It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic setting for a temple than Kedarnath, 223km northeast of Rishikesh, close to the source of the Mandakini at 3583m above sea level, and overlooked by tumbling glaciers and huge buttresses of ice, snow and rock. Kedarnath, the third of the sacred Char Dham sites, is the most important shrine in the Himalayas and as one of India’s twelve jyotrilinga – lingams of light – attracts hordes of Hindu pilgrims (yatri) in the summer months, but is closed from early November to early April. The area makes a refreshing change from the rocky and desolate valleys of west Garhwal, with lush hanging gorges, immaculately terraced hillsides and abundant apple orchards. Kedarnath is also a good base for short treks to the beautiful lakes of Vasuki Tal and Gandhi Sarovar.