The home of Lord Shiva
Located at a height of 3583 meter (11755 foot) on the banks of river Mandakini (A tributary of river Ganges) this stone temple is unique. Adi Shankaracharya the great Hindu scholar visited in the 8th century A.D. when the present stone temple structure was constructed adjacent to the ancient temple built by the Pandavas.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, It is one of the holiest Hindu temple of India, at a picturesque location in the Garhwal Himalayas surrounded by snow capped peaks and glaciers. Behind the temple is Kedar-dome. The temple remains open to the pilgrims from last week of April to first week of November. In the winters the Temple is covered in snow. It is 223 Kilometers from Rishikesh. Motor-able road has still not reached the temple so an uphill hike of fourteen kilometer from Gaurikund or a pony ride takes the pilgrims to the temple. In winters the deities of the Temple are brought down at Ukhimath where they are worshipped for six months.
The Hindu Mythology
As per the Hindu Mythology, in the war of Mahabharata the Pandavas killed many friends, relatives and enemy soldiers. At the end of the war they went to sage Vyasa to show them how to absolve their sin. Vyasa advised them a pilgrimage to Himalayas and a sacred view of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva would not allow the Pandavas to catch a glimpse of him so easily. He started playing a hide and seeks game and the Pandavas followed him from Kashi, Haridwar and Gupta Kashi till they reached Gaurikund.
Here they noticed Lord Shiva disguised as a he-buffalo. Bhima tried to grab hold of the buffalo as the buffalo also tried to enter and vanish under the earth. In the tug of war the buffalo split into five pieces and fell in different directions. The hind part of the buffalo fell here and turned into a stone. The godly voice of Shiva said “I will reside here as a Jyotirlinga” The Pandavas were absolved of their sins.
Hindu’s till today believe with a mere sight of the stone they will be relieved of all their sins. Hence they have been taking a journey to Kedarnath for centuries ignoring all the hardships they had to undertake.