Temples of India-Kedarnath Temple

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India is the land of many ancient and modern temples.  Most of them are rare architectural beauty and also have a lot of Historical as well as Religious significance. So here I am making an attempt at portraying the grandeur and the splendor of a few such temple! In this article we shall explore the Kedarnath temple- one of the oldest and holiest of all Hindu places of worship.

Located in the serenely beautiful lap of mother Himalaya- the Kedarnath temple is indeed a work of art. Surrounded by snow clad peaks, the temple sits prettily on the top of a mountain so high that no proper roads exist to it. One has to trek 14 kms through the dangerous but immensely beautiful Himalayan range from Gaurikund to reach there. Disciples believe that the trekking is an essential part of the pilgrimage- and necessary to get the blessings of Lord Shiva- also known as Kedarnath.  The temple in fact has to be closed for about 6 months during winter, owing to huge snowfall in these areas, that renders trekking difficult, and living near the temple almost impossible during winter. The idol has to be shifted to Ukhimath- a place downhill.

LEGENDS

The Kedarnath temple is said to be built by Adi Sankaracharya during his pilgrimage to these parts.  However, it’s believed that an older temple existed, which was built by the Pandavas. It’s said that the Pandavas during their Mahaprasthana (journey to Heaven) had come here. They came to know that Lord Shiva resided in these areas in the guise of a buffalo. Try as they may, they couldn’t locate him! So- they applied a trick. They forced every buffalo of the region to pass through Bhima’s (the 2nd Pandava brother) legs. All buffalos passed, except one. The Pandavas realized that the lone proud buffalo must be Lord shiva. Yet, to delude them, Lord Shiva , disguised as the buffalo, tried to escape to underground (Patal). Bhima tried to hold him back- but only managed to catch his hump. This part was left behind, and is worshipped there. The idol in Kedarnath really resembles the hump of a buffalo!

A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE

First love always is beautiful- especially if the object loved is the exotic Himalayan range! For a 11 year old, the winding mountain paths, the free flowing Mandakini river, the snow clad mountains, the clear blue sky, the light snowfall created a mesmerizing magic.  I trekked the 14 kms with my mother on my side. The trekking was extremely difficult, and yet worth it! Mountain streams abound in the path, and beautiful valleys lie beneath the mountain.  Pilgrims on horses, palanquins (err actually just a chair- carried by 4 humans!), or on foot abound throughout the journey. The whole journey is taxing and yet the religious fervor creates enough enthusiasm for everyone to finish the journey safely. When I arrived on the mountain top and had a look at the temple in the fading light of the afternoon- I considered my journey as a real success. The ancient temple stood magnificently against the grey-orange sky; the snow clad peaks moodily reflecting the light! Time indeed seemed to stop, and I felt  that the temple must have existed here since eternity- just like the mountains and the sky! Being an agnostic, I never really cared for a personal Lord; and yet at this moment the view of Lord Kedarnath seemed to fill my inner soul with joy. I know that thousands of pilgrims also feel in the same manner. That was the most fulfilling experience of my life.

The beautiful temple of Kedarnath beckons thousands of pilgrims and visitors each year. So if you are planning on going to a “hill-station” during the hot summer days, do consider the Kedarnath temple in your list. It might be the most wondrous journey that you have ever made!

Article By Sanjukta Chakraborty

Posted in The Good Stuff

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