Char Dham Yatra – A Spiritual Getaway to Salvation, Nature & Almighty
The Char Dham Yatra is a pilgrimage circuit covering four important and highly-sanctified religious shrines namely Yamunotri Dham, Gangotri Dham, Kedarnath Dham, and Badrinath Dham. Char DhamYatra is loosely translated as a voyage covering four heavenly abodes. This route is also called the Char Dham in Uttarakhand or Choota Char Dham. Anyone who takes up this circuit is said to experience spiritual bliss.
Why Char Dham Yatra
This is one of the many circuits that many Hindus choose to cover during their lifetime. Char Dham Yatra reliefs an individual from the clutches of reincarnation. It provides eternal salvation (moksha). These shrines have religious and mythological link to spiritual salvation and are regarded as one of the eminent religious circuits.
Char DhamYatra is also getting famous among young travelers as each of these four destinations are located at exquisite landscapes starting from glaciers to snow-clad mountainous paths. The route will be covered with seasonal wild flowers, astonishing serenity, and the beauty that is derived from spirituality.
The Yamunotri and Gangotri are shrines for River Goddess. Badrinath is Lord Vishnu’s abode and Kedarnath is a Jyotirlinga. In the past, there were clashes between Shaivam (those who follow Lord Shiva), and Vaishnavam (those who follow Lord Vishnu). This pilgrimage gives equal importance to both the communities and it stands as a proof that both the deities are equal and the same.
The Best Time to Visit Char Dham Yatra
All these destinations are located at very high altitude. Thus, during the peak winter season, the routes to these shrines will be blocked. Some of the shrines will be closed during half of the year. During such occasions, the main deity of the shrines will be shifted to other temples and the rituals continue. However, for Char Dham Yatra, the right time is from May to October. This is the time to explore the regions and cover all the religious destinations with ease. Also, the crowd of pilgrims during this season will be very heavy. Every year, more than 2 lakhs pilgrims take up this circuit in the six month window.
The Common Itinerary for Char Dham Yatra
Traditionally, this yatra should start from west and end in east. Thus, the route starts from Yamunotri and covers Gangotri and Kedarnath, before completing the trip at the east-most destination, Badrinath. There are also numerous mythological reasons to why this route is preferred by the pilgrims. Unfortunately, there is no direct link between these four destinations. Thus, pilgrims have to take de-tour and create a comprehensive spiritual tour covering all the important religious destinations along the way.
It is common knowledge that Char DhamYatra starts from Haridwar. From there, it covers Rishikesh, DeoPrayag, Tehri, Dharasu, Yamunotri (Dham), Uttarkashi, Gangotri (Dham), Gaurikund, Kedarnath (Dham), Joshimath, and at the last, the pilgrimage ends at BadrinathDham.
Yamunotri Temple, Uttarkashi – The origin of Yamuna River
The first step of this pilgrimage is the temple that is dedicated to River Yamuna. River Yamuna is seen as a mythological figure than just a river. This shrine is located at the origin point of River Yamuna and is dedicated to the Goddess form of the river. This shrine is located in the western part of Uttarakhand. The shrine is capsulated with mountains. From the temple, two natural hot springs originate. According to another mythology, these hot springs and the region are connected to Lord Shakti. Surya Kund and Gauri Kund (the hot springs) are known for their rejuvenating powers. It is said that even one single dip in those springs would energize the body.
There is no road route to this temple. The traditional way to reach this temple is via trekking. People trek from Janki Chhati or Hanuman ki Chhati to this temple. Today, you can also choose between palanquins and horses to cover the route.
Gangotri Temple, Uttarkashi – The origin of River Ganges
It is not hard to reach this Dham, as it has road accessibility. This is one of the easiest destinations in this circuit. This temple is located on the riverbanks of River Bhagirathi. This temple is dedicated to River Ganges. The temple is 18 km away from Gaumukh, the origin spot of River Ganges. A small hill town Gangotri surrounds the temple and the nature is enthralling with the gushing river, snow mountains, and a unique landscape. This scenic beauty and the religious importance make this place, a real paradise.
Kedarnath Temple, Rudraprayag – Jyotirlinga Temple
Located amidst the GarhwalMountains, this temple is a Jyotirlinga temple located on the riverbanks of Mandakini. This shrine is more than several centuries old and interestingly, it stands unaffected by the frequent flooding. You can reach up to Gaurikund via road transportation. From there, you ought to trek, take pony safari, or hire palanquin to reach the shrine. The trekking rout is 14 km and this is the most difficult destination of all, in this circuit.
Badrinath Temple, Chamoli – The Final Towards Salvation
This is the Badrinarayan temple of Badrinath town. This temple was inaugurated in 9th century by AdiShankaracharya. The saint found an idol in the River Alaknanda and created a shrine for it at the Tapt Kund cave. The main idol is black in color and the temple is built with numerous colorful façade. You can easily reach this shrine via road. If you desire, you can take a small trek to Mana Village, the last village on the Indian border, on the Indo-Tibet route.
Opening & Closing Dates of the Shrines
- Badrinath Temple –Opens on 27th April 2023 and closes on 21st April 2023
- Kedarnath Temple –Opens on 25th April 2023 and closes on 14th November 2023
- Yamunotri Shrine – Opens on 22nd April 2023 and closes on 14th November 2023
- Gangotri Shrine –Opens on 22nd April 2023 and closes on 13th November 2023
Transportation To Cover Char Dham Yatra
The best way for international tourists to start the Char DhamYatra is by reaching Delhi international airport. From there, you can find any transportation to reach Haridwar. Some prefer to start the pilgrimage from Dehrdun. From there, you can easily find road transportation to Gangotri, Badrinath Temple, Gaurikund (Kedarnath), and Janki Chhati.
The closest airport to this circuit is the Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun. From there, you can hire road transportation to reach Haridwar. From Haridwar, you can take taxis or buses to numerous temples and start the circuit.
You can reach Dehradun or Haridwar via train from many important destinations in the country. From there, you can find road transportation to Gangotri, Badrinath, and others.
From Haridwar or Dehradun, you can find road access to Gangotri and Badrinath Temple. You can also find road transportation to Gaurikund and Hanuman kiChhati or the JankiChhati. Rental cars and Volvo buses are quite common in this route.
Helicopter Char Dham Yatra
If you are looking for a less intensive travel experience, you can cover the circuit in a helicopter. From Delhi, you can find numerous tour operators who would cover all the four destinations or any of the two or one shrines via helicopter. The cost ranges from INR 2,500 to 1,25,000, based on the tour package and service provider.
Tips For a Safe & Enjoyable Char Dham Yatra
- The route is open during summer and monsoon. However, monsoon should be avoided as landslides are quite common in Uttarakhand during this season.
- If you are planning to buy an Indian SIM, please choose BSNL, as the private service providers do not have coverage in these remote locations.
- If you wish to avoid getting sick during this tour, do not eat anything raw or cold.
- Mosquitoes are quite common. Thus, carry repellant.
- Unless you take a helicopter trip, you would be walking for several hours. Thus make sure you are physically ready for it.
- Wear comfortable shoes and carry limited luggage to make it easier for you.
- A medical check up to check your stamina and health would be a good way to make sure that you are physically ready for this tour.
- You would be at very high altitude. Thus, the intensity of UV rays will be higher. Thus, carry sunscreen protection. The cold climate does not protect your from UV.
- Carry a first-aid kit with you.
- Always carry water bottles with you. Keeping yourself hydrated is very essential. If possible, carry protein bars, candies, and other snacks with you.
- This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing routes of India. Please avoid littering the place.
- Even during peak summer, the place can get chilly by night. Carry a sweater or a couple of warm clothing.
How To Pack For Char Dham Yatra
- Clothing – have a couple of cotton clothes for day time and thick clothing for night stay.
- Overcoat – a fleece jacket or a shawl would protect you from chilly mountain breeze.
- Accessories – wear thick shoes and waterproof socks. Have a couple of woolen socks and cotton socks with you.
- Protection – sun cap, mosquito repellant, and sunscreen
- Cold cream, and lip balm
- Dry snacks
- Water bottle