Pilgrimage Char Dham
Garhwal Himalayas, Uttaranchal
Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri
Best time to travel
May to October
Badrinath - 3,133
m; Kedarnath - 3,581 m; Gangotri - 3,200 m;
Yamunotri - 3,235 m
Sub Zero, Snow bound
Rainfall : 1,460 mm,
Clothing : May : Heavy woolens June
- September : Light woolens
October - November : Heavy woolens
About Char Dham Yatra
Char Dham, or the four
pilgrimage centers, comprising of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri
are frequented by the religious minded as well as those intrigued by the
remnants of bygone years. The holy river, Ganges, and her tributaries flow
buoyantly past the four Dhams. Holy
Himalayas up in the misty heights of the majestic Garhwal Himalayas that adorn
the magnificent state of Uttaranchal, awaits a rejuvenating spiritual experience
for the devout.
Nestling in the lofty peaks are the four most holy pilgrimages of India
-Yamunotri, Gangotri, Sri Kedarnathji and Sri Badrinathji, collectively referred
to as the Char Dham ( or four pilgrimage centres) of Hinduism. For centuries,
saints and pilgrims, in their search for the divine, have walked these mystical
vales known in ancient Hindu scriptures as 'Kedarkhand'
Sri Kedarnath Ji
The Kedarnath shrine, one of
the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord shiva, is a sēnic spot situated, against the
backdrop of the majestic Kedarnath range. At an altitude of 3,581 mt it is a
14-km trek from Gaurikund. Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic
Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas' of Kedar or Lord Shiva.
Lying at an altitude of 3584 mts. on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of
Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. The Kedarnath
shrine, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord shiva, is a sēnic spot situated,
against the backdrop of the majestic Kedarnath range. At an altitude of 3,581 mt
it is a 14-km trek from Gaurikund. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the
protector and the destroyer.
Shiva is considered the
embodiment of all passions love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism which are
expressed through his various forms. On being followed he dived into the ground,
leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared
at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms
appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his
locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar, Kedarnath and the four above mentioned
shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.
At an altitude of 3,581 mt it
is a 14-km trek from Gaurikund. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the
protector and the destroyer. Shiva is considered the embodiment of all passions
love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism which are expressed through his various
Sri Badrinath Ji
Situated in the lap of
Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth Peak (6,597 mt) in the
background, Badrinath is one of the most revered Hindu shrines of India.
The Abode of Lord Vishnu -
Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of the
four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank river Alaknanda. With the
splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is an important destination on
the scared itinerary of every devour Hindu. Once the spot was carpeted with 'badris'
or wild berries and hence was famous as 'Badri Van'.
Badrinath is considered the
holiest of the four important shrines in Garhwal. The town is at an altitude of
3,133 m. above sea level, situated on the left bank of river Alaknanda and
exactly between the two mountains Nara and Narayan. The shrine is dedicated to
Vishnu, the preserver and falls in the religious itinerary of every devout
Hindu. Situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth
Peak (6,597 mt) in the background, Badrinath is one of the most revered Hindu
shrines of India. It has been said that there were many sacred spots of
pilgrimage in the heaven, earth and the other world but neither is there any
equal to Badrinath nor shall there be one.
Couched in the magnificent
Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. It is
surrounded by the mountain peaks of Shivlinga, Satopanth and Bhagirathi
sisters.At the legendary source of the river, Goddess Ganga is worshipped in the
form of deity. The Gangotri temple was built in the early 18th century by a
Gorkha commander, Amar Singh Thapa and later rebuilt by the Maharaja of Jaipur.
Accessible by a motorable road,
it is one of the most pious Hindu pilgrimage centre. It is on the northernmost
part of the state of Uttar Pradesh and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. It
is approximately 300 km from Dehradun, 250 km from Rishikesh and 105 km from
Uttarkashi. The summers are relatively cool and winters are freezing cold, with
rains in the months of May and June. For the devotees and tourists, the gates of
the temple are open only in the months of May to November.
- According to an old legend, Lord Shiva rewarded King Bhagirath after his
penance and Ganga came down to earth. However, due to her pride, and the fact
that the earth would be devastated if Ganga came down in her full force, Lord
Shiva caught her in his locks. It was then proclaimed that Goddess Uma or
Parvati, Shiva's consort, would bathe in the Ganges daily and only then would
she descend on the earth. The sacred stone near the temple denotes the place
where Ganga first came down to earth. This is why Ganga is also called by the
name of Bhagirathi.
- The natural rock Shivling, submerged in the river, is an amazing sight
reinforcing the power of the divine. According to mythology, Lord Shiva sat at
this spot to receive the Ganaga in his matted locks. The shivling is visible in
the early winters when the water level goes down. The picturesque pilgrimage in
the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream
of life, touched earth for the first time.
- According to mythology, Goddess Ganga- the daughter of heaven, manigested
herself in the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagirath's
predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva
received into his matted locks to minimise the immense impact of her fall. She
came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.
Main Attraction - The 18th century's temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is
located near a sacred stone where King Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is
believed to have touched earth at this spot. According to another legend,
Pandavas performed the great 'Deva Yagna' here to atone the deaths of their
kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharata. The temple is an exquisite 20 ft.
High structure made of white granite.
Sacred Origin of the Yamuna -
The shrine of Yamunotri, situated at an elevation of about 3,235 mt is a point
of paramount religious importance for Hindus and an essential pilgrimage.
Situated in the direction opposite to Gangotri, the road bifurcates from a place
called Dharasu, somewhere between Rishikesh - Uttarkashi and goes on to
Yamunotri. It is said that the temple of Yamunotri was built by Maharani Gularia
of Jaipur in the last decade of the 19th century. The Garhwal Himalayas have
been blessed with some of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites and Yamunotri is
One of the Char Dhams according
to Hindu mythology, Yamunotri is the origin of the sacred river Yamuna. Famous
for its thermal springs and glaciers, it is one of the most important stopovers
on the itinerary of the Hindu pilgrim. According to an old legend, Asit Muni,
the revered sage, used to reside here. The first stopover for the Char Dham
Yatra is the westernmost shrine of Yamunotri in the Garhwal Himalayas. Dedicated
to Goddess Yamuna, it is perched atop a flank of the Bandar Poonchh peak (3165
mts. above sea level) and is situated opposite to Gangotri. The shrine attracts
devotees in large numbers from May to October. Yamunotri finds a special mention
in the Hindu mythology. According to a legend, this secluded hilly spot was the
home of an ancient sage, Asit Muni.
Itineraries - Char Dham Yatra/
Hotels in Uttaranchal