Char Dham Yatra 2024

Kedarnath History

Kedarnath - Highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas

Kedarnath - Highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas

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The History of Kedarnath Dham : From Ancient Times to the Present Day

The historical record of Kedarnath may be traced all the way back to the 8th century, when it was written by the renowned sage, saint, and philosopher Adi Shankaracharya. It is well known that he journeyed all the way from his home in Kerala all the way to Kedarnath, and that while he was travelling, he founded a number of maths, temples, and pilgrimages along the way. He created the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand with the intention of rekindling an interest in Hinduism among the broader Hindu populace.

It is thought that he breathed his final breath in the Kedarnath Dham, which is also the location where he spent a significant portion of his life. Right beyond the temple is a holy shrine that is dedicated to Adi Shankara. This was done to honour his accomplishment of brilliance and perfection in establishing some of the most popular pilgrimage circuits, temples, and shrines, all of which are widely venerated even in modern times. Paying homage and showing reverence to the idol of Adi Shankara has developed into a customary practice in this location. Following the terrible flash floods that occurred in 2013, this Samadhi is currently being reconstructed in an underground chamber so that it can continue to be visited in the future.

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During their reigns from 326 BC onwards until their fall from power in 250 BC respectively, many kings and queens, such as Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka Gupta emperor, came to this temple to offer prayers to Lord Shiva regularly on Fridays or Saturdays respectively. Ashoka’s grandson Pushyamitra sent him back after he had taken away his daughter.

4,000 Years of Being Buried Under Snow

Even though the precise year that The Temple of Kedarnath was built is still a mystery, scientists have always been interested in unearthing the secrets that are contained in this beautiful temple. A research group from Dehradun went ahead and conducted some research on the temple walls in the hopes that it would provide them with some information regarding the precise age of the temple. The findings were completely unexpected! It was revealed that the primary temple of Kedarnath had been concealed for the previous four hundred years by a substantial layer of snow. This conclusion was hypothesised by running numerous tests on the exterior walls of the temple, which exhibited yellowish lines. Further research showed that these lines were a result of a mini ice age where the entire region of Rudraprayag was fully covered in a large coating of ice.

This result was proposed by performing several tests on the exterior walls of the temple, which showed yellowish lines. It is incredible that the temple remained in perfect condition after the ice age period that it had been through, with not even a single break being visible. It is abundantly obvious that whomever was responsible for creating the structure of this temple had taken into consideration the severe weather conditions that prevail in this region and had designed the temple in such a way that it can withstand even the most severe of climatic conditions.

History of the Kedarnath Temple

There are several folk tales that are related to the Garhwal region, Lord Shiva, and the construction of the Panch Kedar temples.

Tale Related to Mahabharata

The heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas, are mentioned in a folktale called Panch Kedar. In the famous Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas vanquished and killed their relatives, the Kauravas. They wanted to atone for the fratricide (gotra hatya) and brrahmahatya (killing of priest class Brahmins) they had committed during the conflict. So they gave their relatives control of their country and set out to find Lord Shiva to ask for his blessings. They first travelled to Varanasi (Kashi), a sacred city thought to be Shiva’s favourite and home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Shiva, however, intended to stay away from them because of his intense resentment over the deaths and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and his insensitivity to the Pandavas’ prayers. So he changed into a bull (Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.

The Pandavas travelled to the Garhwal Himalayas after failing to find Shiva in Varanasi. The second of the five Pandava brothers, Bhima, then began to search for Shiva while perched atop two mountains. He noticed a bull grazing close to Guptakashi (also known as “hidden Kashi” due to Shiva’s act of hiding). The bull was immediately recognised by Bhima as Shiva. The bull was grabbed by the tail and rear legs by Bhima. However, the bull-shaped Shiva vanished into the earth before making partial reappearances at Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar. The nabhi (navel) and stomach surfaced at Rudranath, while the face and hair resurfaced at Rudranath. The Pandavas constructed temples in Uttarakhand at each of the five locations to honour and adore Shiva since they were thrilled with his reappearance in five different guises.

In a different version of the story, Bhima is credited with not only catching the bull but also preventing its disappearance. As a result, the bull was split into five pieces and manifested in five different places around the Kedar Khand in Garhwal region of the Himalayas. After constructing the Panch Kedar Temples, the Pandavas reached salvation or heaven by performing a yagna (fire sacrifice) at Kedarnath and then following the holy road known as the Mahapanth (also known as Swargarohini). The Kedarnath, Tungnath, and Madhyamaheshwar temples and the Panch Kedar Temples are built using the same North Indian Himalayan Temple architecture.

Adi Shankara’s Relation with the History of This Holy Shrine

The 8th-century philosopher Adi Shankara is said to have passed away in the highlands close to Kedarnath, according to hagiographies based on Madhava’s Sankshepa-Shankara-Vijaya, however other hagiographies based on Anandagiri’s Prachina-Shankara-Vijaya claim that he passed away in Kanchipuram. At Kedarnath, there are still remnants of a memorial marking the alleged site of Shankara’s demise. By the 12th century, when it is referenced in Kritya-kalpataru, a work by the Gahadavala minister Bhatta Lakshmidhara, Kedarnath was undoubtedly a well-known pilgrimage site.

Other Important Historical References

A stone inscription discovered in the state of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, lends credence to the assertion that King Bhoj of Malwa, who reigned from 1076 to 1099, was responsible for the construction of the temple of Kedareshwar. This assertion is supported by the text The Epigraphia Indica, Volume 1. One alternative school of thought proposes that the Pandavas in the Dwaparyug were the ones who initially constructed the temple of Kedarshwar, and that later, in the 8th century AD, it was Adi Shankarachrya who constructed a temple in close proximity to the older one.

However, prominent historians of recent times, such as Dr. Shiv Prasad Dabral, are of the opinion that members of the Shaiva sect, also known as Saivism or Shaivism, began visiting the area far earlier than Adi Shankaracharya and his students did.

Even the most eminent linguists have been unable to read the script written in Pali or Brahmi language on the enormous steps of the temple, which is another reason why it is difficult to tell how ancient the temple is, according to another group of academics who believe that the age of the temple cannot be accurately estimated.

According to what was written in 1882 by E.T. by Atkinson in The Himalayan Gazetteer, Volume III part II, “A tower behind built of grey stone and surmounted by a gilded pinnacle forms the adytum (inner sanctum) of the shrine.” In front of the temple are rows of masonry buildings owned by pandas that are used for the accommodation of pilgrims, and to the right of the edifice are the residences of the pujaris, who are also known as priests. According to Mr. Traillis, the current building is relatively new in comparison to the one that stood there previously, which was abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair.

Disaster Caused by Flooding in Kedarnath in 2013

The state of Uttarakhand got an abnormally high amount of rainfall over the period of the 13th through the 17th of June. This caused the Chorabari glacier to melt, which in turn contributed to the eruption of the Mandakini river. A significant portion of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and western Nepal were impacted by the floods.

The severe rains led to massive flash floods and landslides, which ultimately resulted in the deaths of both locals and visitors in addition to extensive damage to property. The Kedarnath valley, which is famous for a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva that dates back to the eighth century, was reportedly the area that was impacted the hardest.

Kedarnath Dham Aftermath of the Flood

The anxiety felt by pilgrims in the aftermath of the accident has dealt a terrible hit to the tourism industry, which is a significant component of the financial stability of the majority of the people who live in the area. On August 29, 2013, the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat, which is considered to be the most significant celebration in all of Uttarakhand and takes place once every 12 years, was planned to take place. However, as a result of the damage that was caused to roads and bridges, the state government had to call off the event. On October 5, after a deafening silence that lasted for one hundred days, the pilgrimage route to Kedarnath was finally opened, although only a limited number of pilgrims were allowed to pass through at one time. Despite this, the sector of religious tourism continued to be hit hard over the subsequent number of years. It is important to note that despite the destruction caused by the floods and the terror that they induced, the pilgrims’ trust was restored when they realised that although most of the Kedarnath town had been destroyed, the Shiva temple that was constructed in the eighth century AD had been spared. Despite the fact that the floodwaters inflicted devastation and instilled fear, it is important to note that the pilgrims’ faith was restored.

How the Kedarnath Temple Managed to Stay Standing

Kedarnath, the temple, and the town were all subjected to the wrath of nature, but the shrine managed to escape unscathed. The damage was confined to the temple’s outer walls only. It is widely held that a massive boulder that redirected the flow of water to the sides of the temple prevented the structure from being swept away by the water. Bheem Shila is the name given to the enormous rock that is venerated in Kedarnath. The temple has maintained its height over the years and continues to draw visitors from around the world.

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