Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the district itself, the most important one is Kedarnath.
According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in
the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own brothers and
sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them
repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath
in the form of a bull. On being followed he dived into the ground,
leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva
appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his
manifestations. The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath,
the belly at Madhmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar.
Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as
An imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded
by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in 8th century
A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier
temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are
decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology.
Outside the temple door, a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as
guard. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath
temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. Built of extremely
large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to
how these heavy slabs had been handled in the earlier days. The temple
has a "Garbha Griha" for worship and a Mandap, apt for
assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the
temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.