Kedarnath mandir in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand closes for winter, usually 2 days after Diwali on Bhaiya Dooj. The Panchamukhi Doli, the swaroop of Lord Shiva, is carried on a palanquin to the Omkareshwar temple at Ukhimath, where worship is maintained through the winter months.
When the doli returns at the end of winter, the kapat or entrance to Kedarnath mandir is opened for worship and darshan at a pre-determined time. The suitable muhurt is traditionally announced on Mahashivaratri by the Badri-Kedar Mandir Committee, and coincides approximately with Akshaya Trithiya.
During the final worship before winter, the shringaar of Baba Kedarnath is of his samadhi form. The bhasma-covered jyotirlingam is dressed in bagambar, and bhringraj flowers, and local leaves and flowers are offered in worship. Then the samadhisht form of Kedarnath-ji is left in solitary splendour surrounded by the snow and ice of the Himalayan winter. This cold remote isolation is associated with His tapasya-swaroop.
Batuk Bhairavnath is invoked as His protector before the doors of Kedarnath mandir are closed.
Of the Panch Kedar, the utsav murti or the form worshipped in ritual worship and during festivals, of Sri Kedarnath and Sri Madhyamaheshwar make their winter abode at Ukhimath.
The doli of Tungnath-ji is brought to Makkumath. Sri Rudranath’s doli is carried to Gopeshwar, where winter worship is maintained. Of the Panch Kedar, only worship of Kalpnath, continues through the year at the Kalpeshwar mandir above Urgam village, which remains accessible through the cold winter months.
On Akshaya Trithiya, 22nd April ’23, among the Char Dham, worship at Gangotri and Yamunotri began, with the opening of both these mandirs.
The doli of Baba Kedarnath was carried in ceremonial procession in a fervour of devotion and a palpable excitement, from Omkareshwar mandir, Ukhimath to Vishwanath mandir, Guptkashi on 21st April. On Akshaya Trithiya, the doli stayed at Phata, on 23rd the doli stayed at Gaurikund. Through the day, devotees who had reached Kedarnath early, decorated the mandir outside with 30 quintals of flowers made into garlands. On 24th evening the doli of Baba Kedar reached its sacred abode at Kedarnath, amidst snowfall as cries of Bam Bam Bhole and Har Har Mahadeva rent the air.
On 25th morning at 620 am, the portals at Kedar will open and the long-awaited worship of Sri Kedarnath will begin anew.