A Guide to Char Dham Yatra 2021
What are the Char Dhams? If we are talking about Garhwal in Uttarakhand, then we should refer to them as Chhota Char Dham.
A Guide to Char Dham Yatra 2021 The Char Dham – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are among the most sacred religious destinations in India and are on every devotee’s wish or bucket list. Let us take a quick look into the salient points of each of them.
This is where the temple dedicated to Surya Putri Maa Yamunotri is located. At an altitude of 10,800 feet above sea level it is considered the origin of the Yamuna River. The actual originating point is about 2.5 km further up in the Champasar Glacier. Reaching there from the temple is a little difficult as it is a steep and arduous climb. Most devotees are not able to trek up there, so all rituals and pujas are done in this temple. Surya Kund, adjacent to the temple is a hot water spring where rice is cooked in the boiling water and offered as Prasad in the temple. The Murti of Maa Yamunotri is taken down to Kharsali village for the winter months and kept in the ancient Shani Mandir there.
The origin of the Ganga River is in Gaumukh about 18 km further up from Gangotri. However according to Puranas and other texts, Gangotri is the place where Maa Ganga descended from Swarga into Mahadev’s Jata and was released by Him to flow on earth. At an altitude of 11,200 feet above sea level, Gangotri is surrounded by snow capped peaks. The slopes are forested with Cedar and Pine trees which offer spectacular views all around. Gangotri is also home to a number of other sacred sites such as Pandava Gufa, Submerged Shivling and Bhagirath Shila and more. The Murti of Maa Ganga is shifted to Mukhba, an Idyllic village about 25 km from Gangotri for the winter months.
Kedarnath Jyotirling Temple is the third of the Char Dham and is situated at an altitude of 11,700 feet above sea level. Kedarnath is one of the most revered places of worship in India and has a special aura of its own. The original temple was built by the Pandavas and renovated by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century CE. There are motorable roads and most pilgrims undertake the 18 km arduous trek from Gaurikund to reach Kedarnath. Palanquin services are available for those unable to walk. Nowadays a helicopter service is also available. Other places to visit in Kedarnath are Shankaracharya Samadi, Bhairon Temple, Rudra meditation cave and Vasuki Tal. Puja and the deity of Kedarnath are shifted to the Omkareshwar Mandir in Ukhimath during the winter months.
At an altitude of 10,200 feet on the banks of the Alaknanda River, Badrinath Dham is one of the holiest pilgrimages of Sanatan Dharma. Badrinath is one of the major Chardhams along with Jagannath Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka and also one of the Chhota Chardham. The Skanda Purana mentions – ‘There are several shrines on earth and in Swarga, but there are none like Badrinath’. Narada Kund and Tapt Kund are two hot water springs near the temple. Other sacred sites here include Vyas Gufa and Ganesh Mandir in Mana Village. A stream believed to be the lost Saraswati flows near Mana Village. The Murti of Lord Vishnu in this temple is said to be one of the eight ‘Swayam Vyakta Kshetras’ (Self Appeared Murtis of Lord Vishnu).
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Dharamshala in Badrinath
Dharamshala in Kedarnath
Dharamshala in Yamnotri
Dharamshala in Gangotri