Dehradun to Kedarnath Route – Dharamshala – Ashram
The Dehradun to Kedarnath route is a different experience from the more used Route starting from Haridwar and Rishikesh. One can come across a Dharamshala as easily as an Ashram where Sadhus or ascetics live. This area is a part of Dev Bhoomi and Kedar Khand. The drive takes you through the spectacular Himalayas, crossing rivers, and streams amidst verdant greenery. The first major town on this Dehradun to Kedarnath route is Rishikesh – a city of saintly retreats, with a Dharamshala or an ashram on every street.
The Dehradun Kedarnath route passes through Rishikesh to join the main road to Kedarnath. If you choose to stopover in Rishikesh a Dharamshala stay would be a good choice, being economical as well as convenient. You could even opt to stay in an Ashram. The actual character and ambiance of pilgrimages like Rishikesh can be known better in an Ashram or Dharamshala, rather than a hotel.
After Rishikesh, the road on the Dehradun to Kedarnath route meanders its way through the mountains steadily gaining altitude as the miles fly. You will come across countless small waterfalls on the way. Rivers with narrow bridges are a delight to the traveler. Looking down from the road can make you nervous for a moment, but you shrug it off.
On the way you will cross the small towns Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Agastyamuni, Guptkashi, and Sonprayag before reaching Gaurikund. In each of these places, there is bound to be a Dharamshala or an ashram besides other options of stay. Devprayag and Rudraprayag are two of the Panch Prayags (Confluences) where rivers meet. A great deal of importance is attached to visiting all five.
Agastyamuni is a tiny town on the banks of the Mandakini river. There is a temple dedicated to Agasta Muni here, besides several others. Agastyamuni is also a location for helicopter services to Kedarnath. It is said Agastyamuni has his Ashram here in the days gone by. Rooms in a Guest house, hotel or a Dharamshala would be available in case of a stopover. It is a pleasant place, where one can spend a couple of days unwinding.
Guptkashi is the place where Lord Shiva was hiding from the Pandavas in the form of a bull after the Mahabharata War. The Pandavas wanted Lord Shiva’s forgiveness and blessings for sins committed in the war. They found Him and eventually did get His blessings. Guptkashi is also the place where Lord Shiva asked Parvati Mata to marry Him. They then got married in Triyuginarayan, not far from Guptkashi. Dharamshala would easily be available here. In the earlier days, many saints had an ashram in the area of Guptkashi.
From Gaurikund Kedarnath is reached by a 16 km trek. Ponies and palanquins are available for those not able to make that arduous trek. A visit to Kedarnath by whatever means – walking, riding, or even by helicopter can be one of the most satisfying experiences of a lifetime.