Kedarnath temple dedicated to Shri Kedarnath Ji or Lord Shiva is one of the holiest plus highest of Shiv Jyotirlingams cradled at an altitude of 3581 meters above the sea level in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag district. Each year thousands of pilgrims make their way to Shri Kedarnath Dham braving the inclement weather conditions and difficulties of the route. Kedarnath dham makes one of the Chardhams in the Chota Chardham circuit.
Temple parts within
The interiors of the Kedarnath temple consists in the following parts
- Garbha Griha or sanctum sanatorium is the innermost chamber of the temple and enshrines the conical idol of Shri Kedarnath Ji
- Mandapa is the assembly hall where devotees gather to make a darshan of the presiding deity
Architecture of Shrine
Kedarnath Temple falls in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath Valley situated at an elevation of 3584 meters above sea level. The town of Uttarakhand that houses the Kedarnath temple is called Kedarnath town whereas the district is called Rudraprayag.
The architecture of Kedarnath temple is believed to date to some 1000 years back. The temple architecture adheres to the common architectural plan of all Hindu temples in consisting in two distinct sections; i.e. Garbha Griha dedicated to worshipping purpose alone and the Mandap, spacious enough to accommodate large assemblies of temple visitors and pilgrims. The entire temple is constructed out of heavy and huge stone slabs, evenly and wondrously engineered even in the yesteryears. The temple is constructed on a raised rectangular platform. A huge statue of mythological Nandi Bull stands guard at Temple door. Various mythological deities and mythological scenes are lavishly engraved to deck the assembly hall inner walls.
The Kedarnath shrine houses a conical, rather pyramid-shaped rock formation revered and worshipped by thousands of pilgrims as Lord Shiva’s Sadashiva form. This is a self-manifested image of the Lord and is perhaps the highest of all 12 Jyotirlingas spread across India.
The significance of Kedarnath rests in the fact that it is the country’s most famed Shivasthalams and is one among the 12 Shiv Jyotirlingas scattered nationwide. The spiritual importance of Kedarnath Dham, one of the Chota Chardhams is unfathomable. Since time immemorial many great saints and yogis have made Kedarnath their seat to commune with God, the ‘Shiva’ and live an out & out spiritual life. Pilgrims make a beeline to Kedarnath with the belief that if they pray to Kedareshwar, all their desires will be fulfilled. Kedarnath shrine’s significance further lies in the fact that in Satyayug Upamanyu prayed here to Kedarnath Ji while in the Dwapar Yug, the Pandavas came looking for Lord Kedarnath at the Kedarnath shrine and offered prayer at His feet. There is also a close connection between Adi Guru Shankaracharya and Kedarnath Dham.
Pooja Performed in Kedarnath Temple
A series of religious rituals or poojas are performed at Kedarnath temple each day. The daily Poojas at the temple include Maha Abhishek, Rudrabhishek, Laghu Rudrabhishek and Shodashopachar Puja during the daytime hours and Shiva Sahasranamam path, Shiv Mahimna stotra path and Shiva Tandav Stotra path during the evening. Each day the lord is offered several Bhogs such as Uttam bhog, Vishesha Bhog, Nitya Bhog, Sonvarav Sankranti bhog. Maha Abhishekam puja is done between 4am-7am in the morning. Rudra Abhishekam Puja is performed in honor of Rudra or Lord Shiva and the Puja sanctifies the ambiance around. Laghu rudra abhishekam is performed to spread prosperity of health & wealth. Shodashopachara Puja consists in the performance of the usual 16 steps Puja ritual. In the evening several recitals are done. Shiva Sahasranaam Stotra consists in reciting the 1008 Lord Shiva names. Shiva Mahima Strotra consists in reciting Puspadanta’s Vedic composition. Shiva Tandava Stotram consists in reciting Stotras each of which consists of 16 syllables.
Kedarnath Temple Opening and Closing Time
Kedarnath Temple opens as early as 4am in the morning and shuts down at 9pm. In the afternoon there is a short recess starting from 3pm and continuing till 5pm. Devotees can feel the Kedarnath Ji lingam with their hands and partake in the Abhishekam but only until 3pm.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Kedarnath Temple
Opening ceremonies in the Kedarnath temple is marked with Maha Abhishekam Puja and closing ceremonies are marked with Stotra Paths.
Management of the Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple Committee formulated under the Kedarnath Mandir act of Uttar Pradesh government shoulders the responsibility of managing the Kedarnath temple.