About Kedarnath Dham
Sitting comfortably at an elevation of 3,583 metres above sea level amongst the lush green and refreshing surroundings of the Kedar valley in the Himalayas, Kedarnath Dham is known for being one of the oldest and the most significant Jyotirlingas in India. Located along the banks of the holy river of Mandakini, Kedarnath offers some of the most stunning and picturesque views of the undulating and scenic mountains. This temple has an incredible story of how the Pandavas had visited here after killing their kin the great war of Mahabharata to do penance and ask for forgiveness from Lord Shiva. Another interesting fact about the temple is that it was buried inside a huge glacier for more than 400 years and managed to remain intact. The temple has also found its mention in numerous Hindu mythological accounts making it even more important among devout Hindus.
How to Reach
By Road – The last motorable road leading to Kedarnath ends at Gaurikund which is connected to a number of big and small towns in close vicinity. If you are planning on getting your car here then it may be a good decision for you. Buses and taxi services are also available for your convenience here.
By Helicopter – There are numerous companies and agencies for Char Dham Yatra offering convenient helicopter and charter services to the pilgrims. If you have to meet a deadline or are travelling with senior citizens or someone who is unable to complete the journey on foot then this service guarantees a safe and extremely convenient way of travelling to the Dham.
By Rail – The nearest railhead for Kedarnath is located in Rishikesh which caters to a number of trains running from different major and minor cities of India. Once you debark at the station you will have the option of either hiring a taxi or a bus heading till Gaurikund.
Note – Any mode of transport will only go up till Gaurikund from where you will be required either walk for the remaining distance of 16 kms leading up to the main temple or hire a palanquin or a horse service for covering this distance.
Hotels – After the disastrous flash flood that rocked the entire state of Uttarakhand in 2013, the hotels have shifted to the other destination of Sonprayag. There are a number of expensive hotels here which offer some of the most basic amenities like clean bead, spacious bathroom, hot water, restaurant etc.
Budget Hotels – If you are traveling on a strict budget then you have the option of going for online hotel booking services in Kedarnath. There are a number of lodges and budget-friendly stay options here which will fit your budget easily.
Tents – If you have the option of staying at the temple then there are some tents available here which will accommodate you. Due to the limited availability of beds in tents you are required to make your bookings beforehand in order to save yourself a bed since these tents get overbooked during the on season.
The food available in Kedarnath is limited to simple North Indian and Punjabi cuisines or even some Chinese dishes like noodles or soups. The entire journey is lined with tea and food stalls which offer Maggi, tea and coffee for the pilgrims on their way. Some hotels have the facility of a restaurant as well who have a range of cuisines available. You can also choose to have a relishing meal at the Dhabas located on roadsides which can easily fit your budget and fill your stomach at the same time.
Opening and Closing Dates
The opening and closing dates for Kedarnath along with other Char Dham sites are decided by the temple committee during the auspicious eve of Vijayadashami.
Opening Dates – The Kapat for Kedarnath Dham opens during the holy eve of Akshaya Tritiya which generally takes place during either the last week of April or the first week of May. The idol of the presiding deity is shifted back from his winter abode in Ukhimath on the day of opening of the gates.
Closing Dates – After being open for 6 months the gates of the temple shuts down for the season. This takes place during the auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj which generally falls a few days after Diwali either on late October or early November. The idol of the presiding deity is then shifted to its winter abode in Ukhimath where the lord is worshipped for the winter months.
Best Time to Visit
The ancient temple is situated at an incredible height where the temperatures drop dramatically during the winter months and the entire region gets covered in a thick layer of snow. The opening dates of the temple which collides with the onset of summer during the months of May to July are considered to be the best and the most comfortable time to visit.
However, if you want to experience the Himalayan chill the visiting this holy temple during the months of September to October is advised when the pilgrims can experience the thrill and peace of snowfall along with a chilled environment.
Going on the Char Dham Yatra during the monsoon months of July and August are not advised since it may put your and your loved one’s life at great risk. Helicopter services are also suspended for a few days during these months. Since the entire region is prone to heavy, torrential rainfalls and unexpected landslides.
- Prior to going on the journey it is advisable for you to get a full body checkup in order to make sure that you are physically capable of making the trekking journey from Gaurikund.
- Make sure to carry along with you some dry fruits that will prove to be beneficial in providing you with some much-needed energy boost while walking.
- Do not drink water from any source other than sealed bottles since they have the risk of being contaminated.