Devotees all over India have not been able to visit places of worship for a long time, but now with the government allowing them to open, many would be thronging these places. India is a country that has many temples dedicated to the many gods that are worshipped, and among the more prominent ones is the Kedarnath Temple. Also Read - Legend of Badrinath Temple: As Shrines Reopen Post COVID-19 Lockdown, Here's More History on The Famous Religious Place
Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu shrine located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Due to the extreme weather conditions, it is open to the public only between the months of April and November. With its unpredictable weather, during the winters the deity is carried down to Ukhimath where it stays for six months. Also Read - Uttarakhand News: When are Badrinath, Kedarnath Opening Doors For Devotees? Know Here
The temple had in 2013 been hit with unprecedented flash floods that saw the loss of hundreds of lives and destruction of all the buildings that were there. The temple survived after a huge boulder got stuck behind it and diverted most of the water from hitting the building.
The precise location of the Kedarnath Temple is on the Garhwal Himalayan range on the shores of the Mandakini river, and it is not easily accessible by road. People have to trek for 22 kilometres uphill from Gaurikund, and those who cannot walk can either hire a pony or a manchan. The temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, situated at a height of 11,755 feet.
There is no known history of who built the original Kedarnath temple and when, but a theological account states that Shiva agreed to dwell there at the request of Nara-Narayana. Kedarnath derives its meaning from the Sanskrit words kedara (field) and natha (lord), which translate to ‘lord of the field’.
According to legend, the first temple at Kedarnath was built by the Pandava brothers, who had gone there to seek forgiveness from Shiva for killing their kin during the Kurukshetra War. Shiva did not want to forgive them and disguised himself as a bull, and when they tracked him down, he tried to disappear by sinking into the ground head-first. Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, managed to grab his tail before he disappeared, forcing him to appear and forgive them. After they were forgiven, they built the first temple at Kedarnath dedicated to Shiva.
The other reference about the origins of Kedarnath is found in the Skanda Purana (c. 7th-8th century), which describes how the river Ganges came into being. According to it, Kedara (Kedarnath) is the place where Shiva released the holy water from his matted hair.