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Kedarnath "Helicopter yatra" 2010
One of the holiest temples for the Hindus, Kedarnath Temple Jyotirlinga is located in the picturesque surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini River in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini that joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag.
Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotirlingam of Shiva is open only between the end of April to start of November. Here Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the 'Lord of Kedar Khand', the historical name of the region.
Tradition has it that when undertaking Kedarnath Yatra, pilgrims first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer to Kedareshwara. The traditional pilgrim route is Haridwar - Rishikesh - Devprayag - Tehri - Dharasu -Yamunotri - Uttar Kashi - Gangotri - Triyugnarayan - Gowrikund and Kedarnath. The alternative route to Kedar from Rishikesh is via Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Ukhimath. The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund.
Helicopter services operates from Phata and Agustmuni The Phata helipad is located beyond Agustmuni and is also linked by a good motorable road on the way to Kedarnath. Helicopter service from Dehradun heliport also to the shrine via Phata/Gauchar.
Helicopter companies has made it convenient for pilgrims to visit the Kedarnath Ji shrine at a reasonable cost with priority darshan. Devotees would get one hour thirty minutes at Kedarnath for darshan.
Kedarnath Ji Shrine
The temple is believed to have been built by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Lord Shiva. The older temple existed from the times of Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. The temple is also one of the four major sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas. At the entrance of the temple is the statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva.
Located in the lofty Himalayas, Kedarnath Temple is one of the best known Shivasthalams in India and is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres of the country. It is believed that by praying to Kedareshwar, one can get all his desires fulfilled. Importance of the shrine can be further understood from the beliefs that in Dwapar, the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva here. Even the spiritual leader Adi Sankaracharya is closely associated with Kedarnath.
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.