11,000ft High: The Land of Lord Shiva
Known as the land of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath houses the highest located jyotirlinga. Sitting at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, you can experience a unique aura here...
If we want to be a bit more precise, we’d say 11,755 ft – that is how high the Kedarnath temple is above sea level. A tiring but worthwhile trek to one of the holiest Hindu sites in the world. Today, I’ll briefly share some history, shining light on the significance of this land, and I will also share details of how you can make this trek too.
The Magnificent Temple
Of course, there are many stories and legends behind the history of this temple, and although it isn’t confirmed who built the original temple, it is believed by many that it was originally constructed by the Pandava brothers. Strangely enough, the Mahabharata never once mentions any place called ‘Kedarnath’.
One of the earliest references to this place can be found in the Skanda Purana (dating back to the 7th or 8th century). According to this scripture, Kedara is the place where Lord Shiva releases the holy river Ganga from his matted hair. It is also said that this temple was rebuilt by the great Hindu acharya, Adi Shankaracharya, who is famed for reconstructing this temple.
The temple has not only survived over 400 hundred years of snow, but it has also managed to avoid any serious damage from glaciers, avalanches and flash floods. It even survived the huge Uttarakhand floods of 2013.
How to Visit Kedarnath
By plane. By train. By car. There are different ways to get to Kedarnath, dependent on your time and budget. I can only share the way that we got there, because I think it is the safest yet most enjoyable way to make the most of the journey and trek.
We travelled from Ahmedabad Airport to Dehradun (Jolly Grant Airport), which is the closest airport to the major pilgrimage sites of Uttarakhand. Depending on where you are flying in from, flight prices range from 4,000rs (around £50) to 10,000rs (around £110) for return flights. The flight journey is relatively short, and it’ll save you a great deal of time instead of travelling by car, train or bus.
Taking a flight earlier in the day is the most sensible decision to make, as you will then need to book a taxi or private car to take you to Sonprayag – a journey which is roughly seven to eight hours, dependent on weather conditions and circumstances.
Sonprayag is a small village in the Rudrapyag district, a short distance away from Gaurikund, where you will begin your trek to Kedarnath the following morning. There are many hotels and rooms available in Sonprayag – whether you book beforehand (which we chose to do) or if you turn up and book a place.
The following morning, around 5.00am, we took the government jeep to Gaurikund. You cannot take your own vehicle to Gaurikund, so you must travel by ride-sharing in the allocated jeeps. This costs around 20 to 50 Rs. and takes about 15 to 30 minutes to arrive.
Upon arriving in Gaurikund, you have several options to make the 23km trek up to Kedarnath. If you are physically fit and prepared, you can trek by foot (as we did) and this will take you up to 5 to 8 hours. There are also mules available (for which you should not have to pay more than 2,000 Rs. per person) – choose your providers wisely. There are also individuals who will carry you on their backs or on a palanquin, but this seems like a burden and nullification of a pilgrimage, so we opted out of this option. If you’re worried about what to eat, rest breaks, or the like – don’t! There are plenty of places to stop and relax along the way…
We arrived at Kedarnath after a strenuous journey just after noon. What a sight to behold! Seeing the temple on your way up makes the whole trip worthwhile. All your tiredness just gets washed away.
Although Kedarnath is relatively small, you must visit the below places:
Shri Kedarnath Temple
Shri Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi
Shri Bhairavnath Temple
We stayed the night in Kedarnath (again, there are many places to stay the night, but wrap up warm, especially for the nights!) The next morning, after morning ārti and darshan, we made our way back down and onto the next leg of our journey…
That ends the first part of our journey in Uttarakhand.
Stay tuned. There is more to come.
Prayers and Love,
Thanks for reading The Keshav Way! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.