Kedarnath temple is the most favourite place for adventure loving people as well as for spirtually inclined people . The Mandakini river flows peacefully along Kedarnath . With fresh air and beautiful views, it is possible for a moment that one forgets the sense of time and space. Every year , thousands of Hindus visit there to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
It is not certain who built the original Kedarnath temple and when.The name Kedarnath means ‘ The lord of the fields’. Many folk legends related to the Garhwal region, Lord Shiva and the creation of the Panch Kedar temples are narrated.
The most popular folk legend is related to the Pandavas, the heroes of Mahabharata. When the war of Kurukshetra was finished ,they realised that they have committed a lot of sins by slaying their own relatives , brothers and teachers. Thus to cleanse the effect of their sins , they started the search for Lord Shiva . First they moved to Kashi, famous for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple .Shiva was insensitive to their prayers because of huge numbers of deaths in Kurukshetra war , and thus he assumed the form of a bull in the Garhwal region.
Pandavas reached the Garhwal region and Bhima ,saw there a bull grazing near Guptakashi,Bhima immediately recognised it as Shiva.
Bhima held the bull by his tail and hind legs .But the bull entered the ground and later appeared in different region with different body parts with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the face showing up at Rudranath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheshwar and the hair appearing in Kalpeshwar. These are altogether known as Panch kedars.
After building temples at these five location the Pandavas , meditated at Kedarnath for salvation .The architecture of Kedarnath , Tunganath and Madhyamaheswar temples are similar .
On 16 and 17 June 2013, the Kedarnath temple along with other parts of Uttarakhand was hit by a heart wrenching flood and landslide .On the evening of 16 June , a very loud thunder was heard and a large amount of water started running from Gandhi Tal down Mandakani river . On the next morning the same thing happened and this time it was more vigourous than former. A large sized stone got stuck behind Kedarnath temple and protected it from the destruction that the flood could cause. It divided the uncontrollable stream of water into two parts . This rock is worshipped as Bhima Shila. Hundreds of pilgrims were mercilessly annihilated by nature, and all the roads ,hotels were destroyed .
Temple and Its significance
1.The first hall inside Kedarnath Temple contains statues of the five Pandava brothers,Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. Statues of Draupadi and other deities are also installed in the main hall.
2.An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone lingam. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held.
3.Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with Badrinath and other temples of Uttarakhand; he is believed to have attained Mahasamadhi at Kedarnath.
4.The head priest belong to the Veershaiva community of Karanatka , although the puja is performed by his assistants on his instructions.
The Kedarnath temple is linked to many ancient stories and the most important aspect is that anyone who visit here witness a change in their behaviour and they forget for a moment , their own identity. The demography of the location of temple is truly capturing and so are the legends linked to its existence.