Experience Hinduism - Kedarnath

Kedarnath Dham

The temple is believed to have been built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. Know about the history, reason of 2013 flash flood and survival of the temple.

Origin

The temple is believed to have been built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.

Legend 1: Legend goes that Nara and Narayana – two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth. Pleased with their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared in front of them and said that they may ask for a boon. Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries.

Legend 2: According to yet another popular legend related to Kedar Temple, Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareshwar to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. Besides, the Pandavas are believed to have visited this area several times. Arjuna is believed to have come here to pray to Shiva to obtain the coveted Pasupataastra. The other Pandavas are believed to have come here in search of him, where Draupadi came across the heavenly lotus Kalyana Saugandikam, and requested Bhima to bring here some more of the same. It was during his venturing out to seek these flowers that Bhima met Hanumaan.

Legend 3: At the end of their life, the Pandavas decided to give up their kingdom and go to the Himalayas and meditate on their favourite deity, Lord Shiva. So they set out accompanied by their wife, Draupadi. When they reached the place called Rudraprayag, they thought they had a glimpse of Lord Shiva. They tried to chase him but he took on the form of a buffalo and dashed off towards the north. They followed in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him at the place that is now known as Kedarnath. The Lord now dived into the earth. Only the hind portion of the buffalo was sticking out. This was caught by one of the brothers called, Bhima. But pull as he might, he couldn’t get the rest of the buffalo out of the ground. As per the legend, half body of the bull came out in the temple of Pashupatinath, Kathmandu (Nepal) and remaining half body of the holy bull like face, arms, hair and nose appeared in four other temples which is also known as Panch Kedar (Rudranath, Tungnath, Kalpeshwar, Madmaheshwar).

Legend 4: Some says Raja Bhoj of Malwa, who ruled between 1076 to 1099 AD, built the temple.

Legend 5: According to the legend the area also has five rivers Mandakini, Madhuganga, Chhirganga, Saraswati and Swarndari but some of them are mythical.
But Mandakini rules the Kedarnath area

The temple from inside

The hump now turned into a Shiva Lingam and remained at this place. Surrounding Kedarnath, we can see many symbols of the Pandavas. Raja Pandu died at Pandukeshwar. The tribals here perform a dance called “Pandav Nritya”. As a matter of fact, as one enters the main temple, the first hall contains statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the greatest guards of Shiva. An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia of the temple. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held.

Burried under snow for 400 years

Scientists claim that Kedarnath temple was under snow for almost 400 years and say that most of the people are unaware of this fact. According to scientists of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, Kedarnath temple survived being buried under the snow for almost 400 years and so they are not surprised that the shrine did not suffer much damage during the massive floods on June 15-16 (2013) in the region.

The period between 1300-1900 AD is known as Little Ice Age when a large portion of the earth was covered by the snow. It is believed that during the period Kedarnath temple and neighbouring area was covered by snow and became a part of glaciers. Its impact can be seen in the form of yellow lines on the stones used in constructing the Kedarnath shrine.

Age of temple

Although there is no documentary evidence regarding the age of Kedarnath temple and by whom it was constructed, but there are several myths about its construction. Wadia Institute of Geology scientists conducted Lichenometric dating of Kedarnath temple and the nearby areas. Lichenometric dating is a technique to find out the age of stones. According to the Lichenometric dating, glacial formation in the area started in the mid of 14th century and continued till 1748. So it is clear when the temple was being constructed, the technicians not only kept in mind the terrain but also the formation of snow and glaciers and ensured that the structure was strong enough not only to withstand natural disasters and the passage of time. Actually, the entire area of Kedarnath is a part of Chorabari glacier.

Experience Hinduism - Kedarnath old photo

According to the Garhwal Vikas Nigam the temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya in the eight century and so existed when the Little Ice Age of 1300-1900 AD came.

2013 massive flood

The believers know that in Hindu religion Shiv, to whom Kedarnath is dedicated, is a not only a saviour but also a destroyer. The destruction itself seems to be his mudra. mudra of anger: Rudra swaroop. Amidst the death and destruction, the 1200 year old Temple stands intact, so does his dear Nandi outside his lord’s linga. Just like, its saying, I am eternal, timeless, immortal, all supreme. The presence of lord Shiva can be felt.

It is believed that after establishing the four Dhams (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamnotri) Adi Guru Sankaracharya went to Samadhi in the age of 32 years. This 8th century samadhi of Adiguru Shankaracharya, which was located in the vicinity of the Kedarnath temple, was washed away by the flood waters. Two statues of Shankaracharya, a Hanuman statue and a ling were swept away

Experience Hinduism - Shankaracharya Samadhi

In the olden days, these pilgrim places were in lonely atmosphere situated in forests and on hills. The peaceful atmosphere co-operated with the development of devotion. But, today, these places are terribly busy with crowds of people running to fulfill their desires. The basic concept is lost since you are expected to set aside all the material desires being away from the populated places

Experience Hinduism Kedarnath flood source

As per Dharma-shastra, when a person commits mistake, nature of punishment given to such person is related to the place where it is committed. Committing mistake/ sin (doing unrighteous thing) at a place of pilgrimage / ‘Deva-sthan’ is considered as a very grave sin compared to a sin committed at some other place. Such persons are severely punished by God. In Kali-Yuga, people are treating places of pilgrimage like Kedarnath as tourists’ places destroying their sacredness and ‘Sattvikata’. Priests at such ‘Deva-sthans’ are also looting devotees in the name of having ‘darshan’ of God. All these people are punished by God for their sins by creating deluge.’

Architecture (Priniciple behind surviving natural disasters)

The design and architectural principles used in construction of Kedarnath temple are unique. From choice of location to erection of platform and building material- the elements of maintenance and durability were built in the design principles. Heavy polished stone slabs were welded to slabs without any mortar and ‘man-woman’ type joints were used to integrate the superstructure. So the entire temple complex and the area was built in such a way that the shrine would be able to survive natural disasters. The temple is 85 feet high, 187 feet in length and 80 wide. Its walls are 12 feet thick and built from extremely strong stones and stands on a six-foot high.

Srimat Shankaracharya praised Lord Shiva thus:
mahAdripArshve cha taTe ramantaM sampUjyamAnaM satataM munIndraiH |
surAsurairyaxa mahoragADhyaiH kedAramIshaM shivamekamIDe ||

Meaning:
Oh Lord, who resides in the great heights of Himalayas, oh Lord, thou, who art worshipped forever by saints, Hermits, Demons, Gods, Yakshas and Maha Nag (giant snakes), I bow and offer millions of Pranams

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