Char Dham Yatra Complete Travel Guide

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Char Dham Yatra Complete Planning Guide

Char Dham Yatra Complete Travel Guide includes details and plans for all the 4 Dhams of Uttarakhand. The Chota Char Dham of India is the name given to the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The Hindu sacred sanctuaries of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri are among the four Abodes in the Himalayas. All four of these temples are located in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal area. The Hindus place a great deal of importance on the Charm Dham Yatra. Furthermore, it is considered that every Hindu should participate in the Char Dham Yatra at least once in their lives.

Chota Char Dham Yatra is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes, with a quarter of a million worshippers paying respect each year. With the hope of being saved by the Lord’s blessings by eradicating all sins. In fact, worshippers come from all over the world to visit the shrines, and there is an increasing number of international tourists who come out of curiosity and want to learn more about India and its culture.

Because of its breathtaking beauty, Himalayan charm, lush woods, enormous valleys, and epic nature all around, the Char Dham Yatra is one of the most majestic excursions to do. In a nutshell, Lord Shiva is worshipped at Kedarnath, whereas Lord Vishnu is worshipped at Badrinath. The Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna rivers are honoured at Yamunotri and Gangotri, respectively. Uttarakhand’s Char Dham Yatra can be completed in a single trip, requiring roughly 10-15 days (depending on your schedule). In fact, you may be able to hire a helicopter to cover Char Dham in just two days.

History of Char Dham Yatra

 
Around the eighth century, Adi Shankaracharya, the Great Reformer and Philosopher, assembled these Holy Pilgrimage sites into a spiritual circuit. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have followed in the footsteps of previous generations, visiting these holy sites every year. It should be mentioned, however, that during the winter season, all Char Dham temples are closed for six months due to heavy snowfall, making them inaccessible. During this time, the Gods and Goddesses are relocated to their “Winter abodes.”
 
A shrine dedicated to Yamunotri’s goddess Yamuna can be found there. The main Deity of the temple is made of black marble, which should be noted. The new temple was built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century after the former one was destroyed by climatic change. The Yamunotri shrine was established on the left bank of the Yamuna River by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.
 
Ganga was born as a result of a gift offered by Shivji to king Bhagirath for his penance, according to Hindu mythology. Shivji, however, captured her in his locks due to her superiority and the likelihood that Earth would be swamped if Ganga came down in full force. Near the Gangotri temple, there is a sacred stone that marks the spot where Ganga initially came down to earth in the form of a river. Because of this, Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi (i.e. the daughter of Bhagirath). In the 18th century, Gorkha Commander Amar Singh Thapa built the Gangotri temple in its current form. The Gaumukh glacier was believed to be there at the time of the existing temple’s construction.
 
Kedarnath is named after King Kedar, a king from the Satya Yuga, and is dedicated to Shivji’s incarnations. In the Mahabharata, Shivji is claimed to have exonerated the Pandavas of murdering their own cousins, the Kauravas. In reality, the town and its temple have a fascinating backstory. To satisfy Shivji, the Pandava brothers performed a tremendous penance in Kedarnath, according to the Puranas. The temple was first established by the Pandavas, and it was later rebuilt by Adi Shankaracharya. Adi Shankaracharya’s samadhi is located just behind the temple.

Adi Shankaracharya, who discovered the Badrinarayan idol in the Alakananda River, erected the first Badrinath temple. He was the one who relocated the shrine near Tapt Kund’s hot springs. There was a need for a new temple to be built due to the passage of time. The current temple was constructed in the 16th century by the King of Garhwal. At first glance, the gorgeous adornment stones, classic carvings, and pillar designs will take your breath away! The appearance is comparable to that of a Buddhist Vihara temple in terms of architecture.

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Char Dham Yatra Opening and Closing Dates

The best time to participate in this Yatra is usually between the end of April and the end of October. The Uttarakhand government, on the other hand, announces the circuit’s opening and closing dates each year. The four shrines are transported to their winter sojourns throughout the winter months. Ukhimath, Joshimath, Mukhba, and Kharsali, respectively, for the deities of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. All of these winter Dhams’ gates are accessible to devotees all year, so you can visit the shrines at any time.

How to Reach Char Dham of Uttarakhand

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To begin the Chota Char Dham Yatra, you must first travel to Haridwar. Here’s how you will start your journey.

By Air

The nearest airport is Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport. You can even hire a helicopter to travel to Kedarnath and Badrinath from here. These may be purchased at Delhi, Dehradun, Phata, Augustmuni, and Gauchar, all of which are located near Rudraprayag and Dehradun.

By Train

The railway network connects Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kotdwar, and Dehradun to India’s major towns. From here, you can take the bus or hire a taxi to continue your journey.

Chota Char Dham Yatra Planning

The famed four Hindu pilgrimage sites, known as Char Dhams, are situated among the steep Himalayan hills of Uttarakhand. Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath are the four places that make up the Hindu Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The Hindu religion considers all of these places to be extremely sacred. Every Hindu’s greatest wish is to visit the holy shrines at least once in his or her lifetime in order to achieve salvation.

(Delhi to Haridwar ) Day 1 

Start your journey towards Haridwar from Delhi, covering 210 kms in 6 hours’ worth of driving time. I would suggest reaching Haridwar as early as possible. This will leave you ample time to explore one of the holiest places in India – the gateway to God and one of the oldest living world cities.

One of the MUST DO things (apart from exploring the many lanes and paths of the city) includes the magic of the evening Aarati (worship with fire) wherein all lamps are lit and prayers are offered at the Har ki Pauri (Steps of God). For Hindus, a dip in the auspicious Ganges leads to a washing off of all sins and a source of attaining liberation from the endless cycle of death and rebirth.

( Haridwar to Barkot) Day 2

Start your day as early as possible, and after a plunge in the Ganga, set out towards the first Dham, Yamunotri, Surya’s daughter and Yam’s sister. Today’s journey to Barkot will take you about 10 hours and cover 200 kilometres. Barkot is located at a height of 1220 metres. Even though your travel for today will be very long, remember to investigate the small hamlet. The city’s rituals and methods will entice you in despite the fact that modern civilisation has yet to touch it. The surrounding vistas are breathtaking and feature the snow-capped peaks of Bandar Punch throughout the year. This is a good place to stop for the night on your journey to Yamunotri.

( Barkot to Yamunotri ) Day 3

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll set out on your adventure to the first Dham. You’ll arrive in Yamunotri in around 5 hours today after travelling 36 kilometres and trekking 7 kilometres. If you want to hire a horse or a Doli, expect to pay anything between INR 1000 and 2500. However, keep in mind that these prices may fluctuate based on the time of year you visit and the number of people there. Asit Muni, a sage, lived in Yamunotri. Surya (Sun God) and Sarayyu had a daughter named the Yamuna. Yama is her brother (God of Death). Yama is said to promise not to punish anyone who bathes in the Yamuna, Yama’s sister when they die. In the world of her elder brother, the Yamuna, possessor of boundless love and compassion, can bring us freedom from even death. You’ll return to Barkot for your onward journey after visiting the shrine and neighbouring sites.

(Barkot to Gangotri ) Day 4

This day also starts early in the morning. If you’re not in top shape, the previous day’s journey may have left you exhausted. As a result, I strongly advise you to go to bed early in order to have a good night’s rest in preparation for your day today!
You’ll be travelling for roughly 9 hours today, covering 210 kilometres. Keep in mind to take pauses. I really recommend stopping in Gangnani, a hot spring on the way. If you start learning at 6 a.m., you should be at Gangotri by 3:30 p.m. Today is your 2nd Dham, Gangotri, the source of the Ganga and the abode of the goddess Ganga. penance to Shivji that has spanned generations.  Gaumukh, located in the Gangotri Glacier and 19 kilometres from Gangotri, is the source of the holy river. Goddess Ganga, according to Hindu legend, took the form of a river to atone for the misdeeds of King Bhagirath’s forefathers following his terrible punishment. There is no other river in Hinduism that is as closely identified with it as the Ganga. Ganga has long been revered as THE spiritual purifier, as well as a source of health and prosperity, and is an important component of the country’s religious fabric.

( Gangotri to Uttarkashi) Day 5

Today, you can take your time getting started on your journey. The experience of waking up in Gangotri is unique and should be handled as such. There aren’t many places where you can feel as calm as you can here! Today, after soaking up as much of the experience as possible, you embark on your trek to Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi literally translates to “Northern Banaras” (i.e. “Kashi”). Today’s trek will take you 4 hours to complete and will cover 95 kilometres. Uttarkashi is a small village located between the Varuna and Ashi rivers at an elevation of 1588 metres. From both sides of the town, these rivers flow slowly into the Bhagirathi. Given its resemblance to Kashi — the city has similar ghats and temples to the city after which it is named – Remember to pay a visit to the Vishwanath Temple, which is devoted to Shivji. Annapurna Temple and Bhairav Temple are two other temples worth visiting. Also, it is thought that Kashi (i.e. Banaras) will be flooded in the second millennium of Kaliyug (the current yuga), and Uttarkashi will take its place as an important holy centre.

( Uttarkashi to Sitapur) Day 6

You’ll enjoy an early wake-up call and breakfast on another day. Today, you’ll travel 212 kilometres to Sitapur, covering the distance in roughly 10 hours of driving time. Sitapur is around 7 kilometres from Gaurikund and 26 kilometres from Guptkashi, at an elevation of about 1820 metres. Sitapur, located at the junction of the Basuki and Mandakini rivers, is barely 2 kilometres from Son Prayag. It is stated that just a drop of holy water from this holy place in Son Prayag will assist a person to achieve the “Baikunth Dham.” The Triyuginarayan – the marriage site of Lord Shiva and Parvati — is another religiously significant spot. This is about 14 kilometres away by bus and 5 kilometres away on foot. You’ll have to climb from here to reach Kedarnath. However, don’t forget to visit the Gauri Devi shrine and have a soak in the hot springs. That’s it.

( Sitapur to Gaurikund ) Day 7

Today will be a full day filled with physical exertion! You’ll drive to Gaurikund after an early breakfast, which will take two hours. Remember to bring lunch and enough water for the day today. You will begin your trek in earnest from Gaurikund. You’ll spend the night in Kedarnath (mostly camping accommodations are available since the destruction of 2013 floods). Overall, you’ll drive 32 kilometres from Sitapur to Gaurikund and then walk another 14 kilometres. It will take you approximately 9 hours to complete this excursion. The third dham may be the most isolated of the Dham you’ll visit. The shrine is grand, and the natural surroundings are breathtaking. It is located in Shivji’s own home.

The towering snow-capped mountains, plunging streams and rivers, and lush green meadows and woods — as well as the gruelling walk that gets you there — all, serve to inspire. This location has remained virtually untouched for millennia and has its own spiritual aura! For Shivji worshippers, this is the final frontier, the final way to salvation! In the event that you are unable to complete the trek, a horse and doli are both viable solutions. The price fluctuates between INR 1000 and 2500. Though further reinforces the deep-seated trust instilled in this shrine! These prices may fluctuate depending on the number of pilgrims and when you travel throughout the season.

( Kedarnath to Rudraprayag ) Day 8

After an early morning meal at Gaurikund, you’ll travel from Kedarnath to Rudraprayag today. Today’s voyage will be 75 kilometres long, including a 14-kilometre hike. If you leave Kedarnath at 6 a.m., you should arrive in Gaurikund by 11 a.m. and Rudraprayad by 3:30 p.m. For lunch, you’ll be stopping in Sitapur. The Kedar-Khand, which we now call Garhwal, was once called the Kedar-Khand. In fact, the Puranas claim that Kedar-Khan is God’s home. The Ramayana and Mahabharata scriptures were written here. Rudraprayag, also known as Shivji (Rudra), is located at the sacred confluence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, 34 kilometres from Srinagar (Garhwal, UK).

This convergence is especially lovely as if the two sisters are hugging each other! Narad Muni is said to have worshipped Shivji here, who appeared in his Rudra Avatar (incarnation) to bless him. The entire area is surrounded by incredible natural beauty, religious sites, lakes, and glaciers.

( Rudraprayag to Badrinath ) Day 9

You’ll begin your trek towards your final Dham — Badrinath – not as early as yesterday. You’ll be driving 160 kilometres after breakfast, and it’ll take you about 8 hours to complete the journey! Make sure you depart early enough to get to Badrinath in time for the evening Darshan and Pooja. Badrinath and its route are the starts of a journey. Pilgrims that visit the spine frequently comment on how the landmarks and landscapes constantly provide a different perspective, a different sensation, and a different subtlety to an encounter. It is believed that this is the most difficult part of the voyage, and it can be harsh at times, but only to those who are closed-minded. As Sir Edmund Hillary correctly observed in his expeditions, the trek from Rishikesh to Badrinath is, in many ways, a mental as well as a physical voyage from the ocean to the sky. There’s also a different path to paradise – and spiritual liberty.

( Badrinath to Birhi ) Day 10

Your spiritual awakening is coming to an end — you’ll have a leisurely morning wake-up call and only leave for Birhi after lunch. Today’s excursion is 95 kilometres long and will take you 5 hours to finish. 

( Birhi to Rishikesh ) Day 11

Proceed to Rishikesh after breakfast at Birhi. It will take you 160 kilometres and 7 hours to complete this route. While you’re here, it’s a great idea to go sightseeing in Rishikesh. Located in the Himalayan foothills, it offers some of the most beautiful views as well as the most soul-calming emotions! Rishikesh is one of the most captivating sites in the country, with Ganga spreading the happiest of sentiments all around it. Keep in mind that Rishikesh is both a vegetarian and an alcohol-free city by law.

( Rishikesh to Delhi ) Day 12

Return to your original spot as soon as possible! Keep the peace, tranquillity, and joy in your heart for a long time! The peace is quite like no other!

Why is Char Dham Yatra so Sacred?

While the journey is lovely, I’d like to emphasise the significance of each temple. Now we’d like to discuss the significance of the Char Dham Yatra for Hindus.

Yamunotri Dham

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Yamunotri is located at an elevation of 3293 metres in the Garhwal area of Uttarkashi, some 40 kilometres from Barkot. The Yamuna’s actual source is in the Yamunotri Glacier, which is located at an elevation of 6,387 metres near the Bandarpunch Peaks. When you visit Yamunotri, it is said that you will be cleansed of your sins. Given the difficult travel, the pilgrims are motivated to reach their destination by their faith and the river’s transcendent significance.

Yamunotri is known for its hot springs, where raw rice is cooked and converted into prasad. In and around the Dham, there are numerous sacred sanctuaries, ashrams, and temples. Yamunotri, the Yamuna River’s original source, is surrounded by gorgeous high forested peaks and a vast valley. After the Ganga, the Yamuna is India’s second-largest and one of the holiest rivers. According to Hindu mythology, Yamuna is the daughter of Surya (God of the Son) and the sister of Yama (God of Death).

Gangotri Dham

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Ganga is unquestionably the most important river for Hindus, and it is also the world’s most sacred river. Gangotri is one of the Ganga’s primary sources of water (Ganges). It’s worth noting that the river’s primary source is “Gaumukh,” a glacier 19 kilometres from the Gangotri temple. At an elevation of 3100 metres, Gangotri is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. Gangotri is the Ganga’s starting point. It’s worth noting that the river Bhagirathi gets its name from Devprayag. The confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda forms Ganga.

The temple opens on Akshay Tritiya (typically in the month of May) and shuts on Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Duj (generally in the months of October/November). The purest form of blessing is Ganga water, which is used in Poojas (prayer rituals) and temple offerings. In reality, pilgrims carry Prasad and blessings for future prayers by carrying the auspicious water from here. Gangotri is home to a diverse range of vegetation and wildlife. In Gangotri, there are various temples where visitors can learn about the history of the Ganga River’s creation.

Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath temple, one of India’s holiest pilgrimages, is situated on the Mandakini River’s bank at an elevation of 3584 metres. This area was formerly known as “Kedar Khand.” The temple of Kedarnath is one of Shivji’s 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Kedarnath is the most isolated location on the Char Dham Yatra, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped peaks. The town itself is breathtakingly beautiful, and the surrounding scenery draws a large number of pilgrims, especially during the summer months of May and June. The Kedarnath trek is very well-known within the trekker community.

It’s worth noting that the region was devastated by the 2013 floods. In fact, the temple’s continued existence has elicited a great deal of admiration. Gaurikund was the final endpoint on the Kedarnath route prior to the 2013 floods, however, with the 2013 floods, a new trekking route is being developed. This walk will be around 21 kilometres long and will begin in either Sonprayag or Sitapur. At this time, the best way to get to Kedarnath temple is by helicopter. Due to the extensive damage caused by the floods, the only places to stay near the Dham are campsites.

Badrinath Dham

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Badrinath is one of the 108 Divya desams incarnations of Vishnuji and is an important sacred temple for Vaishnavites. Along with Badrinath temple, Badrinath is part of the Panch Badri temples, which comprise Yog Dhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Adi Badri, and Vriddha Badri. Badrinath is located in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district at an elevation of roughly 3415 metres. Badrinath is situated on the banks of the Alaknanda River in Garhwal’s Silent Valley.

The town is noted for its breathtaking beauty, agreeable weather, dense forest cover, amazing vistas of snow-capped mountains and the holy river that flows through the green valley. Many festivals are held at Badrinath, including the Kedar-Badri Utsav, Janam-Ashtami, and Mata Murti Ka Mela. Panch Prayag Temple, Badhri Naryanan Temple, Vasudhara Falls, Hot Geyser (tapt kunds or hot water springs), Bheem Pul, Mana Village, and other nearby attractions should be visited.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra Travel Tips 

  1. Remember to double-check Yatra’s actual start and end dates.
  2. Given the significance of this Yatra to over a billion Hindus around the world, it’s important to remember to be courteous along the path. For example, before entering any sacred place, remember to cover your head and remove your shoes.
  3. On this vacation, make sure you don’t trash anyplace. To safeguard the region’s bio-diversity, the hills and solitary areas must be preserved in their natural state.
  4. During the months of October and November, bring heavy woollen clothing to protect yourself from the cold, while during the summer, bring light woollen clothing.
  5. Remember to dress in layers because the weather in the hills might change at any time.
  6. Creams, moisturisers, and sunscreen creams are all mandated.
  7. Along with your regular medications, pack a medical kit including pain relievers, antibiotics, cough lozenges, antiseptic cream, iodine, tube-squeeze cream, and cold and fever drugs.
  8. Remember to bring snacks with you.
  9. If cameras are not permitted in a certain area, do not take photographs. Playing with religious sensibilities is not a good idea.
  10. It is advisable to begin preparations at least a month before the Yatra. Because energy is intermittent in such isolated locations, bring additional batteries and film for your camera.
  11. Avoid travelling during the rainy season, when there are many landslides.
  12. If you are travelling near the temple’s opening days, book hotel accommodations in advance because there is high demand.
  13. During the Char Dham Yatra Tour, no alcohol or non-vegetarian food is permitted.
Hindus in India believe that the Char Dham pilgrimage opens the gates of heaven by washing away all sins. This trek is also thought to be something that should be done at least once in a lifetime. In Hindu mythology, these four sanctuaries are extremely important.

Hope you enjoyed reading this Blog

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About Preeti Bisht

She is a bird of passage. She loves travelling and sharing her travel stories. Emerse in her stories with her and follow her on blogging journey on UttarakhandTravelTourism.com

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