जय हो जय हो शंकरा
आदि देव शंकरा
तेरे जाप के बिना
चले ये सांस किस तरह
These are not mere words, but emotions. Who in India has not heard of Kedarnath? The distinct vedic architecture of the ancient temple, the jaw dropping background of the towering white peaks, the soulful silence of the Kedar valley, the spiritual ambience of the devotees around chanting hymns to Shiva, connects on so many levels. But to experience it all, one must undertake an arduous uphill journey.
The lore behind Kedarnath (or any Panch Kedar for that matter) is that after the devastating Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas went on a redemption journey to cleanse themselves of the sin of fratricide. But Shiva was not in a mood to forgive them and took the form of a bull and hid in the ground. The body parts later appeared in five different places; the hump at Kedarnath, the arms appearing at Tungnath, stomach in Madhyamaheshwar, the face appearing in Rudranath and the hair surfacing at Kalpeshwar.
The current temple structure is believed to be made by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century, around a natural rock structure with Shiva's face imprinted on it. According to Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, the temple was buried under snow for 400 years!
Kedarnath temple is situated at an altitude of 3583 metres and is 22 km from Gaurikund, the final roadhead from where the journey begins.