Buda Kedar Nath Temple : A prominent Tirtha of Lord Shiva

Rajinder Chand Anthal
Buda Kedar Nath is one of the oldest and prominent Tirtha of Lord Shiva in Chenani area. It is situated at a distance of 19 kilometres from Chenani town and is well connected by a pacca road. In order to reach Buda Kedar Nath, one has to take right side turn from exit point of Chenani town towards Chenani-Pattangarh road. After crossing River Tawi the road takes eastern course alongwith serpentine flow of majestic river Tawi. The road passes through lower range forests, fertile lands, and residential areas. The journey on this smallest stretch of road leaves an everlasting impression on the minds of the travellers as if nature has come alive in this mesmerizing greenland to welcome them.
After a distance of 14 kms a link road takes right side turn from Raji Mohra towards Buda Kedar Nath temple. The length of this well-built road is about 5 kms. In between Raji and Buda Kedar Nath, there is another important Tirtha called ‘Gaya’ on the left side of road across the Nallah coming from hilltops. In older times, this Tirtha was visited for Holy Bath and Pind-Daan etc., but due to lack of connectivity and publicity, the Gaya Tiratha is losing its shine today. The temple of Buda Kedar Nath is built over a hard stone natural cave. Nearby flows a sacred rivulet called ‘Devak’ locally. In this cave there is a stone turned knee of Lord Shiva, which exactly resembles with human knee. Moreover there are many idols of Gods in this cave with natural source of Holy Water inside the cave. In order to reach seat of Buda Kedar Nath and to have the Darshan of knee, we have to pass through a small dark cave. Due to some miracles of Lord Shiva, the first ray of the rising sun falls on the knee of Lord Shiva through some invisible hole. Second important thing concerning this temple is that as per a belief held from the centuries nobody can stay in this temple during night. Even the evening pooja is performed daily well before sunset by the Mahant and he goes home immediately. Locals say that whosoever tried to stay in this temple in the night was thrown outside the cave by some invisible force. The locals also talk about another miracle in this temple and say that Lord Shiva makes his presence felt at this place on some days very early before the morning with clear sound of Sankh-Dhoona and pooja from the temple when actually nobody is there. All the surrounding residents authenticate the miracle. It is believed that Lord Shiva had appeared at this place in the guise of an old Sadhu, so the name Buda got associated with Kedar Nath name of Lord Shiva, hence this place is called Buda Kedar Nath Tirtha.
Legends say that the Tirtha of Buda Kedar Nath is linked with Bhasmasur (Demon) who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He worshipped ‘Shiva’ for thousands of years. Lord Shiva was pleased with his devotion and asked him to beg anything. Bhasmasur prayed to grant him immortality. On this Lord Shiva gave him a ‘Vardan’ that if you will place your right hand on anybody’s head, he or she will be turned into ashes immediately. On getting ‘Vardan’ from Lord Shiva the demon wanted to test the power of Vardan. He ran towards Lord Shiva to keep his hand on the head of Shiva to see the result. On seeing this ill will of the demon, Lord Shiva started running for shelter. Bhasmasur followed Shiva from Dev Lok to Patal Lok. All the gods of Dev Lok got frightened to see Lord Shiva running for safety. The gods went to approach ‘Vishnu Bhagwan’ to find a way out to save the Universe. It is said that in the meantime, Lord Shiva secretly went to Prithvi Lok and appeared at Buda Kedar Nath valley in the guise of an aged Sadhu. Shiva entered the cave and sat there silently by keeping his knee towards front. Bhasmasur also reached there by the power of his Tantric attainments. The demon peeped inside the cave but could not enter due to the strong Agni (fire) Circle surrounding it. Lord Shiva turned his knee into stone. The demon sat outside the cave waiting for Lord Shiva to come out.
At the same time, Lord Vishnu appeared at Buda Kedar Nath in the Avtar of a ‘Mohini’ Apsara and started dancing outside the Cave. The demon saw her and got impressed by her dance. He also started dancing like Mohini. She told Bhasmasur to follow her actions. As soon as the Apsara raised hands over her head in dancing style, the demon also followed her. As the right hand of the demon reached over his head, Bhasmasur turned into a heap of ashes and bones. The locals identify this raised heap like place just outside the cave. People from far off places bring dead bodies for cremation on the bank of Devak at Buda Kedar Nath. It is believed that if the cremation is held at this place, there is no need to take ashes to Holy Ganga ji at Haridwar.
Starting on the day of Purnima in the month of July a three day long Mela is held at this place with participation of thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva. A rural bazar of sweets, toys, bangles, and other utilities is held here by locals and outside shopkeepers. The people come down from hills in colourful dresses during the Mela Days and sing Dogri songs and Bhaks by siting in the open fields nearby.
(The author is former Zonal Education Officer, Chenani)