Category Archives: Himalayas


From Delhi, this important holy place is about two third of the way between Delhi and Haridwar. This small town sits on the banks of a branch of the holy Ganges River. This is special place where Shukdeva Goswami spoke Srimad Bhagavatam to Maharaja Parikshit 5000 years ago.

It is about an hour east of the city of Muzaffarnagar. It’s around 150 km from Delhi on the way to Haridwar.

Important Places
Shukratirtha- First the Bhagavata Peeth Shukdev Ashrama. This is built around the 5100 year old Akshay Vriksha tree which sits on top of the hill where 80,000 sages of all ranks gathered to hear Shukdev Goswami speak the Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit 5000 years ago. It was under the branches of this tree where Shukdev Goswami and King Pariksit sat. The uniqueness of this tree as its name suggests that it does not shed leaves. The tree is quite large, towering up to 150 feet, with branches spreading in all directions, even coming out of the sides of the hill just below the tree. One branch has a nub coming out of it is in the shape similar to Lord Ganesh. The ashrama includes a number of shrines and deities within its complex, including one close to the tree that has the images of Shukdev Goswami sitting and speaking to King Pariksit.


To the east of the town is Ganga, which is a quiet and peaceful river here, compared to the swift and powerful river at Haridwar and Rishikesh. Many pilgrims take a holy bath here. However, this is a branch of the Ganga that flows next to the village, while the main branch of the Ganga is 3 to 4 kilometers away. It is in this area where King Pariksit gave up his body.

To comprehend the importance of this place, one must understand the history. The Srimad Bhagavatam is considered the most important literary work of Srila Vyasadeva, who was the author and compiler of most of the important Vedic texts, such as the Vedas, Upanisads, and Mahabharata. The Bhagavatam is said to be Vyasadeva’s own commentary on all of his own writings. At one point, Mahamuni Ved Vyasa was dissatisfied with all of his writings. At that time the great sage Narada Muni arrived and encouraged him to explain the Vedic truths by elaborating on the pastimes, character, qualities, and names of the Supreme Being, Sri Krishna, for the benefit of humanity. Thus, Vyasadeva accepted this instruction and composed the 18,000 verses of the Bhagavatam, which included all of the wonderful pastimes of the Supreme Lord.


These ultimate spiritual truths revealed in Bhagavatam were first revealed by the Supreme Lord to Brahma. Brahma passed them along to the great sage Narada Muni, who then gave it to Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa (Vyasadeva). And Vyasa wrote the Sri-mad-Bhagavatam and also passed it along to Shukdev Goswami, who also spoke it to Maharaja Pariksit. How the narration between Shukdev Goswami and King Pariksit happened is a story in itself, which shows the importance of not only the Bhagavatam but of the holy place of Shukratal. King Pariksit is the son of Abhimanyu and the grandson of the warrior Arjuna who was Lord Krishna’s friend and the person who heard the Bhagavad gita from Lord Krishna. One day while King Pariksit was hunting, which many ksha¬triya kings did in that era, he became thirsty and tired. He was about 60 years old at the time and while looking for water came across the hermitage of the sage Shamik. However, the sage was in deep meditation and was completely unaware of the King’s presence. When the sage did not respond to the King, the King did not know the reason for the sage’s silence and felt insulted. The King, feeling his importance was being neglected, responded by taking a dead snake with the end of his bow and garlanding the sage with it. This was certainly an insulting and improper act by the King toward the sage.


At that time, the corruption and confusion of the age of Kali-yuga was beginning, and the effect was felt by the actions of all involved. What happened next indicated all the more that the influence of Kali-yoga was spreading. Shringi, the young son of the sage Shamik, was playing with his friends, the children of other sages. But when he heard about the incident with his father, he became angry at King Pariksit. Shringi then took some holy water from the Kaushaki in his hands and cursed the King, saying that within seven days the poisonous snake Takshaka would bite the man who had insulted his father, thus killing him.Shukratal

When Shringi returned to his father’s hermitage and saw the dead snake on his father’s shoulders, he began to weep loudly. On hearing the sobbing of his son, Shamik finally came out of his trance. He opened his eyes and saw the dead snake around his shoulders, but like an elevated sage, he did not consider it important and merely threw it away. He then asked his son why he was crying. However, on hearing the entire story, the Shamik felt remorse at what his son had done. He knew that the King had done a shameful act, but in a moment of weakness. Then he chastised his son, telling him that he had committed a great sin, giving such a grave punishment for a small mistake, and that he was very immature to consider the King an ordinary person.

Around that time the King returned to his palace. Settling down, he realized his mistake and felt saddened by treating the innocent sage like a wicked person. He wondered how he could be absolved of this sin. As he thought in this manner, a disciple of the sage Shamik came to Maharaja Pariksit to warn him of the curse that was put on him by the sage’s son. The King, accepting his fate as a blessing, handed over his kingdom to his son Janamejaya and went to the banks of the Ganga to fast for the seven days before he was to be bitten by the snake. The news spread rapidly and brought many sages along with their disciples to place where he was fasting. On the pretext of making a pilgrimage to a holy place, these saintly men actually purify the places they visit.

The King was glad to see all the holy men assemble near him and worshiped them by bowing his head as they arrived. Then the King asked them, “Ogreat sages, what is the most important duty of one who is about to die? Please consider this.”


All the sages who had gathered around King Pariksit deliberated on this question and also decided to remain there until he left this world.

The great sage Shukadeva, the 16 year old son of Vyasadeva, was wandering nearby, free from all cares and completely content within himself. Wearing the garb of an avadhuta, one who is completely carefree from all rules and social standards, and as though others had neglected him, he was being followed by children. At that time he appeared on the scene in the presence of the sages and King Pariksit.


Even though Vyasadeva and Narada Muni, Shukadeva’s guru and grand guru, were also present in the assembly of great sages called brahmarsis, rajarsis, and sadhus, they all rose from their seats to pay their respects to him. King Pariksit also addressed Shukadeva: “You are the supreme among saints, therefore I would like to ask what a man should do who is about to die? What should he hear, chant, remember and worship?”

Shukadeva at first responded, “The question you have asked is glorious because it is beneficial to everyone. The answer to this question is the prime subject for life and is approved by all transcendentalists. At the last stage of life, one should be bold enough to not be afraid of death. But one must cut off all attachment to the material body and everything pertaining to it and all such desires.”

In this way, to answer the request of Maharaja Pariksit, the nectar of the Bhagavata flowed from the lips of Shukadeva Goswami in a way that seemed to them that thcy had never heard it before. This question and answer format, the discussion of all the most important of spiritual topics, became the Srimad Bhagavatam as we know it today.

After the whole Bhagavatam had been discussed, Shukadeva concluded that for a person who is suffering in the fire of countless miseries and who desires to cross the insurmountable ocean of material existence, there is no vehicle more suitable than cultivating a transcendental taste for the narrations of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.Shukratal

This was the second time the whole Bhagavatam had been recited. The first time was when Srila Vyasadeva had recited it at his ashrama at Badrinatha. [Vyasadeva recited it once to his son Shukadeva, and also recited it to Ganesh who had written it down.] The second time it was recited was at Shukratal. The third time was when Suta Goswami recited it to the many sages at Naimisaranya.

After the week long recitation of the Bhagavatam, King Pariksit thanked Shukdev Goswami for his merciful instructions, and said: “Now I have achieved the purpose of life. You have personally related to me the narration of the Supreme Lord and have revealed to me what is most auspicious-the knowledge of the supreme personal feature of God. I am now full of transcendental knowledge and self-realization, and my ignorance has been eradicated. I no longer have any fear of Takshaka or any other living being, because I have absorbed myself in the purely spiritual Absolute Truth. Kindly allow me to absorb my mind, purified of all lusty desires, within Him and to thus give up my life.”

Then Shukdev Goswami, along with the other sages, departed after blessing the King. Pariksit then laid the darbha grass on the bank of the Ganga so that the tip of its stalks faced east and he turned himself toward the north. The King settled his mind within his spiritual Self, and he became as stationary as a tree. As the time came when the curse was to take effect, the snake bird Takshaka, who could shift into any shape he wanted, approached Shukratal in the guise of a brahmana to bite the King.

As Takshaka went, he met the brahmana Kashyapa Muni who was traveling in a hurry. Takshaka asked where he was going. Kashyapa Muni, who knew the science of counteracting poisons, said he was going to meet King Pariksit because he could neutralize the effect of the snake bite. To test the sage, Takshaka exposed his fangs and bit a green tree which turned to ashes in seconds. Then Kashyapa chanted some mantras and the tree was restored and as green as before. So Takshaka asked whether the sage was going in order to receive rewards for his knowledge, and the sage replied to the affirma¬tive. Takshaka said that he could reward Kashyapa more than the King, if he would only go back home. So the brahmana Kashyapa took much wealth from takshaka and returned home.

The place where this incident occurred is known as Bheraheri, which is five miles away from Shukratal. The place where Takshaka asked Kashyapa to return home is called Modna which later became known as Morna, the village on the road four miles from Shukratal as we come from Muzaffarnagar. Legend continues to explain that when Takshaka got to the area of King Pariksit, he was not allowed to enter. So he changed himself into a caterpillar and entered one of the fruit baskets being taken to the King’s area. On reaching the King, Takshaka came out of the fruit, and assumed the form of a brahmana and easily approached the King, and while the the King was in devotional meditation, bit him. As everyone looked on in horror, the King’s body was immediately turned to ashes by the fire of the snake’s poison. Thus, Maharaja Pariksit left his body and, immersed in the absolute truth of the Supreme Being, as he entered the spiritual world. This is why the whole area of Shukratal is full with the sweetness of bhakti or devotion for Lord Sri Krishna. This is also the importance of hearing the powerful and fully transcendental literature of the Sri-mad Bhagavatam. It can deliver one from the pangs of material existence and into the absorption of the spiritual pastimes of the Lord.


It is said that only after many lifetimes of performing pious acts does one achieve the opportunity of being able to hear the Srimad Bhagavatam. Also, wherever the Bhagavatam is read, Lord Krishna will manifest. It is also said that all of the holy rivers, kundas and lakes, all sacrifices, and the seven holy cities of Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchipuram, Avanti (Ujjain), and Dwaraka, and all the holy mountains are present where Srimad Bhagavatam is discussed. This is only a small portion of descriptions on the power found within the vibrations of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Thus, the holy place of Shukratal is importance to the sacred text of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.


One word of caution: A local tradition, in line with the way Maharaja Pariksit died after being bitten by the snake, is that anyone who receives a snake bite in Shukratal is sure to meet with death.


Rishikesh is 24 kilometers away from Haridwar, and 245 km northeast of Delhi. It is the place where the clear Ganges leaves the Himalaya Mountains. Rishikesh is good place to stay for a while during the hot months of April to August. Rishikesh is famous as a place to study yoga and meditation, and there are many ashrams here. It became famous when George Harrison and Beatles came here in the 60s.

It is said that Bharata, the brother of Lord Rama, did severe penance here. A temple of Bharata was constructed at this site, and the town of Rishikesh grew up around it.

The town got its name from the time when Lord Hrishikesh, Vishnu, appeared here to grant darshan to Raibhya Rishi when he was performing austerities. The demons Madhu and Kaitabha were also killed here by Lord Vishnu as Hayagriva.

How Madhu And Kaitabh Were Killed Here in Rishikesh
The avatar of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to Brahma. Lord Vishnu had taught Brahma the creation through His breath of Vedas. Brahma became extremely proud and head strong of his position as the creator and about his powers. Sriman Narayana as usual wanted to remove Brahma’s pride. Due to Lord’s desire , then a couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha;, one demon (kaitabh) was of tamo guna and the other (madhu) was of rajo guna. They both stole the Vedas from Brahma.

Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma rushed to the Lord and pleaded Lord Narayana for mercy and saving Vedas. Seeing Brahmaji humbled, Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva, as the white Horse faced to destroy the Asuras and restore the Vedas to Brahma. The Divya tejas Sattva murthy Sri Hayagriva thus, in a grandest beautiful manner rushed to Patalaloka and raised His transcendental sound and terrified Madhu and Kaitaba. Afraid, they hid the Vedas (which were in the form of babies) and ran away from the scene. Sri Hayagriva handed over the Vedas to Brahma and went back. Returning back with restored confidence, Madhu kaitaba searched for the sound which terrified them earlier but found the Source of sound as well as their stolen Vedas missing. Angered,They both again rushed to Brahma to take revenge. Brahma in turn was terribly scared and sought the help of Lord. Sri Hayagreevar appeared to fight with asuras and killed them. Brahma re-continued his work of creation.

That is why Lord is also called as Madhusudhana. (for having killed madhu and kaitabha).

Another name of Hrishikesh mentioned in scriptures is also “KUBJAMRAK TIRTH.” Here is the description of how Kubjamrak tirth derived its name. Lord Varaha told Prithvi- “In Satya Yuga, at the time when the earth was still submerged in water, I had killed two mighty demons named Madhu and Kaitabh. After killing both the demons I looked all around and found sage Raibhya engrossed in his penance. Sage Raibhya was a great devotee of mine. I was extremely impressed and watched him hiding myself behind a mango tree. The mango tree could not bear the weight of my hands and became curved. This is how Kubjamrak tirth derived its name. Very soon, sage Raibhya found out that I was hiding behind that mango tree. He eulogized me and requested me to grant a special status to Kubjamrak tirth among all the holy places. I blessed him and thus Kubjamrak tirth became one of the holiest places. There are several other holy places situated in the vicinity of Kubjamrak tirth, Manas tirth, Maya tirth, Sarvakamik tirth, Purnamukh tirth, Agni tirth, Shukra tirth, Manasar tirth, Sapta samudrak tirth, etc. All these holy places including Kubjamrak tirth are capable of giving salvation to a man.”

Places to Visit in Hrishikesh

Bharata Temple

Bharata Temple

One of the main temples is the Bharata temple in the central part of town, despite the name, the presiding deity is of Lord Narayana, not Bharata, Lord Rama’s elder brother. This temple is only a half kilometer from Triveni Ghat, the main bathing ghat in town. There is an inscription on the temple that says Adi Sankaracarya renovated the temple. Darshan times are 5-11 am and 1-9 pm.

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula

The Lakshmana Jhula area is only three kilometers upstream from Rishikesh, a pleasant walk away. This is where Lord Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, performed penance, commemorated by the Lakshmana temple. Temple is on the west bank of the river by the bridge. Near this temple at Rishi Kund is said to be where Lord Rama and Lakshmana took bath to purify themselves from killing the demon Ravana, who was also a brahmana.

There was a hanging jute rope bridge here until 1889. It was rebuilt with iron cables in 1939. On the other side of the bridge there are many temples. There are nice small waterfalls about 3 ½ km north of Lakshman Jhula, on the east bank of the river. There are also nice sandy beach where you can bathe in the Ganges. It is just south of the bridge, on the other side of the river from the main part of town.

Triveni Ghat,
The main bathing ghat, is where the Ganges and the subterranean Yamuna and Saraswati are said to flow together. Dawn is a good time to come here, during which time people make offerings to the Ganges and feed the large fish here. Pinda sraddha, or offerings for the benefit of dead ancestors, is performed here. There is a daily evening Ganges Arati (offering of lamps) at around 6 pm. It is a well-attended, interesting event.

Triveni Ghat

At Muni-Ki-Reti (abode of the Rishis) the Ganges emerges out of the Himalayan foothills. The Shatrugna Temple, Muni ki-Reti, is about 4.5km from downtown Rishikesh. It is dedicated to Shatrugna, the youngest brother of Lord Rama.

North of the Bharata temple beyond the Chandrabhaga River is the Balaji and Chandramouleswara temple. The architecture is in the South Indian style and it is managed by the board of the famous Tirupati temple in South India.

Neela Kantha Mahadeva Temple

Neela Kantha Mahadeva Temple

Neela Kantha Mahadeva Temple is situated on a hill, 1,700m (5,500 ft) above sea level, and is about 11 km from Laksman Jhula. This is an important Shiva temple. Shiva received the name Neela Kantha after he drank the poison produced from the churning of the Milk Ocean, after drinking the poison his throat turned blue. Neela means “blue” and kantha means “throat. It takes about four hours to reach here from Laksman Jhula and less than two hours to walk back. If it is hot it is best to walk early in the day. The path to the temple starts behind Swarg Ashram and then goes past Mahesh Yogi’s ashram. There are regular shared jeeps to this temple from Laksman Jhula. It is especially busy during July, which is said to be the time when Siva drank the poison. There is a holy tree here that women tie a string to as an offering in order to get blessed with a child.

From the Neela Kantha temple you can climb 2km to the Parvati temple, which is located on top of a high hill. From the Parvati temple another 2km further up the hill is a Cave (gufa), where there is a small temple. There are good views along the way. It is a fairly hard climb to the Parvati temple and a fairly easy walk to the cave.



It is a 10km walk to this Shakti temple, which is located on a hill north of Rishikesh. From this temple there are great views of the surrounding Himalayan countryside. To get here you can take a bus to Hindola Khal on the road to Tehri, and then from there it is a 3km walk. It is a 45 minutes bus ride from Rishikesh.

Going To See The Char Dham Temples 
From Rishikesh there are many important holy places we will want to visit, such as Badrinath, Gangotri (near the source of the Ganges), Kedarnath, and Yamunotri (near the source of the Yamuna River). This is called the “Char Dhama” or four shrines pilgrimage tour. There will be many other holy towns you will travel through and where you may want to stop. There are also seven holy rivers in this area, which include the Alakananda, Bhagirathi, Dhauli Ganga, Mandakini, Pindar Ganga, the Nagar, and others. These rivers form five important sanganis or confluences where they meet. Some pilgrims bathe in all five sanganis before having darshan at Badrinath.

Panch Kedars

Parts of Lord Shiva’s body appeared at five places in the Kedarnath area. It is said that the Pandavas built temples at each of these places-Kedarnath, Madhyamaheswar, Rudranath, Tungnath, and Kalpeswara. They are at altitudes from 1,500 to 3,680m. It takes about 14 days to go to all five places. They can all be reached by a long circular trek. Most of the part one has to walk from temple to temple. A bus leaves Gaurikund, near Kedarnath, every morning at 5 am and stops at access points for the Panch Kedar temples. A local bus goes between Gopeswar and Guptakashi.

You could start at Kedarnath. From there you return to Guptakashi and then go to Okhimath and continue on to Mansuna village. From Mansuna village it is a 24km trek to Madhyamaheswar (3,497m), which is 30km from Guptakashi. You can stop at Ransi overnight, and then you go to Gondhar (3km) and climb 10km to Madhyamaheswar. The temple here is a small stone temple dedicated to the middle (madhya) part of the bull-Shiva.

Tungnath (3,680m or 12,065 ft) is the highest (in altitude) temple in India. It is surrounded by striking mountains such as Neelkanth, Kedarnath, and Nanda Devi. The Shiva temple here is on a stone paved platform overlooking a cliff. Tungnath represents the arm of Lord Shiva. There are five silver faces of the Pandavas along with deities of Vyasadeva and Kalabhairava in the temple. There is also a small Parvati temple here. You get here by trekking from Chopta (7km, 4 hr), which is 37km from Ukhimath. At Chopta there is a GMVN Tourist Bungalow that has rooms with baths.

To get to Kalpeswara Temple (2,100m), you first travel by bus to the village of Helang, 14km south of Joshimath. From Helang you walk 9km to the village of


Urgam, which has basic accommodation and food. From there it is a 1.5km walk to Kalpeswara temple, which is dedicated to the jata (hair) of Lord Shiva. It is a rock Temple that is entered through a cave.

Next you go to Gopeswar by road and then to Sagar. From there it is a 24km trek to Rudranath, dedicated to the mouth of Lord Shiva. The Rudraganga flows by this temple. There are good views of the Trisul, Nandadevi and Parbat peaks, and down below there are small lakes. To get to Rudranath you can also walk from Kalpeswara.

Okhimath is just a little ways south of Guptakashi. It has a colorful temple and monastery, which has many small cells for meditation. The worship for Kedarnath is held here during the winter when it is too cold to stay in the mountains at high elevations. Okhimath has all the different forms of Lord Shiva. So if you cannot visit Panch Kedar, the five main forms of Shiva in the temples of the area, then getting darshan of the deities at Okhimath is equal to being blessed by all of the forms of the Panch Kedar. This monastery is also the seat of the immortal sages, such as Parashurama and Visvamitra, as well as Varahi and Chandika, the tantrik goddesses. Okhimath also has temples of Shiva, Parvati, Usha, Mandhata, and Aniruddha. It is said that Usha- Anniruddha marriage took place in Okhimath. Usha along with her father Banasura was staying here.


Nearby places
Guptakashi, the next important town, is where Lord Shiva had fled to live incognito and even turned himself into a bull to hide from the Pandavas who later found him there. This is why this place is called Guptakashi, which means “hidden Kashi” or “hidden light”. The Pandavas pursued Lord Shiva up to Kedarnath, where he gave up the disguise. There his bull hump became the Lingam. The main temples here are for Ardhanariswara (Gouri-Shankar) and Vishwanath. In front of the Viswanath temple is the Manikarnika Kund which has water flowing from the head of Ganesh (water said to be from Yamunotri) and the head of a cow (water from Gangotri). Other than this, this city is another overnight stop if you are on a late bus, since they close the road here when it gets dark. Another small town, Agastmuni, 25 km farther up the road, is where the Agastya Muni temple is and where he performed meditation.


1) Vishnuswami pleased Shiva at Kedarnath. Shiva appeared. He asked him for that which is most pleasing to him. Shiva gave him the diety of Lord Krsna.

2) Marriage of Usha & Aniruddha : at Okhimat

Marriage of Usha & Aniruddha

Of the one hundred sons of King Bali, the oldest was Banasura. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva, who favored Bana so much that even demigods like Indra would serve him. Banasura once satisfied Siva by playing musical instruments with his one thousand hands while Siva danced his tandava-nrtya. In response, Siva offered Bana whatever benediction he chose, and Bana asked Siva to become the guardian of his city. One day when Bana was feeling an urge to do battle, he told Lord Siva: “Except for you, in the whole world there is no warrior strong enough to fight me. Therefore these thousand arms you’ve given me are merely a heavy burden.” Angered by these words, Lord Siva replied, “Your pride will be crushed in battle when you meet my equal. Indeed, your chariot flag will fall to the ground, broken.” Banasura’s daughter, Usa, once had an encounter with a lover in her sleep. Several nights in a row this occurred, until one night she failed to see Him in her dreams. She suddenly awoke, speaking aloud to Him in a state of agitation, but when she noticed her maidservants around her, she felt embarrassed. Usa’s companion Citralekha asked her who she had been addressing, and Usa told her everything. Hearing of Usa’s dreamlover, Citralekha tried to relieve her friend’s distress by drawing pictures of Gandharvas and other celestial personalities, as well as various men of the Vrsni dynasty. Citralekha asked Usa to pick out the man she had seen in her dreams, and Usa pointed to the picture of Aniruddha. Citralekha, who had mystic powers, knew at once that the young man her friend had pointed out was Lord Krsna’s grandson Aniruddha. Then, using her mystic powers, Citralekha flew through the sky to Dvaraka, found Aniruddha and brought Him back with her to Sonitapura, Banasura’s capital. There she presented Him to Usa. Having obtained the man of her desires, Usa began serving Him very affectionately within her private quarters, which were supposed to be strictly off limits to men. After some time the female guards of the inner palace noticed symptoms of sexual activity on Usa’s personality, and they went to Banasura to inform him. Greatly disturbed, Banasura rushed to his daughter’s apartments with many armed guards and, to his great surprise, saw Aniruddha there. As the guards attacked Him, Aniruddha took up His club and succeeded in killing a few before the powerful Bana could capture Him with his mystic naga-pasa ropes, filling Usa with lamentation. When Aniruddha did not return from Sonitapura, His family and friends passed the four months of the rainy season in extreme distress. When they finally heard from Narada Muni how Aniruddha had been captured, a large army of the best Yadava warriors, under Krsna’s protection, set off for Banasura’s capital and laid siege to it. Banasura fiercely opposed them with his own army of equal size. To help Banasura, Lord Siva, accompanied by Kartikeya and a horde of mystic sages, took up arms against Balarama and Krsna. Bana began fighting against Satyaki, and Bana’s son fought against Samba. All the demigods assembled in the sky to witness the battle. With His arrows Lord Krsna harassed the followers of Lord Siva, and by putting Lord Siva into a state of confusion He was able to destroy Banasura’s army. Kartikeya was so strongly beaten by Pradyumna that he fled the battlefield, while the remnants of Banasura’s army, harried by the blows of Lord Balarama’s club, scattered in all directions. Enraged to see his army’s destruction, Banasura rushed Krsna to attack Him. But the Lord immediately killed Bana’s chariot driver and broke his chariot and bow, and then He sounded His Pancajanya conchshell. Next Banasura’s mother, trying to save her son, appeared naked in front of Lord Krsna, who averted His face to avoid looking at her. Seeing his chance, Bana fled into his city. After Lord Krsna had thoroughly defeated the ghosts and hobgoblins fighting under Lord Siva, the Siva-jvara weapon-a personification of fever with three heads and three legs-approached Lord Krsna to fight Him. Seeing the Siva-jvara, Krsna released His Visnu-jvara. The Siva-jvara was overwhelmed by the Visnu-jvara; having nowhere else to turn for shelter, the Siva-jvara began to address Lord Krsna, glorifying Him and asking for mercy. Lord Krsna was pleased with the Siva-jvara, and after the Lord had promised him freedom from fear, the Siva-jvara bowed down to Him and departed. Next Banasura returned and attacked Lord Sri Krsna again, wielding all kinds of weapons in his thousand hands. But Lord Krsna took His Sudarsana disc and began cutting off all the demon’s arms Lord Siva approached Krsna to pray for Banasura’s life, and when the Lord agreed to spare him, He spoke as follows to Siva: “Banasura does not deserve to die, since he was born in the family of Prahlada Maharaja. I have severed all but four of Bana’s arms just to destroy his false pride, and I have annihilated his army because they were a burden to the earth. Henceforward he will be free from old age and death, and remaining fearless in all circumstances, he will be one of your principal attendants.” Assured he had nothing to fear, Banasura then offered his obeisances to Lord Krsna and had Usa and Aniruddha seated on their wedding chariot and brought before the Lord. Krsna then set off for Dvaraka with Aniruddha and His bride leading the procession. When the newlyweds arrived at the Lord’s capital, they were honored by the citizens, the Lord’s relatives and the brahmanas.

Other Places in Kedarnath

There is a marble staff behind the temple that commemorates the emblem of Sankaracharya. It is believed that Sri Sankaracharya passed away in Kedarnath. There is another school of thought that says he passed away in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.

Just behind the Kedarnath Temple is the Mahapanth Trail (Gate of Heaven). It is said that from this place there is a path that goes north up to Swarga-rohini (path to heaven). It is said that the five Pandavas took this path after performing a huge yajna (sacrifice). Other people said that the Pandavas ascended from Badrinath.

Bhairava temple

A path to the east of the village, to the right of the temple, leads to the Bhairava temple, the guardian deity over the temple. Bhairava is the furious form of Lord Shiva. It is a 20-minute walk.

Before you cross the bridge that crosses to the town you come to a path that leads to a glacier, 4km away. The path here can also be reached by crossing the river over the bridge that is behind the temple and climbing up the hill. Chorabari Tal lake, an emerald green lake, is next to the glacier. It is also known as Gandhi Sarovar, because some of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were thrown here. It takes 1½ to 2 hours to walk here from Kedarnath. About a km from the lake is the source of the Mandakini River.

Vasuki Tal

Vasuki Tal (4320m) is a tough 9km trek from Kedarnath. The path begins near the Tourist Bungalow. Past Vasuki Tal is the Khatling Glacier via the Painya Tal and Maser Tal lakes. For this trek you need a good guide and proper equipment.

The road to Kedarnath ends at a town named Gaurikund (1,981m). A bus from Haridwar or Rishikesh (295km) takes an entire day to reach Gaurikund. It is best to catch the early morning bus at 6 am. If you get a later bus you will definitely have to stop for the night on the way. The bus from Gangotri to Gaurikund (334km) takes a day and a half. From Gaurikund the bus usually takes a full day to get to Joshimath , which is 44km south of Badrinath; but you could reach Badrinath the same day if you get the 6 am bus and nothing goes wrong. Otherwise, from Joshimath the same bus goes the next morning to Badrinath.

From Gaurikund you should make sure you reserve early morning buses the night before. Even if you are told you can get a ticket the next morning, do not believe it. You have to walk 14km, at least 4 hours, up a steep incline to get to Kedarnath from Gaurikund. The trek along the Mandakini River to Kedarnath is slow and tiresome. If the sky is clear, at the 10km stone you can view the Kedarnath mountain peak at 6,640m (22,770 ft). As the walk is very tough, it is advised to carry as little as possible up the hill. Even the smallest load can feel like a lead weight after a few km. If you cannot walk, you can rent a horse or carried by four people up the hill. You should be prepared to stay the night at Kedarnath, as it is difficult to go both up and down in the same day. Some people stop for the night halfway up at Rambara (7km), which has several simple eating places and some basic rest houses.


Gaurikund is said to be the place where Gaurimata (Parvati) took birth and did austerities for hundreds of years, in order to marry Lord Shiva. It is 210 km from Rishikesh and 334km from Gangotri. Gaurikund is the last bus stop on the way to Kedarnath. There is a hot sulfur water spring here named Gaurikund (Tapta Kund), where you can bathe. It is said to mark the place where Parvati did austerities. It is a great place to bathe after returning from your walk to Kedarnath. Next to the spring is the Gauri Devi Temple, dedicated to Parvati. There is a temple called Sirkata Ganesh, the beheaded Ganesh, about half a km from Gaurikund. The Skanda Purana says this was the place where Lord Shiva beheaded his son Ganesh and then gave him an elephant head. The story says that Ganesh was guarding his mother, Parvati, who was bathing in Gaurikund. When Shiva, who had been traveling for a long time came, Ganesh stopped him. Shiva, not recognizing his own son, then became angry and cut off the head of Ganesh. When Parvati found out this, she requested Shiva to bring him back to life and give him another head. Shiva said he would give him the head of the first creature that came by, which happened to be an elephant. So he gave Ganesh the head of an elephant. The ashrama of Vyasadeva’s father, Parashara Muni, is also located 40 km down from Gauri Kund in one of the villages. There is a big image of him there. You may have to ask the locals to find it if you are interested.