Kedarnath and Badrinath
Kedarnath and Badrinath are two major holy places, revered by all Hindus. Both of these are located in the Uttarkhand district of UttarPradesh. Here, the temple and the surrounding few shops are open from March to October (summer and autumn season), and remain closed during the winter season from November to February.
Kedarnath is considered to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Hence, this place is a must-see for all Shiva devotees.
Here, the main attraction is the horse-ride up to the peak of the hill where the main temple is situated. There are trained horse riders who escort people till the top of the hill. Enthusiastic and energetic persons can trek the whole 18 kms up to the peak while old people or others who cannot go on horse-back can opt for climbing with the help of poles or being carried in a palanquin.
The temple is beautifully architectured and is nestled among the Garhwal Himalayas. Outside the temple is a huge statue of the Nandi bull. The famous Mandakini river which is a tributary of the Alakananda river, which, in turn, is a tributary of the mighty Ganges, can be sighted close by. Another attraction over here is the “Shiva Linga” made of ice. Also a Shiva Lingam with a snake-like hood made from mercury can be sighted at a couple of places.
Badrinath is a sacred place for all Hindus, especially the Vaishnavites. It is located along the banks of the Alaknanda river and therefore, provides a scenic locale. The place is famous for the temple dedicated to Badrinath or Lord Vishnu. The temple, which is encircled by a beautiful valley, is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century A.D by Guru Adi Sankara Charya.
Also located in the Garhwal Himalayas, the temple is placed between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges. The scene of the sunrise from behind the mountains forms an additional attraction here. The holy “Ashtakshari Mantram” is supposed to have been handed over to mankind at this spot. Legend has it that Lord Narayana himself has taken the forms of Sishya and Guru (Nar and Narayan) to reveal the mantra.
There are thermal springs inside the temple-named “Tapt Kund”- which are supposed to have medicinal effects. All the devotees take a dip in the springs before entering the sacred shrine.
There is also a separate flat platform, the “Brahma Kapal”, near to the temple premises where people perform religious rites, especially for their deceased forefathers in the belief that the dead souls will easily attain “moksha”.
How to reach?
Kedarnath and Badrinath can be reached from the nearby places of Haridwar, New Delhi Rishikesh or Dehra Dun as there are many buses plying from these cities. Badrinath-Kedarnath pilgrimage tours are organised by many tourist organisations.