Kedarnath is a town located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and has gained importance because of Kedarnath Temple. It is a nagar panchayat in Rudraprayag district. The most remote of the four Chota Char Dham sites, Kedarnath is located in the Himalayas, about 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level near Chorabari Glacier, the head of river Mandakini, and is flanked by snow-capped peaks. The nearest road head is at Gaurikund, at a distance of 14 k.m.
The town suffered extensive destruction during June 2013 from flash floods caused by torrential rains in Uttarakhand state.
The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya (April end or first week of May) and closes on Bhai Duj (October end or 1st week of November) due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold weather during winter. Gaurikhund is 75 km (47 miles) from Rudraprayag. In between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath there are several places of pilgrimage such as Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phauli- Pasalat Devi Maa, Bamsu (Lamgoundi) Vanasur, Maa Jwalamukhi Devi village Andarwari, Maa Chandika Devi village lwara, Maa Kali at Kalimath, Trijugi Narayan (7 km (4 mi) from Son Prayag) (Where Lord Shankar got married to Goddess Parwati from when the fire of hawan kund is still alive) and Kashi Vishwanath at Guptakashi.
Udar Kund is located here. It is written in Kedar Khand of Shiva purana that the water of Udak Kund is mixture of all the 5 Oceans and always remain fresh even when kept for many years. The holy water of Udak Kund is used for purification rituals. Hans Kund, Bharo Nath, Navdurga Mandir, Shankaracharya Samadhi, Ishaneswar Mahadev Temple, Ret Kund, Panch Ganga Sangam, Chaurwari Taal now known as Gandhi Sarowar, Bashuki Taal are also places to visit here. There are several guest houses in Kedarnath with reasonable rates.
Kedarnath is located at a distance of 223 km from Rishikesh in Uttarakhand and close to the source of Mandakini River at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level. The township itself cannot be called attractive, as it is built on a barren stretch of land on the shores of Mandakini river but the surrounding scenery of Himalayan mountains makes it very attractive place for pilgrimage and trekking. Behind the town and Kedarnath temple, stands the majestic heights of Kedarnath peak 6,940 m (22,769 ft), Kedar Dome 6,831 m (22,411 ft) and other peaks of the range.
There are 2 ways to reach the town: One is the traditional 17 km (10.6 mi) trek on a paved bridle path or on horses or palanquin service which are available for rent from Gaurikund. Gaurikund is connected by road from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and other known hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon regions in Uttarakhand. From Gaurikund, the bridle path passes through Rambada, a hamlet located at a distance of 7 k.m. The alternative way is by helicopter service from Dehradun, on such days when the weather is clear.
Places of Interest:
Other than Kedarnath temple, on the eastern side of the town is Bhairava temple and the deity of this temple, the Bhairava, is believed to protect the town during winter months. About 6 k.m. upstreams from the town, lies Chorabari Tal, a lake cum glacier also called Gandhi Sarovar. Near Kedarnath, there is a cliff called Bhairav Jhamp, from where pilgrims used to jump to death, believed to get instant moksha or salvation and this practice was banned by British Government in the 19th century.