15 June 2013, a devastating flood had swept away the large portion of Uttarakhand (the land of Gods) and obliterated the livelihood of the local populations immensely. The most affected parts of the state were Sonprayag, Gauri Kund, Ram Bada, and everything that was situated nearby India’s one of the most sacred pilgrimages, Kedarnath. The abode of one of the most revered gods in Hinduism, Shiva.
Fast forward 5 years, exact same day, I and a friend had started our ascend to the pristine Kedarnath temple from Gaurikund (base camp for Kedarnath trek) in a continuous downpour.
It seemed, even the weather was trying to remind us that unfortunate day when we humans felt absolutely helpless in the front nature — the day when plenty of people died, plenty got separated from their loved ones and for many, all they had ever earned and accumulated in their lifetime were sabotaged completely.
Being alive after such a disastrous calamity was definitely a blessing but witnessing everything, possessions, shelter, job, efforts going in vain and the burden and uncertainty of starting everything all over again could make even the strongest, the most vulnerable.
But they definitely had something more to look up to other than their problems, after all, they were the devotees of Mahadev ( the god of gods).
Shiva ॐ, when we see him through the eyes which are meticulously biased with political and religious opinions, He is just an illusive Hindu god with no substantial proof of existence, but the moment we put our rigidity aside, He is the ultimate possibility of human existence.
He is so famous and universal that we can call him out with plenty of names such as Shiva, Shambhu, Shankara, Bholenath, Adiyogi, Neelkantha, Mahesh, Rudra, Mahadeva.
Each name depicts one of the countless qualities and wisdom he possesses. He is considered the first yogi ever to walk on this planet. Hence, named as Adiyogi ( the first yogi).
He gulped down the poison that was emanated during Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) which made his throat blue. Hence named as Neelkantha (the blue-throated one).
He is also being called as Bholenath because to please Shiva, we don’t need to do any complex ritual. He gives shelter to anyone or everyone who exhibits sincere devotion and possess a clean heart.
Kedarnath is one of the few places on earth where you can feel the energy of the divine — something which can not be born and destroyed like every other thing.
According to lore, this temple is around 3000 years old but still standing firm and tall. You can guess the marvelousness of this architecture from this fact that when the flood occurred in 2013, almost the entire region swept away completely but we can’t find a single dent on this magnificent temple.
The altitude of the Kedarnath temple is around 3,583 m (11,755 ft) and to reach there, you have to ascend a long16 km trek from Gauri Kund.
Till Gaurikund, the road is motorable. And from here, if someone is physically not that capable and still want to see the pristine abode of Shiva. They can consider the Kedarnath helicopter service (Approx cost 7k INR) or horseback ride (Approx cost 2500 INR).
To do Kedarnath helicopter booking, you don’t actually need to reach Gauri Kund. The booking counter is in between Sonprayag and Gauri Kund.
The route to reach this epic pilgrimage is, Rishikesh — Sonprayag— Gauri Kund — Kedarnath temple.
Rishikesh can be reached from any corner of India in a very convenient way as it is very well connected by Indian railways and buses, and is one of the important cities of Uttarakhand.
The distance from Rishikesh to Sonprayag is around 210 km and takes around 8 hours to reach. And from there Gauri Kund is around 6 km and then further 16km ascend to Kedarnath temple.
One can also reach Sonprayag directly from Delhi without sojourning in Rishikesh as there is a roadways bus runs directly from Delhi to Sonprayag at 9 pm daily. We audaciously took that bus and trust me, it was really inconvenient and tiring. We were in deep remorse after the journey.
Trek to Kedarnath is only moderately steep but due to the long-distance of 16 km, even the frequent trekkers can feel the stamina plummeting and legs aching.
Earlier the distance of the Kedarnath trek was 14 km but when the destructive flood of 2013 occurred, the entire trail had been obliterated and after the restoration, the distance has increased to 16km.
The valley which we trek through to reach the temple is known as Kedarnath valley. The journey in this valley itself is so enriching and magnificent that bowing down to Adiyogi in a temple magnificently built as such Kedarnath is an add on.
Lush green mountains sprinkled with waterfalls here and there and “Har Har Mahadev” (The chant of Shiva) reverberating from every direction can inspire and push even those who are on the verge of giving up and returning back.
Since it is one of the Char Dham yatra (one of the four sacred pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand) and attracts a huge number of devotees year-round, there is no shortage of accommodations and food stalls.
Kedarnath temple is so splendid and well built that it can be viewed from a considerable distance. Even though it is not humongous as compared to several other famous temples in India but it certainly is amazing and breathtaking.
Marvelously standing amidst the snow-capped mountains of Uttarakhand signifying the splendor and grandeur nature of the god of gods, Mahadev.
People belonging to religions other Hinduism might find it inscrutable. But to be honest, Santana Dharma (Hinduism) is not actually a religion but a way of life.
And the beauty of it, is, here we see God as a tool to liberation, and therefore everyone following it has this freedom to choose a god out of many or even create one if he or she wishes too.
Because the end goal is to attain epiphany and subsequently getting free from all the bondages of life. Ways or processes or tools can be different, but the goal is the same for all.
And Shiva is a synonym of knowledge and Windom. The highest possibility of human existence. A knower of simple yet the most intricate philosophies of life and the universe.
Om namah shivay ॐ
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