According to the Hindu religion and beliefs a devout Hindu should definitely make the Char Dham Yatra at least once in their lifetime in order to achieve moksha or salvation. This Yatra holds an immense significance of spiritualism. Anybody who is intrigued about learning their inner light or anybody who wants answers to their deep rooted questions then once must definitely take a trip there. These four cardinal Dham sites are – Badrinath, Dwarkadhish, Rameshwaram and Jagannath. It is a belief that if you plan on visiting Badrinath Dham then you must also make visit to the remaining Dham of Gangotri, Kedarnath and Yamunotri, without which the Tirth Yatra remains incomplete. It is a popular belief that Lord Vishnu takes his bath in Badrinath, wears his clothes at Dwarkadhish, eat his food at Jagannath and finally rests at Rameshwaram.
Kedarnath Dham Introduction
Kedarnath Dham is located atop a hill amongst the great Himalayan ranges. The temple of Kedarnath Dham is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Located on one end is the Kedarnath Dham which sits at an elevation of 22,000 feet above sea level, on the other side, it is bounded by kharchkund which stands at an elevation of 21,600 feet above sea level and on the other side is the 22,700 feet high Bharatkund. Not only are these three hills are present here but this is also the place of confluence of 5 rivers – Mandakini, Madhuganga, Khirganga, Saraswati and Swarnagauri. Currently some of these rivers don’t exist anymore however the holy river of Alaknanda is present which is assisted by the river Mandakini. Situated on its bank is the Kedareshwar Dham. During the winter months the place experiences heavy snowfall and torrential rains during the monsoon months. Being located on an elevation of 3,584 metres above sea level reaching the temple is an extremely arduous task.
The Darshan for Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga should be done with spirituality, purity and a good heart otherwise it is considered to be an insult to Bhole Nath and is not tolerated by Lord Ganesha as well as his consort. Not just this, even Lord Ram says that anyone who is an enemy of Lord Shiva he cannot bear them. Keep in mind to be extremely holy and on guard during your Kedarnath Yatra journey and become responsible and sorrowful for your sins.
It is a lesser known fact among the devout Hindus that worshipping of the shiv ling and Shaligram is considered to be the real worship of the Lord and not the widespread idol worshipping. Only milk, curd, water etc are offered to the shiv ling or the Shaligram. Before the onset of the era of Lord Ram, the worship of Shiv Ling and Shaligram used to take place on a regular basis. With the changing times sculptures and idols of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna were installed within the shrines which replaced the Shaligram. Later on, Lord Shiva statue was established in several temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The entire region is named Rudraprayag since it is believed that it is home to the Rudra form of Lord Shiva. The temple of Kedarnath is situated in the Rudraprayag Nagar of the district of Rudraprayag in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. Lord Shiva is believed to have taken the form of Rudra here. Kedarnath Dham is also known for being the highest among the other 12 Jyotirlingas of the country. This Dham seems as if the gods wanted a window from heaven to gaze at the earthly realm.
It is a widely held belief that the entire Kashi, Guptkashi and Uttarkashi regions are located atop the Trishul of Lord Shiva. This is the path heading for hell as well as heaven. As per the Hindu religious text of Shiv Purana, if a man travels to Badrivan and witnesses the form of Nar and Narayan and also in the form of Kedareshwar Shiva then without a doubt, that person attains moksha or salvation. Any person who is extremely religious and holds immense spirituality in his heart for having a Darshan of Kedarnath Dham, but unfortunately dies on his way and is unable to see Kedareshwar, then the man will be completely liberated and he will automatically attain salvation. As per Shiv Puran anyone who visits the Kedar Tirth, and who consumes the water from Kedarnath after offering their holy puja offerings to the Kedarnath Jyotirlinga then it is said that the person does not go through the karmic cycle of birth and rebirth.
Birth of Shivling at Kedarnath
As per Purna Katha, this region of the Himalayas was used by the Mahatapaswi Narayan and Narayan Rishi to perform intense penance in honor of the 4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. These two had performed intense meditation and penance in Badrikaashram. They prayed to Lord Shiva with complete devotion and high reverence in the form of a Parthiv Shivling. Pleased with their devotion and undisturbed penance Lord Shiva presented himself in front of them and promised to reside eternally inside the shiv ling here.
Panch Kedar mention can be found in the holy purine. It is said that after being victorious in the war of Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers wanted to be free from their sin of killing their kin. Their sages and suggested them to go to the Himalayas, perform penance there and ask for Lord Shiva’s forgiveness. The Pandava brothers took this advice and left for Kashi with an aim of witnessing Lord Shiva himself. When they reached Kashi they came to know that the lord is not there. There the sages asked them to look for the lord on the region of Badrinath. However Lord Shankar did not wanted to see the Pandava brothers and from there the lord ran away to Kedarnath and the Pandava brothers followed him. In order to hide successfully from the Pandavas he took the form of a bull and hid himself. The Pandavas got the message and realized that the lord does not want to see them. In order to force him to meet them they started closing in the entire area. Bheem took his form of a giant and spread his legs against the two mountains. Every bull left from underneath Bheem but Lord Shiva’s bull form did not proceed to go under his feet, and they understood it was him. The lord then lodged himself inside the ground and Bheem tugged him by his tail and stopped him.
The lord was impressed by the Pandavas strength, determination and devotion towards him. He immediately freed the brother’s form their sin and from then on the lord has also been worshipped in the form of a bull at Kedarnath.
At Kedarnath, Lord Shiva is being worshipped in the form of bull’s hump. It is believed that when Lord Shiva transformed himself into bull at Kalpeshwar since then his upper body is settled in matted hair. The arms of Lord Shiva are found at Tungnath, Face at Rudranath, Navel at Madhyamaheshwar and at Kedar he is found in the form of bull’s hump. So, besides these 4 sacred places Kedarnath is also considered as one of the Panch Kedar.
The doors of the temple get closed on the second day of Diwali and from then it is closed for the entire winter. The Diya of the temple glows for 6 months continuously. The priests take the idol of the Lord at Ukhimath which is located down the hill. After 6 months in April and May the door of Kedarnath gets opened and the Yatra of Uttarakhand gets started.
For those six months during winter nobody stays near or inside the temple but still the Diya glows continuously. Even the cleanliness of the temple is also like the same as it was left 6 months before.