We got up around 4.30 AM and left to have a holy bath in Gauri kund . There are two kunds , one for bathing and other for worshipping only.
As Gaurikund is having hot water spring , none of the hotels provide hot water bucket for bathing. Soap and washing clothes are not allowed inside the kund.
It was 5.30 AM by that time, we all were free from bathing and ready to proceed for Kedarnath. First we visited Gauri Kund where puja is performed before leaving for Kedarnath. Thereafter we visited Gauri temple where Goddess Parvati meditated to attain lord Shiva.
Very close to Gauri temple there is Uma Maheshwar temple also where Shiv is worshiped in the form of a rock.
Gauri kund is a very commercial place and congested too. Every little space around the kund is converted into hotel or Restaurant / dhaba.
It is advisable to carry only necessary stuff along with while trekking and leave other luggage either in hotel or car. We too left our luggage in our tempo traveller.
Around 6.00 AM we started our trekking for Kedarnath. After half a km away towards Kedarnath , you will find booking office for Mules / Palkies / Kandies . It is always better to book from the office only for the hassle free journey.
Kedarnath can be accessed by foot , mule , palki or kandi. It could be visited by Helicopter too which is available from Agastyamuni or Phata.
Those who visited Kedarnath by Helicopter , they miss the natural beauty of the valley and the trekking. They miss the opportunity of visiting Gauri kund too.
We did not choose any of the means of transport and took up to trekking. Our youngest trekker was 6 yrs old and the oldest one was 70 years ,but we all chose to go by foot to visit the temple.
The journey of first one km was terribly irritating because the way was overcrowded and too much stinking because of the horses. Couple of kms away we found it ok. After sometime we started feeling tired but kept on walking slowly and taking rest in every 200-300 meters for couple of seconds to regain the energy.
Sun was also so bright that we started sweating. We took out our jackets. In three hours we reached Rambanda which is at 7 kms from Gauri Kund ,the mid-way.
On the way we were having in between tea / juice / cucumber / lemon water / biscuits / dry fruits and off course water. While trekking it is advisable to carry chicklets and toffees.
We were passing through the awesome scenic beauty of hills i.e. beautiful waterfalls / glaciers and breath taking landscapes. As higher we went we found the scenic beauty mind blowing and heavenly.
Once we crossed 12 kms of the way , it started drizzling and we put on our jackets back and started walking. Due to cold and exhaustion even lifting of our steps was killing as they were paining severely. When we were moving further we could easily feel the temperature falling rapidly because of ice cold breeze and it was difficult to breathe too. We had to try really hard to force our legs to walk.
Last two km we found it intolerable to walk, we were motivating each other and continuing our journey.
The ascent flattens out about a KM before Kedarnath and view is difficult to describe as we all were lost in its beauty. We were surrounded from all sides from the white beauty of Himalayas.
We finally covered 14 kms of trekking and reached our hotel.
There are many hotel rooms, Ashrams ,cottages and GMVN hotel in Kedarnath , don’t expect luxury hotels here.
Some of our known to gave us the reference of a local Pandit of kedarnath ,who came to our room and offered us for the temple visit after dinner around 8.30 PM.
We had our dinner & around 8.30 that pandatji came and took us for the temple visit for offering puja. We were shivering like anything as it was extremely cold. Within 5 mins we reached the temple and after waiting for just 10 mins we were inside the temple for performing puja.
Kedarnath is one of the Char Dham Hindu pilgrim centres in Uttarakhand. It is situated on the bank of river Mandakani about 3500 meters above the sea level and is flanked by breath-taking snow-capped peaks.
Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva who is considered to be the protector of mankind and destroyer of evil.
Legend has it that, after the battle of Kurukshetra, Pandavas searched for Lord Shiva to seek his blessings and atone for their sins. But Lord Shiva eluded them and while fleeing from Kedarnath in the form of a bull he dived into the ground and left his hump behind. The Hindus traveling to Kedarnath worship this conical protrusion.
In the front of the temple is a large statue of Nandi. The mandapa walls are adorned with idols of the five Pandavas and Draupdi. There is also an image of lord Ganesha.
The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Guru Shankaracharya lies adjacent to the site of an ancient temple built by Pandavas. Guru Shankaracharya smadhi is located just behind the Kedarnath temple. Adi Guru Shankaracharya after establishing the four sacred dhams ( North – Badrinath , South – Rameshvaram , East – Jaganath Puri & West – Dwarikadish ) is said to have gone into Samadhi here at an early age of 32 years.
Kedarnath is one among the 12 Jyotirling of lord Shiva others are :-
Somnath – Gujrat, Vishwanath – Varanasi , Mahakaleshwar – Ujjain, Omkareshwar – Khandwa (MP), Rameshwaram – Tamilnadu , Mallikarjuna – AP, Trayambakeshwar – Maharastra, Bhimashankar – Maharastra, Nageshwar – Gujrat, Baijnath – Bihar, Grishneshwar – Maharastra.
Kedarnath including these four shrines is treated as Panch Kedar :-
Kedarnath : The hump or the hinder part of the bull which was held by Bhim is worshipped as Lord Shiva.
Maddhyamaheshvra : Nabhi or the middle-part of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This is located at 21 kms from Ukhimath.
Tungnath : The Bahu or hand of the bull is worshipped here as Lord Shiva. It is located enroute to Badrinath and is 37 kms from Ukhimath.
Rudranath: The Mukh or the mouth of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva here. It is about 19 kms from Mandal Chatti.
Kalpeshwar : The Jata or the hair of the head of bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This place is located about 8.7 kms from Helang, on the other side of the river Alaknanda.
Because of the extreme weather conditions the temple closes by November ( autumn full moon, that is Karthik Poornima) and opens in end of April the date is decided by the temple committee . During its closure the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath and worship is performed at Ukhimath , and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May.
In 15 – 20 mins we were out of temple, clicked some of the pictures and decided to come in the morning for day pictures and to visit Adi shankracharya’s Samadhi which is just behind the temple.
We thanked Panditji and rushed towards the hotel as cold was intolerable.