India is a land of interesting religious belief and importance. You can find numerous religious circuits for pilgrims in this country. One such renowned pilgrimage circuits is the Char Dham Yatra. Char means four and Dham means abode. This yatra covers four important pilgrimage destinations in Uttarakhand. Char Dham Yatra covers Yamunotri Dham, Gangotri Dham, Kedarnath Dham, and Badrinath Dham.
The Char Dham’s importance in Hinduism
This pilgrimage circuit is taken for salvation. According to Hinduism, each soul has to experience seven births. Based on the good and bad deeds done in one life, the welfare of the soul in the next life would be impacted. According to mythology, these four destinations would help the pilgrims attain salvation. Salvation refers to eternal peace. Thus, the soul will be freed from the cycle of re-birth and all the worldly sin committed by the soul would be removed. Thus, the soul would reach heaven and stay there for eternity. This circuit was started by Shri Adhi Shankaracharya, a renowned ancient saint and philosopher. Today, two lakhs pilgrims choose this circuit, every year to take part in the strenuous pilgrimage.
Significance of each destination in the Char DhamYatra
It is not easy to reach all the four destinations in this yatra. However, Hindus believe that taking this intensive circuit would open the gates of heaven for their soul. Every Hindu aspires to take this circuit at least once during his/her lifetime. Each of the destinations has a strong mythological connection to salvation.
The first step of the yatra starts at Yamunotri. Yamunotri is the origin spot of the famous River Yamuna. Yamuna is believed to be the sibling of Yama, the God of Death. During a sister-brother celebration, Yama grant a wish to his sister, Yamuna that she (the river) would provide salvation to any soul that would take a dip in the river. Thus, Yamunotri is believed as the gateway to human salvation. This Dham is located at an altitude of 3162m above mean sea level.
The second step is GangotriDham. This is Gomukh (glacier), the origin spot of River Ganges. River Ganges is associated with purity. Every year, millions of people visit Varanasi, Hardiwar, and other cities where this river flows to take a dip in the water. Thus, the origin point of this river is considered to be one of the purest spots in the world. A temple is dedicated to River Ganges, here. Closer to that temple, there is a stone. It is said that on this stone, King Bhagirath meditated for salvation. This Dham stands at a height of 3200m, on the riverbanks of River Bhagirathi. Every day, special rituals take place inside the temple and on the banks of the river. People take a dip in the river at this spot to attain salvation and purity.
The third step is Shri Kedarnath Dham. This is a jyotirlinga temple – a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered as the most sacred place on Earth. There are 12 such jyotirlinga temples and this is considered as the holiest of all jyotirlingas. It is said that the temple was renovated by AdiShankaracharya. This temple is also open for just six months.
It is said that Shri Adi Shakaracharya attained salvation and freed himself from the cycle at the Shri BadrinathDham. Thus, this is the final step of the Yatra, and the most important one of all. Standing at a height of 3,133 m, this Dham is on the riverbanks of Alaknanda River. This is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is prayed as the protector of the universe.
Salvation for all Ages
People assume that salvation is the pursuit of old ages. Char Dham is open for pilgrims of all ages. It is seen as experiencing spirituality and this spiritual value is for people of all age groups. This yatra is said to create a peaceful mindset. Moreover, the sites are located at exotic landscapes and this pilgrimage is indeed a true adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are four Dhams (four adobes) namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.
This is the yatra for attaining salvation. Hindus take up this yatra to get out of the cycle of re-birth and remove all the sins from their worldly body.
The first stage of Char DhamYatra is Yamunotri. However, most tourists start their pilgrimage from Haridwar.
In 8th century, AdhiShankaracharya started the original Char Dham circuit.
Not all destinations in Char DhamYatra are accessible via road transportation. Pilgrims usually trek or take up pony rides to reach such temples. Now helicopter rides are also available.
April to June is the best time to take this yatra.
Yes, as per Indian government rules, you need to provide ID proof and register through online to take up this yatra. The registration fee is INR 50 per head.