Char Dham in Uttarakhand is one of the holiest pilgrimages in India. How did this trip actually start…
What is the significance of Char Dham?
Let’s see now.
The magnificent Char Dham Yatra is a pilgrimage undertaken to offer prayers to various deities. The destination includes Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Sri Adi Shankaracharya embarked on the Char Dham Yatra about 1200 years ago. This pilgrimage tradition has continued unabated ever since. Travelers from all over the world visit the four shrines that open in the months of April – May every year. The gates of these temples are closed in the winter after Diwali due to the biting cold and snow.
Yamunotri is the western temple of the Garhwal Himalayas and the source of the holy river Yamuna. Here are some hot springs. Pilgrims take a holy bath in this water before starting the trek towards the Yamuna Temple. Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal built a river temple here a long time ago. The place also has a hot spring called Surya Kund. Travelers compete to bathe in this water.
Gangotri is located in Kashi, north of Yamunotri. It is the holy abode of the Goddess Ganga. The temple is also open on the day of the opening of the Yamuna Temple for the summer pilgrimage. The temple is located on the banks of the river. The purity and stunning landscapes here add to the great attraction by providing peace of mind. The place is famous for its holy places like Bhoj Basa, Gangnani, Kedarthal, Bhairong Hati, Jal Magna Shivalinga and Tapovan.
Gaumukh is located at a distance of 9 km from the temple. The glacier here is considered to be the source of the river Ganga. Devotees used to call Ganga Bhagirathi here even before the river Ganga met Alaknanda in Devprayag.
Badrinath is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu on the left bank of the river Alaknanda. It is believed that Lord Vishnu lived in penance here in the form of Lord Krishna thousands of years ago. Vyasa Cave is located close to the Badrinath Shrine. Here Vedic Vyasa Maharshi wrote Mahabharata and other scriptures. Mana, the last village in India, is also a few kilometers away from the Badrinath Temple. Many pilgrims go on a long trek to visit the Satopant Lake just beyond the village of Mana.
The Kedarnath Temple, which is a few thousand years old, is located on a high mountain. You have to go for rough mountaineering here. On horseback, some even go in a dolly. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In it God is worshiped in the form of lingam. Pilgrims consider Kedarnath very lucky. There are many holy places like the tomb of Adi Shankaracharya, Kalimath, Gauri Kund and Son Prayag.