Char Dham Yatra Tour
India is well known all across the world for its diversity. Its diversity is also manifested in the beliefs and faiths of people as in India, people follow different religions. Therefore, the country is quite brimful of temples, gurudwaras, churches, mosques, and monasteries. A visit to some of these is considered quite pious and it is believed that these expeditions provide a calmness to the pilgrim’s mind and soul. One such notable pilgrimage is Char Dham Yatra.
What is Char Dham Yatra?
Char Dham Yatra is a Hindu pilgrimage consisting of four holy sites in the Indian Himalayas. Char Dham literally translates to four abodes and this yatra encompasses four revered sites in North Indian state of Uttarakhand – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. According to Hindu mythology, it is said that the one who completes Char Dham Yatra, attains Moksha (liberation) and gets liberated from the cycle of birth and death as all his/her sins are washed away. Further, it is believed that every individual should go on Char Dham Yatra once in a lifetime. Every year millions of pilgrims undertake this spiritual journey tour to have a respite from the fast-pacing life and to experience the fascination of faith. The whole experience of going on Char Dham Yatra is so surreal that it makes every visitor want to visit the holy shrines again and again. Usually, it is perceived that Char Dham Yatra is meant only for oldsters but that’s not true. The yatra follows the Hindu tradition of parikrama – begins from Yamunotri, goes to Gangotri, then Kedarnath and finally terminates at Badrinath. The journey involves several enticing adventures in addition to spiritual significance, which makes it popular among the people of all ages.
Which places constitute Char Dham Yatra?
- Yamunotri – Holy source of the Yamuna River
Yamunotri is said to be the seat of Goddess Yamuna, who is a daughter of Surya and a sister of Yam. Located in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Yamunotri is perched at 3293 m in the Garhwal Himalayas. Since the original source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) is located at a height of 4421 m, about 1 km further up and is inaccessible, the shrine known by the name of Yamunotri temple has been built at the foot of the hill. Fringed by snow-laden mountains on all the sides, Yamunotri Temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and features a black marble idol of the goddess. Maharani Guleria of Jaipur laid foundations of this temple in the early 19th century. But it had been destroyed by the floods and snow multiple times and rebuilt several times. Devotees visiting this dham get a chance to breathe fresh air and to catch a glimpse of scenic surroundings.
☞ Places to visit
- Surya kund is a thermal spring located near Yamunotri Temple. The spring has got its name from Yamuna River, which is said to be the daughter of Surya according to Hindu mythology.
- Divya Shila is a powerful rock pillar near the hot water kund at Yamunotri. Pilgrims often offer prayers to the pillar before entering the temple.
- Gauri Kund is another spring which has fairly warm water.
☞ How to reach
- By Air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun at a distance of 210 km is the nearest airport to reach Yamunotri via air. You can also book a helicopter which will directly drop you at Yamunotri.
- By Road: Uttarakhand is well connected to all major destinations through roadways. Taxes and buses ply from places like Dehradun, Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, etc. Visitors can reach Yamunotri Temple by 5 km trek from Janki Chatti, which happens to be the nearest road point. Or they can choose to climb up to 13 km from Hanuman Chatti. In case you are not fit enough to undertake treks, you can opt for horse or palkhi, which will drop you at the temple.
- By Train: Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand is easily accessible from all major cities of the country through railways. Dehradun Railway Station is the nearest station to commute to Yamunotri.
☞ Opening – Closing schedule of Yamunotri Temple
The doors of the Yamunotri temple are opened for pilgrims on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, which is generally observed during the last week of April or the first week of May. The doors are closed on the sacred day of Bhai Dooj in October/November. The idol of Goddess Yamuna is taken to her maternal home, Kharsali during winters.
☞ Where to stay
One can easily find all options for accommodation in Yamunotri, ranging from standard cottages to deluxe hotels. One can also stay at Barkot, which is approximately 46 m away from Yamunotri.
2. Gangotri – Holy source of the Ganges River
Nestled on the banks of Bhagirathi River, Gangotri is a small pilgrimage town locates at a height of 3100 m in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is the second dham of Char Dham Yatra, located in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It is said to be the seat of Goddess Ganga. Surrounded by the Garhwal Hills, Gangotri Dham is located at an elevation of 3048 m above sea level. It is 19 km away from Gaumukh, the origin of Ganges River. The river flows as Bhagirathi up to Devprayag in Gangotri glacier and further merges with Alaknanda to form Ganges River. Gangotri is popular among Hindus owing to its religious significance and ancient temples. Gangotri Temple was built in the 18th century by Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa. The temple features a small silver idol of Goddess Ganga. The hilly mountain ranges and nearby flowing Bhagirathi river add to the fascination of the temple. Pilgrims can take a holy dip in River Ganga and they can also join in the evening Aarti, which is performed on the banks of Ganges River.
☞ Places to visit
- Bhagirath Shila is the sacred stone where King Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva.
- Shiva Lingam made of natural rock is submerged in the waters of Bhagirathi River at Gangotri. It is believed that Lord Shiva received Goddess Ganga in his locks at this place.
- Pandava Gufa is located at a distance of 1.5 km from Gangotri. This is the place where Pandavas are believed to have meditated and rested en route Kailash. Pilgrims need to trek to reach this cave.
☞ How to reach
- By Air: At a distance of 260 km, Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest one from Gangotri. It is the domestic airport while in terms of an international airport, the airport in New Delhi is the closest one.
- By Road: Regular bus services ply from places like Mussoorie, Tehri, Yamunotri, etc. to reach Gangotri. Further, one can avail the bus service or hire a taxi from Janki Chatti to reach Gangotri.
- By Train: The closest railway station from Gangotri is in Rishikesh, at a distance of 250 km.
☞ Opening – Closing schedule of Gangotri Temple
The Gangotri Temple is opened for devotees on the day of Akshaya Tritiya, which usually falls in the last week of April or the first week of May. The doors of the temple are shut on the occasion of Bhai Dooj in October/November. During winters, the idol of Goddess Ganga is shifted to Mukhyamath Temple, which is located in Mukhba village, 20 km downstream.
☞ Where to stay
There are many budget-friendly and luxury hotels in Gangotri. You can choose one according to your wants and needs.
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3.Kedarnath – An abode of Lord Shiva
Perched at a height of 3583 m above sea level near Chorabari glacier, the head of river Mandakini, Kedarnath is located in the Garhwal Himalayas in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It is the most isolated Dham of Char Dham Yatra and is bordered by the snow-laden mountain peaks. It is also one of twelve jyotirlingas and is frequented by thousands of pilgrims every year. This place holds religious significance among Hindus as it is the abode of Lord Shiva who is said to be the destroyer of evil and the protector of mankind. Kedarnath Temple houses Lord Shiva’s shrine made up of grey stone. A large stone statue of Nandi Bull guards the shrine. The temple also contains Garbha Griha, which shelters the primary idol of Lord Shiva (pyramid shaped rock). While the Mandapa portion of the shrine is inhabited by the idols of Lord Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi and Kunti. On the way to the temple, pilgrims can catch sight of the snowy peaks, soaring plains and luscious forests of rhododendrons.
☞ Places to visit
- Bhairava Temple is situated at a distance of 1 km on the south side from Kedarnath Temple. It is believed that Bhairav Nath guards the temple complex during the winter season.
- Chorabari Tal is a beautiful lake fed by Chorabari Glacier and is located at a distance of 4 km from Kedarnath. It is also known by the name of Gandhi Sarovar as some of his ashes were immersed in this lake. One has to undertake a trek to capture the beauty of this pristine water body.
- Gauri Kund is the initial point of trek towards the holy Kedarnath Temple. Elevated at 1982 m, this place is profuse in natural beauty. Goddess Gauri (Parvati) prayed here to marry Lord Shiva.
☞ How to reach
- By Air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport to reach Kedarnath. It is located at a distance of 238 km.
- By Road: Bus can be taken from places such as Tehri, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Chamoli, etc. to reach Kedarnath. One has to set out an uphill trek of 22 km from Gauri Kund to reach Kedarnath Temple. Pony and manchan services are also available.
- By Train: Situated at a distance of 216 km, Rishikesh railway station is the nearest one from Kedarnath.
☞ Opening – Closing schedule of Kedarnath Temple
The doors of the Kedarnath Temple are opened for pilgrims on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, which is generally observed during the last week of April or the first week of May. The doors are closed on the sacred day of Bhai Dooj in October/November. The idol of Lord Shiva is shifted to Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath during winters.
☞ Where to stay You can from the range of moderate hotels to the best quality hotels for accommodation. You can also avail modern amenities and good services in the hotels. Or you can also stay in Rudraprayag, which is situated at a distance of about 50 km.
4.Badrinath – An abode of Lord Vishnu
The most significant among the four sites of Char Dham Yatra is Badrinath. Located on the banks of Alaknanda River in the Garhwal Himalayas, Badrinath is a holy city at an elevation of 3300 m in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Badrinath is nestled between Nar and Narayan mountain ranges and Neelkantha Peak (6596 m) adds charm to its backdrop. The last destination of Char Dham Yatra is quite developed as compared to the other three Dhams. It is easily accessible by road until the end. It is believed that Pandavas passed through this holy town on their way to heaven as well as Rishi Vyasa composed Mahabharata in Mana Cave, which is only 4 km away from Badrinath. Badrinath Temple is located at an elevation of 3133 m above sea level and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver. The temple was built by Garhwal Kings about 2 centuries ago. It includes 15 idols made out of black stone. Although Lord Shiva is the principal god, the idols of Goddess Laxmi, Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, etc. are also there in the temple.
☞ Places to visit
- The abode of Lord Agni, Tapta Kund is a hot water spring is popular due to its curative properties.
- Recognized as “Queen of Garhwal”, Neelkanth Peak sets the scenic background of the Badrinath Temple. It is the first place to receive the sun’s rays at the crack of dawn.
- The 122 m high Vasudhara Falls are positioned amidst the serene surroundings of the Himalayas. It is 9 km away from Badrinath, out of which former 3 km (up to Mana village) is accessible by road and the remaining distance can be covered by a trek on foot.
☞ How to reach
- By Air: Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport from Badrinath, located at a distance of 311 km.
- By Road: Badrinath is well-connected to towns like Rishikesh, Srinagar, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Delhi and others through roadways.
- By Train: At a distance of 318 km, Haridwar Railway Station is the nearest one from Badrinath.
☞ Opening – Closing schedule of Badrinath Temple
The doors of the Kedarnath Temple are opened for pilgrims on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, which is generally observed during the last week of April or the first week of May. The doors are closed in November. The idol of Lord Vishnu is shifted to Narasimha Temple in Joshimath during winters.
☞ Where to stay
There are several budget options for accommodation in Badrinath as well as deluxe hotels. You can make your reservations in the hotel of your choice.
What are the opening and closing dates of Char Dhams in 2019?
|Chardham Temples||Opening Date||Closing Date (tentative)|
|Kedarnath||09 May 2019||29 Oct 2019|
|Badrinath||10 May 2019||09 Nov 2019|
|Gangotri||07 May 2019||28 Oct 2019|
|Yamunotri||07 May 2019||29 Oct 2019|
What are the tips to be followed during Char Dham Yatra?
- Carry woolen clothes during October – November while semi-woolens can be carried during May to September.
- Carry a well-stocked first aid box.
- Don’t forget to carry sunscreens and moisturizers.
- Drink packaged or boiled water only.
- Carry items like dark chocolates, dry fruits, glucose (Glucon-D), etc., that can provide you instant energy during treks.
- Refrain from consumption of non-vegetarian food and alcohol.
- Make sure that your booking of hotels/camps/resorts is confirmed.
- Avoid undertaking Char Dham Yatra during monsoons as Uttarakhand experiences heavy rainfall.
- For having an enjoyable spiritual journey, consult an agency to plan Char Dham Yatra tour.
- Avoid capturing pictures if the camera is not allowed in a particular area. Also carry extra batteries and films as electricity may be an issue in isolated locations.
What is the best time to go on Char Dham Yatra tour?
The Char Dham Yatra opens in April/May and closes in winter during the months of October/November. Since Uttarakhand receives heavy rainfall during the monsoons, i.e. July and August, it is advised to go on Char Dham Yatra during May – June or in September.
How to register for Char Dham Yatra?
Uttarakhand Government has made it compulsory for all devotees to register for Char Dham Yatra since 2014. The offline registration can be done at any of the 14 registration centres in Uttarakhand. Pilgrims are supposed to get a biometric card (also known as Yatra Pass), which enables them to avail some special benefits like food and lodging. Moreover, this has been initiated by the state government to ensure a hassle-free journey of all the pilgrims. The govt. can keep track of every pilgrim’s location with a GPS based monitoring system in case of an emergency.
In case you don’t wish to do registration in person by visiting the registration center, you can do it online. This will save you time as well as energy. To register online for Char Dham Yatra, you need to have an email address, a mobile number and a valid ID proof (Aadhaar Card/PAN Card/Driving License/Voter ID). after filling in all the details at the concerned website, you will get an online registration slip, which you can show at any of the registration counters to obtain Yatra Card.
So, if you are interested to go on Char Dham Yatra, opt for our Char Dham religious tour package, which will let you experience spirituality in the best possible way. Moreover, you can catch sight of breathtaking surroundings and get to know more about Indian culture during this religious tour. In case you are not satisfied with our package, you can get it customized as per your needs.