The northern most jyotirlinga traditionally the third stop in the char dham yatra after yamunotri and gangotri is located at 11746 ft above sea level close to the source of the river mandakini . The experience of offering holy water from gangotri to he who held the holy ganga in his locks can only be described as divine . From gaurikund the roadhead kedarnath is a 14 km trek northwards which can be negotiated on foot or on ponies or palanquins hoisted by four men . The trek to kedarnath is along the river mandakini . It is an uplifting experience to walk by stark mountain faces , snow peaks , spectacular waters , flowers and floating clouds . The trek is steady ascent along a stone paved path in large parts through a thick forests of himalayan oak , rhododendron and a profusion of ferns . It is steep until garuda chatti ( about 10 kms from gaurikund ) one can spot the snow covered sumeru peak the spectacular backdrop of kedarnath temple – in all its majesty . According to the vayu purana , vishnu as narayan came down to the earth for the good of mankind . He landed at badrinath which was then the abode of shiva . On narayan’s request shiva accepted kedar as his permanent abode . Kedarnath is also part of panch kedar yatra . Adi shankaracharya attained samadhi at the age of 32 in the shrine behind kedarnath temple . He appointed veera shaiva priest as the rawals ( chief priest of kedarnath. At present the 337 th rawal is holding the seat governed from ukhimath which is also the abode of deity during winter . There are also local priests from the villages around guptkashi and ukhimath. They are not part of the temple committee but they take care of the pilgrims on the basis of their origin having divided the country between themselves into 360 districts for administrative purposes . The katyuri style temple stands againist the back drop of lofty , snow covered peaks . It is built with extremely large , heavy , and evenly cut grey slabs of stones and has a wooden ceiling topped by a golden kalash . Outside the temple door a massive stone idol of nandi stands guard. The temple has 3 parts the garbhagriha the darshan mandap where pujas are been conducted and the sabha mandap where devotees assemble. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of deities and scenes of mythology. Pilgrims also worship idols of ganesh with riddhi and siddhi , parvati , vishnu and lakshmi , krishna , kunti , draupadi , yudhisthir , bhim , arjun , nakul and shadev . Pilgrims offer butter and ghee to the jyotirlinga and then embrace it touching it with their forehead. In the month of july august september the rare brahma kamal flowers bloom in the area . Timings : 6 am – 2 pm , 5 -8 pm Season : The opening date of kedarnath is not fixed . It is decided every year on shivratri ( mid feb ) by panch purohits ( five priests) in ukhimath and then announced and cummunicated through various agencies . It usually falls around mid may. The closing date is however fixed and falls on yama dwitya or bhai duj . The temple’s of temple’s of yamunotri and gangotri close on the same day . The main rush of pilgrims takes place in may jun. Nobody lives in kedarnath after temple gates are closed for winter . The pandas return to guptkashi and the rawals live in ukhimath the winter abode of kedarnath. Pilgrims offer silver plated bilvapatras ( leaves of bilva tree ) which are available outside the temple and also in gaurikund to the lord . Holy water from gangotri is also part of the offering . Bhog is offered by priests at 4 pm . Pilgrim can assemble for it in the mandap but are not allowed in the garbgriha. The shravani annakoot mela is celebrated on the day of raksha bandhan ( mid aug) . On that day the jyotirlinga is covered with cooked rice which is distributed as prasad . On the day the temple closes for winter a special samadhi puja is held. There is no special or vip darshan . However pilgrims who visit by helicopter which has to return as soon as possible due to changing weather conditions can have darshan immediately. Shringhar darshan is from 5 pm onwards aarti is performed at 6:45 pm . During the peak may jun season devotees may have to wait 3 – 4 hours for darshan . They start queuing up from 2 am . The temple’s committee office ( opens 6 am – 8 pm ) closed 4 -5 pm undertakes bookings for special pujas which are performed between 4 and 6 am , that is before the temple opens for general darshan . But when the rush is greater special pujas during the visit devotees can also arrange for special puja to be performed on fixed days during the year for a period of 20 years .