The trek of Kedarnath is 16 Kilometers which starts from Gaurikund to Kedarnath. Before the disaster it was 14km but after 2013 the route of trek was changed and now it is 16km trek. Kedarnath is one of the holy places in India it is refers to Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is situated in Rudraprayag district of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. Every year thousands of devotees come here to take blessings of Lord Shiva. It is one of the Char Dham in Uttarakhand and also most important dham among Panch Kedar.
Kedarnath trek has fabulous mountains near the beautiful river Mandakini, Kedarnath range standing in one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Kedar means powerful which is refers to Lord Shiva, the safeguard and subversive. Magnificent aura, snow clad mountains and breathtaking panoramic view of landscape make Kedarnath Trek more interesting and phenomenal. This is reason every year large number of people visit Kedarnath Trek for trekking and to take blessings of Lord Shiva. The main and popular attraction of Kedarnath Trek is Kedarnath Temple itself. The main Shiva temple settled in the mid of the scenic landscape. Shiva is considered the avatar of all passions – love, hate, fear, death and spirituality which are expressed through his various forms. Kedarnath is one of the important pilgrimages of Lord Shiva but there are more than 200 holy places dedicated to Lord Shiva in the area of Kedarnath trek itself.
According to hindu mythology after the Mahabharata war, the Pandavas went to nameless journey to beg kindness from Lord Shiva. Pandavas went to Lord Shuiva to beg mercy from him. Lord Shiva embody as a bull to hide from the Pandavas. But Bhima was able to find Lord Shiva. He tried to catch the bull and hit its back part with his mace. The injured bull then sinking in the earth and its body parts falls down in different places.
It is believed that the back part of the bull fall in Kedarnath in triangular form which is called ‘Jyotilinga’ and Lord Shiva appeared in Kedarnath in his divine avatar. Lord Shiva then give his blessings to Pandavas and told them that from now onwards, I will be present here as a triangular shaped Jyotilinga and by paying true prayers at Kedarnath, the worshippers would gain dharma. The other four parts of the bull fell at Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar and Kapleshwar all five are known as Panch Kedar of Lord Shiva.
It is 211Kms to Rishikesh to Gaurikund or Sonprayag and if you want to travel by road it is 8 hours drive. From Rishikesh bus terminal you can take bus or Tata Sumos to Sonprayag. Bus services are easily available from major cities of Uttarakhand to Guptkashi. Buses are hard to get from Sonprayag so you can try taking bus for Guptkashi and complete your further journey to Sonprayag via sharable Jeeps or tata Sumos. Shuttle services are also available Sonprayag to Gaurikund.
It is 16Km trek and it takes 5 – 6 hours to climb up to the Temple. It is good if you wake up early in the morning and take a bath. From standing in the temple row it takes approximately 3 hours to complete the process of darshan. You can buy prashad available from outside the Kedarnath temple. After the dharshan of Kedar baba you can also visit the Baba Bhairav temple, which is situated on a top mountain near Kedarnath. It is around 600 meters far from the temple.
The Kedarnath Trek gives you the facilities of Palki/Dandi, kandi & Mule/Ponies. Gaurikund/Sonprayag is the booking counter. One can book these services from here only . There rates are depends on the distance you travel from these facilities. In the middle of the trek there are proper facilities for every pilgrim like camping facilities, tented accommodation, drinking water facilities and small shops/restaurant etc are there in the whole trek route.
There are also Helicopter facilities for passengers who wish to go by fly, the helipad services are available at Kedarnath helipads to Phata and other helipads at Kedarnath Trek. Apart from roadsides dhabas and tea stalls there are not many good eating options at Kedarnath Trek. The restaurants serve only north Indian vegetarian food. It is a respected religious place so alcohol and non-vegetarian food is strictly prohibited at Kedarnath.
The Best time to visit Kedarnath in summers is from April to June, these months are the best because the weather at this time is outstanding, you can enjoy every single day of your trek without any difficulty. It is advisable to carry warm clothes with you and carry basic medical kit with you. Around the end of June to end of September is not a good season to visit the temple because due to heavy rainfall, landslides and flooding everything is shut and it is not advisable to go to the trek. The temple community also shut the doors of the temple and shift Kedar Baba to another place at monsoon season. In winters starting of October to mid-November this is also the best time to visit Kedarnath Temple.
The snow-capped mountains and lush greenery view after a great monsoon will give you the best experience. This is the best time to visit Char Dham Yatra but don’t forget to take warm clothes and first-aid kit with you. The temperature in Kedarnath Trek is very low so people suffer the difficulty in breathing so it is compulsory to carry oxygen cylinder with you if you have any difficulty in breathing. You can rent the oxygen cylinder from the place you start your trek or carry your own cylinder with you.
Trekking – The trek of Kedarnath temple is 16Km. But if you want to extend your trekking to making it a wonderful trek you will have to extend your route to Chorabari Tal, Vasuki Tal and Bhairon mandi in Kedarnath. The nearest town with road connectivity is Gaurikund which is located 19Km from Kedarnath Temple.
Camping – Because of little accommodation at Kedarnath, tourists and pilgrims can set up tents near the town and enjoy the natural beauty that covers the town as well as the elevated kedarnath peak in the background.
Shopping – You find small shops and stores on the way to Kedarnath. You will find small shops selling religious memento like Lord Shiva pictures, various types of crystals, herbs, precious stones, tulsi pearls and lot more things.