Chota Char Dham is defined by 8th century Hindu reformer Aadi Shankaracharya. Apart from the main Char Dham i.e. Jagannath Puri dham, Dwarka dham, Badrinath and Rameshwaram, Chota char dham is also gaining popularity among Hindus. It is often known as ‘Uttarakhand Char Dham’ or ‘Himalayan Char Dham’. Situated in the Garhwal region of Himalayas, the four holy shrine is the source of spirituality of four holy rivers. River Yamuna at Yamunotri, river Ganga at Gangotri, river Mandakini at Kedarnath and river Alaknanda at Badrinath. Visiting these four shrines together has been termed as ‘Chota Char dham yatra‘. In Hinduism it is believed that every person must have a char dham yatra or chota char dham yatra once in there lifetime to get ‘moksha’. Besides Hindus every year lakhs of foreigners do this yatra to witness the beauty of the nature as well as to get some inner peace. Chota char dham yatra begins every year at a particular time and remains closed during winter because of heavy snowfall. The picturesque surroundings, snow covered peaks of Himalayas, dense forests, beautiful large valleys and captivating environment makes this place a great combination of spirituality and tourism. It is believed that the Char Dham Yatra must be done in a clock-wise direction from West to East. So the yatra starts from the Western corner at Yamunotri, then proceeds towards Gangotri and Kedarnath before culminating at Badrinath. The Chota Char Dham yatra starts from ‘Akshay tritiya and remains open till ‘Diwali’.
Shri Yamunotri Dham
Yamunotri is starting point of ‘Chota char dham yatra‘. It is a part of Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Yamunotri is located at an altitude of 3293 mtrs above the sea level and is the origin of river Yamuna from the from Champasar Glacier. According to Hindu mythology it is believed that Devi Yamuna is daughter of the Sun and sister of Yama (God of death). So people worship Devi yamuna to get a painless death in their old age. To reach Yamuntri Temple where Maa Yamuna is worshipped, you have to trek for 5 kms from Janki Patti. From the Yamutri temple Champasar Glacier is at a trek distance of 15 kms. In the early 19th century Maharani Gularia, Maharani of Jaipur, Rajasthan built the temple but after 1923 and 1982 earthquake the temple was partly damaged, later on the ruler of the place Maharaja Pratap Singh of Tehri Garhwar rebuilt the temple. This is an ideal destination of those who loves adventure especially trekking.
How to reach Yamunotri
By air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, which is at a distance of 193 kms. From the airport taxis are available for Yamunotri.
By train: The nearest railway station is Dehradun, which is 176 kms away. Buses and Taxis are available.
By road: Nearest bus stand is Hanuman Chatti Bus stand at a distance of 13 kms.
Below is the list with photos of prominent places to visit in Yamunotri.
Shri Gangotri Dham
The holy shrine, Gangotri is the second place to visit during Chota char dham yatra of Uttarakhand and is also a popular as adventure destination. At an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level, Gangotri is situated on the bank of river Mandakini of Uttarkashi district. It is believed that the King Bhagirath by his penance bought River Ganga to the Earth, for this reason River Ganga is also known as ‘Bhagirathi’. The temple of Maa Ganga is the main attraction the place. According to Hindu mythology Gangotri is the place where river Ganga touched the surface of the earth for first time. The temple was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh Thapa. Every year thousands of devotees and tourists visit the place. Gaumukh Glacier, the origin point of River ganga is just 18 kms from main Gangotri. Adventure lovers may trek to this place enjoying the scenic beauty of Himalayas. Gaumukh is the second largest glacier of India. Snow covered mountain peaks will make you fall in love with this place.
How to reach Gangotri
By air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant at a distance of 280 kms. From the airport, Taxis are available for Gangotri.
By train: The nearest railway station is Rishikesh railway station which is 234 kms away. Buses and Taxis are available for Gangotri from the station.
By road: There is no direct bus for Gangotri. Nearest bus stand is at Rishikesh from where local buses and taxis are available to reach Gangotri.
Below is the list with photos of prominent places to visit in Gangotri.
Kedarnath, historically known as ‘kedarkhand’ is third shrine of chota char dham yatra, situated in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. At an altitude of 3584 meters above sea level it is located on the bank of river Mandakini. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the main temple. The place Kedarnath is named after Satyayug Raja Kedar. Purana says that to please Lord Shiva, Mahabharata characters Pandav brothers did a major penance at this place. The temple was earlier built by pandavas but the present temple was built by Aadi Shankaracharya. You can see the samadhi of Aadi Shankaracharya just behind the temple. The scenic beauty of Kedarnath is breathtaking, snow-capped mountain peaks and flowing water of river Mandakini attracts lakhs of tourist and devotees from all over the world.
How to reach Kedarnath
By air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant at a distance of 239 kms. Taxis are available from the airport for Kedarnath.
By Train: Rishikesh is the nearest railway station. From the station buses are frequently running for Kedarnath.
By road: Nearest Bus stands are at Rishikesh and Kotdwar. After reaching here one have to go for a local bus to reach Kedarnath or can hire a taxi.
Below is the list with photos of places to visit in Kedarnath.
Aadi Shankaracharya Samadhi
Badrinath, one of the most sacred town of Hindus situated in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand is the last holy shrine of Chota char Dham yatra. It is also a part of main Char Dham. Badrinath is located in between Nar-Narayan mountain ranges with Neelkanth peak forming an enchanting backdrop. According to legends Badrinath was founded in Vedic ages. However it is believed that the present temple is established by famous Hindu saint Aadi Shankaracharya. Badrinath is situated at a height of 3,133 meters above sea level. Every year thousand of devotees and tourist visit this place. Though the road access to Badrinath is very tough and the journey is really very challenging but devotees reaches the temple with faith and devotion. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in the Badrinath temple.
How to reach Badrinath
By air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant at a distance of 317 kms. From the airport taxis are available for Badrinath
By train: The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, which is 300 kms away. Buses and taxis are available for Badrinath from the station.
By road: There is no direct bus for Badrinath. Nearest bus stand is at Rishikesh from where local buses and taxis are available to reach Badrinath.
Below is the list with photos of prominent places to visit in Badrinath.
Yog Dhyan Badri temple
Mata murti temple
Chota Char dham yatra is a perpetual journey in search of divinity. It is a must travel divine destination for everyone. Every effort and hardship during this journey is worth enduring and the reward that you will get is ever lasting peace of mind and serenity.
Nivedita is a post graduate from Delhi University and works in Government sector. She loves traveling, writing and cooking. According to her, all these three ingredients are necessary for her survivor. She strongly believes in herself and is motivated to make life better for people, who are deprived of basic rights.
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