Char Dham Uttarakhand– This is a travel guide to the Chota char dham yatra, a spiritual significance place for the followers of the ancient religion on the earth. You may be wondering where exactly such a divine place is located, well it is located in the Deva Bhumi, Uttrakhand.
Before going into the religious significance of this yatra, firstly we will have a quick look at the temples that come under this Chota char dham yatra. Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath are the shrines cover under Chota char dham yatra.
The Chota char dham yatra is also called Char dham of Uttrakhand or Himalayan Char Dham.
An amazing yatra in the Himalayas is visited yearly by thousands of pilgrims. Chota Char dham is not only a spiritual journey but a memory of a lifetime, a pilgrimage to remember.
Difference between Char Dham & Chota Char Dham yatra?
Char Dham yatra was introduced by the world-renowned saint and great philosopher, Adi Shankar acharya who strived hard in reviving Hinduism in the 8th century.
The temples that come under the Char dham yatra are Dwaraka, Badrinath, Puri, and Rameshwaram. A pilgrim who visits these temples covers enter India. Dwaraka in the west, Badrinath in the north, Puri in the east, and Rameswaram in the south.
Then what is this Chota Char dham Yatra? The pilgrim who is not able to cover all the char dham temple can visit Chota char dham where all the dhams are located in one state.
Besides this, there is Do Dham yatra where you can visit only two Divine dhams and get a similar blessing. They are Badarinath and Kedarnath Dhams.
What are Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand?
Why do People go for Dham Yatra?
It is a strong belief in Hinduism that at least once in their life they have to visit the Char Dham. To absolve one’s committed sins, also known as a soul-cleansing journey, and whereas some to pay homage to their beloved God and goddess.
A special spiritual journey where pilgrims experience calmness and blissful happiness by having darshan of the God. The beautiful Himalayan region never fails to amaze the pilgrims with its tranquil beauty of Himalaya mountains and valleys.
Things to do during Chota Char Dham Yatra?
Apart from visiting the holy dhams, one can indulge themselves in other activities as well. The stunning Garhwal region of the Himalayas dazzles the pilgrims with its beauty. The mountains with snow caps, valleys, hot springs, and amazing waterfalls so on.
If you are going on a Himalayan Char Dham Yatra, don’t miss the hot spring bath, it not only provides an amazing feeling in the chilly weather but also has medicinal values, if you are suffering from a bone-related problem then make sure you take a dip here.
Note: Don’t spoil the water or litter in the sacred Himalayan regions.
Are you a professional trekker? if you are a newbie to Treking it doesn’t matter. Only Badarinath and Gangothri can be reached via road. When it comes to the other two Dhams Yamunotri and Kedarnath, one has to reach the temple on foot.
So, get on the trekking trails of the Himalayas which gives a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trekking to the holy dham can be made blissful with devotion towards God.
Note: Wear Trekking shoes which are waterproof, also warm clothes to keep yourself warm.
Can the Chota Char Dham be complete without visiting the amazing waterfalls near the Dhams? Surya Kund falls located half a kilometer from the Gangotri gives a jaw-dropping scenic view to the visitors.
Get ready to get lost in the Himalayan beauty by visiting Kempty falls which you find on the way towards Yamunotri. Next comes the most famous Vasundhara falls trek. As this waterfall is a very difficult one to trek, can see from far and enjoy the magnificent view of Himalayan beauty.
Note: Avoid visiting during monsoon season.
Never miss the ‘Har ki Pauri’ Ganga Aarti in the Twilight time. The entire place reverberates with the Vedic chanting and bells along with the incredible sight of Diyas floating in the Ganga river. A sight to cherish. Besides this, it gives positive vibes and pleasantness.
If time permits visit Gomukh Glacier which is popularly called the birthplace of River Ganga. Along with this visit Chopta Switzerland of the Himalayan Garhwal region. Harsil is a picturesque place in the Bhagirathi region that gives a Jaw-dropping view of the river and the mountains.
Chota Char Dham Yatra Route
There are numerous ways one can reach the holy Dham. But whoever going on the holy yatra has to follow a certain procedure. The first temple to visit is Yamunotri whereas the second is Gangotri, the third temple to visit in the yatra is Kedarnath last but not least is the Badrinath.
So the popular and safe route is you have to reach Delhi either by flight or train, any means based on your convenience.
The easiest way is from Delhi take a flight to Dehradun and from there take a bus or hire a local taxi to Haridwar. The second option is to take any means of transport and reach Haridwar.
From Haridwar take a bus or taxi to Barkot, the distance is 220 km. Otherwise from Dehradun take a bus or taxi directly to Barkot which is 124.7 km.
You can reach the holy Yamunotri Dham from Barkot either through trekking or by road trekking, which takes 7 km, whereas the drive takes 36 km.
After Darshan return back to Barkot. From Barkot, Uttarkashi is 82.9 km whereas Gangotri from Uttarkashi is 100 km, total 5 hours 50 minutes journey by road.
From Uttarkashi start your journey towards Rudraprayag which is 173.2 km, whereas from Rudraprayag to Kedarnath is 76 km (Plus 20 km trek uphill).
Take a bus or car from Rudraprayag to Badrinath. The distance is 156.8 km which takes around 5 hrs 16 minutes.
After darshan and sightseeing, take a bus or taxi to Rishikesh, the distance is 295.5 km which takes around 8 hours 45 minutes.
Take a train or bus to Delhi from Rishikesh otherwise catch a flight to Delhi from Dehradun.
The first temple to visit during Chota Char Dham Yatra. One has to reach the holy Dham through trekking. Champasar Glacier is said to be the origin of the holy river Yamuna.
You need to trek 1 km from the temple to reach this place. However, it is not an easily accessible place. The trek to this Glacier is quite dangerous. So the King of this Garhwal region constructed a temple here in the 18th century for thre pligims to worship during there visit.
Legends of Yamunotri
Goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Lord Surya and the sister of Yama, god of death. Goddess Yamuna is mentioned in many holy scripts like Bagavatham, Mahabartham, and many more.
The famous legends of the temple go like this- once there lived a sage by the name of Asit Muni who happen to have a hermitage in this region. He used to take bath in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers daily.
However, due to old age, he was not able to go to the Ganga river for bathing. Understanding his state, the Ganga river itself flows on the opposite side of the Yamuna River.
Pilgrims come here to take a dip in the holy river to absolve one’s sin and to go to heaven by pleasing Goddess. Some to destroy the fear of death whereas others to please Lord Surya.
Note: Don’t miss the sacred Prasad prepared here by using the hot spring water which absolves once sin.
Winter seat of Yamunotri
It is located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 2,675 meters above sea level. This region is popularly called Kushimath. The specialty of the temple is it will be open only during six of summer. Other six months during winter this region will be fully covered with snow.
That is from November to April month during this time the goddess Yamuna Idol will be taken to Kharsali. Here they conduct all the rituals to the Goddess Idol. Many pilgrims come here and pay homage to the goddess in the winter season.
This cosmic river is believed to flow in heaven, earth, and the nether regions. Devotees come here to absolve their sins and to seek liberation from the material world.
Yearly thousands of devotees visit this holy dham which is located in the Uttarkashi district. The amazing lush green forest covering the mountains along with pleasant climate and river water flowing in full force is a sight to watch.
The Gomukh Glacier is the origin of the holy river Ganga. To reach the Glacier from the temple it takes 19 km trekking. Many trekkers and pilgrims go on the trek to this place and visit the wonderful cow-shaped Glacier.
This Gomukh Glacier is located amid the unparalleled beauty of the Himalayas. It is located at an altitude of 3,415 m.
Legends of Gangotri
There was a powerful king by the name of Sagara, who had the desire to rule the entire world and hence he performed an Ashwamedh Yaga. The King of Devas(Indra) who was scared about his position, caught the Ashwamedh horse and hide it near the Kapila Maharishi ashrama.
As the horse did not return for a long time, King Sagara sent his 60,000 thousand sons in search of the horse. They searched the entire earth and other regions in the world and finally saw the horse near the Kapila Maharishi ashrama.
King’s sons were not aware of the Power of Maharshi, they insulted him, as a result, Kapila Maharshi turned them into ashes. Later the maharishi declared that only the river Ganga alone can give salvation to their soul by flowing on their ashes.
King Sagara and his son Dlipa failed to bring River Ganga to earth. Bhagiratha, son of Dilip was able to bring the Cosmic river to earth by pleasings her with his severe penance.
As earth couldn’t bear the force of the river Ganga falling from heaven Bagiratha pray to Lord Shiva seeking help. Pleased by his Prayers Lord held river Ganga on his head and release it from his matted locks. Hence, the river Ganga is also called as Bhagirathi River.
Winter seat of Gangotri
All the Chota Char Dham temples in Uttrakhand will be closed for 6 months during winter. It will be open during the summer for pilgrimage. Similar to Yamunotri, this temple opens in April/May on the Akshaya Tritiya day and closes in November month during the Diwali festival.
Since the entire region will be covered with snow, the Goddess Ganga idol will be shifted to the Mukhba shrine during the winter season and they perform daily rituals here.
The next temple in the Chota char dham yatra is the Kedarnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also one among the 12 Jyothir lingas. One of the powerful and wish-fulling temple.
Yearly thousand of pilgrims visit this temple, to reach this holy shrine one has to trek 16 km uphill from the Gaurikund. It takes around 5 to 6 hours depending on the individual.
The temple is located on the plateau surrounded by the Garhwal Himalaya mountains. The place enthralls the pilgrims with its picturesque beauty where the Himalayas snow-capped mountain in the backdrop and the two rivers gushing near the temple provide a spectacular view which one should never miss.
Legends of Kedarnath
After the powerful Kurshetra war in which Pandavas killed the Kauravas, as per the instruction of Lord Krishna they set on the journey to absolve their sin for killing Kith and Kin by seeking the blessing of Lord Shiva.
The all-knowing Lord disguised himself in the Bull form. However, Bheem, second among Pandav Kings recognizes the Lord.
To escape from them he hides inside the earth only the hind part of the bull is visible here. The remaining parts appear in different temples. Those circuit temples are called Pancha Kedar temples.
Pandavas built the original temple here, later Adi Sankara Acharya built the temple here in the 8th century which was later reconstructed multiple times due to natural calamities.
Winter seat of Kedarnath
The temple will be closed during the winter month that is from November to April. During this month the Lord Shiva idol will be moved from Kedarnath to Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath and worshiped here.
Note: The temple open date will be announced on Shiva rathiri day.
The last temple to visit is the dham yatra, a holy shrine that is sacred for the Hindus and is one among the 108 Vaishnava Divya dhams. This religious significant shrine is located between the magnificent Nar- Narayana mountains and on the banks of the River Alkanandana.
The shrine was constructed numerous times as it got destroyed due to natural calamities. In the 8th century when Adi Sankara Acharya visited this place, he happens to see the idol of Mahavishnu in the Alkanadana river.
Later, he consecrated it in the Tapa Kund, a present-day hot spring where devotees take a dip in the hot waters to get free from disease as these waters possess medicinal value. The greatness of the place is mentioned in many sacred texts.
Legends of Badrinath
There are numerous stories connected with the holy shrine. This is the place where the great Nar-Narayana Maharishis, incarnations of Lord Vishnu did Tapas and still meditating here in the form of mountains for the welfare of the world.
Another story goes like once when Lord Vishnu was looking for a quiet place to meditate. He searched three worlds and decided to meditate on Earth. He visited the Badri which he felt is the correct place for his meditation.
As Lord has immersed himself in the meditation he was not aware of the extreme weather condition in the place. His consort Goddess Lakshmi Devi who couldn’t bear the sight takes the Badri tree form and protects the lord from the weather. Hence the place is called Badrinath.
Winter seat of Badrinath
Similar to another temple in Chota char dham yatra, Badrinath will be closed during the winter months due to extreme weather conditions. As the entrance area will be covered with thick snow.
The Idol of Lord Badrinath will be moved to Narsingh Temple in the Joshimath during the winter season. Here they perform the daily rituals many pilgrims come here during the winter season to pay homage to their beloved god.
So, plan a spiritual trip to the Chota Char dham Yatra and get the blessing of God. Along with this bring home a life-changing experience during your visit to the Himalayas.
Further Reading– If you are looking for ashrams in rishikesh, I have another article related to top 10 ashrams in Rishikesh, please check out the link Top 10 ashrams in rishikesh.
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