At Yamunotri & Gangotri, the pilgrims are cleansed body & soul and with having achieved purity in that sense, pilgrims to Sri Kedarnath becomes most rewarding. It is also customary to worship Lord Shiva with water of Ganga, which pilgrims going from Gangotri as well take some there to Kedarnath. Kedarnath is the seat of Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve "Jyotirlingas" of Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m at the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimage for the Hindus. It is no wonder that Adi Guru Shankaracharya - a great scholar & saint, chose to enshrine Lord Shiva in this land, where the unholy becomes oly and the holy becomes holier. It is the place where Lord Shiva absolved Pandavas from the sin of killing their own cousins Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra. The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic Mahabharat.
At Kedarnath there are several Kunds (pools, tanks) that are known for their religious significans - shivkund, Retkund, hanskund, Udakkund, Rudhirkund are the most important. A little away from Kedarnath is a temple dedicated to Bhaironathji who is ceremoniously worshipped at the opening & closing of Kedarnath. The belief is that Bhairavnathji protects this land from evil during the time when temple of Kedarnath is closed.
During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow & hence is closed. Fortunate are those who have good weather, but twice blessed are those who are at Kedarnath on a moonlit night- the snow peak gleams like hundred silver pinnacles atop the glittering mountains.
The other four places where Shiva is worshipped take their appearance from different parts of his body -the naval at Madmaheshwar, the arms at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, and the matted hair at Kalpeshwar. The latter four along with Kedarnath are known as the Panch Kedars.
The holiest of Shiva's shrines is linked to Gold among base metals so that every pilgrims finds peace here, and it is said that devotees who die here become one with Shiva himself. Beyond the temple is the highway to heaven, called Mahapanth. According to legend, the place came into being during the period when the five Pandavas brothers were asked to seek Shiva's blessings purging them of the sin of killing their cousins. Lord Shiva unwilling to give darshans to the Pandavas frled Kashi to live incognito in Guptkashi, where eventually he was detected by the Pandavas. While fleeing Shiva took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull and started to plunge underground when he was spotted by the Pandavas. He dived into the ground, leaving behind his hump on the surface. No wonder the natural rock formation that is worshipped here resembles the hump of a bull. Thus Shiva pleased with the determination of the Pandavas, exonerated them from their sin, gave them darshan & bestowed upon them the opportunity to worship his hump.