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Coordinates: 30°44′N 79°04′E / 30.73°N 79.07°E / 30.73; 79.07
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A view of Kedarnath
A view of Kedarnath
Kedarnath is located in Uttarakhand
Location in Uttarakhand, India
Kedarnath is located in India
Kedarnath (India)
Coordinates: 30°44′N 79°04′E / 30.73°N 79.07°E / 30.73; 79.07
Country India
Named forKedarnath Temple
 • TypeNagar Panchayat
 • BodyKedarnath Nagar Panchayat
 • Total2.75 km2 (1.06 sq mi)
3,583 m (11,755 ft)
 • Total612
 • Density220/km2 (580/sq mi)
 • OfficialHindi[1]
 • Additional officialSanskrit[2][3]
 • RegionalGarhwali
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registrationUK-13

Kedarnath is a town and Nagar Panchayat in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, India, known primarily for the Kedarnath Temple. It is approximately 86 kilometres from Rudraprayag, the district headquarter. Kedarnath is the most remote of the four Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is located in the Himalayas, about 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level near the Chorabari Glacier, which is the source of the Mandakini river. The town is flanked by snow-capped peaks, most prominently the Kedarnath Mountain. The nearest road head is at Gaurikund about 16 km away. The town suffered extensive destruction during June 2013 from the Flash Floods caused by torrential rains in Uttarakhand state.[4]



The name "Kedarnath" means "the Lord of the Field". It is derived from the Sanskrit words kedara ("field") and natha ("lord"). The text Kashi Kedara Mahatmya states that it is so-called because "the crop of liberation" grows here.[5]



Kedarnath is a pilgrimage site or tirtha dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. It is one of the four pilgrimage spots that form a part of the Uttarkhand Char Dham yatra or Chota Char Dham yatra.[6] The temple's construction is credited to the Pandava brothers mentioned in the Mahabharata.[7][8] However, the Mahabharata does not mention any place called Kedarnath. One of the earliest references to Kedarnath occurs in the Skanda Purana (c. 7th-8th century), which names Kedara (Kedarnath) as the place where Shiva released the holy waters of Ganga from his matted hair, resulting in the formation of the Ganges River.[9]

According to the hagiographies based on Madhava's Sankshepa-Shankara-Vijaya, the 8th century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya died near the Kedarnath mountains; although other hagiographies, based on Anandagiri's Prachina-Shankara-Vijaya, state that he died at Kanchipuram. The ruins of a monument marking the purported resting place of Adi Shankaracharya are located at Kedarnath.[10] Kedarnath was definitely a prominent pilgrimage centre by the 12th century when it is mentioned in Kritya-kalpataru written by the Gahadavala minister Bhatta Lakshmidhara.[11]


View of kedarnath Temple during snowfall

Kedarnath is located at a distance of 223 km from Rishikesh in Uttarakhand and close to the source of the Mandakini River at the height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft) above sea level.[12] The township is built on a barren stretch of land on the shores of Mandakini river. The surrounding scenery of the Himalayas and green pastures makes it a very attractive place for pilgrimage and trekking. Behind the town and the Kedarnath Temple, stands the majestic Kedarnath peak at 6,940 m (22,769 ft), the Kedar Dome at 6,831 m (22,411 ft) and other peaks of the range.[12][13]



As of the 2011 India census,[14] Kedarnath has a population of 830. Males constitute 99% of the population and females 1%.[15] Kedarnath has an average literacy rate of 63%: male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 36%. Out of total population, 604 were engaged in work or business activity. Of this 601 were males while 3 were females.[15] In Kedarnath, none of the population is under six years of age. The floating population from May to October every year is more than 5000 per day with the pilgrim influx rising up to 10 lacs (1 million) in 2022.[16]



The Kedarnath Temple is closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. For six months, from November to April, the palanquin with the Utsava Murti (Idol) of Kedarnath and of the Madhyamaheshwar Temple is brought to the Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath, near Guptakashi. Priests and other summer-time residents also move to nearby villages to cope with the winter. Around 360 families of the Tirtha Purohit of 55 villages and other nearby villages are dependent on the town for livelihood.[17] According to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, Kedarnath's climate is monsoon-influenced subarctic climate (Dwc), bordering a uniform rainfall subarctic climate (Dfc) with mild, rainy summers and cold, snowy winters.

Climate data for Kedarnath, Uttarakhand
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 1.0
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −8.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 118.0
Source: [18]

2013 flash floods

The Kedarnath Temple and the huge rock behind it in the aftermath of the flood

On 16 June 2013, at approximately 7:30 P.M., a landslide occurred near the Kedarnath Temple. Water from the Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Tal down Mandakini River also washed away everything in its path at about 8:30 p.m. On 17 June 2013 at approximately 6:40 a.m., waters rushed down from Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Sarovar, bringing along with its flow, a huge amount of silt, rocks, and boulders. A huge boulder got stuck behind the Kedarnath Temple, protecting it from the ravages of the flood. The flood-water gushed on both sides of the temple, destroying everything in its path.[19][20] Thus in the middle of the pilgrimage season, torrential rains, cloud bursts, and resulting flash floods nearly destroyed the town of Kedarnath. The town was the worst affected area by the floods.[21] Thousands of people were killed, and thousands of others (mostly pilgrims) were reported missing or stranded due to landslides around Kedarnath. Although the surrounding area and compound of the Kedarnath Temple were destroyed, the temple itself survived.[22][23]

The rescue operation resulted in more than 100,000 people being airlifted with the help of mainly the Private Helicopter Operators, who began the rescue mission voluntarily without any clear directives from the State Government or the Ministry of Defence. The Indian Army and Indian Air Force helicopters arrived much after the Private Helicopter Operators had already begun the massive air-rescue mission. Dare-devil helicopter pilots, mostly ex-Indian Air Force and Ex-Army Aviation officers, flew relentlessly. Capt. Unni Krishnan from Prabhatam Aviation & Capt. Bhatnagar from Premair were few such outstanding pilots who landed at the Sh. Kedarnath Ji right-ridge at dusk hours - 1910hrs (almost 35 minutes after 'sunset') to pick-up the 'last' batch of survivors for the day. The NDRF represented by a commandant, and another junior officer arrived at the 'right-ridge' of the town bordering the Mandakini River, unprepared with a malfunctioning satellite phone. However, the next day, they brought in more men and supplies. The first Indian Army officer to arrive at the Sh. Kedarnath Ji 'right-ridge' was a Captain from the Assam Rifles Regiment. He single-handedly displayed exemplary courage in rescuing many survivors by climbing up steep slopes and fractures along the Rambara ridge-line. The Indian Army later launched a massive rescue effort with thousands of its brave-heart men and vital equipment. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the reserve battalions of the Uttarakhand Police displayed outstanding courage in the rescue mission. A Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopter, each, of the private helicopter operators - Prabhatam Aviation & Simm Samm Aviation, were lost during the rescue mission without any reported casualties. An Indian Air Force helicopter (Mi 17) also crashed during this exercise, killing all 20 people on board (all of them were soldiers involved in relief and rescue work). The Air Force dropped logs to build pyres for mass cremations of the victims.[21] It was reported that previously uncollected bodies were still being found one year after the tragedy.[24]

Flood-proof infrastructure plan


After the floods, the Government of India decided to provide a flood-free infrastructure plan for the town. This involves:

  • Development of the retaining wall and ghats on the Mandakini River
  • Development of the retaining wall and ghats on the Sarasvati River
  • Construction of the main approach to the Kedarnath Temple
  • Development of the Adi Shankaracharya Kutir and Museum
  • Development of houses for the Kedarnath Teerth Purohits

The foundation stone for the plan was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 October 2017.

Places of interest


Other than the Kedarnath Temple, on the eastern side of the town is Bhairavnath Temple,[12] and the deity of this temple, Bhairavnath, is believed to protect the town during the winter months. About 6 km upstream from the town, lies Chorabari Tal, a lake cum glacier also called Gandhi Sarovar.[12] Near Kedarnath, there is a cliff called Bhairav Jhamp.[12] Other places of interest include the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi, and Rudra meditation cave.[25]

See also

Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath, where the Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar idols are kept during the winter months.


  1. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  2. ^ Trivedi, Anupam (19 January 2010). "Sanskrit is second official language in Uttarakhand". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 1 February 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Sanskrit second official language of Uttarakhand". The Hindu. 21 January 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Here is what happened in Kedarnath, and rest of Uttarakhand, in 2013". The Indian Express. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
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  8. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. Rosen. pp. 363–364. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  9. ^ Alex McKay (2015). Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography. BRILL. p. 135. ISBN 978-90-04-30618-9.
  10. ^ N. V. Isaeva (1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 978-0-7914-1282-4.
  11. ^ Edward Quinn (2014). Critical Companion to George Orwell. Infobase. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-4381-0873-5.
  12. ^ a b c d e Abram, David (2003). The Rough guide to India (2003 ed.). New York: Rough Guides. pp. 354–355. ISBN 9781843530893.
  13. ^ Kala, CP (2014). "Deluge, disaster and development in Uttarakhand Himalayan region of India: challenges and lessons for disaster management". International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 8: 143–152. Bibcode:2014IJDRR...8..143K. doi:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2014.03.002.
  14. ^ "Census of India 2011: Kedarnath". Census Commission of India. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Kedarnath Population Census 2011 - 2022". Consensus 2011.
  16. ^ "Pilgrim influx to Kedarnath Dham crosses 10.08 lakh, breaks all previous records". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
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  18. ^ "KEDARNATH CLIMATE". CLIMATE-DATA.ORG. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  19. ^ "[First-person Account] 'How I Survived 16 June Fury At Kedarnath' - Manoj Rawat - Tehelka - Investigations, Latest News, Politics, Analysis, Blogs, Culture, Photos, Videos, Podcasts". www.tehelka.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Uttarakhand floods: Survivors of Kedarnath recount ordeal". Yahoo News. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  21. ^ a b "High and wet". The Economist. 29 June 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
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  24. ^ Bhatt, Bindiya (12 June 2014). "Exclusive: Dead bodies of pilgrims found in Kedarnath, one year after Uttarakhand tragedy". News Nation English. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  25. ^ "Kedarnath | Char Dham | Uttarakhand Tourism". namasteindiatrip.com. Retrieved 4 March 2022.