Kedarnath, India

History of Kedarnath
The Kedarnath temple is an impressive stone edifice of unknown date. It is believed to have been built by Adi Sankaracharya. The older temple existed from the times of Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath, according to the Puranas.

What to See at Kedarnath
Located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, it experiences extreme weather conditions that only allow the temple to open from the end of April to the beginning of November. The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund.

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.

No specific family of pujaris supervise rituals at Kedarnath, where the focus is on veneration of the stone lingam that rests in the inner sanctum of the temple. Behind the temple is the sam?dhi mandir of Adi Sankara. Tamil saints Nayanars of 1st century like Sundarar and Sambanthar praised the deity in their hymns famous by the name of Tevaram. The head priest (Rawal) of the Kedarnath temple belongs to the Namboothiri community, like the nearby Badrinath Temple. The Rawal moves along with the diety to Ukhimath during the winter season.