Kedarnath is a town nestled in the lap of the Garhwal Himalayas, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in India, attracting thousands of devotees every year to seek blessings and embark on a spiritual journey. The town is situated at an altitude of 3,583 meters above sea level and is accessible only by foot or helicopter.
In this blog, we will discuss the history of Kedarnath, the ideal itinerary for a Kedarnath trip, accommodation options, how to reach, and some tips for a hassle-free journey.
History of Kedarnath
The history of Kedarnath dates back to the ancient times of the Hindu mythology. It is believed that the Pandavas, the protagonists of the epic Mahabharata, visited this place to seek blessings from Lord Shiva to atone for their sins during the Kurukshetra war. According to the history, Lord Shiva was pleased with their devotion and appeared before them in the form of a bull, and then vanished into the ground, leaving his hump behind. The hump is said to be worshipped at Kedarnath temple, which is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India, representing Lord Shiva.
The Kedarnath temple was constructed in the 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya, a famous philosopher and theologian. The temple has undergone several renovations and restorations over the years due to natural calamities, including earthquakes and floods. The most recent restoration was carried out after the devastating floods of 2013, which had caused extensive damage to the temple and the surrounding areas.
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Why Visit Kedarnath?
Apart from being a religious site, Kedarnath is also a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. The town is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and pristine rivers, offering breathtaking views and ample opportunities for trekking, camping, and sightseeing.
The trek to Kedarnath is considered to be one of the most challenging treks in the region, and is a test of physical and mental endurance. However, the journey is also rewarding, as it provides an opportunity to witness the beauty of the Himalayas and immerse oneself in nature.
Opening and Closing Dates in 2023
The Kedarnath temple is open for darshan from the month of April/May to November every year. The opening date for the temple in 2023 is expected to be around April 25th, while the closing date is expected to be around November 6th. However, the exact dates may vary depending on the weather conditions and the announcement made by the authorities.
Ideal Itinerary for Kedarnath Trip
A typical Kedarnath trip can be planned for 3-4 days. Here is an ideal itinerary that you can follow:
Day 1: Arrive at the town of Guptkashi, which is the nearest town to Kedarnath. You can spend the day exploring the local markets and nearby attractions.
Day 2: Early in the morning, take a helicopter ride to Kedarnath or start your trek to Kedarnath from Gaurikund. It is a 16 km trek that can take up to 8-10 hours to complete. After reaching Kedarnath, visit the Kedarnath temple and attend the evening aarti.
Day 3: Spend the day exploring the town of Kedarnath and nearby attractions such as the Shankaracharya Samadhi, Bhairavnath temple, and Gandhi Sarovar.
Day 4: Start your return journey to Guptkashi or other nearby towns.
There are a few accommodation options available in Kedarnath such as guesthouses, dharamshalas, and camps. However, due to the high demand, it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance. The accommodation options in nearby towns like Guptkashi, Phata, and Sitapur are more plentiful and offer a wider range of options. These towns are well-connected to Kedarnath and can be easily accessed by road.
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How to Reach Kedarnath
The nearest airport to Kedarnath is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is around 238 kms away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Guptkashi. The nearest railway station is also in Dehradun. From there, you can take a taxi or bus to reach Guptkashi.
From Guptkashi, you can take a helicopter ride to Kedarnath, which takes around 10-15 minutes. The helicopter services are available from Phata and Sitapur as well. Alternatively, you can start your trek from Gaurikund, which is around 16 kms from Guptkashi. The trek is considered to be challenging and requires good physical fitness and proper acclimatization.
Tips for a Hassle-free Journey
Here are some tips that you should keep in mind while planning your Kedarnath trip:
1.Check the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. Kedarnath experiences extreme weather conditions, especially during the winter months, and the temple remains closed from November to April.
2.Carry warm clothes, rain gear, and sturdy trekking shoes. The temperature can drop drastically at night, and rain is common during the monsoon season.
3.Carry necessary medication and first aid kit. It is advisable to consult a doctor before embarking on the trek.
4.Respect the sanctity of the place and follow the local customs and traditions.
5.Avoid carrying plastic bags and dispose of waste responsibly.
A Kedarnath trip is not just a pilgrimage, but also an opportunity to witness the beauty of the Himalayas and immerse oneself in nature. It is a journey that requires both physical and mental strength, but the experience is worth every effort. The tranquil environment, majestic mountains, and the spiritual aura of the place are sure to leave you with a feeling of peace and tranquility.
As you embark on this journey, make sure to keep these tips in mind, and most importantly, respect the sanctity of the place. The journey to Kedarnath may not be an easy one, but the experience is one that you will cherish for a lifetime. So, pack your bags, put on your trekking shoes, and get ready to embark on a spiritual journey amidst the Himalayas.
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