Author and art collector Anju Poddar, who recently visited Kedarnath on the third day after the gates were opened for this season, has captured the temple and its surroundings through her lens. She says that Kedarnath provides a wealth of inspiration and holds the key to timeless stories for any photographer.
Located on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river at 3583 m (11,755 ft), Kedarnath temple is only open to the general public between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon) due to otherwise extreme weather conditions.
For Anju, this was her second visit to the temple town after marriage. “I love to travel and capture what appeals to me visually through my lens. During my recent trip to Kedarnath, I was enthralled by the ambience — the serenity, the view of the Mandakini river from the helicopter, pilgrims dressed in bright clothes and sadhus with stylish headgears — to name just a few,” she says.
Elaborating on her journey and experience to the top, Anju adds, “I went with my family, which included my grandchildren and we chose to fly from Dehradun to the Kedarnath temple on a helicopter. There were two landing points near the temple, one was a 10-minute walk away while the other was just 2 minutes away.”
While any number of perfect subjects might enter a photographer's frame in a day, the scenic locales of Kedarnath offer an unruffled ambience with its snowy peaks, alpine forests, aghori babas, and the temple itself, which is built in stone featuring an impressive architectural style.
The author of Our Festivals Our Traditions says that the presence of a lingam which is not in its usual shape makes the visit to Kedarnath very special. “The lingam at Kedarnath is unlike its usual form, it is pyramidal and regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlings,” she explains.
Describing the most heartwarming pictures that she has taken at Kedarnath, Anju says, “The entire location is full of photo opportunities, but many were engrossed in taking selfies. But what made my journey even more special was to see the boulder which acted as a barrier and saved the temple from the floods. I had goosebumps when I saw it! The energy I felt in Kedarnath is beyond words. Everyone was feeling content and peaceful, the bhakti, everything just made my trip special. I have tried my best to capture all these in my pictures.”