Kedarnath

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Kedarnath

Contents

Kedarnath, 1908

This section has been extracted from

THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA, 1908.

OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.

Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.


Famous temple and place of pilgrimage in Garhwal District, United Provinces, situated in 30 degree 44' N. and 79 degree E., imme- diately below the snow peak of Mahapanth, at an elevation of 11,753 f eet above sea-level. It marks the spot where Sadasiva, a form of Siva, in his flight from the Pandavas, assumed the form of a buffalo and attempted to dive into the earth to escape his pursuers, but left his hind quarters on the surface. A rock is still worshipped as part of the deity, and the remaining portions of his body are reverenced elsewhere : at Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpesh- war. Four miles from the temple on the way to the Mahapanth peak is a precipice known as the Bhairab Jhamp, where devotees formerly committed suicide by flinging themselves from the summit ; but the British Government suppressed this practice shortly after annexation. The Kawal or chief priest of Kedarnath is always a Jangama from Mysore or some other part of Southern India. Large numbers of pilgrims annually visit Kedarnath.

General Information

gmvnl

Area : 3 sq km.

Season : May to October.

Rainfall : 1475 mm.

Clothing

Summers : Light woollens.

Winters : Very heavy woollens.

Languages : Garhwali, Hindi and English.

Accessibility

Air :

Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 239 km.

Helicopter Service

Helicopter Service is available from Agastya Muni to Kedarnath (Rudraprayag).

Rail :

Nearest railway station is Rishikesh, 221 km.

Road :

Kedarnath is approachable on foot, 14 km from Gaurikund, which is connected by road with Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon hills.

Local Transport :

Horses, dandies and ponies are available at Gaurikund for going and carrying luggage to Kedarnath.

Accommodation

Kedarnath, Ph. No. : 01364-263228.

Information Centre:

Rishikesh (Yatra Office), AGM (Tourism), GMVN Ltd., Tourist Information Centre,

(Advance Reservation Centre)

Shail Vihar, Haridwar By Pass Road, Rishikesh Pin: 249201.

Tel.: 0135-2431793, 2431783, 2432648, 2430799.

Fax: 0135-2430372.

Email: yatra@gmvnl.com, yatraoffice@sancharnet.in.

The place

Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the district itself, the most important one is Kedarnath.

History

According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own brothers and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madhmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.

Places to see

An imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door, a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs had been handled in the earlier days. The temple has a "Garbha Griha" for worship and a Mandap, apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.


The Shri Kedarnath Temple

By Pramod Nautiyal Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temples Committee

Location : 14 Km Trek From Gaurikund

Dedicated To : Lord Shiva

Altitude : 3,581 m

Built In : 8th Century AD

Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. 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 sanctums we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps.

The present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya.The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata. According to legends, the Pandavas sought the blessings of lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into ground leaving behind his hump on the surface.

Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. It is situated at an altitude of 3,581 mt. It is a 14 km trek from Gaurikund.

At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage. The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct-Nov) and reopens in Vaishakh (Apr-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.

Location

Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. It is set amidst the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. 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 which are expressed through his various forms.

The shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by lofty, snow - covered mountains, and during summer grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is simply enthralling.

The Mythological Past

There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli district itself, the most important one is Kedarnath. According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own Kith and Kin and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull.

On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations.

The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.

An imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut grey slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs had been handled in the earlier days. The temple has a Garbha Griha for worship and a Mandap, apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.

Best Time to visit:

The ideal time or peak season to go for a Char Dham Yatra is from May to October, except monsoons. This is because; all the four sacred sites are perched in Garhwal Himalayas, which is prone to heavy snowfall. As a result, all the passage leading to the shrines are blocked. Moreover, during the monsoon season, there is undue threat of having landslides, which can further disrupt the journey.

Kapat Closing:- The kapat [doors] of the Shri Kedarnath Temple were closed in 2013on the 5th Nov.

Kedarnath: climate/ cloudbursts

Cloudburst on Kedar Dome no freak event

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

The Times of India

New Delhi: The June 16, 2013 cloudburst over Kedarnath, or to be exact over the mountain peak called Kedar Dome which stands at 6,831m,cannot be called a freak climatic phenomenon. Since 1998,the frequency of such heavy, concentrated rainfall over a short period has increased. Ukhimath witnessed the phenomenon in 1998,followed by a series of such events in 2002 in Phata in Mandakini Valley,Khedgaon in Kumaon,and Agunda in Bhilangar Valley.In 2003,Tehri,too,saw such abnormally high rainfall,as did Ladakh in 2010 which triggered mudslides leading to 255 deaths.

While cloudbursts are a natural hazard, our approach to development increases our vulnerability to hazards, said Dr Anirudh Uniyal,a scientist at Remote Sensing Application Centre, Lucknow.The real reason behind the catastrophe was overloading of the hill slopes with built structures. Until a few decades ago, a visit to Kedarnath was considered hazardous enough for people to start for the pilgrimage early morning and return by late afternoon, said Uniyal.

The cloudburst of June 2013

Graphic

A major ecological tragedy took place in June 2103. This chart highlights the important issues.

See graphic:

A major ecological tragedy took place in June 2103. This chart highlights the important issues.

Temple unscathed by 2013 cloudburst tragedy

Shrine statues,Nandi still intact


Devastated by June 16, 2013 afternoons flash-floods,’Kedarnath town stands virtually razed but for the 1200-year-old Shiva temple built by Adi Shankaracharya. The shrine stands in six feet of debris. The statues and the lingam inside the shrine, as well as that of his mount, Nandi the bull, adorning the 250ft x70ft courtyard, are intact.Call it a miracle, but the Nandi statue and the other idols in the temple are intact, an official told news agencies here, adding that pilgrims who were inside the temple when the cloud burst took place had survived.

2013: Faith reinforced

Flash floods can’t sweep away their faith in God

Bella Jaisinghani | TNN 2013/06/23

The Times of India

Much less than shaking people’s belief the Uttarakhand tragedy has reinforced their faith in the twin forces of Shiva and Shakti. Believers insist that nothing remains intact in Kedarnath save the shrine. The shivling remains crowned by offerings of belpatra.


Devotees blame the dis aster on the fact that the statue of Goddess Kali Dhari Devi in Kedarnath guardian deity of Uttara khand, was removed from her temple a day before the cloudburst. The shrine was being shifted for a hydel power project that now lies in ruins. A similar attempt in 1882 had resulted in landslide that had flattened Kedarnath.

The idols

Priest takes Kedar idol to winter home

Yogesh Kumar | TNN

The Times of India

A Kedarnath temple priest kept tradition alive. Lord Shiva’s revered symbol at Kedarnath, the “bhog murti” must be fed daily in what’s called the akhand puja (unbroken worship).

Every winter, the idol is moved to Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath and returned to Kedarnath in May. Seeing no other option but to carry the idol to its winter abode,

The return of Dhara Devi

Locals believed that the removal of the idol on June 17 [??] 2013 by officials of the Alaknanda Hydropower Co was the trigger for the 2013 disaster. The idol has been brought back and is housed on an elevated temple. Dhari Devi’s idol was returned immediately after the disaster, on June 25. AGENCIES

2015: Priests relocated

The Times of India, Aug 14 2015

Darshan Kunwar

Take Rs. 16L each, leave Kedarnath: U'khand to priests

By offering a whopping relief package amounting to almost Rs 18 crore to around 110 families of purohits (priests) living in Kedarnath, the Uttarakhand government has ensured that they move out of the shrine town, and into “ecologically safer” areas.

Chief secretary Rakesh Sharma instructed the disaster management unit and Rudraprayag DM to immediately disburse an amount of Rs 16.6 lakh each to 50 purohit families for their re-location.A cumulative compensation of Rs 8 crore was paid to these families.

The settlement came after months of negotiations between the government and the priests, many of whom were reluctant to move but later agreed to shift out of what the government termed “catastrophe-prone“ areas. While many priests said they were satisfied with the compensation, a few claimed that they were reluctantly moving out.

The extent of tourist activities

2018: 7 lakh visitors

Kautilya Singh, 7L visit Kedarnath, highest in 4 decades, October 20, 2018: The Times of India


Over seven lakh devotees have visited Kedarnath till October 18, 2018, the highest footfall to the shrine in almost four decades as per state government officials. Till now, 7.07 lakh have visited the shrine this year.

Rudraprayag district magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal told TOI, “We are pleased with the overwhelming response this year. This is the highest number from the time the data of pilgrims is available with us. We have records of the number of pilgrims since 1981. On tabulating the numbers, we found that this year has seen the maximum turnout.”

The highest number of tourists visiting the shrine before this was recorded in 2012 when 5.83 lakh pilgrims came to Kedarnath. Ghildiyal attributed the increase in numbers to “the efforts made by the Centre, the state government and the district administration to provide better facilities to the pilgrims”.

‘Footfall likely to touch the 7.25-lakh mark in next 20 days’

Through large-scale developmental work, we have been successful in sending a strong message on safety and better facilities for pilgrims. We have increased the platform of the temple, a better approach is being made and the boundary wall of the rivers Saraswati and Mandakini are also being made,” the DM said.

He added, “Our teams ensured that mule owners charge the right amount and proper medical facilities were available at regular intervals. This year, the number of complaints was also minimal.”

The doors of the shrine will close on November 9 on the occasion of Bhai Dooj. The authorities believe that in another 20 days, the pilgrim numbers may cross the 7.25-lakh mark. The shrine town has seen a continual increase in pilgrim footfall over the decades except a few years following the 2013 flash floods when arrivals dipped drastically.

Record 7.32 lakh pilgrims

Kedarnath sees record turnout, November 10, 2018: The Times of India


From the start of the yatra season till the closing of portals, a record number of pilgrims - around 7.32 lakh - offered obeisance at the shrine in 2018.

The ravages of tourism

Helicopters force schools to use soundproof glass windows

Sukanta Mukherjee, Why schools in Kedarnath are going soundproof, September 29, 2018: The Times of India

A government primary school in Rudraprayag’s Bhetsem village was among nine schools to get soundproof classrooms
From: Sukanta Mukherjee, Why schools in Kedarnath are going soundproof, September 29, 2018: The Times of India

Noise From Choppers Headed For Shrine Disturb Students

Little Khushboo strains her eyes to look at the helicopter flying over her village Bhetsem at Narayankoti, situated around 45 km from Kedarnath. Till a few months ago, the whirring noise of the chopper would furrow the little girl’s brow. Not any more. She waves cheerily at the helicopter taking pilgrims to the Kedarnath shrine and then with a hop, skip and jump enters her newly-built classroom fitted with windows made of soundproof glass.

In one of the first such initiatives anywhere in the Uttarakhand hills, classrooms in nine government schools in Rudraprayag district — which falls on the route that choppers take to go to the Kedarnath shrine during the six-monthlong Char Dham Yatra — are being made soundproof by the heli-companies operating on these routes.

This comes after students of the government schools situated near Kedarnath at places like Phata, Guptkashi, Gaurikund, Sonprayag and Narayankoti complained that excessive noise from the choppers — which make at least 60 trips in a day — was drowning out their teachers’ voices and causing difficulties for them in concentrating on their lessons.

Taking cognisance of their concerns, the district administration of Rudraprayag approached the heli-companies to try and work out a solution. After several rounds of discussions, eventually the heli-companies decided to sponsor 18 soundproof rooms for the nine schools whose students are worst-affected. “It was a major problem for the children especially those whose schools are located near the helipads. The noise from the choppers was so deafening that students could not sit in class. We finally convinced the helicopter operators to build soundproof classrooms in these schools by allocating money for the project through their CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds,” says Mangesh Ghildiyal, district magistrate of Rudraprayag.

He adds that “currently, two classrooms in each of the nine schools are being made soundproof and more will be added next year.” “The cost for making each room soundproof is around Rs 1.5 lakh,”says Ghildiyal.

Representatives of the heli-companies say that they are taking care to ensure that students have no further cause for complaint. “In the classroom that we have built at the Government Primary School in Bhetsem, we have replaced the old windows and doors which were earlier made of wood with modern ones. In addition, we have rebuilt the roof adding two layers of concrete so that minimum noise from outside enters the room,” says Colonel V R Sharma, an official of Aryan Aviation, one of the heli-companies involved in the project.

Teachers, too, are relieved. “For the past few years, taking classes has been a cumbersome exercise. We had to shout to make ourselves heard since helicopters were flying past our school almost every hour,” says Sanjay Prasad, headmaster of Government Primary School, Sirsi.

At the primary school in Bhetsem — where Khushboo studies — students say they look forward to attending classes in the new classroom that was inaugurated a few days ago. Himanshu Kumar, a student of class V says with a shy smile that he “likes coming to school now.” “Earlier, I felt like running away from school as I couldn’t listen to what the teacher was saying. But the new classroom is nice. I feel like studying here.”

A government primary school in Rudraprayag’s Bhetsem village was among nine schools to get soundproof classrooms

Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand’s hills falls en route choppers take to reach the Kedarnath shrine during the six-monthlong Char Dham Yatra

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