The killer flash floods triggered by torrential rains in Uttarakhand have damaged a portion of the famous Kedarnath temple but authorities said there have been no reports of damage to the structure itself.
Kedarnath has the holiest Hindu shrine, the Kedarnath Temple. It is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world, being one of the four major sites in India's Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage.
Let’s go back and have a look at the importance and significance of this holy site that bore the burnt of this natural disaster.
Kedarnath is the most significant among the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range.
This temple is over a thousand years old and is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large gray steps leading to the holy sanctums we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps.
The present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya.
The origin of this holy temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata. According to legends, Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata.
Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull.
On being followed, he dived into theground leaving behind his hump on the surface. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.
A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. It is situated at an altitude of 3,581 mt. It is a 14 km trek from Gaurikund.
At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May.
It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage.
The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct-Nov) and reopens in Vaishakh (Apr-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.
In the middle of pilgrimage season, torrential rains and the resulting flash floods nearly destroyed the town.
At least 50 people were feared killed and several hundred pilgrims were reported missing around Kedarnath, with thousands of others stranded due to landslides.
Aerial photos showed that the temple itself was not damaged but was still standing amid surrounding debris due to its architectural design.
However the temple complex and all surrounding areas suffered near total destruction.