Char Dham Yatra is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India. Apart from their huge religious significance, Char Dham is also situated in the beautiful mountains of Garhwal. The four religious centers are so auspicious that Hindus believe that a visit to these sites is to lead the way to life in heaven! In keeping with this belief, every year thousands of Hindu pilgrims and many travel enthusiasts visit the hills of Garhwal. And during the Chardham Yatra, pilgrims have the scope to travel through the scenic areas of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Any typical Char Dham Yatra tour package will provide enough space to explore the natural beauty stretching from west to east Uttarakhand. Pilgrims pass through green meadows, breathtaking valleys, and misty roads. The normal travel route goes through the popular hill station of Mussoorie. If you do not like all the walking, you can buy a pony or, even better, ride inside a sedan decorated like royalty! Therefore, the Char Dham Yatra (generally anticipated) is not about religious fervor. There are many elements in this religious journey that tickle the interests of a nature lover. And with this in mind, we tell you about this journey.
Char Dham Route Map
This long spiritual journey starts from Haridwar. Pilgrims come to Yamunotri to bathe in the sacred Yamuna River, which is also the starting point of the Yamunotri glacier. Haridwar is considered to be the seat of Goddess Yamuna (according to Hindu scriptures) and people worship her in the Yamunotri temple. After paying homage to the goddess Yamuna, the pilgrims depart towards Gangotri where they take a holy dip in the Bhagirathi River. After cleansing their body and mind, devotees perform puja and other rites on the banks of the river. In this connection, it should be said that the water temperature in both the above-mentioned rivers is constant and taking a dip in ice-cold water is a feat. But religious zeal wins over worldly suffering in this matter!
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Now that the pilgrims have been cleaned, they proceed to Kedarnath with the aim of paying their respects to Lord Shiva. Once they have their appointment with Lord Shiva, it leads to Badrinath and asks for the blessings of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that pilgrims who are able to complete this holy journey get grief from the cycle of birth and death as their soul attains salvation!
Char Dham Yatra Destinations
Dham 1: Yamunotri
This holy city is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. The river Yamuna is believed to have originated in the Kalindi mountains here. To reach Yamunotri, pilgrims have to take a short trek from Jankichatti. However, you can take a walk by stopping your Pony ride or traveling in Palanquin. These two conveniences cost between INR 500–1200. One of the rituals of the Char Dham Yatra is to prepare a meal of potatoes and rice in the nearby Surya Kund. The food is taken to the Yamunotri temple and then taken back by pilgrims as their offerings.
Places to visit in Yamunotri
Yamunotri Temple: Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, this sacred temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. At the beginning of summer (between April and May), the Yamunotri temple opens to devotees. During the winter, the temple gates are closed and the idol of Goddess Yamuna is taken to the nearby Kharsali village, where the goddess is worshiped.
- Surya Kund: It is a hot spring that is associated with the Char Dham pilgrimage. As part of the pilgrimage, devotees tie potatoes and rice in clothes and immerse them inside this pond. Rice and potatoes are cooked in hot water, which is then offered to the deity. The temperature of the hot spring is 1900 F!
- Saptarishi Kund: This is the place from where the Yamuna originates as a natural lake. Saptarishi Kunda, situated at an altitude of 4421 meters above sea level, can be reached by a distance of 10 KM. Many rare species of birds can come along the trekking route and glimpse the natural landscapes.
- Janaki Chatti: Janaki Chatti is a trekking base for Yamunotri. A center of hot springs and trekking, the place is situated amidst towering mountains. It is a delight for trekkers and the trip here is excellent.
- Kharsali: There is a beautiful village of Kharsali just a short distance from Janaki Chatti. This small village is known for its Shani Dev temple. This temple becomes the abode of Goddess Yamuna during winter (when Yamunotri becomes inaccessible due to high snowfall). Apart from the temple, Kharsali is gifted with many thermal springs, waterfalls, and of course great flora and fauna. There is also an ancient Lord Shiva temple, which has beautiful stone and wood carvings.
Dham 2: Gangotri
Gangotri holy place is located in Uttarkashi district. The areas of Gangotri are decorated with freshwater streams and lush greenery. According to Hindu mythology, it is the source of the Ganges River. The water here is going to remain fresh for many years. And scientific research has also supported it! The water from Gangotri is carried to Badrinath and Kedarnath, which are the next stops on the Char Dham Yatra Package.
Places to visit in Gangotri
- Gangotri Temple: The white-colored Gangotri temple is visited by millions of people every year. The Aarti here is a grand affair and is usually held at 7:30 am. During the Aarti, the Goddess Ganga is bathed, and the gates of the temple are opened to the pilgrims. It should be noted that the temple remains open from May to October (Diwali).
- Gangnani: Gangnani appears halfway between Haridwar and Gangotri. Gangnani is a hot water spring. The water here is not only pleasingly warm but is also believed to cure skin diseases.
- Submerged Shivling: If you travel to Gangotri during winter, you can see the submergence Shivling. It is said that this is the place where Goddess Ganga first reached mortal earth.
- Pandava Cave: A small kilometer from the banks of the Gangotri River will take you to these mythological important caves. Recall the incident in the Mahabharata, where the Pandavas were banished from their kingdom and had to spend many years in solitude. Well, the Pandavas spent those days in the Pandava cave. The caves are situated in the middle of dense forests.
Dham 3: Kedarnath
Kedarnath is located in Guptkashi at a distance of 86 km from Rudraprayag. It is located near the Chorabadi Glacier, which is the head of the Mandakini River. Kedarnath can be reached through scenic mountain routes, plains, thermal springs, magnificent mountain peaks and lush green greens. Of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, this is the most important.
- Registration for Kedarnath Yatra: Pre-registration is necessary for Kedarnath Yatra. Registration can be done through physical registration counters or online. When you arrive at the counter you have to specify the dates of travel. You will be issued a travel card which should be there throughout the journey.
- Medical Certificate: You can do this journey only after obtaining a medical fitness certificate from medical centers in Guptkashi or Sonprayag. You may not be allowed to trek if the medical report suggests something important, although you can still reach Kedarnath by helicopter.
Places to visit in Kedarnath
- Kedarnath Temple: The Kedarnath Temple stands tall in front of the Mandakini valley. According to legends, the Pandavas came here to apologize to Lord Shiva after the war ended in Kurukshetra. A statue of Lord Shiva is enshrined here, which is transferred to the camelmath in winter as the entire place is covered with snow sheets. It should be noted that the holy Kedarnath temple opens every year in April or May. The trek to the Kedarnath temple starts from the base at Gaurikund. Apart from walking, there are many other options such as helicopter, palkin, and pony services. Devotees desirous of going up to Kedarnath should start from Gaurikund at 1:30 pm (latest).
- Bhairav Temple: To the south of the Kedarnath temple is the temple of Bhairon Nathji. Bhairo Nath is an avid form of Lord Shiva and the people of the valley believe that Bhairav Nath protects the valley from any trouble. From here you will get a beautiful view of the Kedarnath valley.
- Mahapancha: Mahapat is above Satopanth and just behind Kedarnath temple. Locals believe that this is exactly where the Pandavas went to heaven. Even people with spiritual ideology consider the Mahapancha to be the gateway to heaven!
- Triyuginarayan Temple: This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu was built by the Pandavas. Legends say that Lord Shiva married Parvati in front of a havan kund, which has been burning for three yugas or 3000 years.
- Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary: Flora and fauna lovers can visit the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of the commonly seen species here are musk deer, snow leopards, and Himalayan black bears. The sanctuary is open from April to June and from September to November. If you want to travel to the park then you need prior permission.
Dham 4: Badrinath
Badrinath is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on the banks of the Alaknanda River, situated in the middle of the Garhwal Himalayas. The city of Badrinath is home to the holy temple of Badrinath.
Places to visit in Badrinath
- Badrinath Temple: The Badrinath Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is situated on the banks of the Alaknanda River. It is situated between two mountain ranges called Nar and Narayan. Situated on the banks of the mainstream of the river Ganges, this shrine is located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,050 meters above sea level. There are many deities inside the temple and five Shivalingas pass through the temple. It is a quiet and serene scene. There are a few things to keep in mind before planning a trip to Badrinath. First of all, only 1000 devotees are allowed inside the temple every day. Therefore pre-booking is necessary. Secondly, you can take a car from Joshimath to reach this temple, but all the cars till Badrinath only at certain times (6-7 am, 9-10 am, 11-12 am, 2-3 pm, and 4 Pm) will be allowed. : 30–5: 30 pm). Third, if you are tired of waiting in queues and want to have a quick darshan then walk towards the ticket counter near the gate number. 3 and buy a prescription for Veda Path Puja. It costs INR 2500 per person and allows darshan within 15 minutes. Finally, the temple gate opens between April and May and closes from November onwards.
- Tapt Kund: Just below the Badrinath temple is a pond with hot water springs. The temperature of the thermal pool is about 50 ° C. The pond has medicinal importance and legend says that Lord Vishnu had fire blessings here. It is said that bathing in this pond gives relief to the pilgrims of all their sins.
- Narada Kund and Surya Kund: These kunds are also situated just below the Badrinath temple and on the banks of the Alaknanda River. These thermal hot water springs have a special significance with the Badrinath Yatra, as it is a practice that pilgrims should bathe in these ponds before entering the temple.
- Brahma Kapal: It is a flat platform situated on the banks of the river Alaknanda. You will find many people cremating their deceased loved ones. It is believed that performing the last rites on this platform relieves the dead of all their sins and offers them salvation.
- Bhima Pull: Bhima Pull is a natural rock bridge, which is situated above the Saraswati River. It is believed that Bhima himself kept this bridge here. Legends believe that this structure will last as long as truth exists on Earth.
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The Char Dham Yatra is an important part and has all the right components for a complete journey. During the journey, you have an adventure, religious excitement, nature viewing, and unique experiences.
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