For any pious Hindu family or individual it is a duty of their lifetime to complete the pilgrimage to Char Dham which is highly revered in the religious ideologies as a gateway to assured salvation or Moksha from the cycle of birth and death. That apart the very journey for completing the Char Dham yatra is through some of the most serene and luscious landscapes of abundant natural beauty that is untouched by human intervention and creates an impactful feeling of spiritual bliss to see nature in such glorious demeanor. Cradled literally in the lap of snowy mountain peaks, the four shrines that comprise the Char Dham yatra, namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Gangotri are an absolute joy in terms of beauty of architecture and design. Like they say its not about the destination but the journey that is of essence because before a pilgrim surrenders themselves to the might of Almighty on reaching any of the Char Dham shrines, God makes them surrender their senses to the sheer beauty of nature and creation.
When to visit Char Dham in Uttarkhand?
The Char Dham yatra is open to pilgrims for visiting only during 6 months of a calendar year from May to November. During winters the shrines are shut closed and the deity and resident priests are relocated to lower altitudes owing to heavy snowfall. So to begin a Char Dham yatra successfully it is of extreme importance to plan the correct time for visiting. Ideally it is best to schedule your visit anytime between May & June as the monsoon season that follows is quite precarious and it is advisable to avoid visiting during that time.
Where do you start the Char Dham yatra?
Traditionally the Char Dham yatra is always performed from west to East, that is, beginning at Yamnotri followed by Gangotri, Kedarnath and finally Badrinath in that order. While the temple at each shrine is dedicated to a specific deity, the route for the Char Dham yatra in Uttarkhand commences at Haridwar to Rishikesh and reaching Yamnotri via the Tehri village. It then descends to Uttarkashi to reach Gangotri before tracing its path to Kedarnath via Gaurikund before finally concluding at Badrinath through Joshimath.
This shrine houses the main temple dedicated to Goddess Yamnotri the source and deity of the Yamnotri River. Nestled deep in the mountains of the western region, the shrine is also home to two natural hot water springs where devotees can take a dip to relive their fatigue.
The Gangotri River is situated 18 km from the actual source of the river at Gaumukh, by the banks of the holy Bhagirathi River and is the center point of the town settled around it going by the same name. The evening aarti at Gangotri is an unmatched experience and second to none drawing pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. Mystically surrounded by a heavenly layer of beautiful white snow this temple is truly set in scenic beauty fit to be the abode of the divine.
Badrinath temple is dedicated to the Lord Badrinath and stands on the banks of the Alaknanda river in the town of Badrinath in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
The Kedarnath temple in the Garhwal hills is dedicated to the great Lord Shiva and stands on the banks of the Mandakini river.
All the four shrines require quite a substantial amount of walking involved and although some are accessible on horseback or similar alternatives, it still requires all tourists and pilgrims to be in good health.