Attracting more than 800, 000 pilgrims every year, the Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra is one of Hindus’ most popular pilgrimage circuits in India. Every year, from April to November, the routes for Char Dham or the four sacred pilgrim sites located at the Himalayas open up, which would take you to the journey to the following places, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. The Uttarakhand Char Dham tour is not just famous for its religious ideas but also due to this scenic beauty.
Nestled amidst the lofty mountains that remain snow-capped all around the year, the entire area, east to west, is the most eye-catchy and beautiful part of the Uttarakhand mountain. The four pilgrim destinations are collectively known as the Char Dham draw a huge number of nature lovers, making it the most widely visited tourist spot in Northern India. The Chardham Yatra starts roughly from the east, starting with:
History of Chardham:
Well, there is a super exciting fact about the Chardham yatra. According to the fact, the visit to these four temples of Uttarakhand is known as Chhota Chardham Yatra, which can be translated as the shorter version of the Chardham Yatra. The original Yatra refers to the four holy sites located in the four corners of the country.
Established by Adi Shankaracharya in the eighth century, the original Chardham included Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram, and Dwarka. However, the smaller idea of a pilgrimage to Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, and Gangotri located in Indian Himalayas’ foothills is now popularly known as the Chotta Chardham Yatra.
Original Chardham Yatra in India: Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram, and Dwarka.
The Chotta Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri.
What makes this place so important For Hindus?
Well, no doubt that these temples are one of the most visited sites of worship. It has a lot of significance, according to the Hindu Religion. As per mythology, every person should visit these places once in his life as it is believed that this yatra opens up the gate of moksha, or salvation, after washing the sins of a lifetime. It is also said that once a pilgrim finishes the Chardham Yatra, he or she attains complete peace of mind. The temples are dedicated to a specific God and Goddess, according to Hindu mythology.
The Yamunotri temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and is the Garhwal region’s westernmost pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. The river flows to go along the pilgrims to the high altitudes to create the beautiful Rawai Valley. There are reasons why such a sequence is followed in the Chardham Yatra, and also each of these four shrines has its significance attached to it. It is the Yamunotri Dham, which is regarded as the source of River Yamuna.
As per the Hindu mythology, Yamuna is the sister of Yamraj, made her brother promise on the occasion of Bhai Dooj that whoever would take a dip in this river would not be taken to Yamloka. In other words, the person will attain salvation and will thus attain salvation. Thus, it is believed that if a person takes a bath in the holy water of Yamuna, it will protect the devotee from facing an untimely death.
The next temple, Gangotri, is dedicated to Goddess Ganga. Located at the height of 3,200 m above sea level, the Gangotri Dham, located at Gomukh, is the source of the River Ganga. As this river is considered the source of sanctity and purity, pilgrims come here to take a dip in this river and wash away their sins, embracing the goodness instead.
According to legends, this holy shrine overlooks the presence of River Bhagirathi, which is known as another name of River Ganges. A popular myth related to the river says that an ancient king, King Bhagirath, undertook a tough penance in which he succeeded and made Ganga come down on Earth from heaven. The stone on which he meditated is still kept as a sacred place near the Temple in Gangotri.
The third temple of Char Dham Yatra is Kedarnath. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this holy pilgrimage location is also important of part Panch Kedar which consists of Kalpeshwar, Tungnath, Madmaheshwar, and Rudranath shrines. The Jyotirlinga present in this temple is the northernmost out of the twelve jyotirlingas located around the world. It lies very close to the holy river River Mandakini.
Coming to the final destination of the Char Dham Yatra, Badrinath Dham is the most sacred of the four shrines in this pilgrimage tour. As mentioned before, it is also part of the original Chardham of the entire country. This final temple of Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Situated on the left banks of the river Alaknanda, this shrine holds a legend of its own.
Lord Vishnu is considered the protector and preserver according to the divine Hindu Trinity, which consists of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh or Shiva. It is believed that Lord Vishnu meditated at this site and watching him dwell in such tough terrain, his consort, Goddess Lakshmi took a form of a berry tree, known as Badri tree, to offer him shade.
Apart from all these important factors, the Dham is considered holy in the Chardham Yatra. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya attained salvation here, which made him free from the cycle of rebirth incarnation.
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However, this popular Char Dham yatra is not quite easy. Available only during the summer and monsoon months of the year, the journey offered under Chardham Yatra Package makes these holy sites accessible. Though accessible, the journey is quite arduous.
Before starting with the journey, you need to prepare yourself for both physical as well as mental hardships that would come along the road through the Himalayas. The yatra route usually bustles with various lively activities, especially during the summers, but the monsoon becomes a little dangerous due to slippery roads. No matter whatever comes the way, these lofty mountains’ scenic beauty provides enough strength to every pilgrim as they move ahead with their destination.