Kedarnath, at the head of the Mandakini River, is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. According to legend.
Lord Shiva wished to elude the Pandavas, and took refuge in Kedar - nath in the form of a bull. On being followed, He dived into the ground, leaving behind His hump of the surface. The hump is worshipped in the temple of Kedarnath in the conical Shiva pinda form.
The remaining parts of the body are worshipped at four other places
the arms (Bahu) at Tungnath,
face (mukh) at Rudranath,
navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar
and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar.
Together with Kedarnath, these places are known as the Panch Kedar.
The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlings. * Kedarnath is situated in the Himalayan slopes in the Gharwal district of Uttar Pradesh. The uniqueness and greatness of this temple sees mention in the vedas, ithihaasaas, epics.
The term Kedara for the Lord denotes The Lord who holds the holy Ganges in his matted locks & allows it to flow evenly to the world. It could also mean the mark that is left on the Lord's head from the time when Arjuna got the Paasupathastram.
This shrine is located at an elevation of 11,735 feet above sea level. The region of the Himlayas, where the shrine is located is known by several names such as Gandhamadana parvatham, Sumera parvatham, Pancha parvatham, etc. (Pancha parvatham, for this is the spot of five sacred peaks namely Rudra Himalayas, Vishnupuri, Brahmapuri, Udayagiri & Swargarohini.
The exterior of the temple is rather simple, but the interior is adorned with marvellous sculptures. In the garba griha is an irregular shaped conical rock which is about five feet by four feet. Lord Siva in the form of jyotirlingam is worshipped here as Lord Kedareshwar. It is believed that the jotirlingam is actually the rump of the bull, which was the form that Lord Shiva assumed, when the Pandavas tried to reach him to atone the sins of the Kurukshetra war. Since it was not time designated for humans to worship the Lord here, Lord Shiva tried to go away in the form of a bull. It is believed that temple structure that exists till date was actually the one constructed by the Pandavas.
The sannadhi of the Lord is facing South. There are the idols of Kedaragowri, Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, Vinayagar, Veerabadrar, Kaarthikeyan, Nandi. The shrine is covered by snow for 6 months in a year (closed from Oct-Nov upto Apr-May). It is believed that this is the time when the Devas are worshipping the Lord.
There is mountain path called Sorga Vaasal, through which the Pandavas, Sankaracharyar are supposed to have gone through. The river Mandakini flows down from near this area