Kedarnath, considered to be one of the holiest places of pilgrim for the devout and religious hindus, is located on the Mandakini River, with the temple, believed to be very ancient, having been been continually renovated over the past hundreds of years , and as per legend, when Lord Shiva wished to elude the Pandavas, he took refuge at Kedarnath disguised in the form of a bull, and when he was followed, he buried himself into the ground,with only the hump remaining on the surface, and it is this hump that is worshipped in a conical Shiva Pinda form at the temple at Kedarnath.
And the remaining parts of the body of the bull being worshipped at four other places , namely :
- the arms (Bahu) at Tungnath,
- face (mukh) at Rudranath,
- navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar
- and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar.
Taken along with the main temple at Kedarnath, these places are called as the Panch Kedar, with the lingam at Kedarnath, being in a pyramidal shape , very unlike the usual cylindrical shape of the lingam at other places.This lingam is considered to be a part of the 12 Jyotirlings in India..
Kedarnath is located on the Himalayan slopes in the Gharwal district of Uttar Pradesh, and the interesting part is that there is even a mention of the greatness of this temple in the vedas as well as the epics. And the name is very apt , since the name Kedara for the Lord signifies " Lord Shiva holding the holy Ganges river in his matted locks and allowing it's even flow to the entire world." .
Although you will find the exteriors of the temple to be quite simple, but the interior of the temple is adorned with several marvellous sculptures. There is an irregular shaped conical rock,approximately five feet by four feet., in the garbagriha, and Lord Shiva in the form of a jyotirlingam is worshipped here as Lord Kedareshwar. Common belief over the years is that the jyotirlingam found here actually represents the rump of the bull, which was the form that Lord Siva assumed, when the Pandavas tried to get in touch with him to repent for the sins perpetrated by them during the Kurukshetra war.
This was primarily since it was not the opportune time for humans to worship the Lord at this place, therefore Lord Shiva had taken on the form of a bull to get away from the place. The temple structure that stands till date at this location is believed to have been built by the Pandavas.
The shrine is covered by snow for 6 months in a year (closed from Oct-Nov upto Apr-May). This, it is believed, is the time of the year when the Devas are worshipping the Lord !