Legs and Wheels – Kedarnath Temple & Yatra Information ‘Char Dham’
Team Udayavani, Nov 5, 2018, 1:25 PM IST
We are now on our way to Kedarnath the third ‘Dham’ in the proposed ‘Char Dham’. To complete ‘Char Dham’ trip, the minimum travel period is eight days. The choice of ‘Dhams’ one wants to cover and the days to be spent is purely personal. The mode of travel to reach ‘Dhams’ is largely by road. It is important to note here that these places are not visited only by religious persons who are in search of spiritual contentment, but also by people who are adventurous, (mountaineering, trekking, paragliding, river camping etc), historians and nature lovers.
There are many interesting places which are worth spending quality time. Gupta Kashi is largely chosen as a base camp for those who are on their way to Kedarnath.
Base Camp – Gupta Kashi
The happiness of reaching the lord in his own place, cannot be evaluated in any materialistic sense. For a devotee, it’s a total surrender blended with right tinge of adventure. Traveling on the terrain roads, getting used to raising early to reach your next destination, definitely is not an easy task.
Traveling through the terrains of Gharwal ranges of the Himalayas, we have now reached Gupta Kashi, which has a scenic backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of Chaukhamba. A fairly a large town situated in the district of Rudraprayag, on the banks of river Mandakini, mythologically is attached to the story of ‘Pandavas’. The five brothers after the Kurukshetra war are in search of Lord Shiva to seek his blessings to attain salvation. But, Lord becomes invisible from Kashi, and lands himself here and stays in here in the disguise form of a cow- hence Guptakashi. On the advice of Lord Krishna to atone their sins of killing their brothers reach ‘Gupta Kashi’ and the story goes on.
Gupta Kashi is also an important place because, during severe winter, when the temple at Kedarnath closes its doors for the devotees, people offer prayers to the lord in Gupta Kashi.
It was 5.30 pm and traveling through terrain is tiresome. But, the eagerness to experience maximum within the limited time made us enter the temple complex of Lord Vishwanath- which has a typical architectural style of the Himalayan region. Image of Bhairava, an ‘avatar’ of Lord Shiva attracts you. Temple built using stones and wood in a spacious ambience provides a divine experience.
Within the temple complex is ‘Manikarnika Kund’ – a captivating sight which a visitor must not miss. The water flows continuously in two streams and the source of water which trickles down from the mount of Lord Ganesha and a cow’s head is believed to be from Ganga and Yamuna. The other important temple within the Vishwanath temple complex is Ardhanaishwar temple, where Lord Shiva shares half his body with his wife ‘ma Shakti or Parvati’. There is not much of rush, had an easy darshan of the lord.
The other important temple one must visit is a Triyuginarayan temple- situated on top of a hill, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has similarities to that of the temple in Kedarnath and Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have consecrated this temple. It is an interesting place for the stories and beliefs attached. According to the legend, Triyuginarayan was the capital of Himavath, father of God Parvati. It is believed that Lord Shiva proposes and marries goddess Parvati, here.
The thought that all gods assembled here to witness the grand marriage ceremony of the lord, gives a fascinating effect. The ‘agnikund’ where perpetual fire, set for the wedding then is still burning. Collected the holy ash from the purohit as we came out. Not many visitors, in the temple area, kept the entire surroundings quiet. As we came out of the temple, we saw small ponds – gods believed to have taken a dip, during the wedding ceremony said the purohit who was showing us around. Honestly, the pond’s were so small
“ How could the gods take a dip in this small pond Kanta?” I ask my husband quite knowingly that such questions irritate him.
‘They come in microforms and not macro like you’ came back the answer like a bullet.
By the time we finished going around the temple experiencing the scenic beauty, it was 7 pm, and the shops are closing. It’s time to reach the hotel, for food and shelter. Apart from this next days, Kedarnath trip looked very exciting. And we have to be ready by 4 am to reach the helipad on time. May the weather god be with. Why do I say this…? Well, I have a story to tell…
How to Reach Kedarnath
Guptakashi is best suited for those who wish to visit Kedarnath. Situated 205 km from Hardwar, an estimated travel time is around 7 hours. Guptakashi is well connected by road. You can also hire taxis from Delhi or Hardwar/Rishikesh. There are other public transports facilities. Trains are available till Hrishikesh but largely remain overbooked. Many travel agencies provide support to tourists.
Remember out of the four Dhams Kedarnath which is around 23.5 km from Gupta Kashi demands a meticulous planning.
Trek to Kedarnath
People start their 14km trek from Gaurikund, which passes through Rambara. The present trek route was created after 2016’s disaster in Kedarnath Valley. The old trek route was completely washed away and the present distance can be covered by foot, by mules, by porters or by helicopters.
It is important to keep in mind while travelling to Kedarnath:
The flight or the travel largely depend on the weather conditions. A normal person may take around 5 to 6 hours to trek. By helicopter, it is just 15 minutes and you will be dropped 1 km away from the temple.
If you are little advanced in age, it is always good to keep a pony or some other assistance while trekking. And take this assistance from Gaurikund. The trek path is moderate and easy except at few points so walk patiently, enjoy every moment of your journey.
Whether you chose to trek or seek helicopter services it is good to start early in the morning. You can reach the temple by late afternoon, have darshan and stay in the facility provided by the temple or camps at Linchauli or Bheembali. Never plan to trek in the night as black bear are common here.
Do not take the risk with small children. The weather keeps fluctuating. The bright and sunny day may suddenly turn into stormy with hailstorm or snowfall. It is good to remember the low level of oxygen at the altitude.
Doli or Palanquin may charge Rs.8,000 to 10,000 or even little higher. Poni i.e horse is largely around 6 to 7 thousand. The helicopter is nearly Rs.8,000.
Like in any other Dham, you need your biometric card, identity card.
Make sure you have warm clothes, water-resistant foot ear, regular medicines, do not carry heavy luggage if you plan to say overnight.
We are all set for Kedarnath. Har Har Mahadev.
– Nandini Lakshmikantha
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