When my parents decided to go on a trip to Kedarnath this summer, I assumed it to be another dull religious trip, unaware of the adventures that would follow. Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated at a great height of 3584 mts, it presents a heavenly sight amidst snow covered mountain peaks.
We began our journey by bus from Rishikesh to Gaurikund. Kedarnath can be reached by a 14 Kms. trek from Gaurikund, which is connected by road to almost all the major hill stations of the region. Although trekking 14kms. Sounds tiresome but as we started the journey along with thousands of other tourists talking and chanting hymns we didn’t realise the distance. The enthusiasm amongst the people makes you forget your fatigue as you too join them in the praise of Lord Shiva, The Creator as well as Destructor.
According to a legend, after the battle of Mahabharata, Pandavas sought the blessings of lord Shiva in order to redeem them from the sin of killing their own kin in the battlefield. But Shiva continued to flee from them and took a refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. When Pandavs followed him there, he dived into the ground leaving behind his hump. This hump is worshipped in the form of deity in the temple, build by the Pandavas. However, the present temple which was built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya stands next to the one build by Pandavas. Behind the temple lies the samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya.
Besides the religious importance, this trip may give you few moments away from the hustle bustle of the manic city life. The lush green forests, the snow covered mountains present a blissful sight. Despite the remoteness of the area, every possible arrangement is made for the comfort of the tourists. There are hundreds of rickety shops on the way selling raincoats, shoes, walking sticks and other things that one might need on the way. There are also many eateries on the way, and as we began munching steaming hot pakoras and chai on the way we realised nothing could be better than this after hours of trekking on a cold day.
The best time to go to Kedarnath is in the summer between the months of July to August as the shrine closes in the winters due to heavy snowfall. The weather during these months is pleasant and one would need light winter clothes. There are many comfortable rest houses and Dharamshalas in the area but as lot of tourists visit the place during these months, it is better to get the pre-bookings arranged. There are many affordable and comfortable travel plans to choose from. The natives are extremely helpful and friendly and almost all the people understand Hindi and English.
There is always a queue of hundreds of devotees as they eagerly stand in the chilling cold for hours to get the darshan. As we stood in the queue early morning, the bright morning sun came up from behind the shrine, I was spell bound on seeing such a heavenly sight.
When we retraced our paths to the Gaurikund, we all were infused with a feeling of fulfillment and bliss after seeing such a beautiful place. On our return bus journey, we stopped at the valley of flowers. Infused with millions of wild Himalayan flowers, it presents a spectacular picture which is beyond the imagination of human mind.
When we returned to Rishikesh we were filled with a sense of fulfillment after having completed the yatra and felt sure that memories of this extraordinary trip will always be alive in our hearts.
Image Source: http://www.vanamaliashram.org/kedarnath_jpg.jpg]