Kedarnath is on the bank of the Mandakini River between Gangotri and Badrinath. As the crow flies Kedarnath is only 42km from Badrinath. Over 100,000 pilgrims come here each year. It is believed that Sankaracharya passed away here about 820 AD. Kedareswar Siva is the presiding deity. Behind the Kedarnath temple is an impressive mountain range, with the beautiful Kedarnath Mountain (6,970m).
This Lord Siva temple at Kedarnath is said to have been built by the Pandavas to atone for their sins procured during the Kurukshetra war. It is believed that this temple was originally constructed by the Pandavas, and the present temple was reconstructed by Sankaracharya in the 8th century. One of the 12 Siva-Jyotirlingas is in this temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Sada Siva and is considered to be one of the major Siva temples in India. Inside the temple there is an irregular, three-faced linga, representing the hump of Lord Siva when he took the form of a bull. It is about 3m (9 ft) long, 1m (3 ft) wide, and 1.3m (4 ft) high. Pilgrims are allowed to touch the linga, perform worship, abhishek (bathe), and massage the linga with ghee. There are deities of goddess Parvati and Ganesh in front of the main altar door. Outside the second door are Lord Krishna, the five Pandavas, their wife, Draupadi, and their mother, Kunti. In the temple is a Lakshmi-Narayana Deity, which was installed by Adi Sankaracharya. The temple faces south, which is a unique feature, as most temples face east. This temple is very solidly built. The temple opens the first week of May and closes either the last week of October or the first week of November. May/June is the busiest time of the year. Worship of Sri Kedarnath is continued in the village of Okhimath in the winter by the priest from the Kedarnath Temple. The waiting time to enter the temple in the afternoon is about 15 minutes, otherwise if you go at 7 am the waiting time may be two hours or more. The main pujas are at six am and six pm.
The story of the temple is that the Pandavas felt contaminated by sinful reactions from killing so many people during the Kurukshetra war. They decided to ask Lord Siva for his blessings to relieve them from these sinful reactions. The Pandavas first went to Kashi (Varanasi) to get Lord Siva’s blessings, but the Lord fled to Uttarakhand (Guptakashi) and lived there incognito. Eventually the Pandavas found him there, and Lord Siva turned himself into a bull to hide. Bhima recognized his disguise and grabbed the bull by the tail. The bull slowly sank into the ground, and Lord Siva then appeared before them on account of their great determination. Lord Siva instructed them to worship the remaining hump of the bull (pinda form). A temple was then constructed and worship has been going on here ever since. Other parts of Lord Siva’s body appeared in other places in the area. It is said that the Pandavas also built temples at these places. They are known as the Panch Kedars: Kedarnath, hump (pinda); Tungnath, arm (bahu); Rudranath, face (mukh); Kalpeswar, hair (jata); and Madhyamaheswar, navel (nabhi). Other Places
There is a marble staff behind the temple that commemorates Sankaracharya. It is believed that Sri Sankara passed away in Kedarnath. There is another school of thought that says he passed away in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Just behind the Kedarnath Temple is the Mahapanth Trail (Gate of Heaven). It is said that from this place there is a path that goes north up to Swarga-rohini (path to heaven). It is said that the five Pandavas took this path after performing a huge yajna (sacrifice). Other people said that the Pandavas ascended from Badrinath. A path to the east of the village, to the right of the temple, leads to the Bhairava temple. Bhairava is the furious form of Lord Siva. It is a 20-minute walk. Before you cross the bridge that crosses to the town you come to a path that leads to a glacier, 4km away....