Showing posts with label Himalayan pilgrim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Himalayan pilgrim. Show all posts

Hinduism - Where Is Kedarnath In India?


Kedarnath is a Himalayan village/town and holy location (tirtha) in the headwaters of the Mandakini River, one of the Ganges' tributaries.

The settlement is called after its reigning deity, Lord of Kedar, who is the god Shiva in his human form.

At Kedarnath, Shiva is represented by a linga, a pillar-shaped figure.

The Kedarnath linga is considered one of the twelve jyotirlingas, a network of Shiva-related locations.

The holiness of Kedarnath is only matched by the difficulties of reaching there.

Because of its great elevation—close to 12,000 feet—it is only accessible between late April and October, as are the three other important Himalayan pilgrim destinations of Yamunotri, Gangotri, and Badrinath.

A visit to Kedarnath retains some of the difficulty that was formerly associated with Himalayan pilgrimage.

Pilgrims complete the last 10 kilometers on foot or on horseback, which includes a five-thousand-foot ascent.

Those brave enough to undertake the journey must struggle with the unpredictability of mountain weather, but they may be rewarded with breathtaking views.

The Kedarnath temple is surrounded by alpine meadows and is sheltered by snow-capped mountains all year.

The Kedarnath linga is a natural ridge of stone that is said to represent Shiva's self-manifestation (svayambhu) and is thought to be very powerful.

The form of this linga is linked to the legend of Kedarnath's charter.

The five Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Mahabharata, the latter of the two major Hindu epics, are linked to one version of this narrative.

The Pandavas go on their last expedition towards the Himalayas in quest of Shiva's vision.

They eventually see him from afar, but when they attempt to approach him, Shiva transforms into a bull and charges through the snow.

The bull digs his way through a snowdrift.

When the Pandavas arrive, they discover the bull's corpse in the snow.

The hump of this bull is said to symbolize the ridge of granite that creates the Kedarnath linga.

The bull's head continues its journey over the highlands, eventually ending in Nepal as Pashupatinath.

A separate charter myth is based on the ancient belief that Shiva lives high in the Himalayas.

This legend associates the Panchkedar (a network of five Shiva temples in the Garhwal area) with five sections of Shiva's body, thereby uniting the god with the land and sanctifying it.

Kedarnath is Shiva's back, Madmaheshvar is Shiva's navel, Tungnath is Shiva's arm, Rudranath is Shiva's face, and Kalpeshvar is Shiva's matted hair (jata). 


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