Kedarnath is a place where Lord Shiva lived, a shrine still entitled as God’s sacred place. Kedarnath is entitled as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is the most popular town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. There are many beautiful places to visit in Kedarnath for couples, families, friends, solo travellers, and tourists.
The Kedarnath temple is one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas.
It is a place of limitless heights that fixes the body parts of normal humans. Oxygen is also not enough at some peaks. Predators of nature show the hardness to the pilgrim.
Kedarnath is situated at the height of 3586 meters, where the Holy Mandakini river just begins. The journey of the flowing river further joins the Alaknanda river in Devprayag.
Kedarnath is the dream place of every nature lover and spiritual person. Even older people want to live some days in Kedarnath before they die.
Historic Beauty of Kedarnath:
Being one of the Dham among four Dham pilgrims, Kedarnath has a highly rich ancient history. The glory of the shrine is more than 1200 years old, and earlier, the place was covered by heavy snow for hundreds of years.
There are two stories widely spoken by many Sadhus and Pandits (God’s first prayer) around the temple. Whereas on the internet you will get many stories and historical facts. But I have mentioned those 2 stories that are very popular and told by everyone;
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First Mythological Story of Kedarnath:
As per mythology, Nar and Narayana two incarnations of Lord Vishnu performed in Badrikasharaya of Bharata khanda in front of Shiva Lingam fashioned out of the earth. Lord Shiva impressed and appeared in front of Nar and Narayana. Lord Shiva said ask whatever you want. Immediately Nar and Narayana requested Lord Shiva to take up along with him for permanent abode as Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath by which all people can be free from their miseries.
Second Mythological Story of Kedarnath:
Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. Many believe that this place begins where Pandavas (five brothers in the Mahabharata mythology) went to the Himalayas to purge themselves after killing Kaurav. Pandava had built the temple of Lord Shiva and took their way to heaven.
Why Visit Kedarnath:
Apart from having the most important pilgrimage site, Kedarnath has stiff peaks and rocky mountains.
It is believed that Lord Shiva lives in the mountain and no one can reach at the top yet. Locals from the village urge whosoever tried to reach at the top, they never come back.
Another expedition near the Kedarnath temple is open with the permission of local authorities. You can experience a beautiful trek to the Vasuki Tal and surrounding area with many herbs and Brahma kamal flowers (Sharines flowers that are only found above 4000mt in India). Surprisingly, Kedar means powerful, and you will feel in the entire region of Ukhimath, Guptakashi, Sonprayag, and Kedarnath once you cross the Devprayag town.
Things to do in Kedarnath are;
- Char Dham and Char Dham Route
- Panch Kedar,
- Pilgrimage and Religious sites
- Shiva Temples
- Trekking on Stiff Peaks and the Rocky Mountains
- Forest Camping
- Adventurous Activities
- Helicopter Ride
Things to remember while you trek to Kedarnath:
- Travel light. Do not rush. Take your time and start your trek every morning from Gaurikund, by which you can reach and come back to Gaurikund by evening for a safe stay and healthy food.
- If your body does not allow you to trek, never take the risk because the more you reach the top, the less oxygen you get.
- Do not carry too much cash and expensive belongings like jewelry, electronics, and other items.
- Try to reach Sonprayag in the evening by which you can start trekking in the early morning.
- Do not take shortcuts in the trails. Many of the passes are slippery and dangerous.
- The new Kedarnath route is somewhere hard and long. Stay calm and take rests in between.
How to Visit/Reach Kedarnath:
Being located in high altitude mountains you have limited options to reach Kedarnath. Here are some of the travel modes that you can opt;
Reach Kedarnath Via Road:
Planning your trip to Kedarnath via road is one of the most scenic and preferred routes. You can choose Car, Bus or Motorbike to reach till Sonprayag. Before the Kedarnath flood crisis (2013) vehicles were allowed till Gaurikund but now authorities have banned personal vehicles beyond Sonprayag.
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Haridwar- New Tehri- Srinagar- Rudraprayag- Guptkashi- Sonprayag is the best route for your road trip to Kedarnath.
Due to rough terrain and landslides roads may block for hours or sometimes days. To avoid the hustle, you should follow local radios and weather reports before planning your vacation.
Reach Kedarnath Via Train:
Sorry!! NO trains are available till now that can take you to the one of the most famous pilgrim sites of India.
Reach Kedarnath Via Air:
A bit expensive but the most comfortable and quick way to reach Kedarnath via Chopper. Many private services provide Chopper services to tourists from Phata (Agustmuni). Charges are from 2500 to 5000 INR. You can even get a chopper from Dehradun to reach Kedarnath.
Best Places to Visit in Kedarnath to Spend a Beautiful Vacation:
Kedarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Jyotirlinga among the world’s twelfth. It is located 25km up from small-town Sonprayag.
Hiking or porters is the only way to reach Kedarnath temple. Nowadays routes become stiff after the 2013 flood.
The view of Kedarnath temple is so mesmerising due to being surrounded with glacier mountains. You can see the Aghoris Sadhus (faithful devotees of Lord Shiva claiming first devotees) everywhere near the temple doing Sadhna’s (Meditation) .
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Temple’s surrounding areas are newly constructed and give a charming environment. The Mandakini river flows on both sides of the Kedarnath temple.
Bhairon temple is situated on a small cliff above the Kedarnath temple. It takes a 10 minutes moderate trek to reach here. The Bhairon Avatar is the Kshetrapal (protector) of Lord Shiva and the entire region when this place is closed for the six months every year.
VasuKi Lake Tal:
VasuKi Tal is a hunting place, also known as the abode lake of Lord Vishnu who used to bathe on special occasions.
Reaching to the lake is quite difficult, as you need to trek almost for 8km from Kedarnath temple.
Due to high altitude and lack of oxygen most of the people avoid and that’s the dark side of the trek.
Crystal clear blue water of the lake gives a stunning view and the perfect spot for Chaukhamba peak. Near the lake side, you can spot Brahma Kamal flowers and other Himalayan flowers as well.
VasuKi Tal is one of the best places to visit in Kedarnath for travellers, photographers and documentary makers.
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Rudra cave is situated above the left of Kedarnath temple. This place became more popular when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditated here and spent the entire night in the cave.
Nowadays, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) is maintaining Rudra cave and its heritage.
Chorabari lake is just above the Kedarnath temple also known as a Gandhi Sarovar. It is the origin of the Mandakini river.
Various studies were conducted and revealed that Chorabari lake collapsed in the 2013 Kedarnath flood tragedy. More than 4000 lives lost and more than thousands of people are still missing. You even can not imagine when miraculous things happened that night. A giant rock slides from the mountains and stops just back to the Kedarnath temple. In that flood crisis, every property vanished except Kedarnath temple, as it was protected by that rock.
Guptakashi- One of the Best Places to Visit in Kedarnath:
Back to ancient era Guptkashi were the last stop for Pandavas (Characters from Mahabharata) before they moved to Devlok (Heaven). There are two ancient temples, Vishwanath (Lord Shiva’s avatar) and Ardhanareshwar temple. Nowadays, Guptkashi is a town, gateway and hub for guest houses, hotels and lodges.
Guptakashi is the only town where you can get all camping and essential items. Beyond the town, the actual survival of Pahadi people begins.
During winter, due to heavy snowfall, the entire population migrates from Sonprayag to Guptkashi and Uttarkashi.
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Ukhimath (Ukhimath ), Second home of Kedarnath:
Ukhimath is a sacred place and second winter home of Lord Shiva. During every winter Maha Rawals (trusted devotee of Lord Shiva) moves Lord Shiva’s Holy Lingam from Kedarnath to Ukhimath for the next six months. Later on, this became a very popular tradition. Many locals gather and organise this occasion like a festival.
Where to Stay in Kedarnath:
Best Hotels and Resorts:
Finding the best accommodation is limited once you cross Songprayag. In Kedarnath, you can get decent hotels and lodges run by many NGOs and small villagers.
Price of these hotels or lodges starts from 500 to 3000 INR depending on the rush and crowd.
In the whole region, camping is free. You only need to take permission from the local authorities. There is no specific camping spot. The best place to camp is near the Bhairon temple because of the water source, peaceful location and an eye catching view. You should not miss the stunning view of the temple with a cup of hot-tea and maggie.
GMVN Guest House:
The Government of Uttarakhand runs its own guest house chain across the state for the tourists and the officials. You will get good accommodation at a fair price in all tourist spots of Uttarakhand. You can book your stays/tour package from their official website if you want to explore Uttarakhand )
Traditional Delicious Foods and Local Cuisine of Kedarnath:
- Aaloo Puri and Kachori
- Thechwani- an authentic Garhwali cuisine, prepared with the main ingredient like mountain radish root and mountain potato.
- Chhole Bhature
- Bhatt ki Churkani- A very delicious and the most loved dishes for the Kumauni communities of Uttarakhand
- Dubuk- A Dal gravy, prepared with Arhar, Gahat, and other lentils.
- Kode ki Roti- A special Garhwali Roti
- Kumaoni Raita- Very delicious, refreshing food item and the most common delicacies of Uttarakhand.
- Dal Chawal
- Kafuli- A Garhwali version of Saag
- Bhang ki Chutney- A rarest and a very unique dish of Pahari region of Kedarnath, Uttarakhand that you must try.
Kedarnath is not just a trek like other treks. While visiting the best places in Kedarnath, you will experience a new life. Your entire way of life will change. During sunrise and sunset, Mt. Kedarnath peak changes its color like a golden stone that shines the entire region. Grazing horses in the ridge of the mountains, Sadhu and Saints pray to the god fearlessly in the cold, freezy temperature will give you the essence of life.
Melting glaciers between the trails make this place even more difficult to reach. After all, once you cross all barriers and reach the desired place, you will feel like only a few people can do it; and I am one of them. A trip to Kedarnath is the best gateway from this hustle and bustle robotic life.
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Q. 1 What is the Best time to visit Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
Ans. Well, summer and monsoon are the only options. Kedarnath and Badrinath remain closed for 6 months and only open from April to October. In Monsoon, greenery and water crossings make your road trip more beautiful. But landslides are the only barrier that can set barriers during your trip.
Q. 2. Can I plan a trip to Kedarnath with a bike and ride a motorbike till Kedarnath?
Ans. Practically you can drive your motorcycle till Gaurikund. Beyond this place, the trail begins which is stiff and very dangerous. It would be difficult even to try. You need to park your vehicle in Sonprayag which is only 20-22km below Kedarnath.
Q. 3. Tentative cost for a 7-day trip to Kedarnath – Badrinath from New Delhi round trip?
Ans. Budget always depends on how you plan and manage your trip cost. If you use public transportation, local shared taxis, and average guesthouses you can expect 8000 INR per person.
Q.4. Is Char Dham Yatra safe via own vehicle?
Yeah! It depends on your driving skills. Many people hire drivers from Haridwar and Rishikesh because of a lack of experience in hilly areas. Before driving in the mountain and blind spots that begin from Rishikesh. Always remember your lovely family is waiting for you at home.
Q. 5. What are the best places to visit near Kedarnath?
Ans. Chopta, Tunganath, Deoria tal, Chamoli Gopeshwar, Rudraprayag and Kalimath are the best places to visit near Kedarnath.
Q. 6. Can I stay in Rudhra cave during my Kedarnath trip?
Yes! You can book from GMVN official website and stay in Rudra cave.
Q.7 What are the mountain peaks that I can see while visiting places in Kedarnath.
Ans. First you will see Mt. Kedarnath which is at 22770ft height. Another mountain peak is Kedar Dome which is at the height of 22000ft.
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Q. 8. Can it be possible to reach Kedarnath from Rishikesh in a single day ?
Ans. Yes! You can choose the best route; Rishikesh- Devprayag- Srinagar- Devprayag- Srinagar- Rudraprayag- Ukhimath and Sonprayag (Base camp where trails begin for Kedarnath).
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