The Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand is a doorway to devotion and spirituality for many Hindus all over the world. Not only is Uttarakhand a treasure trove of natural beauty, but is also significant for its innumerable temples and places of worship. From Haridwar to Kedarnath, Uttarakhand sees a large number of pilgrims every year.
The Char Dham Yatra, consisting of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri, is situated high up in the Himalayas and makes for the religious pilgrimage taken by lakhs of people every year. With the Yatra beginning from Yamunotri in the West and then going Gangotri, Kedarnath, and finally Badrinath in the East, the Yatra spans for days. Each of the sites has its own religious significance
Char Dham Yatra Places
Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 10,804 ft, Yamunotri is the starting point for the river Yamuna. Here also lays the temple devoted to the goddess Yamuna which draws in thousands of pilgrims. The river is considered sacred in Hinduism and is hence believed that taking a dip in its holy waters will protect the person from an early death. The actual mouth of the river is located a few kilometers away from the temple, owing to the difficult trekking route to access the glacier.
Reaching the temple is also an arduous task in itself but pilgrims with their strong devotion and faith still make it to the Yamunotri temple and complete the first destination in the Char Dham Yatra.
It is not unknown that the river Ganga holds immense significance in Hindu mythology. Not just a sacred goddess, the holy river has become a way of life for many. Tracing its way from its origin, the Gaumukh, and traveling through cities and towns in India, the river Ganga is considered nothing less than sacred.
Located some 19kms from the Gaumukh, the Gangotri temple has become a significant site for the worship of the goddess Bhagirathi. It is also believed that it is at Gangotri where the river Ganga stepped into Earth from Heaven. Pilgrims and tourists flock in large numbers to get a glimpse of the temple and offer their devotion at the goddess’ feet.
The third sacred place in the Char Dham Yatra is the temple of Kedarnath, dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Nestled on the banks of the river Mandakini, Kedarnath has been a source of many legends and mythology. It is also significant considering Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in the whole of India.
Standing tall and glorious against the backdrop of snow-capped Himalayas, Kedarnath sees the maximum number of pilgrims among all the sites. The trek which starts from Gaurikund spans a length of 16 km and takes a total time of 7-8 hours. Today there are plenty of horses or palanquins available to take pilgrims to the doorstep of Lord Shiva.
The last site in the Char Dham Yatra is the sacred temple of Badrinath, situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Situated at a height of 3300 m, the Badrinarayana temple at Badrinath is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. While Kedarnath was situated on the banks of Mandakini River, Badrinath Temple rests near the bank of the sacred Alokananda River. With the completion of the Char Dham Yatra at Badrinath, it is believed that the person who completes the whole Yatra will attain nirvana or moksha.
Best Time For Char Dham Yatra
It is important to remember that the gates for the Char Dham Yatra open at the time of Akshaya Tritiya which commences in Spring every year. The best time to take the Char Dham Yatra is thus during the Spring and Summer season, from the months of April to June. Monsoons and Winter are clearly to be avoided, due to heavy rains and snowfall respectively.