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Home » Beyond spirituality: Revelations from a pilgrimage to Kedarnath

Beyond spirituality: Revelations from a pilgrimage to Kedarnath

by Aparna Tushar Dedhia
74 comments
The author recounts a journey full of divine adventure and unexpected twists to the Shiva temple, which withstood the fury of nature a few years ago.

Every time the ‘Namo Namo hi Shankara’ chant in the 2018 ‘Kedarnath’ movie starring Sushant Singh Rajput reverberated in my head, my heart ached to visit the pilgrimage place in the Himalayas. 

But I had to wait to be called. In Hindu sanskriti, there is a firm belief that one embarks on journeys to religious or spiritual places only when the divine beckons.

As a devout Shiva bhakta, visiting the temple devoted to him in Kedarnath in Uttarakhand held a special allure for me. With the advent of 2023, a year marked by the spiritually significant number seven, I resolved to undertake multiple journeys with a spiritual or religious connotation. I distinguish experiences as either religious or spiritual. A trip to Haridwar evokes a sense of the religious/sacred, while Rishikesh embodies a spiritual essence. Religious travel establishes a connection with the divine outside whereas a spiritual excursion fosters a connection with the divine within. Life achieves equilibrium when both these connections are harmonized, aligning our journey on this earthly plane with the purpose of our existence. 

Every time my friend Rachna Aurora proposed we go to Kedarnath and worship before the Jyotirlinga (pillar of light) enshrined there, a warm feeling enveloped me, spreading through my entire being, kindling an earnest desire to visit one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and most pre-eminent. The realization of this journey finally came last October, bringing forth a multitude of religious and spiritual revelations. 

Kedarnath is part of the Hindu pilgrimage quadrangle called Char Dham, the other three being Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. According to Hindu scriptures, the Pandavas undertook the Char Dham yatra to atone for their sins after the bloody Kurukshetra war as described in the epic Mahabharata. Upon learning of the Pandavas’ intentions, Lord Shiva sought to evade them, taking the form of Nandi the Bull. In that maneuver, his hump radiated ethereal energy. Despite his celestial agility, the Pandavas persisted in pursuing him. Kedarnath, on the bank of the river Mandakini, is believed to be where Lord Shiva (Nandi)’s hump manifested. The Pandavas erected the temple there, which has stood there for 4,000 years as a tribute to this divine episode.  

Aparna Chawla and helicopter at kedarnath

Aparna Dedhia (middle) with her friends at Kedarnath. She could complete the pilgrimage but only after some anxious wait when their helicopter could not take off due to bad weather.

The Power of Faith

During the 2013 flash floods in the area, the Kedarnath temple miraculously survived the fury of nature. A sacred rock there named Bhima Shila interrvened, altering the course of the surging waters, and shielding the holy site even as other nearby structures succumbed to the deluge. I can only think of Voltaire, who said, “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”

The journey from Haridwar to Kedarnath, 125 km away, takes about five hours by bus. Gaurikund is the nearest motorable area. After that, you trek for 16 km to Kedarnath. While the trek can be challenging, it offers a thrilling experience amid breathtaking landscapes. Ponies, palkis (palanquins) and pittus (travelling on human back) can be hired from Gaurikund. Helicopter services are also available for Kedarnath darshan, with regular sorties from Dehradun, Phata, Augustmuni, and Gaurikund.

We decided to forgo the arduous trek and opted for a helicopter ride. As we waited at Phata, the sky turned a morbid grey, and the sun sought asylum behind moody clouds. Our pilot, an ex-army officer, sarcastically asked us whether we had conducted a havan or any rituals to appease the divine before starting our yatra. Fear etched across our faces, the question convulsing our minds was – “What if we are not able to make it?” We had heard of instances where people could not complete the yatra to this coveted shrine.

During the 2013 flash floods in the area, the Kedarnath temple miraculously survived. A sacred rock there named Bhima Shila came in between, altering the course of the surging waters.

The mention of havan by our pilot triggered thoughts of my Guru’s ashram –  Shantikshetra Premgiri Ashram at Karjat in Maharashtra. I suddenly realized that I had the Divine Light – the jagrut (blessed)  picture of our Guru — with me on one of the most important odysseys of my life. I held the Divine Light in my hands, and with full faith implored the divine to weave some magic in the sky and chanted some mantras. I felt a comforting pat on my head, and as I opened my eyes, my inner voice assured me that we would soon make it to our destination.

The helicopter man returned to where we were waiting anxiously. This time, he was all love and affection. “Lagta hai usne aapki prarthna sun li (it seems the divine has answered your prayers).” Within 15 minutes, they asked us to get on the helicopter as the skies had cleared, and the sun reappeared in its glory. My face lit up with a goofy grin – ‘The divine heard my prayers.’ My heart brimmed with joy and assurance that with unwavering faith, I can reach out to my Divine anytime, anywhere.

The Power of Now

“Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.” In his modern classic, ‘The Power of Now’, Eckhart Tolle delves into mindfulness, consciousness, and the transformative power of fully embracing the present moment. On October 10, 2023, as the sun cast its final rays, Tushar my husband, and I found ourselves captivated by the aura of the temple complex. The mystical words of Eckhart Tolle suddenly made sense.

Amid the majestic snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas, the air resonated with the chants of ‘Shiva, Shiva’, creating a spiritually charged atmosphere. In this awe-inspiring setting, I unexpectedly found myself overwhelmed with tears, which washed away the pain accumulated over the years — the hurt, let-downs, frustration, and unrealized dreams.

In a moment of introspection, my husband, labeled a ‘kanjoos’ for being stingy with expressing emotions, drew my attention to the transient nature of life. He pointed out that despite the internal turmoil or the feeling that this day did not belong to us, there was a lesson in finding happiness in the present. That was Tushar’s inner Eckhart Tolle musing, I thought.

Whether it was a day seemingly unfavorable or a moment bathed in the mystical ambiance of the magical mountains, the recognition of transience became a guiding principle thereon. The acknowledgment that this day would never return added depth to the experience, encouraging a profound sense of happiness in the present, especially within the spiritual haven of Kedarnath.

Nandi the Bull, vahana of Lord Shiva, in the courtyard of Kedarnath temple, also withstood the deluge. Photos: Aparna Dedhia

My friend Rachna Aurora, a budding resin artist who works with her husband in their transformer business, now loves to recount our journey to the abode of Lord Shiva as a divine adventure with unexpected twists.  The uncertainty of the helicopter taking off kept us on edge. But our prayers were answered as the weather gods smiled on us. Touching down in Kedarnath, peace enveloped us, blending divinity with breathtaking natural beauty.

Reflecting on those moments brings forth a surge of energy even now. The echoes of prayers and stunning views at Kedarnath transformed it into a transcendental experience. Exploring the landscape and hiking to nearby Bhairav Baba Mandir provided a perfect backdrop for introspection and bonding.

The entire trip was soul-stirring, the challenges heightened my sense of achievement. Those memories now fill me with renewed vigor, underscoring the profound connection between nature, spirituality, and the bonds forged with friends and family, creating a tapestry of magical energies that linger in the heart forever.

For information about pilgrimage and tourism in the area: https://uttarakhandtourism.gov.in/

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74 comments

Krish Dedhia February 19, 2024 - 8:36 am

Brilliant article

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Jaina February 16, 2024 - 5:10 am

Aparna aunty, you have always inspired me with your creative writing talent but this narration is so close to my heart.
Your words transported me back to the time when I visited Kedarnath and I got to relive the challenges, beauty and ultimate tranquility of the place. Loved how you captured the essence of the journey, both physically and spiritually.
Experiences like this humble us and we realise that we’re part of something bigger and something beyond tangible.
Looking forward to reading more from your desk!

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Aparna Dedhia February 19, 2024 - 8:26 am

thanks jaina – am glad you could resonate with tge same

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Rachnaa Aurora February 16, 2024 - 4:23 am

Wow, Aparna! Your blog on our Kedarnath trip is an absolute masterpiece! Your vivid descriptions and heartfelt narratives truly transported me back to those awe-inspiring moments we shared together. Thank you for capturing every detail so beautifully, and it means the world to me(Rachnaa Aurora) to be mentioned in your journey. Can’t wait for our next adventure together!”

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Aparna Dedhia February 19, 2024 - 8:27 am

Glad we could be a part of the same journe.

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vaishali shah February 15, 2024 - 8:06 am

wow! it’s a masterpiece which came from within you like antersphurna where divine is guiding you to write without inhibition..thank you for taking me to the virtual tour of kedarnath and beautifully weaving your knowledge of Vedas and puranas.every atom of Himalaya is Shiva.. the eternal source of universal energy..thank you for sharing such beautiful soul searching experience🙏👏🙌

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 10:56 am

thanks Vaishali, the divine inded guides ys every moment in time.

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Bindu February 14, 2024 - 3:55 pm

Aparna , you write so beautifully . Reading about your journey and the emotions we felt , was like witnessing it . Wishing you many more such pilgrimages this year and waiting to read your experiences

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 10:56 am

thanks bindu – that’s my plan for the coming years.

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Smruti February 14, 2024 - 11:16 am

Such a beautiful, personal & vividly-picturised article, I found myself virtually facing the bad weathers, experiencing the turbulences of the helicopter & the serene calmness of the almighty upon reaching the destination. I am a big believer of Lord Shiv and found myself somewhat sentimental as I read through your success in completing possibly one of the most difficult pilgrimages. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart with such positively reverberating impact, like always. Om Namah Shivay 🙏🏻

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 10:58 am

The magic of Shiva only his followers know – glad this write up resonated with you.

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Swamini Aaradhana February 13, 2024 - 10:17 am

Om Namah Shivaaya!
Dear, Dear. Aparna,
I believe that genuine Faith supercedes scepticism. And Lord Shiva gave u s glimpse of His Immanent n Transcendental Self.
In His saakaar roop, He’s Adi Yogi, THE Guru who took no Avataar on Earth, but sends His representatives – genuine gurus on Earth.
In His Nirgun Swaroop, He’s experienced as Vairagya n Gyana.

Lord Shiva bathed u n cleansed u in the Holy waters of His Ganga jhata— so u offloaded years of baggage. Plus He made u aware of His wisdom element in those closest to you– like family n friend…We tend to bypass their insights, so.
I am soo happy He blessed U, blissed U n revealed His beatific side to U…
Now u can carry Kedarnath in ur heart everywhere, without actually going there!
Very authentic n moving account!
Om Namah Shivaaya

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:00 am

Thanks for the divine interpretation- and insight which only a true follower of the Vedas can give.

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Ravina khambe February 13, 2024 - 5:40 am

Nice insight into spirituality and religion

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Punita Sachdeva February 13, 2024 - 3:26 am

One of the most authentic and beautifully penned pieces on spiritualism tourism!
Aparna has merged her experience of her pilgrimage to Kedarnath and her inner journey of faith that fuelled it, culminating in a sublime validation of her faith, so honestly and artfully!Her article radiates the joy of communion with the divine!
Thank you Aparna for taking us along in this most sublime spiritual journey!

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Bhakti Thacker February 13, 2024 - 2:22 am

Wow….!! It was indeed a memorable and wonderful narration of your amazing trip to Kedarnath. This story evokes so much emotions. Loved reading it.

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:05 am

thanks Bhakti – yes it does!

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Shital P February 12, 2024 - 7:15 pm

Very mesmerizing writeup Aparna! Took me on the journey along with you. I felt like I made the trip too. Your faith and ability to feel comes through and people who don’t feel really don’t live. Can’t wait to go on a trip with you!

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:01 am

I too would love the same – looking forward to meet you year after year.

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Tushar February 12, 2024 - 5:21 pm

Enchanting, exhilarating, transports one to this exciting journey in the lap of Lord Shiva. Om Namah Shivay

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:04 am

Glad to be a part of it.

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Meenakshi Menon February 12, 2024 - 4:57 pm

Beautifully narrated Aparna . I could almost feel the crisp coolness & divinity of the place .Thanks so much for this virtual trip. The nearest I can get to experiencing Kedarnath. You have also so succinctly added all there is to know about this divine place, making it informative & experiential .

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:02 am

Thanks Meenakshi – the place is full of revelations which take us more closer to our inner most being.

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Dr Nivedita Patil February 19, 2024 - 9:46 am

As someone who holds kedarnath temple and it’s sacredness close to my heart, your insightful blog truly resonated with me on a deep spiritual level.

Your eloquent descriptions and vivid imagery transported me back to the awe-inspiring beauty of Kedarnath, evoking cherished memories and igniting a renewed sense of reverence. Your attention to detail, coupled with your evident passion for the subject, made every word a testament to the profound significance of this sacred site.

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Maya Shah February 19, 2024 - 6:26 pm

Hey Aparna
Got goosebumps while reading this, The first line words*NAMO NAMO HEY SHANKARA* itself is miraculous, Your narrative of the journey is so real felt like as if I too was there, Very very nicely penned down.Great going dear

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Vishakha February 12, 2024 - 4:54 pm

Om namah shivaya
Very wonderfully scripted
Felt like I too was in the moment

Kudos

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Aparna Dedhia February 15, 2024 - 11:03 am

thanks vishu.

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Simi February 12, 2024 - 4:48 pm

Mystic experience very beautifully captured.
Great going Aparna.
Keep sharing….

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Kiran Kulkarni February 12, 2024 - 4:43 pm

Very nicely narrated . Om namah shivay. Would surely like to visit this place once.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 5:42 pm

thanks kirsn sir

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Arpanaa Raajput February 12, 2024 - 12:38 pm

Beautifully penned down the journey of devine energy to Kedarnath Aparna ,felt the power of Shiva drawing towards him to visit the place and seek the blessings through your article . Thank you for sharing your spiritual visit.

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Dr Vimi M Thapar February 12, 2024 - 5:01 pm

Extremely well written Dear Aparna
By reading your article one feels as though one is going through the same experience
I can understand how Enriched you must be feeling after this journey to your Dream Destination
Wishing you many more Blissful journeys

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 5:42 pm

thanks Arpana!

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Sunita Dujari February 12, 2024 - 11:11 am

Hey Aparna, your expression is truly beautiful. I wasn’t aware of this particular skill among your many talents, and I am pleasantly impressed by your writing prowess. Thank you for sharing your journey; Kedarnath is also on my bucket list. Your words painted a vivid picture of the sacred shrine, intensifying my desire to go there. Keep up the great work, and best of luck with your writing endeavours!

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Uma February 12, 2024 - 10:52 am

So happy Aparna, that you could make this journey and share the experience in your beautiful words!
Har har Mahadev

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 5:40 pm

thanks uma !

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Amit February 8, 2024 - 2:52 pm

Kudos for such a wonderful experience and well written travel / spiritual journey. Look forward to reading more of these insightful thoughts.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 9:58 am

thanks Amit.

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Vandana February 12, 2024 - 4:17 pm

Truly loved your heartfelt expression of your pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Kedarnath.Your devotion to the Lord and your Guru erased all the challenges and filled you with transcendental experiences.Clearly you are blessed and the good wishes of one and all were with you.Wishing you many more mystical experiences and soul-stirring adventures,making your connect with the Cosmos an eternal one.

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Mohit Kapoor February 8, 2024 - 10:10 am

OM Namaha Shivaya !!!

Wonderful experience. This inspires me to visit Kedarnath soon.

Thank you for sharing this.

Jai Bholenath !!!

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Soniya Mahajani February 9, 2024 - 2:24 am

Beautifully worded Aparna! Every cell of my body became Shiv as they say in Hindi. Loved the difference you have brought out about the spiritual and religious journeys!
Om Namath Shivay!

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 9:59 am

thanks Soniya, rom-rom mein Shiv.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:04 am

thanks Mohit – for reading through this, may your wishes be fulfilled soon.

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Sunita Pillai February 12, 2024 - 11:26 am

What a write up Aparna!! I was literally travelling with you experiencing the nature and the divine feeling all along. Fantastic. You are blessed to have been able to reach there

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Ria Jadav February 8, 2024 - 5:44 am

Reading about your Kedarnath journey gave me this peaceful vibe. Your thoughts on the present moment hit home, making me think about finding happiness in the small things. Thanks for sharing your incredible experience!

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:00 am

god is definitely in the details- thanks riya.

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Priyavi Shah February 8, 2024 - 5:39 am

Your Kedarnath journey resonates deeply. Your wisdom on finding happiness in the present has taught me to embrace life’s twists with newfound grace and appreciation.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:04 am

Am glad this resonated with you.

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Shruti Jain February 8, 2024 - 5:38 am

Your pilgrimage to Kedarnath is truly inspiring, filled with divine moments and unexpected twists. The resilience of the temple, the suspenseful helicopter ride, and the power of faith all make for a captivating read. Your personal reflections on transience and finding happiness in the present struck a chord. It’s evident that your journey was not just external but a profound exploration within. Thanks for sharing this magical tapestry of nature, spirituality, and personal connections.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:00 am

This was indeed a journey inward. Thanks shruti.

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Raj Bhanushali February 8, 2024 - 5:07 am

Amazing article ❤️
Amazing to read this.

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Raghav Taneja February 8, 2024 - 5:02 am

Greetings aunty,
A very well written piece of article, quite interesting and in depth and inspiring to say the least.

Looking forward to reading more such articles in the future.

Kind regards.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:01 am

Thanks Raghav- will definitely share ahead.

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Tanishq Dedhia February 8, 2024 - 4:29 am

Very well written

Got immersed in the article and felt the whole experience

Looking forward to more such articles

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:05 am

thanks Tanu, thanks for reading and sharing!

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Jigna Somaiya February 7, 2024 - 3:05 pm

Beautifully penned. This inspires me to visit Kedarnath soon.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:02 am

You should- for some divine experiences are bestowed when we reach such places.

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Dr Bijal Maroo February 7, 2024 - 12:24 pm

Wonderful experience recounted beautifully.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:05 am

thanks bijal – for encouraging me.

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Meenakshi Raina February 7, 2024 - 11:36 am

Wow, thanks Aparna for this soulful and divine experience of your holy trip to Kedarnath. It is only when we consciously and mindfully immerse ourself in the present moment that we realise that life is now and nowhere else. Your intense and sincere prayer to your Guru made it possible for you all to reach your destination and that’s the power of now. Loved every bit of your experiential account about and it has also intensified mine.

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Devanshi February 8, 2024 - 6:31 am

Your article has inspired me to approach challenges with unwavering belief and find strength in adversity. Thanks for sharing a transformative experience that can truly make a difference in how we face life’s storms.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:06 am

Visiting spiritual places give us some deep insights into our selves.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:03 am

Thanks Meenakshi- am grateful that the write up added to your experience.

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Anjana Menon February 7, 2024 - 10:53 am

OM Namaha Shivaya !!!

Aparna, how beautifully you have recounted your spiritual journey to Kedarnath. It took me back to the time of my own journey to this spiritual abode of the Lord. Kedarnath offers its devotees a profoundly mystical and deep experience, provided we approach HIM with a surrendered mind and an open heart. Your writing has captured this essence so vividly. It has also kindled in me a craving to go a visit HIS abode again, BholeNath willing.

Shambho !!! Mahadeva !!!

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:07 am

Surrender takes us a long way and I too wanna visit again and again !

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Bansari Nagda February 7, 2024 - 10:23 am

Har Har Mahadev!
The divine is truly watching and has his hands over us. Thank you for writing this piece and reminding us that. ‘Life is Now’, it surely is 💜

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Anjana Menon February 7, 2024 - 7:23 am

Om Namah Shivaaya !!!
As I’m reading your vivid recounting of your journey to Kedarnath, I can’t help but think about my own journey too. Kedarnath is mysterious and powerful and envelopes you in a bliss, once you surrender completely to HIM. You have captured that essence of Kedar so beautifully. It has kindled in me a craving to visit Bholenath again. Thank you for sharing this. Loved it.

Jai Bholenath !!!

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Mythily Shivkumar February 7, 2024 - 3:51 am

You took us on a spiritual journey with you. So evocative, beautifully shared. Can understand you keeping the experience in your heart..loved it.

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:08 am

thanks mythili for being a part of my journey by reading this again and again.

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Jannhavi February 6, 2024 - 5:26 pm

Spiritual n religious enchanting experience!!!!
Well penned and heart pouring devotion of Shiva , Awesome!!!

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:09 am

Yes dear – we all are Shiva Bhakts thanks to our Papaji.

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Aditya Doshi February 6, 2024 - 2:47 pm

“Aparna, your vivid recounting of your spiritual journey to Kedarnath is both captivating and deeply inspiring. Your unwavering faith and determination, coupled with the profound insights you gained along the way, truly resonate with readers. Your ability to find beauty, meaning, and solace amidst challenges serves as a beacon of hope and encouragement for all who seek spiritual fulfillment. Thank you for sharing your transformative experience with such heartfelt sincerity and eloquence.”

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Priyanka dhirwani February 6, 2024 - 2:40 pm

Om namah shivay
As I am reading your story
I feel like I am already in Himalayas starring at my bolenath in Kedarnath dham 🙏🏻🙏🏻
N thanking my Shivay n feeling blessed with you all
Thanks for putting our picture
We created lifetime memories together
Om namah Shivay 🙏🏻

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Aparna Dedhia February 12, 2024 - 10:09 am

Your company is divine and our shared faith in Lord Shiva is profound.

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