Sunday, February 21, 2010

Eighth Jyotir Linga Kedarnath Dham

This is a one of my friend's friend's visit to Kedarnath and his summary of the visit.The Samadhi of Sri Adi Sankaracharya is supposed to be there in Kedarnath, you will find the statue of Sri Sankara in the photograph presnted here in the blog.

8th Jyotirlinga- Kedareshwar
As usual, click on any of the above pictures to see the larger view or to save them to your computer.
Today, we will be visiting the very famous kedarnath temple which is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India
Beautiful Sunrise at Kedarnath : Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April to start of November. Here god Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the 'Lord of Kedar Khand', the historical name of the region
Built in 8th Century AD, The Kedarnath shrine, one of the 12 jyotirlings of Lord Shiva, is a scenic spot situated, against the backdrop of the majestic Kedarnath range
There are more than hundreds shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in region, the most important one is Kedarnath. According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt quilty of having killed their own relative and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva Moksh.
At the end of their life, the Pandavas decided to give up their kingdom and go to the Himalayas and meditate on their favourite deity, Lord Shiva. So they set out accompanied by their wife, Draupadi. When they reached the place called Rudraprayag, they thought they had a glimpse of Lord Shiva. They tried to chase him but he took on the form of a buffalo and dashed off towards the north. They followed in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him at the place that is now known as Kedarnath. The Lord now dived into the earth. Only the hind portion of the buffalo was sticking out. This was caught by one of the brothers called, Bhima. But pull as he might, he couldn’t get the rest of the buffalo out of the ground. The hump now turned into a Shiva Lingam and remained at this place. Each of the other parts appeared at four other places and came to be collectively known as the Panch Kedars or the five Kedars. All these lie in the Garwal Himalayas in the modern state known as Uttranchal
As a matter of fact, as one enters the main temple, the first hall contains statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the greatest guards of Shiva. An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia of the temple. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held.
The spire of the Kedarnath Temple with the Kedarnath Mountain in the background. The temple is devoted to Siva.
Gaurikund to Kedarnath trail : The actual temple, an impressive stone edifice of unknown date, is accessible only after a steep 14 km walk (horses or palanquins are available for rent).
The most remote of the four Char Dham sites, Kedarnath is flanked by breathtaking snow-capped peaks.
This is a part of 14km trek from Gourikund to Kedarnath.
Beautiful trek towards Kedarnath
This is the beautiful trek towards the Kedarnath temple. The Holy river Mandakini accompanies the trekkers throughout the tough, but rewarding journey.
The trail to Kedarnath, part of the Char Dham pilgrimage through the Indian Himalayas.
On the way to Ramwara to reach reach Kedarnath
Path from Ramwara to Garur Chatti - On way to Kedarnath
Garur Chatti : Let us all pray at this sacred temple for all our loved ones
The last phase of journey to Shri Kedarnath.
The awesome majesty of Kedarnath is first experienced at this place, ca. 1.5 kms from Kedarnath.
Kedarnath (11,753 ft.) is sacred for a temple to the god Shiva, in his form as Kedarnath (the "Lord of Kedar"). The snow on the peaks behind never melts.
Besides its affiliation with Shiva, Kedarnath is also believed to be the site of Sankaracaraya's samadhi (achievement of beatified afterlife).
Samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya at Kedarnath
Kedarnath temple door
Kedarnath temple shikhar
A Saadhu , who is all immersed in his daily pooja (ritual to worship Lord Shiva) just in front the famous Kedarnath temple in Uttaranchal
Nandi - Bull of Lord Shiva guarding the doors at Kedarnath temple
Kedarnath Lingam- My heartfelt pranams to this form of Lord Shiva. I thank him for all the happiness and blessings that He has showered upon me and I pray to Him to forgive me and all His devotees for all the sins and bad karmas that we have done out of our sheer stupidity.
This is one of the demons guarding a small temple with a hot spring in Kedarnath. Amrit kund behind Kedarnath temple -
Eshaneshwar temple inside the Kedarnath temple complex -
Panch Kedar (Sanskrit: पंचकेदार) refers to five Hindu temples or holy places of the Shaivite sect dedicated to god Shiva. They are located in the Garhwa Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, India. They are the subject of many legends that directly link their creation to Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata
The five temples designated in the strict pecking order to be followed for pilgrimage for worship are the Kedarnath (Sanskrit: केदारनाथ) at an altitude of 3,583 m (11,760 ft), the Tungnath (तुंगनाथ)(3,680 m/12,100 ft), Rudranath (रुद्रनाथ) (2,286 m/7,500 ft), Madhyamaheshwar (मध्यमहेश्वर) or Madmaheshwar (3,490 m/11,500 ft) and Kalpeshwar (कल्पेश्वर) (2,200 m/7,200 ft).
Kedarnath – 1st Panch Kedar
Kedarnath, at the head of the Mandakini River, is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Situated at an altitude of 3,581 mts. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva the protector and the destroyer. Shiva, is considered the embodiment of all passions-love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism that are expressed through his various forms
Kalpa Vriksha (Jyotir Math) - wish fulfilling tree of this age. The first Shankaracharya (Adhi Shankara) attained enlightenment under this tree at the age of 16
Valley of flowers
Nandi Devi (7816 meters)
Chaukamba Devi
Tungnath - 2nd Panch Kedar [ On the way to Tungnath temple]
Set on the crest of a hill at an altitude of 3,886 meters, Tungnath is the highest temple in India. Legend has it that the arm of Shiva appeared here. Ravana, of the Ramayana, is said to have performed penance at this temple to propitiate Shiva. The high altitude temple is a Seat of Swyambhu Linga or the Lord Shiva Incarnate. The temple, one of the Panchakedars or one of the five Shiva temples, is situated in Chamoli district of the Uttarakhand region.
Final steps to reach the Tungstan temple
Rear view of the Tungnath temple
The mythology has it that Lord Shiva was enraged at the act of homicide enacted by the Pandavas by killing their brethren in the grand battle of Mahabharata. Aware of Shiva's annoyance, the Pandavas built the temple to please Lord Shiva and for their own salvation. Others claim that the Adi Shankaracharya during his historic visit to the region had got it built. They cite the presence of Adi Shankaracharya's image in the garbha-griha or the sanctum of the temple. However, it also houses images of the Pandavas. Besides, the ashtadhatu images of Kaal Bhairava and Veda Vyasa are among the multitude of images there. A dark left-tilting one-foot high linga is the centre of attraction. The locals describe it as an arm of Lord Shiva. The arm of Lord Shiva is also associated with a legend.
Tunganath Temple at 12,400 Ft
Other temples
Built of stone, this temple is a fine model of ancient architecture. Facing the gate of the temple is Nandi, the Divine Bull and Shiva's vehicle. There are two smaller temples dedicated to Parvati and Vyas in a small courtyard. The temple of Tungnath, at a little over 12, 000 feet, is the highest shrine on the inner Himalayan range. It lies just below the Chandrashila peak
My Heartfelt pranams to Lord Shiva in Tungnath temple
Path to Rudranath Temple-14 300 Ft
Rudranath – 3rd Pancha Kedar
The face of Lord Shiva is worshipped at Rudranath temple in a natural rock temple as Neelkantha Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Neelkantha. The temple is situated amid thick forest at a height 2286 mtrs. From Gopeshwar 4 kms drivable road is available upto village Sagar from where 20 kms. trek leads to Rudranath and can be approached from Joshimath as well, by trekking about 45 kms. The temple provides magnificent view of Hathi Parvat , Nandadevi, NandaGhunti, Trishuli and many other.
There are numbers of holy Kunds (Tanks) near Rudranath temple namely Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund etc. The Baitarini, the divine river flows pass behind the temple. Anusuya Devi temple is located on the trek to Rudranath involving an additional trek of 3km.
Rudranath shrine : This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face, a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful indeed to behold.Devotees come to Rudranath to offer ritual obeisance to their ancestors, for it is here, at Vaitarani river (the water of salvation), that the souls of the dead cross when changing world.
Guptakashi temple:Kashi is the old name for Varanasi and “gupta” means secret or hidden. Guptakashi has an ancient temple of Shiva and derives its name from the fact that this is the place where Shiva is supposed to have hidden himself when the Pandavas chased him. At this place he disappeared and hid himself in a cave.
Hence this place is known as Guptakashi or the “hidden Kashi”.
Entrance to kalimath.Kalimath is situated close to Ukhimath, and Guptakashi.

It is one of the “Siddha Peeths” of the region and is held in high religious esteem. The temple of Goddess Kali located here is visited by a large number of devotees round the year and specially during the “Navratras”.
My heartfelt pranams to the idol at Kailmath temple
Chandi Devi Temple : Legend goes that the Goddess Chandi Devi was sitting on a rock, combing her hair when two demons that were the servitors of the two brothers Shumba and Nishumba saw her and were totally captivated by her intoxicating beauty. They ran back to their masters and reported the matter to them. The whole story is narrated in the Devi Mahatmyam. The rock on which she was sitting is close to this temple.
Ransi temple on the way to Madhyamaheshwar
Ransi temple on the way to Madhyamaheshwar
Madhyamaheshwar–4th Pancha Kedar
Nandi Kund
The stomach of Shiva is believed to have emerged at Madmaheshwar. The temple of Madmaheshwar is located at an altitude of 3,289 m. above sea level, on the slope of a ridge, 25 km northeast of Guptakashi. There is a motorable road from Guptakashi to Kalimath.
The best statue of Har Gauri in India measuring over a metre high is found in the Kali temple. The trek from Kalimath to Madmaheshwar is distinguished by wild unparalleled scenic beauty and engulfed by Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks. Gaundar at the confluence of Madmaheshwar Ganga and Markanga Ganga, is the last settlement before one reaches Madmaheshwar.
Located at the base of Chaukhamba peak at an altitude of 3289 m the classic temple architecture belongs to the North-Indian style. So sanctified is the water here that even a few drops are considered sufficient for ablution. The natural scenery is dramatically wild, with deep gorges & valleys, mountain sides flung upwards towards the skies, the forests where the snow lies thick in winter, only to be replaced by a carpet of greenery in the summer. Kedarnath & Neelkanth peaks are visible from here, the entire ring of mountains associated with the life & times of Shiva. The confluence of Madmaheshwar Ganga just short of the temple, is one of the prettiest spots in the region.
Har-Parvati at Madhyamaheshwara
Lord Shiva-(Dakshina murti) at Madhyamaheshwara
Kalpeshwar –5th Pancha Kedar [On the way]
The hardier tourist may like to trek about 35 km to Kalpeshwar, where the locks (hair) and head, of Lord Shiva are worshipped as JATADHAR.
Located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. above sea level, the temple is a further 10 km trek from Rudranath to Helong, the motor head on Rishikesh-Badrinath route. The small rock temple of Kalpeshwar is where the Hair appeared. Short of Kalpeshwar is the picturesque valley of Urgam.
It is a favorite location of meditating sages. Legend has it that the sage Arghya had performed austerities here and created the nymph, Urvashi. Rishi Durvasa is also believed to have meditated here under the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha. The sage had given Kunti the boon that she could invoke any of the forces of nature and they would appear before her and grant whatever she desired. Known for his quick temper, Rishi Durvasa is often recalled in context of the incident when, along with several disciples, he visited Kunti's sons, while they were in exile. He indicated that he and his disciples expected food. There was not a grain to cook. Lord Krishna who appeared and miraculously solved the problem answered an anxious Draupadi’s prayers
My Heart felt pranams to the Panch kedars.May lord Shiva always guide us to the path that will lead us to his sacred feet.

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