A Shrine that is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kedarnath Temple. The feet of devotees from across the nation are attracted to this land to worship Lord Shiva.
This temple is located at a height of about 3583 meters and 223 kilometers away from Rishikesh. There is no known date for this Shrine i.e., it is unknown who built the original temple and when. Though the name ‘Kedarnath’ is derived from Sanskrit, which means ‘The Lord of the field.’
The legend behind Kedarnath
On a Historical note, Pashupatinath in Mahabharat as Lord Bholenath got angry with the Pandavas on killing their relatives in the war. After the War, The Pandava Brothers came here to meet Lord Shiva as they were advised by the sage Vyasa. Lord Shiva, on the other account, wasn’t ready to forgive the Pandavas and hence turned himself into a bull to roam the Garhwal Himalayas. When the Pandavas were successful in locating Shiva he dove himself underground.
One of the brothers, Bheem, tried getting a hold of his hump. While other parts of Shiva’s in the form of a bull showed up at different places. While his head reached Pashupati Nath in Kathmandu.
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The hump was found in Kedarnath, The naval portion in Madhya-Maheshwar, his two forelegs emerged in Tunganath, the face was found to be in Rudranath and his hair in Kalpeshwar. These 5 locations thus came into existence as the Panch Kedar. Legend holds that the original temple was built by the Pandavas, considering the present Shrine was restored by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th Century A.D.
Kedarnath and Pashupati Nath are also called a Jyotirlinga. Shiva lingam is worshiped in Pashupati Nath as a buffalo’s head and in Kedarnath as a buffalo’s back. Therefore, making Pashupati Nath to be considered as the head and Kedarnath is the back of Lord Shiva.
It is believed that the person who visits Pashupatinath is never born as an animal. In addition to this, devotees must visit the Nandi outside the temple first. And if a person sees the Shivling before Nandi, they’d turn into an animal in their next birth.
The Pashupati Nath Jyotirlinga is a Chaturmukhi. It is considered to have the qualities of Paras Stone. The stone which can turn Iron to Gold.
This Shrine is appraised to be one of the holiest sites in Hinduism. UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site has also considered this Shrine in their list, which depicts its Cultural Significance.
2013 Natural Calamity At Kedarnath
Various moments that stand out in the history of pilgrimage to Kedarnath are Forest fire, Low Oxygen levels, and Water crisis. Not only this but in the year 2013, Kedarnath was hit with a disastrous flood and landslides that wretched Kedarnath and the places nearby.
Devotees of Shiva make trips to Kedarnath every time for years. Located in the district of Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand in the laps of Garhwal Himalayas is also an integral part of the Char Dham Yatra. The Char Dham Yatra which includes Yamunotri, Gangotri, and Badrinath.
How was the Shrine affected during the Floods in 2013?
The CCTV footage revealed that a massive rock behind the temple helped in guarding the Shrine against the muddy waters. Even if the whole town was devastated, which left thousands of people dead, this temple remained unharmed.
How devastating and mind-boggling this situation was, the tourism and the pilgrims remained affected for the followed up years. It was worth noticing that despite this colossal calamity, the faith of the pilgrims was restored with the thought that despite everything, most parts of Kedarnath town had undergone a catastrophe, Shiva temple built in the 8th century A.D remained untouched.
Five years after this disaster, filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor made a film that tells the story of this devastating flood that left Uttarakhand in Shreds. Also, A Novel ‘A Long Journey’ was written and published by Author Pawan Kumar Pandey, keeping the floods, and it’s a tragedy in the background.