The Himalayas have been a place of asceticism for Rishi-munis and deities for centuries. Famous personalities gained spiritual power by doing Tapasya here and increased the pride of India in the world.
Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are famous in the name of Chardham in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand region. These shrines are precious jewels shining in the head-crown of the country.
Among them, the philosophy of Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines is of particular importance. Regarding the Kedarnath Darshan coming in Dwadash (Twelve) Jyotirlinga in Kedarkhand, it is written that if a person travels to the Badrinath region without seeing Kedarnath God, then his journey becomes fruitless.
There's a quote in Sanskrit
अकृत्वा दर्शनं वैश्वय केदारस्याघनाशिन:।
यो गच्छेद् बदरीं तस्य यात्रा निष्फलतां व्रजेत्।।
The temple of Shri Kedarnath Ji is situated on the peak named 'Mount Kedar' of the Himalayas. The holy shrine of Lord Badri Vishal is situated on the Holiness of the Alaknanda River, which rises in the east direction of this peak, and Lord Shree Kedarnath sits on the banks of the virtuous Salila Mandakini river in the west.
Alaknanda and Mandakini holy confluence of two rivers happens at Rudraprayag. In Devprayag, Ganga borns from the confluence of two rivers, i.e., Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, that out from the holy shrine ' Gangotri ' of Uttarakhand.
After Devprayag, the Ganga river reaches the plains in Haridwar. After seeing Lord Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga, all the sins of human beings are destroyed by seeing Lord Nara-Narayana in the Badri area, and he also gets salvation. The same intention is also expressed in the Koti Rudra Samhita of Shiva Purana-
तस्यैव रूपं दृष्ट्वा च सर्वपापै: प्रमुच्यते।
जीवन्मक्तो भवेत् सोऽपि यो गतो बदरीबने।।
दृष्ट्वा रूपं नरस्यैव तथा नारायणस्य च।
केदारेश्वरनाम्नश्च मुक्तिभागी न संशय:।।
The architectural craft of Kedarnath Temple
The Pandavas built the ancient temple of Kedareshwar (Kedarnath), Jyotirlinga. It is situated at the height of 11750 feet on the mountain. According to mythological evidence, 'Kedar' is the back part of "Mahish," i.e., a buffalo.
The height of the Kedarnath temple is 80 feet, which stands on a large square platform. Brownstones have been used in the construction of this temple.
The biggest surprise is that in ancient times, how could this magnificent temple have been established by bringing those considerable stones to such an inaccessible site in the absence of mechanical means?
This grand temple is living proof of the devotion of the Pandavas to Shiva, their strength will, and their muscle power.
This temple has excellent artistry. Above the temple, a wooden umbrella is built on the pillars, on which the copper is overlaid. The pinnacle ( Kalash ) of the temple is also of copper, but it has been polished with gold.
In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is the Swayambhu Jyotirlinga of Kedarnath, which is of unmarked stone. This lingamurti is four cubits long and one and a half cubit thick, which looks like a buffalo's back.
There is a narrow circumambulation around it, in which devotees perform pradakshina.
In front of this Jyotirlinga, water, flowers, belpatra etc. are offered, and in the second part of it, the passengers are carrying ghee. Devotees also meet God by filling this lingamurti in their arms.
The story in Shiva Purana
There are two incarnations of Lord Vishnu called Nara and Narayana. Both Nara and Narayana did great penance at Badarikashram in the holy Himalayas.
He prayed to Lord Shiva to worship Parthiv (clay) by making a Shiva lingam in reverence and devotion.
When Shiva was present in the earthly sex, both (Nara and Narayan) worshipped him with scripture. Regularly worshipping Shiva daily and being immersed in his meditation was the restrained routine of those ascetics.
After a long time, God Shankar, satisfied with his worship, God said that I am pleased with both of you, so you guys ask for me. Pleased to hear Lord Shankar's talk, Narayan and Narayan said with the feeling of public welfare - 'Deveshwar! If you are happy and want to give us a bridesmaid, then you can stay here forever to accept worship in your form. '
Lord Shankar, who took care of the world, accepted the request of those two ascetic brothers and located him as Jyotirlinga in Kedartirtha in the Himalayas.
Worshipped by those two unique devotees, Lord Shiva, known as Kedareshwar Mahadev, is always present there, to destroy all fear and grief and to wish to see his devotees.
Lord Kedarnath provides happiness and peace to the worshiper. Whoever worshipped Kedareshwar, based on the penance of Nar-Narayana, who worshipped with devotion, did not see grief and sorrow even in his dream.
Shiva's favourite devotee inscribed Shiva's form near Kedarling. He hardens; he sees Lord Shiva embellished with that ring and crosses this bhavasagar, i.e., he becomes free from life.
A person who visits Badrivan and sees the form of male and Narayan and Kedareshwar Shiva, of course, becomes a part of the post of salvation. Such a person who has devotion in Kedarnath Jyotirlinga and departs from his place to see him, but he dies on the way, due to which he is unable to see Kedareshwar. One must understand that definitely, Man was liberated.
Shiva Purana is also of the opinion that upon reaching Kedartirtha, worshipping Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, the person who drinks water there is not reborn. Therefore every person should worship the Lord Nara-Narayan and Kedareshwar Shivalinga devoutly.
The same thing has been said in the following Rudra Samhita of Shri Shiva Mahapuran:
केदारेशस्य भक्ता ये मार्गस्थास्तस्य वै मृता:।
तेऽपि मुक्ता भवन्त्येव नात्र कार्य्या विचारणा।।
तत्वा तत्र प्रतियुक्त: केदारेशं प्रपूज्य च।
तत्रत्यमुदकं पीत्वा पुनर्जन्म न विन्दति।।
Panch Kedars (Panch Kedar)
Based on the buffalo-like Shiva's limbs, these places of Kedar are as follows -
Kedarnath is the back of buffalo in the major pilgrimage.
Maheshwar as the navel.
Arms and heart in Tungnath.
As a face in Rudranath
Kalpeshwar is revered as Jata.
The philosophy of these five Kedars of Uttarakhand has special significance. There is also an old Kedar here. In relation to these, it is said that when the Pandavas went out on pilgrimage, they went to the old Kedar to see Lord Shiva. The buffalo form of Shiva which is related to the Pandavas is described in the Koti Rudra Samhita of Shiva Mahapurana as follows:
यो वै हि पाण्डवान्दृष्ट्वा महिषं रूपमास्थित:।
मायामास्थाय तत्रैव पलायनपरोऽभवत्।।
धृतश्च पाण्डवैस्तत्र ह्मवांगमुखतया स्थित:।
पुच्छं चैव धृतं तैस्तु प्रर्थितश्च पुन:।।
तद्रूपेण स्थितस्तत्र भक्तवत्सलनामभाक्।
नयपाले शिरोभागो गतस्तद्रूपत: स्थित:।।
तथैव पूजनान्नित्यामाज्ञां चैवाप्यदात्तथा।
पूजयित्वा गतास्ते तु पाण्डवा मुदितास्तदा।
लब्ध्वा चित्तोप्सितं सर्व विमुक्ता: सर्वदु:खत:।।
We have written a separate article on Panch Kedar where you can read about it in detail.
Temple Committee for Operations
The state government has formed a temple committee to run the temples of Shri Kedarnath and Badrinath. The temple committee manages the temple and the responsibility of their income and expenditure, and all types of arrangements are on them.
The temple committee has prescribed Dakshina (fee) for the public to have worship, Bhaga-raga, Aarti, etc. in the temples. The Rawals (Brahmins) of South India are the head priests of the temple. The committee pays all the employees of the temple.
Best Time to Visit Kedarnath
The temple of Kedarnath Ji opens at 7:00 am for general visitors.
Special poojas take place from one to two in the afternoon, and after that, the temple is closed for rest.
Again the temple is opened for public viewing at 5 pm.
The regular Aarti is performed from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm, with the five-faced Lord Shiva's statue duly adorned.
The temple of Kedareshwar Jyotirlinga is closed at 8:30 pm.
Kedarghati is covered with snow in winter. Although the opening and closing of the Kedarnath temple are promising, it usually closes before the 15th of November (two days before the Scorpio Sankranti). After six months, i.e., Vaishakhi (April 13-14) ) the valve opens.
In such a situation, the Panchmukhi statue of Kedarnath is brought to ' Ukhimath.' Rawal Ji worships this statue here too.