Kedarnath Dham is one of the four sacred shrines or one of the famous Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand which comprises of a religious tour to the famous Char Dhams Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Kedarnath is located at an altitude of 3583 metres near the Chorbari Glacier. Kedarnath Dham is visited by a large number of devotees every year and is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kedarnath Temple is opened in the month of May and is closed by the month of October or November.
Kedarnath Dham is famous for the Kedarnath Shrine. There are many other attractions at the Dham near the Kedarnath Temple like the Gandhi Sarovar, Bhairavnath Temple and the trek to Vasuki Tal. This Dham has a trekking route to reach which drives many early trekkers to visit the place.
Kedarnath Dham is a pious sight for pilgrims and is a hotspot for the devotees going to the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The Temple has religious significance for the Hindus and the place is head of Mandakini River. The temple and the other nearby sights of Kedarnath Dha are not accessible by roads and hence one has to trek a distance of about 16 kilometres or travel in a helicopter to reach the Dham. The temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas which are the 12 main temples located in the country which are dedicated to lord Shiva. The deity of the temple is taken to Ukhimath for six months when the temple is closed during the winters and is praised there.
The Kedarnath Dham was worst affected area during the flash floods in 2013 when all the houses, shops, hotels and other places near the temple were washed away in the floods. The only thing that remains the same is the ancient Temple which has just got some cracks on the walls and no other major loss. There was Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi near the temple which was also washed away in the floods. Even after the floods had occurred, many devotees visited the Dham in the year after the floods and now a large number of devotees visit the temple.
Devotees can reach the Dham by the new trekking trail which was made after the old route was destructed in the floods. The NIM (Nehru Institute of Mountaineering) team did a remarkable job in constructing the best route in the least of time. Although the distance of the Dham from Gaurikund has increased from 12 kilometres to 16 kilometres but the path is nicely built pavement with fences, many shelters, shops and public convenience in between. Even after such a devastating natural calamity, the temple remains untouched and this has been one of the major drives for the devotees to visit the temple after the floods.
Kedarnath is a famous pilgrimage spot and hence the most important activity here is the religious practices and the worship of Lord Shiva. The Kedarnath Dham provides a good trekking ground to trekkers and mountaineers. One can reach the Dham by a Helicopter and return back in the same which is an adventure in itself.
As Kedarnath is a religious place so there are a large number of restaurants all offering a variety of vegetarian options to the devotees. There is mainly North Indian food served in the restaurants and non vegetarian food is strictly restricted to be served at the Dham as it is a religious place.
Kedarnath Dham had a large number of Hotels but after the floods in 2013 all the hotels, shops and houses were washed away. There are provisions for the devotees to stay in Kedarnath Dham as a few number of Hotels and in the form of camps which has been set up in a large number for the time being till the time more Hotels are built. Some of the Hotels are Hotel himachal House, Meerut Mandal and Mewar Sadan, Shivalik Valley Resorts, Hotel Saurabh and many others.
According to the Mythology, Pandavas were seeking Lord Shiva for blessings and apology for the injustice in the war of Mahabharatha. Padavas pursued him to Guptakashi and recognised him in disguised form of Nandi. When Pandavas tried to hold Nandi by his tail, he vanished from Guptkashi and reappeared as Shiva in five different forms namely, hump at Kedarnath, face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhmaheshwar and the locks at Kalpeshwar.
When Nar- Narayn went to badrika village and started the worship of Parthiva, Lord Shiva appeared before him and then Nar-Narayan wished that for the welfare of the society shiva should remain in his original form. Granting his wish Lord Shiva stayed in the snow clad mountains of the Himalayas in Kedarnath in the form of Jyoti.
Some of the major festivals celebrated in Kedarnath are Badri Kedar festival which is the day in the month of June when the Temple opens, Diwali, Navratre, shivani Annakoot Mela and the Samadhi Day when the temple finally closes for six months in the month of October or November.