'Kedarnath' in Braj is a famous pilgrimage site. On top of a hill, Kedarnath ji is sitting in a small cave under a huge white stone rock, which is in the form of Sheshnag. One has to climb 300 steps to have darshan of Kedarnath ji. The miraculous red colored Shivling and Shiva’s family are seated in the cave.
The ancient 'Gauri Kund' is situated at the foot of the same hill. This Kund is named after the consort of Lord Shiva, mother Parvati. She is also known as ‘Gauri’. It is believed that Parvati ji had done penance at this site to get Lord Shiva as Her husband. Every day She did the abhishek of Shivlingam with Kund’s water and offered 1.25 lakh Lotus flowers from this Kund. Hence the Kund is known as 'Gauri Kund'.
Gauri Kund description
This Kund is located on the outskirts of Kaman Sub Division of Bharatpur District (Raj). The Kund is surrounded by open land, known as Kedar Van and on its one side is Aravali hill range. Hundreds of pilgrims visit this leelasthalis every day.
Due to blocking of water catchment channels and deposition of thick layers of silt Gauri Kund had dried up and was inhabitable for aquatic flora and fauna.
The tourist facilities in this area were in very poor condition. The Ghats of the Kund were dilapidated. A few years back, local people constructed one ghat, which too was not in good shape.
Design and planning
We took up the challenge to restore this Kund back to its pristine glory. We worked on many aspects. Since it is pre dominantly a rural water body for the local community hence we had to keep in mind both the aspects i.e. community use and pilgrimage. We also planned the flora and fauna around the Kund to merge with its beautiful natural surroundings.
We planned to reclaim the catchment area, revival of water channel, construction of embankment, fencing for the protection of the trees, development of tourism facilities and installation of plaques (Shilalekhs) to glorify the significance of this site etc. We also planned to develop 100x100 Sqm common area as the Nakshatra Vatika (garden of planets represented by different plants).
We approached Engineers India Ltd, a Navratna Company of India, for sponsoring the restoration of Gauri Kund. The EIL sanctioned the project and execution work started in June 2020. All works were completed in just 9 months that too during COVID 19 time. The outcome was total transformation of the area which is now attracting many fold more pilgrims than before.
The Nakshatra Vatika
We have created a Nakshatra Vatika in 100x100 Sqm common land adjacent to the Kund. There are 27 Nakshatra/stars and 12 zodiacs/rashi. As per astrology for each nakshatra and zodiac sign there is a particular tree or plant. It is believed that this kind of garden is very auspicious on multiple counts which improve the quality of life for those who set up and nurture such Vatika and also those who visit the same.
The Gauri Temple
To visually showcase the history of Gauri Kund, we installed 8x6 Sqft white marble carved diorama. In this mother Parvati is shown doing abhishek of Shivlingm with water and Lotus flowers.
We all know Kedarnath is actually located in Himalyas in Uttrakhand state. The Kedarnath in Kaman is a replica of the same. Hence, to match the stone architecture of temples of Garhwal, we also constructed the roof tops of Chatris and temple in the same style, but with concrete. Our inquiry in Garhwal revealed that due to environmental considerations mining of such slate stones has been banned. As an alternative to this we thought of an innovative idea. As the masons in Braj have expertise of creating any design or deity form with cement plaster, we explained to them to recreate the design of stone roof top as is seen in Garhwal. We showed a picture for reference and to our extreme satisfaction and joy they did create what we were looking for. We then got it painted to look alike the original stone roof (see pictures).
The former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ms. Vasundhara Raje did the Kalash Sthapna of the Gauri Temple on 8th of March 2021.
If you have never been to Gauri Kund, Kedarnath in Braj, make sure you do that next time. You will not repent.