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  Home > Holiday Ideas > Pilgrimage India > Char Dham Yatra: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath

Chardham: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath

 
According to the Hindu mythology the four holy shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath - collectively known as the Chardham are the most sacred of all pilgrimages. It is believed that undertaking a journey to these holy places not only washes away one's sins but also ensures an end from the cycle of birth and death.
Char Dham Yatra, Uttarakhand
It is also believed that heaven and earth converge in these holy shrines located in the Garhwal Himalayas, and to be born or die here is a boon only the very fortunate have. The Chardham must be visited from left to right or from West to East -beginning with Yamunotri, going on to Gangotri, Kedarnath and concluding the journey at Badrinath. This route follows the Hindu tradition of parikrama.
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Char Dham
Uttarakhand
Yamunotri
Gangotri
Kedarnath
Badrinath

Up in the Garhwal Himalayas are the four sacred sites that collectively known as Char Dhams, and the spiritual journey to these holy places is known as Char Dham Yatra. These four most holy pilgrimages sites are - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. For centuries saints and pilgrims, in the search for the divine, have walked these mystical valleys and mountains. Today, pilgrims make a beeline to Char Dhams in the summer to get a slice of peace and spirituality.

Through these sacred shrines in Uttarakhand menders the two most popular rivers of India, Ganga-the life-line of the Indian plains and the Yamuna, the holy river. The two rivers are synonymous with sanctity and splendor that is eternal, around which are woven myriad legends and tales from history and mythology of India.

The Char Dhams receive their holy water in the form of four streams- Yamuna (in Yamunotri), Bhagirathi (in Gangotri), Mandakini (in Kedarnath) and Alaknanda (in Badrinath). Holly confluences, scenic surroundings and a complete sense of devotion make Char Dham Yatra, a must visit for both the religiously inclined and the one who is looking to enjoy the scenic splendour that the Char Dham Yatra has to offer.

Traditionally, the Char Dham Yatra is done from the West to East, which means the Char Dham Yatra should start from Yamunotri, then proceed to Gangotri, Kedarnath and finally culminating at Badrinath, which is also on the main Char Dhams of India. Though Charm Dham Yatra is easy to do through a good network of motrable roads, a bit of trekking is also involved.  Especially to reach Yamunotri and Kedarnath, which are only accessible on foot. Though, ponies, porters and palaquins are available for people who find it difficult to trek to these shrines. The other two Dhams, Gangotri and Badrinath are easily accessible through well connected roads.

Yamunotri - The source of the Yamuna
Yamunotri Temple - Yamunotri, Uttarakhand

Located at a height of 3235 m in Uttarakhand, Yamunotri is not only popular as a Char Dham destination but is also a scenic spot. Perhaps, that is the reason why it attracts both pilgrims and those looking for beauty and tranquility in the hills. Yamunotri is the source of river Yamuna and the western most amongst the Chardham in the Himalayas and thus have to be visited first among the Char Dhams. The shrine of Goddess Yamunotri is perched on the western flank of mighty Banderpunch peaks (6135 m), which are snow covered throughout the year. The temple itself stands on the foothill of Kalinda Parvata close to thermal springs.

Yamunotri is a 14 km trek from Hanumanchatti, which is the last road-head to the shrine. The thermal springs refresh pilgrims before they offer prayers in the shrine. However, the actual source of Yamunotri is a lake, 12 kilometres away named Saptrishi Kund. A difficult guided trek will bring you here. Most pilgrims offer prayers at the shrine itself, since the trek is difficult. Read more on Yamunotri

How to Reach Yamunotri

By Air: Nearest airport is Jolly Grant near Dehradun.

By Rail: Nearest railhead is a Rishikesh, 250 km away.

By Road:
The road to Yamunotri diverts at Dharasu, on way to Uttarkashi. Hanumanchatti is the last road-head for Yamunotri. The place is well connected by bus services,

Important Road Distances: Rishikesh to Yamunotri 222 km via Narendranagar 16 km, Chamba 46 km, Tehri 21 km., Dharasu 42 km., Bhramkhal 15 km and  Barkot 40 km. Stay options in Yamunotri


Gangotri - The source of the Ganga
Gangotri Temple, Uttarakhand

Gangotri, one of the Char Dhams in the Garhwal Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga first touched earth for the first time. Just a dip in the Ganga and you are absolved of all sins, such is the importance of the Ganga in the Hindu mythology. There are many other legends associated with the river that make Gangotri, the source of the holy river, a popular pilgrimage in India.

The holy river itself begins at Gangotri, where a temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located. The temple is situated amidst captivating surroundings in the lap of splendid beauty. The shrine of Gangotri opens either in the last week of April or 1st week of May with the special puja of Ganga, both inside the temple as well as on the river bank. The temple closes in October-November, every year. During the winters the statue of the deity is taken to Mukhimath village for six months, where it is worshipped. Read more on Gangotri

How to reach Gangotri

By Air: Nearest airport is Jolly Grant near Dehradun.

By Rail: Nearest railhead is a Rishikesh, 250 km away.

By Road: The road to Yamunotri diverts at Uttarkashi then you go to Harsil and reach Gangotri.
Stay options in Gangotri


Kedarnath - Lord Shiva's Holy Abode
Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand

Kedarnath is one of the 12 Jyotrlingams and is a highly revered Hindu pilgrimage site located in Uttarakhand. The Kedarnath Temple is located at 3584 m above sea level on the banks of the Mandakini. The temple is surrounded by snow covered peaks and presents a beautiful sight. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, for Kedarnath is another name of Shiva.

A part of the Himalayas Charm Dham Yatra, Kedarnath opens in May, when the Char Dham Yatra to four holy shrines Yamunotri, Gangotiri, Kedarnath and Badrinath begins. These shrines remain under heavy snow in winter and open only in summer for 5-6 months. Every year wonderful opening (in May) and closing ceremony (in Oct-Nov) take place at the Kedarnath Temple. Ukhimath (60 km from Kedarnath) is the winter abode of Lord Shiva where Kedareshwara is worshipped throughout the winter. Read more on Kedarnath

How to reach Kedarnath

By Air: The nearest airport is at Dehradun.

By Rail: The closest railway stations are at Haridwar (221 km) and Rishikesh (200 km).

By Road: Gaurikund is the last motor head to Kedarnath. A 14 km trek from Gaurikund takes one to Kedarnath. There are a number of porters, ponies and palanquins available for people who find it difficult to trek to the shrine. Gaurikund is well-connected by road from Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haridwar and Kotdwar. Stay options in Kedarnath


Badrinath - The Shrine of Lord Vishnu
Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand

Badrinath is not only one of the Char Dhams or the four holy shrines in Uttarakhand but the shrine is also one of the main Char Dhams of India. The holy temple at Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Badrinath Temple is situated on the bank of the Alaknanda in the middle of two mountain ranges called Nar and Narayan. The place was known as Badrivan in Puranic times because it was found carpeted by wild Berries or 'Badri' and thus came to be known as Badrivan.
Badrinath is situated at a height of 3,133 m above sea level. The temple is built in a conical shape, 15 m. tall and has small cupola of a gilt bull and spire. The principal idol in the temple represents Vishnu in a meditative posture and is flanked by Nara-Narayan. The idol dates back to the Vedic age though it is believed to have been re-established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 9th century A.D. Some of the other images include Laxmi (Vishnu's consort), Garud (Vishnu's mount), Shiva & Parvati and Ganesha.
Read more on Badrinath

How to reach

By Air: Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun, 317 km from Badrinath is the nearest airport.

By Rail: Rishikesh Railway Station at 300 km away from Badrinath is nearest railhead. Haridwar and Kotdwar are other near by railway stations.

By Road: Badrinath is approximately 300 km from Rishikesh, the nearest railhead.
Stay options in Badrinath
   
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