Char Dham is referred to the four Hindu religious sites in Uttarakhand state of India. These are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Nestled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, these four sites are the epicenter of religious activity in north India. Traditionally, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east. Thus, the yatra starts from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Amongst the four Char Dhams, Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to goddesses Yamuna and Ganga respectively. On the other hand, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, people also visit Hemkund Sahib in the vicinity, which is one of the highest located religious sites in the country. Thus, pilgrims visit all these places in aspiration of washing away their sins and to attain salvation, by the blessings of the Lord.
The ideal time or peak season to go for a Char Dham Yatra is from May to October, except monsoons. This is because; all the four sacred sites are perched in Garhwal Himalayas, which is prone to heavy snowfall. As a result, all the passage leading to the shrines are blocked. Moreover, during the monsoon season, there is undue threat of having landslides, which can further disrupt the journey. For safety reasons, the gates of the temples are also closed for this period of time and the idols are shifted to nearby pilgrim points.
PLACES TO VISIT
The revered shrine of Gangotri, situated at an altitude of 3,200 mts. above sea-level amidst sylvan surroundings, constitutes one of the most important pilgrimages for the devout Hindu.
The Shrine of Gangotri opens during the last week of April or the first week of May, on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. The temple opening is preceded by a special Puja of Ganga both inside the temple as well as on the river bank. The temple closes on the day of Diwali followed by a formal closing ceremony amidst a row of oil lamps. It is believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhwa, her winter abode (12 km downstream).
The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to goddess Yamuna.
The temple of Yamuna is on the left bank of Yamuna constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna like Ganga has been elevated to the status of divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
Char Dham the four holy abodes that are considered as the holiest place of pilgrimage where millions of devotees come to visit. Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are the four pilgrimage site that is associated with the ChardhamYatra. In the middle of the lovely scenic Himalayan range their lies Kedarnath at an altitude of 3584m. Kedarnath Yatra/Tour is assumed to be the best as it is considered holiest of all four holy abodes. Every year, more than 1 lakh devotees come to the Himalayas, to pay homage to this most impressive temple that is large and magnificent at the same time. This place is thought of as a place where Lord Shiva resided. Here you will find the highest of 12 Jotirlingas or Shrines of Lord Shiva in India. In Hindutva, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath i.e. ‘The lord of KedarKhand’. Here devotees come wash away their sins and find the route of moksha.
Badrinath is one of the oldest Hindu places of worship. On the right bank of the river Alaknanda lies the sacred temple, perched at an altitude of 3133 m above sea level. It is guarded on either side by the two mountain peaks Nar & Narayan and the towering Neelkanth peak provides a splendid back-drop. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu. Once the spot was carpeted with ‘badris’ or wild berries and hence was famous as ‘Badri Van’.