Our family and friends group consisting of 19 members including children visited Chardham in last May (2019) The sacred Chardhams are situated in the Himalayas in the northern part of India.
Yamunotri – This is the origin of the river Yamuna.
Gangotri – This is the origin of the river Ganga. It starts as river Bhagirathi.
Kedarnath – Shiv Jyotirling temple is located here. The Mandakini river flows here.
Badrinath – Vishnu Temple here is one of the four important Vishnu temples of India. The river Alaknanda flows here.
We opted for a package tour from Yatradham.Org.
We reached Haridwar by train on the 19th of May, and proceeded to our dharamshala where rooms had been booked for us. This was quite near the station. We relaxed for most of the day, had breakfast and lunch at the dharamshala. In the evening went to Har ki Pauri to bathe in the holy Ganga and offer aarti. Having done this, we explored the local market, did some shopping, and went back to our dharamshala where dinner was waiting.
The next day we boarded the two Tempo Travellers which had been arranged for us. The vehicles were spotless and in excellent condition. Our first stop was at the Satyanarayan Dev Mandir as it is believed one should take blessings from Lord Satyanarayan before starting the Chardham yatra.
Our first destination was Barkot, via Mussoorie. On the way we had a bath at the famous Kempty Falls, and had lunch there. We reached Barkot quite comfortably in the evening. Our rooms were waiting for us. Dinner was served by a cheerful and friendly staff who welcomed our suggestions.
Next morning we headed for Yamunotri base, from where the trek begins. As suggested by Yatradham, we hired palanquins and horses for the elders and pitthus for children. Darshan and puja rituals at the Yamunotri shrine were done peacefully and unhurriedly. The experience became a memory for life!
Back to Barkot for a much needed rest and relaxation for the night!
Bright and early next morning we set out for Maneri after breakfast. Maneri is about 17 km from Uttarkashi and about 80 km before Gangotri. This is an idyllic place. There is a dam here and a lake formed by the dam. We spent some time walking around the lake and near the banks of the river Bhagirathi before retiring for the night.
Next morning we left for Gangotri, reaching there in the early afternoon. The road to Gangotri is almost entirely motorable and is maintained by the Indian army. Only the last 1 km has to be walked. Gangotri is where the sacred temple of Maa Ganga is located. Here the Ganga is known as the Bhagirathi.
Our next destination was Kedarnath, but not directly. We headed for Sitapur which was to be our base for going onward to Kedarnath. We were advised to allot at least two days for this journey.
Due to misguidance or a mistake on our part in understanding, we set out from Sitapur at 09:00 AM. Later we realised we should have left at 03:00 or 04:00 AM! Anyway, what was done was done and we had no option but to carry on. We reached Sonprayag at 12:30 PM even though it is only 2 km from Sitapur. This was because of the narrow one way road on which vehicles move in convoys at allotted times.
From Sonprayag it was mandatory to travel to the horse base in Gaurikund by government Boleros. There was quite a long queue. The bolero drops you 2 km from the Gaurikund horse base. In this way we finally reached the horse base at 03:00 PM!
3:00 PM is a very late time to be starting out for Kedarnath, since most of the horses and palanquins are returning from Kedarnath at this time. Somehow we did manage to get what we wanted (horses and palanquins), but at exorbitant prices.
At last we were off! The 14 km trek to Kedarnath is so beautiful and captivating that we forgot all our earlier hassles and trouble!
Scenes from the trek to Kedarnath
We reached Kedarnath at 08:00 PM. We went straight to the Dharamshala arranged for us by Yatradham and were served a hot Gujarati meal! Nothing could have been more welcome! We were bone tired and the weather was freezing cold! We were more than happy to snuggle under warm quilts and blankets for a much deserved night of rest.
Yatradham had recommended a Pujari for us, and we contacted him next morning. He arranged special passes for darshan. We were allowed to touch the Shivling with our heads. This is a Jyotirling of great significance, and I was lucky enough to have been given a small silver Billi-Patra by the pujari at the Garbha-Dwar. After that we were taken to the backside of the temple where we performed a special puja with the pujari’s guidance. I felt absolutely blessed after the puja.
After darshan and puja we set out to return to Sitapur. Down to Gaurikund and then on to Sonprayag. Once again we found ourselves in a spot of trouble. From Sonprayag there was no transport available to Sitapur and we had to walk with whatever luggage we had (luckily we had very little). Tired and slightly annoyed we found ourselves back in our accommodation in Sitapur. A hot bath followed by delicious hot dinner made us forget all our troubles. We were soon in our warm beds, snoring away to glory!!
The next morning, refreshed and raring to go, we departed for Badrinath. Once again we left a little later than planned and reached Badrinath at 11:00 PM! Our accommodation arranged by Pavitra Tours was very nice, but we could not get dinner at that late hour. We being Gujaratis, are never short of snacks and we happily managed.
Next morning – off for darshan of Lord Badri VIshal. There was a long queue. The weather was cold and my feet were nearly frozen! But the queue progressed and I was able to have a bath in the hot water kund beside the temple. My feet were relieved!
After a satisfying darshan we left for Srinagar, our next halt. We spent the night here and left next morning for Rishikesh. We spent two days in Rishikesh shopping, exploring, having adventure rides and visiting temples.
Yatradham has not only helped with booking of rooms and transport, they were in contact through the trip and enquiring of our well being. A personal touch goes a long way! Thank you Yatradham!! Keep up the good work!