It is revered and worshiped as Sadashiva form of Lord Shiva. Kedarnath, also means the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
The head priest (Raval) of the Kedarnath temple belongs to the Veerashaiva community from Karnataka but pujas are carried out by Raval’s assistants on his instructions. There are five main priests for the temple, and they become head priests for one year by rotation. During Pooja of Lord Shiva at Kedaranath the mantras are pronounced in the Kannada language, a tradition hallowed by a history of hundreds of years.
Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with the Holy Shrine of Badrinath..
The temple is opened Akshaya Tritriya to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winter months, the Vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple and the seat of the Lord are brought to Ukhimath and worshiped there for six months.
Contributed By: Dr. Amitava Mukharjee
(He is the most renowned world economist on poverty alleviation and empowerment today. He has long association with United Nations for launching their initiatives on fight against hunger and providing micro assistance to most marginalised societies. He is a great scholar and has been teaching in University of London and Stanford University. He has travelled over 130 Countries and written numerous books. Deeply religious he has visited various holy shrines. We bring you glimpses of his travelogue.)