Kedarnath temple is one of the sacred pilgrimage centre in Northern India, located on the bank of Mandakini river at an altitude of 3584 meters above sea level. The historical name of this region is "Kedar Khand". Kedarnath temple is a part of Char Dhams and Panch Kedar in Uttarakhand and one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India.
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There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand 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 Kith and Kin and sought 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, the Lord dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface at Kedarnath. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms of the Lord appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. The Kedarnath and four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar (Panch means Five in Sanskrit).
The Temple at Kedarnath presents an imposing sight, standing in middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The temple was originally built in 8th century A.D. by Jagad Guru Adi Shankaracharya and stands adjacent to site of an even 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 Kedarnath temple has exquisite architecture Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut grey slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs were moved and handled in the earlier centuries. 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.