Shrine of Lord Shiva

The Lord Shiva shrine of Kedarnath is of extreme importance to Hindus. Kedarnath temple is situated in the laps of the Himalayas and is said to have gained prominence after the Mahabharata tale depicted how the Pandavas urged Lord Shiva to forgive their bad Karma.

The temple is said to have been built or resurrected by the great religious Guru Adi Shankaracharya to its present form.

The Kedarnath Mandir (Temple) that nestles at the foothills of the Himalayas is one of the holiest sites of Hinduism. A shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of Evil, the temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas across India, one of the Char (4) Dhams (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri), and one of the 5 Kedars

Given the treacherous weather in the region, this temple opens to devotees only between the months of April to November each year. It is said that this temple was constructed by a king from the Pandava lineage. His name was Janmajeya. The Shiva Linga here is very ancient. 

The temple’s architecture style is said to be the same as most ancient temples of its period – the ashlar style of construction – wherein stone slabs are interlocked into each other without the use of mortar or cement. Each year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims flock to the temple to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. 

History of the temple:

The shrine finds a mention in the Mahabharata but the temple one sees today is said to have been built under the orders of the great Guru Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th Century. Some also claim that it was built by Raja Bhoj of Malwa region in the 2nd Century. After the April-November season of darshan, before harsh winter temperatures set in, the murti (vigraha) of the deity is carried to Ukimath for the next 6 months. The Rawals (the priests of Karanataka-origin) travel along with the deity and carry out worship there.

The Mahabharat connection: 

It is said that after the Mahabharata war ended, the Pandavas were full of remorse at having lost thousands to the violence.  They handed over the kingdom’s reins to grandson Parikshit and started for Varanasi to seek Lord Shiva’s pardon.

Not interested in meeting them, Shivji leaves Varanasi/Benaras/Kashi and heads for the Himalayas in the form of a Bull (Nandi, the Bull). He reappears in Guptakashi as the bull and the Pandavas reach there. 

Shiva escapes again and this time reappears as the bull in five different parts of India as 5 different parts of the bull’s body: the face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar, the locks at Kalpeshwar and the hump at Kedarnath. The powerful Pandava – Bhima – is said to have grabbed the bull’s tail, forcing him to appear before them and forgive them. The Pandava brothers then built the first temple at Kedarnath. 

These 5 places where the bull had appeared in parts after diving underground are known as the Panch (5) Kedar.

Situated in a region of Glacial activity, the temple is said to have been under snow for 400 years. The signs of glacial assault are still there on the walls, say geologists. The temple was miraculously saved by a BhimShila (massive boulder) that rolled down the mountains during the horrific cloudburst and natural calamity in June 2013. It is said Baba Bhairo Nath saves the temple.

Nara – Narayana connection:

Nara and Narayana – two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashrayain devotion to Lord Shiva Bhole Shankar himself appeared in front of them. When the Lord granted them a boon, Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode at the place to benefit the devotees. Therefore, it is believed that Lord Shiva assumed the form as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries.