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Char Dham Yatra: Pilgrimage Tours in India

Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand is a major pilgrimage in India. It is undertaken every year by thousands of devotees of almighty. Devotees trek to these char dhams (or nowadays even the holy circuit of Char Dham by helicopter is easily available to devotees who don't have the time to undertake the long perilous journey) to pay reverence to the almighty and attain salvation every year.

Char Dham Yatra is a journey to the small circuit of four holy seats of baba bholenath. Located in the Garhwal region of the State of Uttaranchal, the circuit consists of four important Hindu pilgrimage sites: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

As per the tradition, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east (and also from left to right). The Yatra begins from Yamunotri and then the pilgrims travel to Gangotri followed by Kedarnath. They then finally concluded at Badrinath which is considered the holiest Hindu pilgrimage site our of this quartet.

Yamunotri: Chardham Yatra Destination

Yamunotri  Temple
Yamunotri is the abode seat of the river goddess Yamuna. The shrine of Yamunotri is situated at an altitude of about 3,235 meters and located approximately 30 kilometers away from Uttarakshi.

It is a critical pilgrimage center in Garhwal Himalayas. The original temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal in the 19th century. The journey to Yamunotri temple takes 1 day from Haridwar and Rishikesh.

The actual temple is situated at a distance of 6 kilometers from the town of Hanumanchatti and is easily accessible by a walk. There are 2 thermal springs named Surya Kund and Gauri Kund just outside the temple at Janki Chatti. These holy kunds are believed to have healing powers.

Surya Kund is a hot boiling water reservoir whereas the Gauri Kund is a moderately warm water reservoir suitable for bathing. The Temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya in the month of May and closes on Yama Dwitiya on the second day of Diwali.

Gangotri: Chardham Yatra Destination

Gangotri Temple in Uttarakshi
Gangotri is the abode seat of the river goddess Ganga. The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of about 3048 meters and located at a distance of 99 kilometers.

It is an important Hindu pilgrimage situated on the banks of the river Ganga.  The temple was constructed by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century. It’s a one day journey from the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar to reach Gangotri and two days journey from Yamunotri temple.

The temple is opened from May till the Diwali day. For Adventurous pilgrims, Gangotri serves as a starting point for an 18 kilometer trekking route to Gaumukh. It is easily accessible by bus and car which means an opportunity to explore many more pilgrims.

Want more information? Read more on Gangotri.

Kedarnath: Chardham Yatra Destination

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath is a holy Hindu pilgrimage site situated in Rudra Prayag district in the state of Uttarakhand. In the midst of Himalayas, Kedarnath stands out as one of the twelve jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The shrine of Kedarnath is situated at an elevation of 3584 meters on the head of river Mandakini and is flanked by spectacular snow capped mountain peaks.

According to the popular legend, Pandavas after winning the battle over Kauravas in the war of kurukshetra felt guilty of having killed their own brothers and move to Himalayas to seek blessings of Lord Shiva.

While searching for Lord Shiva, they found a buffalo that was quite unique in looks. Bhima engaged in a tug-of-war with the buffalo and started pulling his tail due to which his face went straight to Nepal forming Pashupatinath Temple, leaving its hind part in Kedar out of which a Shiva linga formed.

In between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath, there are several pilgrimages sites which includes Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phauli- Pasalat Devi Maa, Bamsu (Lamgoundi) Vanasur, Kalimath, Trijugi Narayan and Kashi Vishwanath at Guptakashi.

The route to Kedarnath requires a 14 kilometer steep foot trekking from Gauri Kund. The journey to Gauri Kund is easily accessible by road from Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun.

Helicopter services are also available these days to reach Kedarnath Dham. The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya in the month of May and closes on Bhai Duj in the November.

Interested in information on Kedarnath?

Badrinath: Chardham Yatra Destination

Badrinath Temple
Badrinath is the one of famous and most visited pilgrim spot in the Char Dham yatra. It is situated on the bank of Alaknanda River in the hill town of Badrinath. The town lies between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges and the Neelkanth peak provides a fabulous setting to Badrinath.

It is considered to be the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A hot water spring is just below the temple, where many visitors take bath before visiting the temple.

The legend says that Lord Vishnu came to this place earlier known as Badri Van and meditated for a very long time after Narada scolded him for being immersed into worldly pleasures. The temple is open only for six months from April to November due to severe weather and climatic conditions.

The Badrinath is one of the five shrines that are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and are referred to as ‘Panch Badri’:
  • Vishal Badri: is the original Badrinath temple in Badrinath.
  • Yogadhyan Badri situated in Pandukeshwar depicting the meditating image of Lord Vishnu installed by King Pandu.
  • Bhavishya Badri located at subain near Tapovan. The Legend says that when evil will reach at its peak and the route to Badrinath will be inaccessible, the lord Badrinath will worshipped here in future.
  • Vridh Badri situated 7 kilometers away from the jyotirmath in Animath. The legend says that Lord Badrinath used to be worshiped here before moving to the current temple.
  • Adi Badri situated 17 kilometers away from karnaprayag consisting of 16 small temples with elaborate carved houses and a three stone black statue of Lord Vishnu.
Why undertake Chardham Yatra?
This pilgrimage is undertaken with objective of the attainment of salvation by the blessings of the almighty. It is believed that after undertaking this arduous spiritual reckoning and paying obeisance, the lord washes away the sins of the pilgrims which ensures their release from the cycle of birth and death.

Chardham Yatra 2014 Update: After last year's  natural disaster that struck Uttarakhand, the authorities have decided to regulate the number of pilgrims to Kedarnath. This year only 100 pilgrim will be allowed to travel to Kedarnath each day to avoid any unfortunate or large scale tragedy.

Are you ready for your spiritual reckoning? Check some travel ideas and packages for Chardham Yatra HERE!

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