Saturday, November 17, 2012


Day 7 & 8

Day 7: Sitapur --- Triyugi Narayan temple –- SonPrayag --- Gaurikund --- Garudchatti (Hanuman Gufa) --- Bhaironathji temple --- Kedarnath (Aarti in evening, night halt) --- Day 8: Mahabhishek at temple --- Sitapur --- Ukhimatt -- Gopeshwar --- Pipalkoti

Triyugi Narayan Temple

At 7:00AM we started to Triyugi Narayan temple. This ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is located in the TriyugiNarayan Village (altitude of 1980 metres) in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. This village is situated  12 kms (by a motorable road) away from Sonprayag (the confluence of the Mandakini and Sone-Ganga rivers).  This place is associated with the legend of  Lord Shiva’s marriage to Devi Parvati, sister of MahaVishnu. 

Triyugi Narayan Temple
Saligrama Shayana Narayana
A special importance to this temple is a perpetual fire (flame),  called Dhananjaya agni, which is burning from three yugas (Triyug) from the times of the divine marriage. Thus, this Temple is also known as “Akhand Dhuni Temple (Perpetual flame)”. Piligrims offer wood to the fire in the havana-kund since the three yugas. Yuga is an epoch or era within a cycle of four ages – Satya Yuga (1,728,000 human years), Treta Yuga (1,296,000 years), the Dwapara Yuga (864,000 years) and finally Kali Yuga (432,000 years), which is the present Yuga. Piligrims who visit this temple take ashes from the burning fire as holy and carry it with them. 
Akhand Dhuni
Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva – sacrificed her life when her father Daksha insulted Shiva. She was reborn as goddess Parvati, daughter of Himavat or Himavan (Himalayas). When she blossomed into a girl of matchless beauty, she won Shiva by her rigorous penance at Gauri Kund, which is 5 kms away from TriyugiNarayan temple. 

Triyugi Narayan is the capital of Himavat. It was the venue of the celestrial marriage of Shiva and Parvati. The marriage took place during the Satya Yuga,  in the presence of the holy fire that still burns eternally in the Havana kunda. Lord Vishnu as Parvati’s brother did kanya daanam and Lord Brahma was the priest of the wedding. All Saptha rishis, Devatas, Siddha Purushas, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Gandarvas, Kimpurushas, Bhutha ganas—came to see the divine marriage. The exact location of the wedding is marked by a stone called Brahma Shila / Dharma shila. There is a place to do Godaan to the right of this shila, where the cow which was given in daanam during the wedding was tied. Piligrims also perform ritualistic kanya daanam at this place and offer their prayers to Brahma shila.

Brahma Shila
Before the marriage ceremony, the gods are believed to have taken bath in three kunds namely, Rudra-kund, Vishnu-kund and Brahma-kund. The inflow of water into these kunds is from Saraswati-kund (dhara of Saraswati and Ganga flows into it). There are small golden color snakes in Saraswati kund which do not do any harm. River Saraswati originated from Vishnu’s navel. Hence, the water of these kunds is considered to cure infertility. The ashes from the Havana-kund are supposed to promote conjugal bliss. Devotees perform snan in Rudra-Kund, maarjan in Vishnu-Kund, Aachaman in Brahma-Kund and Tarpan in Saraswati kund.

Vishnu Kund
Brahma Kund and Saraswati Kund
Rudra Kund
The present temple, believed to have been built by Adi Shankaracharya who is credited with building many temples in the Uttarakhand region. Before entering the temple, outside in the prakara one can find a small temple dedicated to PanchaNama devatas: Goddess Annapurneshvari, Lord Ishaneshwar, Bajrang Bali, Lord Shankar and on the dwara there is Lord Ganesha’s idol. Right above the dwar on the gopuram, below the flag, one can observe Garuda with folded hands. 


Bhajrang Bali

Lord Shankar
Ganesha at the entrance dwar
The garbhagriham houses a silver, 2-foot idol of Lord Vishnu (Narayana), accompanied with goddess Lakshmi onto His left. There is an idol of goddess Saraswati to His right. There are idols of BadriNarayan, Sita Ramachandra, and kshetrapal Kubera. There is a akhanda jyothi burning inside the garbhagriham. In front of it there is an idol of Shiva and Parvati blessing devotees in newly wed form. Just outside, there is a saligrama shila of Sriman Narayana in sleeping posture with goddess Lakshmi and Ganesha. In front of the garbhagriham, the havana kund with the eternal flame is situated. We offered samidha (sacrificial offering of wood), which is available next to havan and did Astakshari homa and collected the ashes as blessings.

Triyugi Narayan Mela is annually held on the Shukla Paksha Dwadasi, 12th day of waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapad. There is also a cave dedicated to Gauri at a distance of 2 km from Triyugi Narayan Temple.


At an elevation of 1829 mts, and on the main Kedarnath route, Son Prayag is confluence of river Son-ganga and Mandakini. The holy site of Son Prayag  is of immense religious significance. It is said that a mere touch of the holy water of this prayag helps one attain the Vaikunta dham. Gushing waters in the rivers attribute a majestic charm to this tranquil location.

Gauri Kund

Before starting with our Kedarnath trek, we took a holy dip in Gauri kund and went to the Gauri temple. Gauri kund is the place where goddess sat lost in meditative bliss, motionless, in concentration upon her Lord and did severe penance to win over Lord Shiva as her husband. This place has a natural hot spring. A portion of the kund has been covered to serve as the bathing place for ladies. It has traces of sulphur. There is another fascinating cold-water spring that changes color with changing time of the day. It is situated in mid of pristine mountains. It is also called as "Amrutha kund". It is believed that Goddess Parvati did her pratham (first) snan here. Gauri Kund has an ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Gauri or Parvati. There is an ornamental gateway with two lions in front of the temple. It is also believed to be utpathi sthal of Sakshi Ganesha. The headless Ganesha is in Gauri Kund who was beheaded by Lord Shiva and later got his head replaced  with the head of an Elephant. This is also supposed to be the place where Goddess Parvati took her bath after giving birth to Karthikeya.

Gauri Kund -Pitru Tarpan Kund
Gauri Temple
There are separate kunds for men and women. There are cloakrooms available on hourly basis at a cost of Rs 100 for changeover. When we went bathing the kund was completely empty. The temperature was just right.

"Kurma Purana describes, Goddess Gauri as one who blazes forth like a koti suryas, a self-contained ball of fire, wreathed with thousands of flames, like hundreds of fires of time. With gaping mouth and projecting fangs, unassailable, adorned with a braided top-knot and carrying a trishul in her hand, when she was formed, she was a ghastly, terrifying sight. Then she was composed, her countenance serene, filled with endless marvels, marked with sheetala nature of koti chandras. Again she appeared, wearing a crown, holding a mace, adorned with anklets, heavenly garlands and celestial clothing, anointed with divine perfume, carrying conch and discus. She was beautiful, three-eyed, clothed in tiger skin, standing supreme both inside and outside the cosmic egg, the eternal goddess who consists of all shaktis."

Gauri, means one with fair face and pure heart. She has a gentle smile with the calm suffusion of her inner joy. Her beauty is unparalleled. Sitting at Gaurikund absorbed in meditation upon her tales, one is vividly accosted with all the powerful elements of this holy place. One can still feel the power of Gauri's meditation in the atmosphere of this place. She is the daughter of Himavan (Himavat or Himalayas). She has the energy of the earth. Her name 'Parvati' is derived from parvata, 'mountain'. The mountain peaks ahead here are sacred and vivified with cosmic energy. 

She is the supreme Shakti, the substance-energy which is the origin of the phenomenal world. She is the active self-conscious awareness of the source of knowledge and consciousness, without which knowledge of God is not possible. One has to cross the Maya for self-realisation and it is only possible through her grace that one is liberated from this world. She is Shakti swaroopini and has powers that are involved in the manifestation, coordination and transformation produced. She was produced by Trimurtis -- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Durga Sapthashathi is a beautiful hymn in praise of Devi, her formation and powers. 

Preparation for Kedarnath Yatra

1) Piligrims can book for sevas in advance or a day before the darshan. The following are the list of sevas and their prices as of 2012.

Details of Puja/Paath and Aarti
Rates in Rs.
Morning Puja 4 AM to 7 AM

1. Maha Abhishek (5 Persons)
2. Rudra Abhishek Puja (5 Persons)
3. Laghu Rudra Abhishek Puja (5 Persons)
4. Sodasopachar (5 Persons)
5. Entire Pujas of a day
6. Morning Puja
7. Balbhog
Evening Archana & Path 6 PM to 7:30 PM

1. Shiv Sahasranamam Paath (5 Persons)
2. Shiv Mahimastrotra Paath (5 Persons)
3. Shiv Thandavastrotra Paath (5 Persons)
4. Sampurna Aarti (5 Persons)
Daily Bhog & other services

1. Uttam Bhog Puja (by Pujari)
2. Dainik Yagna Havan
3. Akhand jyothi daily
4. Shri Kedarnathji & subordinate Temples Nitya Niyam Bhog
Long Term (for 10 years) Puja and Bhog

1. Shri Bhagwan Mahabhog
2. Shri Bhagwan Maha Abhishek Puja
3. Shri Bhagwan Abhishek Puja
4. Shiv Sahasranam Stotra
Puja on Special Occasions

1. Shrawani Purnima Annakut
2. Akhand Jyoti Yearly
Other offerings

1. Donations for Renovation work
1001.00 and above

DD for booking pujas at Kedarnathji should be made in favor of CEO, Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temples Committee & will be payable at SBI, Ukhimath Branch. The branch code of SBI, Ukhimath is 02498.
 The DD along with a puja booking request letter mentioning your complete postal address should be send to the following address: 

Pramod Nautiyal: IT Co-ordinator, Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temples Committee, Maa Chandra Badni Temple, Near Kargi Chowk & Oberoi Nissan Motors, Kargi Grant, Haridwar By-pass road, Dehradun-248001, Uttarakhand. 

After receiving the DD the puja will be formally booked & the confirmation letter will be send to you through e-mail. Send the DD in 1-2 working days through Blue Dart / DTDC Plus courier only. After making the DD mail Mr Pramod Nautiyal at the scanned copy of DD. For your convenience also keep the copy of the DD with you.
2) One should be prepared for extreme weather conditions at Kedarnath. Carry heavy woolen clothes, jackets, gloves, cap, muffler, thick socks and trekking shoes. Raincoats in the form of plastic cover are available for 30rs all along the path of trekking.

3) One should be physically fit for trekking. It is better, though not absolutely necessary, to have some trekking practice before hand.

4) Oxygen cylinders are available near the office for booking dolis / horses. It is better to have one or two in reserve just in case breathing difficulties are experienced at the top. We managed just with smelling karpoor / camphor from time to time. 

5) Carry all the necessary medicines (avamin, eldoper, head ache medicines, Crocin, brufen, Dolo 650, motion sickness tablets, daimox tablet for big altitude etc), first aid box, Electral, heat balm for muscles and joints, Vicks vaporub and pain killers and some reserves of food.

6) Carry a slip with addresses, telephone numbers and contacts, emergency numbers.

7) At the top, there are some people who offer massages to the hands and legs in a special oil to help one resist the cold. This may help to an extent. 

Trek to Kedarnath 

Kedarnath at 3581 m (11749 feet) altitude is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and one of the highest Shiva temples in this world (Tungnath is at an even higher altitude). Temple is located at the confluence of five streams -- Mandakini and its tributeries Kshiraganga, Madhuganga, Saraswati and Swarndwari. Kedarnath is encircled with mountains and meadows. The Kedar peak stands majestically behind the temple. Kedarnath is a steep 14km trek from Gaurikund: we gain about 1600 meters in altitude in these 14 kms. From here we went to the office for booking dolis, which is, located half a km from Gauri kund. We took porters help to carry the luggage from parking place to Gauri kund and further until the office. 

The climb to Kedarnath is very steep. By the standards here, the path, made of cobbled stones is pretty wide. My husband hiked to and fro from Kedarnath. My son Keshava went in one doli along with my mother, my father in one and I took the other doli with suitcase. The prices are fixed based on the overall weight along with the luggage. It costs about Rs. 5000 per doli (to and fro): the cost is somewhat higher if the load is heavy (80 kgs is certainly considered heavy while 60 kgs is considered normal). The local doliwallahs (including some from Nepal) are very sturdy and experienced. Besides dolis, Pitthus (in which you will be carried by a single person) and mules are available. These may be cheaper (though we do not know the exact price for these). Even sitting in a doli or a mule for a 14km stretch is a challenge. One will still have to walk for 2-3 kms in between. Due to heavy rains and landslides in past we decided to take a doli. There is even a helicopter service, which is run by Pawan Hans Helicopter service (but all the fun in observing and being in the midst of nature on the way will be lost).

For those who are trekking, the advice is never to fight with the mountains: the climb should be done only at a speed with which one is comfortable (never attempt to be faster). Rest has to be taken at regular intervals: my husband stopped for one or two minutes after every 15 minutes. His policy was to ensure that he did not have to pant while climbing. There are shops for tea available every 250 meters or so. So, one can get the fluids required without difficulty. Of course, one should not eat or drink too much. 

Along the path from Gaurikund, a small Chirpatiya Bhairav nath shrine is seen. Pilgrims offer vastra to Bhairavnath here. Since Lord Bhairava is the kshetraadhipati of the area, one must pray to Him before proceeding to Kedarnath. The path as such is extremely scenic: besides a number of waterfalls in September, one sees fairly high peaks all through  the path. Pilgrims greet each other cheering, "Har Har Mahadev", "Jai Kedar", "Bam bole" and "Bhole Baba Paar Karega". There is a temple dedicated to Bhim on the way.

My husband started from the doli office at around 12:00 noon. He went ahead of the dolis to reach Rambada (8 kms) at around 1:45 pm, where he took a 30 minute break for lunch (some long breaks in between are necessary, he says). He then proceeded to the first tea shop at Garud chatti (which is 2 km away from Kedarnath) to reach there at around 3:45 pm. After tea and a 15 minute rest at that shop, he proceeded to the top of the Garud chatti village, where he waited for us for nearly an hour and a half (we visited together a Hanuman temple and ashram at Garud chatti). The dense forests are covered with oak, bamboo and rhododendron. The valley has many beautiful waterfalls with fleeting rainbows.
Hanuman Gufa
Garud Bhagwan
Kaal Bhairav
From just beyond Garuda chatti the path is almost flat with hardly any further climbing. As soon as one reaches Bhumiadar, there is a grand waterfall pouring the gorge. It takes a little over half an hour to reach Kedarnath from the top of Garud Chatti. The steepest section is between Rambada and Garud Chatti. Overall, a person in good physical condition would take between four and a half and six hours to climb to Kedarnath from the doli office in Gaurikund. At Garud chatti, the top of the distant Kedarnath Temple is visible and hence this place is also called as "Deva Dekhani". Here suddenly I heard a loud harsh cry of an eagle overhead and lifting my eyes I saw it, with great, spreading wings, wheeling round and round in whole circles, and uttering a piercing kind of sound. The sight of this eagle at Garuda chatti was His blessing. There is an idol of Kaal Bhairav before entering Kedarnath Town. 

The valley was filled with flowers and waterfalls. There were little small birds, chirping sweetly, as free and lighthearted as can be. They had made their home among the green trees.
Pandava Gufa
Mandakini River

After Rambada, one begins to see the snow capped peaks of the Kedarnath range. Some of these snow capped peaks are slightly less than 7000 m in altitude. The next day, while returning, the weather was clear. This meant that the peaks indeed presented a spectacular sight. The Mandakini remained a constant companion though out. The oxygen levels after Rambada lowers as there are hardly any trees. There are only grasses (some of which have beautiful flowers). The temperature suddenly dips beyond this point. The sun shone on the mountains that ran on the other side of the Mandakini. As the sun set, and as we moved higher up, it became cloudy as well, and the scene became grayer and grayer. 

Nevertheless, we were able to see some of the high Peaks that lie behind the Kedarnath temple. It was evening by the time we reached Kedarnath town. The dolis stopped 1 km before the temple. We crossed the bridge of the  Mandakini river and reached Panjab Sindh Awas hotel. It is located very close to temple. They gave us extra blankets and provided buckets of hot water (for a reasonable extra fee).  The view of temple in the midst of ice capped mountains makes every pilgrim speechless

At this point, my son Keshava suddenly started to shiver in the cold in spite of our dressing him up warmly. There are no room heaters at this place (room heaters are not allowed at this altitude because of the oxygen shortage here). My mother and I therefore, looked after Keshava in the hotel (by rubbing him till he felt warmer and covering him with the blankets that the hotel had provided) while my father and my husband freshened up and went to the Kedarnath temple for the evening aarti. Lord Kedareshwar was enclosed in a Silver kavacham decked up with a lot of flowers and jewels. There was a gold crown on the Lord (which itself appeared shaped more or less like a Shivalingam) and a silver Vasuki sarpa protruding on top. There were lamps lit in front. 

The square area (in the garbha griha) in which the Lord resides is itself covered with a silver kavacham. On top of the Lord there is a chatra and vessel tied to it, through which water of Ganga and Yamuna brought from piligrims keeps dripping. On the right side of Lord there is a silver trishool with silver damru tied to it. Along with flowers, there was also a maala of Rudraaksh on lord. Sanyasis outside start to play damru and the main bell hung in front of temple door starts ringing and Aarti begins at inner sanctorum by assistants of Rawal (head priest). At the end devotees do Jayagosh of "Har Har Mahadev" and take the Lord's blessing from the aarati. After attending the aarti my father and husband came to the hotel to rest. Outside, the moon was struggling with the dark, fast driving clouds, which at one moment left it clear and shining, and the next swept over it.

जै केदार उदार शंकर मन भयंकर दु:ख हरम् | गौरी गणपति स्कन्द नन्दी  श्री केदार नमाम्यहं  ||
शैल सुन्दर अति हिमालय शुभ्र मन्दिर सुन्दरं | निकट मन्दाकिनी सरस्वती जय केदार नमाम्यहं  ||
उदक कुण्ड है अधम पावन रेतस कुण्ड मनोहरं | हंस कुण्ड समीप सुन्दर जय केदार नमाम्यहं  ||
अन्नपूर्णा सह अर्पणा काल भैरव शोभितं | पञ्च पाण्डव द्रोपदी सह जय केदार नमाम्यहं  ||
शिव दिगंबर भस्म धारी अर्ध चन्द्र विभूषितं |  शीश गङ्गा कण्ठ फणिपति जय केदार नमाम्यहं  ||

कर त्रिशूल विशाल डमरू ज्ञान गान विशारदं | 

मध्यहेश्वर  तुङ्ग ईश्वर रुद्र कल्प महेश्वरम् ||

पञ्च धन्य विशाल आलय जय केदार नमाम्यहं  | 

नाथ पावन हे विशालं पुण्यप्रद हर दर्शनं 
जय केदार उदार शंकर पाप ताप नमाम्यहं  ||

Kedarnath temple

Next day, early morning at 5AM, we went for Mahabhishekam darshan.  Lord Shiva is known as the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’. Pilgrims have to first visit Kedarnath before visiting Badrinath.

Kedarnath temple is situated on North of Kedarapuri, atop of beautiful Garhwal Himalayan range named Kedar near the Mandakini River. This is a "Nitya SanNidhya" place of Lord Shankar. Devout Hindus hold it high esteem, making it a celebrated destination. This temple, over a thousand years old, is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large gray steps leading to the holy sanctum we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps.  The walls of the temple have beautiful carvings. Adi Shankaracharya built the current temple. On top of temple, there is a chatra with 20 dwara's. Right on top of this there is Suneri Kalasha. 

The older temple existed from the times of the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas did penance to please Lord Shiva to get over the sin of killing their own kin and kith in the war with the Kauravas. The Tamil Saint Poets Thirugnansambandar and Sundarar have sung pathigams in praise of Lord Kedarnath.  Tradition is that pilgrims first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer abhishekams in Kedarnath. The temple is open only between the last weeks of April (when the Sun enters the Aries) to Karthika Pournima (when Sun enters the Scorpio). The utsava murti is then brought down to Ukhimath during winters and worshipped for the next six months.

In center of temple there is a Swayambu murthi of Kedareshwar. The hump of a He-Buffalo (Mahisha) in conical form, is worshipped as Shiva (in the form of Shivalingam) here. One can see the marks of Ganesha very clearly to left during Nirmalya darshana of Mahabhishekam. Bhima massaged Lord Shankara’s body with ghee because he hit Him with his mace. In memory of this event, even today, the Shiva JyotirLinga is massaged with ghee by piligrims during Mahabhishekam. Shankara is worshipped here in this manner. Water and Bel leaves are used for worship. We were sitting right in front facing the God. To center of this cone is Lord Shiva, and onto right is Godess Parvati and onto Left is Ganesha. The prayers started with vedic hymns and Mahabhisheka. Pilgrims directly perform all rituals to god. We offered milk, curds, honey, smeared the lord with ghee, water, kumkum, turmeric, gandham, bilwa patras, flowers, offered him Vastra, yagnopaveetham, did archanai, pradakshina etc. We hugged Lord and felt one with him. Lord Shiva is MahaVaishnava.  It was totally a divine experience. Pilgrims offer ghee for the akhanda jyothi lamp.

The stone temple of Kedarnath built in Katyuri architecture style consists of a sanctrum and hall (sanbha mandap) in front. Outside the temple, there is a majestic Nandi (Bull – Vehicle of Shiva) facing the God in South. There are Dwarapalakas (Bringi and Shringi) guarding at the door. Just at the entrance, one can pray to Vinayaka (Ganesha). The wooden door of the sanctrum is richly carved, with two exquisite images of Lakshmi and Parvati. The inner mandap, houses the Lakshmi Narayana idol, and stone JagaMohana  rachana. On all four sides to this there are stone idols of Pancha Pandavas, Draupadi, Kunti, Shree Krishna, Usha and Aniruddha. Yudhistira, eldest of the Pandavas stands symbolizing Dharma, Arjun is dressed for performing penance. Others Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva stand duly armed with their respective arms. There is also a small brass bull and Swami Veerabhadra inside the temple. Just before the sanctrum sanctorum, an idol of KedarGauri, consort of Shiva is located facing west. There is also a small temple for Bhairav, kshetra palan of Kedarnath,  south of main temple. 
Sadhu at the temple
Ishaneshwar temple
Side entrance 
Front view
Behind the temple
Kedarnath temple
On all eight sides of the temple, there are eight shrines. Temple is open from 5am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm. Shingar darshan is from 5pm and Aarti is performed at 6:45pm. In the outer parikrama of temple, there are Amruthakund, Ishanakund, Hamsakund and Rethaskund. Amruthakund has two shivalingas. On Ishanya direction is Hamsakund (pitru tarpan is done here) and Rethaskund. In Rethas kund one does achaman thrice with left hand. Bubbles appear when a devotee shouts Har-Har Mahadev at this kund. There is Ishaneshwar Mahadev temple here. Adi Shankaracharya attained his Samadhi at Kedarnath. The Samadhi is located behind the Kedarnath temple. On Paschima direction, there is Subakakund. Behind the temple, there is one more kund with sweet water in it. 

On the way back from the temple (about 200 mtrs or so from it) is “Udak Kund” – a perennial water source in which waters from five oceans reside. All the bathing water of Lord Kedarnath collects at this kund. It is believed that drinking this water as prasad (charanamrit), is necessary to complete the worship at Kedar. There is an Annapurneshwari temple next to it.

Udak kund
Kund inside
Annapurneshwari temple
1/2 km from the temple there is Bhuvakunda Mukunda Bairava temple, and 1km away is Chandra shila. 2km from temple is Choraabadi Sarovar and 5 km away is beautiful Vasuki Tal. It is a trekkers paradise.

When we finished Mahabhishekam and came out of temple. The sun was shining through, falling in golden rays on the mountains. During the night the wind had blown away all the clouds; the blue sky was spreading overhead, and in its midst was the bright sun shining down on the snow filled slopes of the mountain. After this very good darshan, with hearts filled content, we collected our luggage at our hotel and started joyfully down the path back to Gaurikund. The path was bathed in the morning Sun. The doliwalas were waiting for us at the same place where they had left us the previous day.

On our way back, we were able to get some good pictures of the mountains forming the background to the temple. The whole area is extraordinarily beautiful. Kedarnath stands at the foot of these high rugged summit mountains, which are perennially covered with snow. One of the highest peaks among what we saw is the snow-clad Kedarnath peak which is 6940 m (22769 ft) high on the Rudra Himalaya Range that is known as Panch Parvat. 

The central peak mountains seemed to pierce the blue sky, and looked down upon us. It is also known as Gandhamadana Parvat or Sumeru Parvat. The five peaks here are Mahapanth, Rudra Himalaya, Vushnupuri, Udgarikanth and Swargarohini. Swargarohini is believed to be path towards Swarga (Heaven). Pandavas went to Heaven via this route. Only Yudhishthira representing the symbol of Dharma and his dog managed to reach Heaven in their sthoola shariras. Our eyes took in the whole scene, and all around was a great stillness, only broken by soft, light puffs of wind and the temple bells. 

River Mandakini

We enjoyed picturistic view of mountains and were enchanted with all this waving of brightly colored flowers and beautiful tumbling waterfalls. The mountains filled the air with their fragrance, and we had never smelt anything as wonderful. We drank in the golden sunlight, the fresh air of Himalayas, the sweet smell of flowers, and wished for nothing better than to remain there forever. My heart was getting more enthusiastic as we were next moving to have darshan of BadriNarayan on the next day: something for which I waited for a long long time.

Sthala purana of Kedarnath

Maha Shiva decided to perform deep and extensive Tapasya on the top of Himalayas to promote Loka Kalyaana and propitiousness to the entire universe. Due to his Tapas Shakthi, there were fiery sparks from his skull which emerged through his Jata. These sparks turned into boulders which fell on the Earth at Kedara. The tirtha thus got materialised and those who commenced residing there were virtuous people seeking Salvation. Pilgrims perform fasting, Snaanas, Daana, Tapasya, Homa, Japa, and Pitru Shradham in Kedara which result in multifold effects.

According to another legend, Nara-Narayana, the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu did intense Tapasya at Badrikashram in front of a Shiva lingam made of mud. Pleased with their Tapasya Lord Shiva appeared before them and as per their requests, Shiva permanently stayed at Kedarnath.

In Satya yuga, Upamanyu had done Lord Shankar's aaradhana here. In Dwapar Yuga Pandavas did Tapasya here. In Satya Yuga  there was a king by name Kedara who was ruling the Saptha (seven) Dweepas. When he became old, he gave his kingdom to his son and went for Tapas. The place where he did his penance is called Kedarakhanda. Raja's daughter Vrinda was an avatar of Kamala. She was always in penance and the place where she did her penance became famous as Vrindavan.

As per the Shiva Mahapurana, once Lord Brahma, and Vishnu had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the ‘jyothirlinga’. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place of worship while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyothirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines are thus places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.

Shiva Purana, Gnana Samhita: 38th episode - When Yudhishthira asked for prayashchitta from Vyasa Maharshi for killing his own kin and guru, he asked them to goto Kedara khanda and stay there worshipping Lord Shiva and get rid of all sins. By doing prana tyaga at this place, one gets Shiva Rupa. 

Yet another legend is as follows: in order to get rid of sins, the Pandavas went to Kashi, to appease Lord Shiva. On finding that Lord Shiva was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas, they reached the Himalayas through Haridwar and the Prayags. He gave a glimpse and disappeared at a place, which came to be known as GupthaKashi. From GupthaKashi, the Pandavas went in search of Lord Shiva until they reached GauriKund. Nakula and Sahadeva spotted a He-Buffalo, which was very unique among the flock of cattle. Bhima took a gigantic form and stretched his legs across the mountains so that cattle could pass through his legs during dusk while going back to their shelters. As suspected, Shiva, in bull form refused to pass through Bhima’s legs. Bhima pursued the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bhima could not catch it. Nevertheless, Bhima eventually found Him. The buffalo then began to disappear face-first into the earth even as Bhima kept pulling at its tail and could catch hold of the hump (back portion of the bull). Shiva blessed the determination of Pandavas, and granted them salvation from their sins. 

However, different parts of the bull emerged at five different places (including Kedar) as described in Padma Purana. The face of the buffalo is known as Pashupatinath in Nepal. 
1. Kedarnath: The hump or the hinder part of the bull which was held by Bhim is worshipped as Lord Shiva.
2. Madhyamaheshvara: Nabhi or the middle-part of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This is located at 21 kms from Ukhimath – the abode for Lord Kedarnath during winter.
3. Tungnath: The Bahu or hand of the bull is worshipped here as Lord Shiva. It is located enroute to Badrinath and is 37 kms from Ukhimath, on a mountain in between Chamoli and Ukhimath.
4. Rudranath: The Mukh or the mouth of the bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva here. It is about 19 kms from Mandal Chatti.
5. Kalpeshwar: The Jata or the hair of the head of bull is worshipped as Lord Shiva. This place is located about 8.7 kms from Helang, on the other side of the river Alaknanda.

Skanda purana: KedaraKhanda, first phase: 40th episode states that from Ganga Dwara in Haridwar to Boudhaachal (600 mils) in length and 360 miles width is Swarga's maarg Kedara Mandala. One who lives here will get Shiva rupa. There are lots of Tirtha's in this region, hundreds of Shiva lingams, beautiful hills, rivers, and punya peetha's. One who wishes to goto Kedarapuri is a blessed soul. His 300 previous ancestors will goto ShivaLoka. In direction of the South, there is a Rethas kunda. By drinking water from this one gets Shiva Rupa. On North to this there is a Sphatika Linga. On East of this on seven charana's there is Vahni Tirth where in the midst of snow there is a hot spring. Here Bhima and Pancha Pandavas had done Shiva pooja with Karpoora aarti. Beyond this is Mahapatha. By going there a person gets salvation.

At the confluence of Madhu Ganga and Mandakini there is Kroncha Tirtha. At the confluence of Ksheera Ganga and Mandakini there is Brahma Tirtha. On the left of the Shiva temple in Kedarnath there is Indra Parvat where Indra had done his penance. There is a Shiva Linga located on this hill.

Vyasa Smriti of the fourth Adhyaya quotes that: Pilgrims by undertaking Kedarnath yatra get rid of all sins (Same is also quoted in Garuda Purana: 81st episode, Brahma Vaivartha purana: Krishna Janma khanda: 17th episode). These are the seven forms of the Sarasvati: Suprava in Pushkar, Kanchanakshi in Naimisharanya, Visala in Gaya, Manorama in Ayodhya, Oghavati in Kurukshetra, Surenu in Gangadwara (Haridwar), and Vimalodaka in Himalayas (Mahabharatha - Salka parva, 38th episode). One to reach Shivaloka will have to take their MahaPrastan Yatra from Kedaraachal peaks (Mahabharatha, Shanti Parva, 38th episode). One who stays as a Sanyasi in Kedar will become equal to Shiva (Linga Purana: 92nd Episode). By residing at Kedar Kshetra and praying to Rudra, the devotee will reach Swarga Loka (Vamana Purana: 136th episode). If one has darshan and Sparsha of Kedareshwar when there is a constellation of Kumbha rasi's Surya and Brihaspathi he will get Moksha (Padma purana: 11th episode). If one takes a holy dip in Himalaya Tirtha and has darshan of Kedareshwar, he/she will get Rudra Loka (Kurma Purana: 36th episode). One who takes a holy dip in Kedara Shankara's Mahatirth and does darshan of Shiva will become a head of GaNa's (Soura purana: 69th episode).

We got down to Gaurikund from Kedarnath within 3 hrs. We checked out our luggage from the Sitapur hotel cloak room and had our lunch. Then we proceeded with our journey towards Pipalkoti. We went to the ancient temple of Ukhimath on the way.


Ukhimath according to Skanda purana is called as “MandatriKshetra”. Raja Mandatha (Ancestor of Lord Rama) got a lot of siddis by pleasing the Lord. He got darshan of the Lord as “Omkareshwar”. This place is also called Omkareshwar peeth. There is an idol of Mandatha behind the Omkareshwara lingam in penance posture.

According to the legend in Srimad Bhagavatham Canto 9, chapter 6, Mandhata's father, Yuvanashva, had 100 wives but no children. On advise of his guru he performed Indradevatmaka yaga to get a son. The sacred water that was generated from this yaga, which was supposed to be given to his wives the next morning, was kept in the yagnashala. That night Yuvanashva was feeling thirsty, so he got up and drank the sacred water without knowing what it was. After nine months the child was born from right side of Yavanashva's stomach. It came out tearing his stomach. In spite of it, he did not die. Yavanashva did Tapasya and got moksham.

But the child that was born from Yuvanashva's stomach started to cry out of hunger.  Indra kept his finger, which was amruthamaya in the infant's mouth.  Indra kept his name as Trasadasyu (Mandatha). The child grew up and in course of time became an Emperor of the entire world. He was atmagnani. This emperor, during his last years gave up everything including his empire and came to Ukimath and did penance for 12 years by standing on one leg.  At the end, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of 'sound' , 'Omkar', and blessed him. From that day onwards this place came to be known as Omkareshwar.

Its original name is Ushamutt where Usha (daughter of Banasur) and Aniruddha (grandson of Lord Krishna) got married. The shaiva pujari is from Karnataka's lingayat community (Veerashaivites). Bhairava is known as “Gokund Bhairav” here. Doli of Kedar during winters is brought from with military band from Kedarnath and back. The temple is at an elevation of 1311 meters and it is at a distance of 41km from Rudraprayag. Even idols from Madhyamaheshwar are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped during the six months of the winter. Snow capped mountains of the splendid Himalayan range can be distinctly seen from this place. The river Mandakini flows within a distance of 100mts from this temple.

The temple houses idols of BadriNarayan, Tunganath, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Usha-Aniruddh, Mandhaata and Satyayuga, Treta-Dwapara's murtis, and other murtis.


It was late in the evening by the time we reached Gopeshwar Gopinath temple which is located in Chamoli district. This is a very beautiful temple dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Vishnu. It is topped by a magnificient dome. The 30 sq ft sanctum sanctorum has 24 doors. This is the home of the Rudranath idol during winters. The ling here is ekanan (face of Lord Shiva), and in his mridh roop (in the form of Lord Vishnu). In this temple there is no offering of milk and water, only bilwa patras are used for worshipping. There is also ashta dhaatu Salike, trident which is 5m high, which dates to the 12th century. Legend is that the trident got fixed in this spot, when  Lord Shiva threw it at Lord Kama to kill him. It is believed that while brute force cannot move this trident, the slightest touch by a true devotee can cause a tremor in it.

Kali maata

It was 8pm by the time we reached Pipalkoti. We stayed at Hotel Le Meadows in Pipalkoti. We were extremely tired by this time. After our dinner, we fell asleep, with happy memories of our darshan at Kedarnath as well as with the excitement of looking forward to our darshan at Badarinath.

Copyright 2017 by Jayashree Badarinath

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