Home : CHARDHAM (UTTARAKHAND’S PILGRIMAGE CIRCUIT)
The Char Dham (the four abodes) is a term coined for the four most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand in the Himalayas. While each site in the circuit has a unique history and significance. According to the Puranas and various Hindu scriptures, the Chardham Yatra is of the highest religious believer’s life. Pilgrims from all around the world brave the severe conditions of landscapes and weather to visit the shrines for holy Darshans of the revered deities.
The Three major sectarian movements in modern devotional Hinduism have representation, with the Vishnu site (Badrinath) joined by one Shiva Site (Kedarnath) and two Shakti Sites (Yamunotri and Gangotri). The Char Dham pilgrimage season lasts from MAY to OCTOBER mostly. The rush is heaviest in the two – month period before the monsoon.
(1)YAMUNOTRI: The source of Yamuna River which originates from the Champassar Glacier, lying 1 km ahead of the Shrine, at an altitude of about 4421 mtr above the sea level and not easily accessible. It is believed that anyone who bathes in her waters will be spared a torturous death. The temple of Goddess Yamuna is accessible by 5 Km trek from Janki Chatti. Ritual duties are performed by the Uniyal Family of priests. Unique aspects of ritual practice at the site include the hot springs where raw rice is cooked and made into Prasad.
WHAT TO SEE:
YAMUNOTRI TEMPLE: The main temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna.
SURYA KUND: Among the numbers of thermal springs in the vicinity of the temple, this is the most important tank full of boiling water into which rice and potatoes are dipped to be cooked and taken as “PRASAD”.
DIVYA SHILA: A rock pillar, worshiped before entering the Yamunotri Temple.
(2) GANGOTRI: The holy source of the Ganga River. It is an important pilgrim site located at 3048 mtr. Above the sea level. Gangotri is close to Indo – Tibetan border. Gangotri glacier, the origin source of the Ganga river is the second longest glacier of Indian Himalaya.The origin of the river is at Gaumukh, which is further 18 km trek. Ritual duties are performed by the Semwal Family of priests. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is the main attraction, on the bank of the Ganga.
WHAT TO SEE:
GANGOTRI TEMPLE: The 18 th century’s temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is an exquisite 20 ft high structure made of white granite.
RAJA BHAGIRATH SHILLA
GAUMUKH: The origin of Holy River, 18 Km trek.
NANDANVAN TAPOVAN: These two spots are situated opposite the Gangotri glacier further trek up from Gaumukh, at a distance of 6 kms.
HARSIL:At the height of 2620 mtr. Above the sea level, Harsil offers immaculate beauty of the Himalayas. It is located on the way to Gangotri, at a distance of 73 km from uttarkashi. Harsil is still unexplored beauty by the travelers. This place is also known for major apple growing zone. Harsil is a cantonment area. So it is restricted for the foreign tourists.
BHARONGHATI: At 2743 mtr. Further downstream, 10 km from Gangotri, is the picturesque forested halting place of Bhaironghati. There exists a small temple of Bhairon appointed by lord Shiva to safeguard this region which gives the place its name. The bridge over the Jhanvi river at Bhaironghati is said to be the highest in Asia.
(3) KEDARNATH: The Kedarnath temple is situated at an altitude of 3580 mtr. Above the sea level. It is one of the twelve “Jyotirlingas” of Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is very close to Indo-Chinese border situated in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It is the source of Mandakini River.
Here in Kedarnath the conical protrusion (Hump) is worshiped as the idol. It is the main site of the Panch Kedar temples. The temple is considered more than 1000 years old, built of heavy grey slabs of stones. The nearest motor able road is Gaurikund, pilgrims have to trek 14 km from here to reach the temple. The temple has a “Garbha Griha” for worship.
WHAT TO SEE:
SANKARACHARYA SAMADHI: Behind the kedarnath temple lies the Samadhi of Adi Guru Sankaracharya.
VASUKI TAL: At a distance of 6 km from kedarnath a picturesque lake at the height of 4135 mtr. It offers a breathtaking view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
SON PRAYAG: It lies at the confluence of river Vasuki and Mandakini.
TRIJUGINARAYAN: According to the legend, this was the place where the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati was solemnized. There is an eternal flame in front of Shiva Temple is said to be a witness to the marriage.
(4) BADRINATH: Badrinath Dham is the holiest of the four shrines on the scared itinerary of every devour Hindu. Perched on the twin mountain range of Nar and Narayan, Badrinath is the abode of Lord Vishnu. The name Badrinath is derived from wild berries locally called Badri. The 15 mtr. High temple is built in the form of Cone with a small cupola of a gilt bull and spire. It is believed that present temple was built by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. The temple has three parts – Garbha Girha, Darshan Mandap (for pujas) and Shobha Mandap (for devotees to assemble).
WHAT TO SEE:
TAPT KUND: Devotees take a holy dip in the natural thermal spring on the bank of river Alaknanda.
BRAHMA KAPAL: A float platform on the bank of river Alaknanda where Hindus perform propitiating rites for their deceased ancestors.
CHARANPADUKA: The footprints of Lord Vishnu can be seen on a boulder.
NEELKANTH: A pyramid cal shaped snowy peak towering above Badrinath.
MATA MURTI TEMPLE: The temple is dedicated to the mother of Sri Badrinath.
VYAS GUFA: The rock cave of saint Ved Vyas, the writer of Mahabharata.
BHIM PUL: A natural bridge over the Saraswati River.
VASUNDHARA FALL: A 122 mtr high Waterfall.
MANA VILLAGE: It is 4 km from Badrinath, considered the last Indian village.