About Char Dham

Char Dham
Char Dham of Uttarakhand or Chota Char Dham (small four abodes) is one of the most important Hindu Pilgrimages in India. It comprises of four most holy sites of Uttarakhand, namely - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. When and how these places got linked in a pilgrimage circuit together is not known. Each of the places has its own individual and legendary history. But perhaps it is the greatness and mysticism of each site that has qualified them to form a sacred pilgrimage tour.

Till 1950s going to the four most sacred sites of Uttarakhand meant embarking on a strenuous journey on foot through the hilly trails. People, like wandering sadhus, and those who could afford to travel with an entourage, were the most likely and regular pilgrims of Chota Char Dham. After the 1962 Indo - China war, India put massive efforts in building means of better connectivity to and infrastructure at border areas. Now the roads could take one till the nearest points of the holy abodes. This encouraged people from other backgrounds (economic or social) to initiate a tour of Char Dham circuit in Himalayas.

The four Dhams are
Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri And Yamunotri

1.Kedarnath

Among the glorious mountain peaks that are covered with nothing but snowstorm, lies one of the holiest pilgrim sites of northern India -"Kedarnath". Famous for the ancient shrine devoted to Lord Shiva, it tenders an unflustered ambience with its colorful rhododendron woods, snow covered mountains and splendid sights of nature. This sacred city is visited by thousands of tourists from all over to seek the blessing of the lord and scout the undulating scenery of this region at an elevation of 11,755 ft above sea level. Almost all the appeals nestled in higher altitude render every bystander a fascinating and enchanting feeling. An amalgamation of devoutness and adventure is what makes it peerless and unique

History
The legend has it that after the battle of Kurukshetra, Pandavas of Mahabharata's went on a journey to Varanasi to seek blessings from the Lord as they were guilty of killing their own kith and kin. However, Lord Shiva avoided meeting them, thus hiding himself in Guptakashi. When Pandavas found him, Lord Shiva decided to take the form of buffalo so that they couldn't recognize him. Seeing them coming closer Lord made a decision to become invisible by going underground. While doing that one of the five Pandavas, Bhima made a great effort in stopping him by holding on to the legs and tail of the bull. Unfortunately, the Lord dived and evaporated at that place leaving behind his hump which is now worshipped at Kedarnath Temple.

Facts About Kedarnath
1.The Creation of Kedarnath
2.Legends of Kedarnath Creation
3.The Derivation of the Name of Kedarnath Temple
4.Protection of Kedarnath
5.Significance of the Kedarnath Jyotirlingam
6.The Kedarnath Temple
7.Inside the Kedarnath Temple
8.The Persuasion of The Pandavas

Importance
One of the most important temples of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) the Kedarnath temple shrine is situated in the high altitude said to have been constructed there by the Pandavas of Mahabharata who were seeking pardon for the ills and sins that get written to one's accounts due to practices such as war.

2.Badrinath

The picturesque town of Badrinath is where divinity meets with the serenity of nature. Located in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand at the height of 3,133 meters, the pre-eminent abode of Lord Vishnu is one of the holiest of the holy shrines of Char Dham pilgrimage in India. Other Char Dham sites include Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram.

Situated between Nar and Narayan peaks, the pious land of Vishnu also belongs to the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Starting with Yamunotri, Gangotri and Kedarnath, Badrinath is the last and most celebrated stop in the pilgrimage tour of Garhwal Himalayas. Badrinath Dham is easily accessible by motorable roads and the Badrinath temple can be reached by walking along an easy trek. Around 3 km from Badrinath is the village of Mana, which is one of the last villages before the boundary of India ends and that of Tibet begins. The peak of Neelkanth stands strong spreading its mighty aura for all pilgrims and travellers alike.

Badrinath is a land of myriad legends, each one only adding to the glory of this place. Along with these legends, the snowy mountain peaks, gracefully flowing Alaknanda River and incredible landscapes create the perfect background to facilitate a spiritual connection.

Badrinath being one of the most legendary Temples, it has numerous mythical tales associated with it. According to one mythological tale, Lord Vishnu had performed rigorous atonement at this place. During his intense meditation, he was unaware about the severe weather conditions. To protect him from the scorching heat of the sun, his spouse Goddess Lakshmi acquired the shape of Badri tree and spread over him. Witnessing this, Lord Vishnu was pleased by her devotion and hence he named the spot after her as Badrikashram.

Facts About Badrinath
1.The scenic beauty of Badrinath is exceptionally captivating. Located on the banks of the Alaknanda River and among snowy mountains, the temple is a visual delight. It drives travelers to visit the temple and appreciate its visual beauty. Badrinath is a land of many Legends, and each legend adds extra glory to the already glorified temple. From meticulous attention to architecture to its historical importance, Badrinath is one place that is to be explored.
2.The temple has a hot water spring attached below, Tapt Kund. This hot water spring lies close to the temple, and it is believed that whoever bathes with this water is purified of all sins.
3.The temple is open for six months. It begins at the end of April and ends at the start of November. This duration is a lot for people to plan a pilgrimage. It gives people and their devotees enough time and opportunity to design a voyage.
4.Badrinath is not only a part of Chota Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Still, it has also made its way to the original Char Dham Yatra that consists of Puri, Badrinath, Dwaraka, and Rameswaram.
5.The temple has a myriad of folktales and mythologies. Lord Vishnu diligently repented for his sins. During his repentance, he became so focused that he did not realize the harsh weather. To protect him from the scorching sun, his wife Lakshmi became a Badri tree and spread over him. Lord Vishnu was so pleased by his wife’s gesture that he named that particular place as Badrikashram.
6.Sankaracharya initially established the Badrinath temple. He was a proficient scholar and a theologist who took sanyas at a very young age. Badrinath is one of the five holy places (Punyakshetram) where Hindus give offerings to their ancestors.
7.The scriptures mention Badrinath Dham as the home of Lord Vishnu, also known as the second ‘Vaikuntha.’
8.The temple is situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters. The temperature is freezing there. The temple is surrounded by snowy mountains making the view majestic.
9,The Badrinath temple has been mentioned in many Hindu texts and scriptures like Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, and Mahabharata. The Badrinath temple has been mentioned as a sacred and spiritual site in Padma Purana.
10.It is said that the sculpture of Badrinath was found and fixed by Gods. The miscreants during the end of the 6th century had thrown the statue in the Alaknanda River. Sankaracharya founded the sculpture and placed it carefully in a cave near Tapt Kund. The sculpture was then removed from the shelter and placed in the temple by Ramanujacharya.

Importance
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Badrinath Temple is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. It is among the four holy places or char dham, which are much revered by Hindus. Devotees undertake a strenuous journey through the mighty Himalayas to reach this holy shrine.

3.Gangotri

Located at an altitude of 3,100mts, Gangotri Temple, the highest temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga, is one of the four Chota Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand. Goddess Ganga is the personification of the revered Ganga River. The peaceful white temple is surrounded by Deodar and pines and the Greater Himalayan Range. The holy river Bhagirathi, which is one of the two head-streams of Ganga, flows alongside Gangotri Temple.
Gangotri is a small town situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand State. Gangotri is placed by the bank of the river Bhagirathi. Gangotri is known for the origin of the river Ganga.

We all have read in books that River Ganga is the longest river in India but only a few know about the history of river Ganga.

River Ganga originates from the Glacier named Gomukh and terminates in the Bay of Bengal. Gangotri is one of the major Chardham. Gangotri is not only a place of worship, it is full of adventures and treks. Trek to Gomukh Glacier starts from Gangotri. The length of the trek is 18 kilometres long. Gaumukh is one of the largest Glaciers in the Himalayas. The total length of the river Ganga is approximately 2,525 kilometers, the majority of the Ganga river length lies in Uttar Pradesh.

Facts About Gangotri
1.Char Dham Pilgrimage Site of Uttarakhand
2.Origin of River Ganga
3.Situated in Himalayan Region
4.Remains Close for 6 Month
5.Mention in All Purans
6.Deity of Goddess Ganga
7.Priests of Gangotri
8.Winter Residence
9.Daughter of Mukhwa
10.Bhagirath Rock (Shila)

Importance
Nestled in the high and majestic Garhwal Himalayas, Gangotri, in Uttarakhand, is one of the char dhams, which are considered an important pilgrimage for Hindus. It is the highest temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga. The holy River Ganges originates from the Gangotri glacier, located here, and is called Bhagirathi.

4.Yamunotri

On the western side of Garhwal Himalayas, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, lies the holy place of Yamunotri. About 3,293 metres above the sea level, Yamunotri stands proudly with its enormous mountain peaks, glaciers and gushing waters of Yamuna. River Yamuna, the second most sacred river of India, originates in Yamunotri, making it one of the pilgrimage sites in the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand.

The venerated goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Sun and twin sister of Yama (the god of death); in Vedas, Yamuna is called Yami (lady of life). A bath in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is said to cleanse all sins and protect from untimely or painful death. Such strong associations in Hindu mythology place Yamuna Devi (goddess) in high ranks of divinity.

On the western side of Garhwal Himalayas, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, lies the holy place of Yamunotri. About 3,293 metres above the sea level, Yamunotri stands proudly with its enormous mountain peaks, glaciers and gushing waters of Yamuna. River Yamuna, the second most sacred river of India, originates in Yamunotri, making it one of the pilgrimage sites in the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand.

The venerated goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Sun and twin sister of Yama (the god of death); in Vedas, Yamuna is called Yami (lady of life). A bath in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is said to cleanse all sins and protect from untimely or painful death. Such strong associations in Hindu mythology place Yamuna Devi (goddess) in high ranks of divinity.
The River Yamuna originates from the Yamunotri glacier, which rises up to 6,315 meters above sea level, and lies against a steep slope just below the top of the Kalind peak. From here Yamuna comes down into Saptarishi Kund and from there gushes southwards in a series of waterfalls. To the west of the Kalind Parbat is located Banderpoonch, which is a dominant mountain in central Himalayan area of Garhwal and divides the watershed of Yamuna from that of the Ganges. Coming out from Kalind Parbat, Yamuna is also known as Kalindi.

As per a legend, Lord Hanuman doused the fire of his tail after burning Ravan's Lanka in the chilly waters of Yamuna at Banderpooch. That is why the peak is called Bander (monkey) Pooch (tail) - monkey's tail. Another legend sees Yamunotri as the hermitage of ancient sage Asit Muni. The Muni used to bath both in Yamuna and Ganga, but in his old age he couldn't travel to Gangotri. Realising his problem, a stream of Ganga started to flow beside that of Yamuna.

Facts About Yamunotri
1.Char Dham Pilgrimage Site of Uttarakhand
2.Origin of River Yamuna
3.In the Lap of Himalayas
4.Heavy Snowfall
5.Legends about Yamunotri
6.Bhai Dooj
7.Daughter of Sun
8.Deity of Goddess Yamuna
9.History of Yamunotri Temple
10.Bandarpunch Mountain – Watershed for the Yamuna
11.Winter Residence of Goddes Yamuna
12.Surya Kund
13.Priests
14.Starting Point of Chota Char Dham Yatra.

Importance
According to Hindu mythology, Yamunotri is the origin of the sacred Yamuna River but Saptarishi Kund, 10 km from the temple, is the original source of the Yamuna River. Famous for its thermal springs and glaciers, the temple is among the important stopovers on the itinerary of the Hindu pilgrim.

Importance of Char Dham
The Char Dham (meaning: four abodes) is a set of four pilgrimage sites in India. It is believed that visiting these sites helps achieve moksha (salvation). The four Dhams are, Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram. It is believed that every Hindu should visit the Char Dhams during one's lifetime.

Best Time To Visit
Char Dham carries the existence of four holy quarters. Created by Adi Shankaracharya in the era of 8th AD, it is a significant religious destination in India. Initially consisting of of Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka, the Chota Char Dham now is made up of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri. The ideal time to check out Char Dham is from April, through the first half of June. This period covers the pre-summertime and midsummers, when the weather in Char Dham is sufficiently enjoyable for tourism. It is recommended to dodge visits to Char Dham during the rainy season (June to September), as the area is hazardous and susceptible to landslides