Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand

Why People Go On Char Dham Yatra?

Perched on the stunning state of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra journey is one of the most well-known and popular pilgrimage journey in India which his attended by people from far and wide when the temple shrine opens up for Darshan during the summer months for 6 months. People not only from India but abroad as well make it a point to visit these holy Dham shrines in order to have one of the most unique and devotional experience.

The current Dham portals of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri is said to have been constructed by the great sage, seer, philosopher and the propagator of the Advaita Hindu philosophy – Adi Shankaracharya. He spent his entire life travelling across the length and breadth of the nation establishing mutts, temples and holy shrines with an aim of evoking a feeling of deep spirituality of Hinduism which he suspected was being lost with changing time. He wanted people to leave their homes in the name of the lord and wanted them to interact with each other and have an incredibly spiritual experience. It is said that visiting these Dham shrines in one lifetime will grant you moksha or salvation from the karmic cycle of birth and rebirth.

Every temple in Char Dham yatra of Uttarakhand is dedicated to a different lord and there are interesting stories and legends regarding their creation and establishment. If you are willing to know more about this holy pilgrimage journey then here are some crucial points that will give you all the information you need about Char Dham yatra of Uttarakhand.

About the Sites of Char Dham:

Kedarnath

Kedarnath Temple

Located in the district of Rudraprayag and dedicated to the Kedar form of Lord Shiva this ancient temple has to be one of the holiest and the most pious homes of Lord Shiva. Popular for being home to the highest jyotirlinga in India Kedarnath Dham offers some of the most majestic views of the lush green rolling hills. Kedarnath Dham can be reached after covering a trekking distance of 7 kms from Gaurikund. The date for the original construction of this temple cannot still be dated and is believed to be thousands of years old.

Related Legend

There are two legends related to the creation of this temple. The first one if related to how the twins nar and Narayan performed their penance in badrikashram in front of a Shivling which they had made out of a mound.pleased with this Lord Shiva made his appearance in front of the twins and asked them for a boon, they requested the lord to make the shivling in Kedarnath his permanent home, and to this day, it is believed that Lord Shiva resides inside the shivling of Kedarnath.

Another legend related to the origin of Kedarnath Dham is that this was the place where Lord Shiva had freed the Pandavas from their sin of killing their kin. Out of respect the Pandava brothers established the temple along with the temples of the Panch Kedar Yatra circuit.

Best Time to Visit

Known for being one of the toughest pilgrimage shrines in the Char Dham yatra group of temples the best time to visit Kedarnath Dham is either during the summer months of May to early July or late September to early November. The remainder of the year the weather conditions in Kedarnath is inhospitable.

Nearby Places to Visit

Vasuki Tal, Shankaracharya Samadhi, Chorabari Tal, Augustmuni.

Badrinath

Badrinath Dham - Uttarakhand

Sitting in the lush green district of Chamoli and known for being one of the supreme destinations for every avid Vishnu devotee, Badrinath dham is a true representation of the spirituality in India. This colorful and vibrant temple is dedicated to the badri form of Lord Vishnu. The temple remains flocked by pilgrims during its day of opening on Akshaya Tritya. This place can be easily reached and is known for being one of the holiest destinations in India for Lord Vishnu.

Related Legend

According to the researches some people have theorized that this temple was once a Buddhist monastery which was cleared out by the Pahadi ruler of that time on request by Adi Shankara who wanted people to be more aware about their Hindu set of beliefs.

One of the most popular stories regarding the creation of Badrinath dham is that – Lord Vishnu chose Badrinath perform his penance which was extremely severe and he was covered by his consort goddess Laxmi who gave him shade during the harshening weather conditions. There are numerous mentions of Badrinath Dham in holy Hindu books like Vishnu Puran where it is said that the twins Nar and Narayan used this place to perform their penance here in Badri Vishal. It was then named so since the entire region was covered in thick jujube trees.

Best Time to Visit

Summer time in Badrinath is known for being the most comfortable and pleasant time to visit which lasts from May goes on till the end of June. The temperature during this time stays between 18 degree Celsius and 7 degree Celsius. For the remaining months Badrinath is covered in thick snow making visitation impossible.

Nearby Places to Visit

Vasudhara falls, Mana village, Charanpaduka, Bheem Pul, Tapt Kund, Vyas Gufa.

Gangotri

Gangotri Dham

Sitting on the banks of the gushing rivers of Ganga is the gleaming white, stunning temple of Gangotri. As the name suggests this temple is dedicated to goddess Ganga and marks the emergence of the holy river from its source at the Gaumukh glacier which is extremely difficult to access and is also well protected. The temple sits peacefully against the awe inspiring backdrop of the thick green undulating mountains and the wide blue open skies. A temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is a rare occurrence in India. The journey to Gangotri is known for being extremely scenic and breathtakingly tranquil.

Best Time to Visit

As compared to the other dham shrines Gangotri dham has to be one of the most easily reachable temples in the circuit of char dham. The summer months of May to early July is considered to be the most ideal and comfortable time to visit Gangotri Dham.

Nearby Places to Visit

Gaumukh glacier, Tapovan, Bhojwasa, Surya Kund, Bhagirathi Shila, Harsil

Yamunotri

Yamunotri Dham

Situated in the district of Uttarkashi and as the name suggests it is dedicated to goddess Yamuna whose source of glacier can be traced back to the Champasar glacier. The temple marks the entry way of the river of Yamuna since the rest of the way back to the source is inaccessible. The entire region of Yamunotri is dotted with thermal hot water springs famous for its medicinal value. The back drop of the temple is extremely awe inspiring and purely stunning with the gently rolling lush hills and a series of cascading waterfalls. The temple has witnessed a lot of harsh weather conditions and has been continuously been built and rebuilt.

Best Time to Visit

May to June is considered to be the best time to visit when the temperature rises and the overall weather is pleasant to take the holy yatra journey. The remainder of the months is either too cold or just really inhospitable to even go there.     

Nearby Places to Visit

Janki Chatti, Divya Shila, Hanuman Chatti, Saptarishi Kund, Bali Paas.

Best Travel Option for Char Dham Yatra

There are two ways in which pilgrims can conveniently, safely and comfortably make their journey to the holy Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand which are:

By Land – Char Dham Yatra journey services are offered by various travel companies from different parts of the country. Generally a Chota Char Dham Yatra package takes 11 days to cover which commences and concludes in Rishikesh / Haridwar. The dham shrines of Yamunotri and Kedarnath require some level of physical fitness since it cannot be reached by a motor vehicle. If you are not able to cover the journey on foot then there are alternate ways of travelling available which will make your journey even easier.

By Air – Charter helicopter services that are dedicated in providing helicopter service to Char Dham are also widely available. A helicopter journey will not only cut down your char dham yatra to 2 days but it will also be one of the most luxurious and comfortable way of travelling. You will not be required walk but you will easily be covering kms within minutes. Although these helicopter services are extremely pricey, but it is considered to be the best travel option for Char Dham for senior citizens and people who are not able to cover the distance on foot.

Essential Travel Tips for Char Dham

  • Since all the char Dham sites are situated on high elevations you should make sure that you have packed a good amount of woolen clothing like down jackets and sweaters as well as winter accessories like woolen gloves, woolen ear muffs, mufflers etc.
  • Remember to carry along a first aid kit with you consisting of all the necessary medicines and ointments that you may need on an emergency basis during your holy pilgrimage journey. Your first aid kit should include anti fever medicines, pain killers, cough syrup, medicine for stomach problems and others. Do not forget to carry along you medicines that you may require on a daily basis.
  • Invest in a good pair of walking or sports shoes that will be your best companion during the holy journey. Avoid walking in slippers or sandals which will make your journey extremely uncomfortable. Also remember to carry along some important travel essentials like torches, a spare pair of batteries, sunglasses, sunscreen, portable charger, a back pack, address book with all the important contact numbers in case of emergencies among others.
  • You should also remember to carry along with you some packaged food items like maggi. You should also make sure to carry instant glucose providers like chocolates, almonds, dates and other dry fruits this will be extremely important for you during the journey.
  • Make sure to complete and confirm all your bookings before going on Char Dham sites. It would be better and a more convenient option for you to hire the services of a travel company offering Char Dham Yatra journeys. This option is better than planning the journey by yourself since its requires you to intricately plan out all the details.
  • It is important for you to get yourself checked up before going on the yatra since the journey requires you to be physically as well as mentally fit. You should also make sure to start your workout or some walking activities 3 to 4 months prior to the commencement of the journey. This activity will allow you to cover the distance in a more comfortable manner.
  • Avoid carrying heavy and bulky luggage items. Make sure to carry only the necessary items and carry a simple bag or a backpack which will hold all your important belongings.
  • For an easier journey option and in order to remain easily connected to your friends and family, you should get yourself a local sim card whose services are easily available in all the Char Dham shrines.
  • Being a holy spot, make sure to remember that consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food items is strictly prohibited. You should not even carry items related to it in order to keep the sanctity of the place intact and not mess it up in any way.
  • Remember not to travel during the monsoon months of late july to early September since the entire region of all the Char Dham sites remain covered in unexpected landslides and even torrential rains that cannot be accurately predicted on a daily basis. It is better to avoid the journey than go for it and put your as well as your loved one’s life at risk.
Brief Itinerary for Char Dham Yatra

Here is a brief itinerary of Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage journey:

Haridwar / Rishikesh – Barkot – Janki Chatti – Yamunotri – Uttarkashi – Gangotri – Guptkashi – Kedarnath – Rudraprayag – Badrinath.

Best Time to go on Char Dham Yatra

All the Char Dham sites open up for Darshan during the holy eve of Akshay Tritiya that generally takes place during the months of either late April or early May and stays open for only a limited duration of 6 months before shutting down for Darshan during the months of either Late October or early November.

The best time to go on Char Dham Yatra is considered to be either the summer months of May to early June and late September to early November. The monsoon and the rainy months are not considered suitable for travel purposes since the region remains prone to heavy and unexpected rainfalls and weather changes. For the remainder of the time all the Char Dham sites remains covered in a thick blanket of snow which makes the journey impossible and inaccessible.

Char Dham Yatra Opening and Closing Dates

Opening Dates:

All the Char Dham portals opens up during the auspicious and holy eve of Akshay Tritya. Here are the Char Dham Yatra opening dates for 2019:

  • Kedarnath Dham – 10th May 2019
  • Badrinath Dham – 10th May 2019
  • Gangotri Dham – 8th May 2019
  • Yamunotri Dham – 8th May 2019

Closing Dates:

The temple Kapat for most of the Char Dham portals are scheduled to shut down during the auspicious eve of Bhai Dooj that takes place after the Hindu festival of Diwali. Here are the closing dates for Char Dham temples for 2019:

  • Kedarnath Dham – 9th November 2019
  • Badrinath Dham – 20th November
  • Gangotri Dham – 8th November 2019
  • Yamunotri Dham – 9th November 2019