By Acarya dasa, All India Padayatra leader
Following a three-day stay at Badrikashram dham our padayatra party continued on our char dham yatra, arriving at Kedarnath dham on June 8, 2022. The road was very dangerous, the actual road so broken a temporary one had been made that was difficult to negotiate on a tractor trolley.
We had darshan of Guptkashi, an important market town on the road to Kedarnath and a stop for pilgrims on the traditional char dham yatra tour. The Vishwanath temple in Guptkashi is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is similar to the one in Varanasi. Nearby is oki matha, where Usha and Aniruddha were married and where Lord Shiva is worshipped when the Kedarnath temple is closed in the winter. We stayed there and the pandits were helpful and joined our sankirtan. ISKCON preaching has spread far and wide. Wherever we went people welcomed and assisted us when they heard that ISKCON devotees had come walking. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
We later came to Gopeshwar village from where Gopeshwar Mahadev had gone to Vrindavan to join the rasa dance of Lord Krishna. Just as there are five Badris there are also five Kedarnaths. One of them is Tunganath but the way was very difficult. It was a troublesome 20km walk for us through a hilly area, but as we reached Gopeshwar our pain was relieved by darshan of Lord Shiva and we halted there for the night. It was a costly place though, 1000 rupees for putting up a tent.
We departed for Kedarnath at 2am the next day. We wanted to go to Sona Prayag along the way and arranged for a vehicle to take us and from there we also went to Gauri-kunda. From there at 3am we then began a hard 16km walk through the hills while carrying Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar on our heads, reaching Kedarnath at 8am. It usually takes two to three days to have darshan of Lord Kedarnath, but we had our Lordships with us. We had not yet offered bhoga to Them and the thought was coming to mind that Their Lordships would not honour bhoga unless They had darshan of Their favourite devotee Lord Shiva, Vaishnava nam yatha Shambhu, the best devotee of the Lord.
We kept moving slowly towards the temple while seeing some people near us faint due to lack of oxygen, but we all reached there safely and joined the thousands of pilgrims standing in line for darshan. I was feeling that Their Lordships were hungry and we couldn’t delay in the queue, and by now many of the pilgrims were saying, “Look, Bankebihari has come from Vrindavan.” Nobody stopped us as we headed singing and dancing for the temple door.
By the Lord’s arrangement a pandit then came from inside the temple and took Their Lordships on his head, keeping Them near Lord Kedarnath for about five minutes – like Sri Sri Nita-Gaurasundar were having a meeting with Lord Shiva. The pandits took the garland from Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and put it on to Lord Shiva and gave the bel leaves and flowers from Lord Kedarnath to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. It was the most beautiful loving exchange between the Lord and His favourite devotee, to which we were witness. When the pandit handed Their Lordships to us he asked after the kirtan party and we all performed a grand sankirtan for the pleasure of Lord Shiva. After darshan we offered bhoga to Their Lordships.
Thus, we had a nice darshan of Lord Kedarnath.