Kedarnath Dham is notable for the famous Kedarnath temple which is one among the 12 revered Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva that our country has. The temple enshrines a pyramidal Jyotirlingam of Lord Kedar who is none other than Lord Shiva seated here in the form of a cosmic light or Jyotirlingam. The Jyotirlingam here is a self manifested lingam of Lord Shiva and is the highest of all Jyotirlingams that our country has. The temple of Kedarnath lies in Uttarakhand Rudraprayag district and is cradled at an altitude of 3583 meters above the sea level along the River Mandakini banks. Kedarnath Dham is also one of the Chardham in the Chota Chardham circuit.
The religious significance of Kedarnath Dham is closely associated with the history as well mythologies related to the Kedarnath Dham.
According to historical records, the Kedarnath Dham dates back to nearly thousand years or more in terms of its age though no concrete proof of this fact is yet available. History of Kedarnath thus is a synonym of the mythical stories or legends behind the shrine. It is believed that this temple was set up by the Pandavas and later was revived by the great spiritual guru, Adi Shankaracharya when he visited the place around 8th Century CE. Thus, the temple dates back to the epic periods of Mahabharata as per legendary or mythical tales.
The Main Mythology Behind the Kedarnath Temple is as Follows-
Pandavas after the great battle of Kurukshetra or Mahabharata were guilt struck for having killed their own kinsmen; the Kaurava cousins. In order to get freed from this sense of sin they came looking for Lord Shiva who alone could absolve their sins. First they went to Kashi in search of Lord Shiva but learnt that the Lord now dwells in the snow wrapped Himalayas. So, they proceeded for the Himalayas and entered the region via Haridwar. But Lord Shiva was not in a mind to give them easy ablution from their sins and thus hid himself from their sight by taking the guise of a buffalo. The location where the lord had concealed himself later came to known by the name of Guptakashi. From Guptakashi, Pandavas proceeded towards Gauri Kund where two of the Pandava brothers; Nakula and Sahedeva spotted a unique looking buffalo. Bheema; another Pandava brother picked up his mace and started pursuing the strange buffalo.
The clever buffalo had hidden its face into a fissure on the earth. Bheema grabbed it by its tail and after a fierce tug of war, the buffalo’s body disintegrated and scattered in directions. Its hump fell in Kedarnath and the Kedarnath temple came into being. The other parts of the buffalo’s body such as arms, face, hair and navel fell in other places such as Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpeshwar and Madhyamaheshwar respectively. These four places along with Kedarnath came to be known as the holy ‘Panch Kedars’. After appearing before the Pandavas, lord Shiva absolved their sins and decided to reside in Kedarnath as a Jyotirlingam. Thus, came into being the temple of Kedarnath.
Another legend says that when Nar and Narayana; two famed Lord Vishnu incarnations performed rigorous penance before an earthen Shiv lingam at Bharat Khand Badrikashrama, lord Shiva was pleased and appeared before them. He told them to ask him for a boon to which they replied that they want the lord to reside permanently at Kedarnath in the form of a Jyotirlingam. The lord agreed to their wish and thus enshrined himself in the Kedarnath temple where thousands of devotees flock every year to get their sins absolved with the blessings of the lord.
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