The Kedarnath temple is situated at a height of 11000 feet in Himalayan Garhwal region and is a very popular pilgrim centre for the millions of Hindus all over the world.
The temple houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas.
The temple is supposed to be more than 1000 years old and has withstood the onslaught of 2013 devastating floods which erased and changed the geography of Kedarnath. The Lord here is a self manifestation and was first worshipped by Panch Pandavas. The idol of Kedarnath here is in the form of a pyramid on the floor of the sanctum and the devotees can offer puja rituals without the aid of a priest. Touching the deity and offering worship is a great feeling.
The breath taking view of the temple with the Chorabari glacier in the background is terrific. The glacier is the head of river Mandakini. The river flows with all its full might and the strong cascade with the reverberating sound is stupendous.
The temple remains open from May to November and rest of the time it gets submerged in snow.
The roads leading to Kedarnath are narrow , hazardous and always there is threat of land slides which may hamper the journey.
The Gaurikund is the base from where the trekking path starts to the temple and the distance to be covered is around 24 Kms. Ponies and dolis (a kind of cane basket to carry the pilgrims) and helicopter services are available to aid the pilgrims.
Helicopter services make the travel easier and helps one save time and energy. One can have a great experience of flying above the Garwhal region . The breath taking aerial view of the meandering river Mandakini, the green carpeted and the silvery snow capped mountains at arms length is an overwhelming experience. It just takes a few minutes to fly to the the temple and back and we were fortunate enough to complete the whole trip worship included in flat 3 hours as we flew from the closest point Sersi. From the helipad the temple is just about half a Kilometre . Dolis are available for those who are unable to walk in cold . One also gets breathless faster as the Oxygen supply dips at times.
Note for pilgrims
The fee for helicopter ride is about 7500 per person (depends on the weight of the individual too)
Fees also differ depending on the distance as heli services operate from 3-4 different areas.
Aadhar card compulsory for registration. Online registration is available for heli rides.
Preference given to those who register online. No luggage allowed except a small bag.
Complete silence to be observed during the ride. Helicopter carries a maximum of 6 passengers per ride.
Photography a big No during helicopter ride.
Dolis services are offered at around Rs.5500 -6000 and and pony rides above Rs.10000 and are uncomfortable and tiring. (The above rates as per September 2018)
Trekking is for the young and adventurous.
Avoid visits during rainy season which is between July and August.
Try visiting Triyugnarayan temple yet another ancient temple which is very near to Gaurikund.
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