India is a land of spirituality that has been an attraction for many travelers, especially for its religious tourism. Char Dham Yatra in India is a great way to feel its spiritual aura and receive immense blessings. Being a popular travel destination for many centuries, the country offers various Char Dham Yatra Packages to combine all these spots in a series. The four pilgrimages Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri have become the most important hubs of religious travel in Northern India.
Badrinath - The Garhwal Queen
Location: Situated on the right banks of the river Alakananda, Badrinath is couched within the two mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan, with the Neelkanth peak on the background. This breathtaking sight gives it the appellation - the "Garhwal Queen". It is situated at an altitude of 3133 meters above sea level in the northern district of Chamoli.
Tourist Destinations: The etymological root for the town name goes to the Badri Van, where the lush green Badri trees grow in abundance. Tourists flock to the temple of Badrinath built by Adiguru Shankaracharya. This acclaimed abode of Lord Vishnu is one of North India's "Four Holy Temple Cities" or dhams. Badrinath is also known as Tapobhumi (land of meditation and penance) and Bhubaikunth (heaven on earth). Before entering the temple itself, the pilgrims take a holy dip in the Tapt Kund, Narad Kund and Surya Kund.
The pilgrims generally perform the rites for the departed souls of their near ones in the Brahma Kapal on the banks of the river Alakananda. A rock boulder with the impression of Sheshnag (Sheshnetra) and the impression of footprints of Lord Vishnu on the boulder Charanpaduka are other must visits. Another important temple is the Mata Murti temple, dedicated to the mother of Badrinathji. The origin of Alakananda River, Alka Puri, is ideal for the adventure lovers. Satopanth, a triangular lake, is also located at a height of 4402 meters above the sea level. At the convergence of the rivers, there are pilgrim sites - Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Vishnuprayag - collectively known as Panch Prayag. Another pilgrim site is the Panch Badri - Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri and Adi Badri - being the three most famous ones.
Kedarnath - The Jyotirlinga
Location: Kedarnath is situated in the Uttar Kashi district of Uttaranchal. Very close to the Indo-Chinese border, it is the source of the Mandakini River. It is couched in the scenic locales of the Garhwal Himalayas at 3583 meters above sea level.
Tourist Destinations: The Kedarnath Temple built by the Pandavas, almost 1000 years old was refurbished by Adiguru Shankaracharya. It is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. The breathtaking view of the Kedardome peak and the Samadhi of Adiguru Shankaracharya behind the temple is a major attraction. The Bhairavnath temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav. At the edge of Mandakini river, is the Chorabari Tal Lake or Gandhi Sarovar. Vasuki Tal perched at a height of 4135 meters above the sea level offers a splendid view of the Chaukambha peaks and a major trekking spot. Gauri Kund is a temple dedicated to Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva. At the confluence of the Son Ganga and Mandakani rivers is Son Prayag, at a distance of 20 km from Kedarnath. The four other Panch Kedar sites - Madmaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudranath, Kapleshwar - are located in the vicinity of Kedarnath.
Gangotri - The Origin of Bhagirathi
Location: Nestled in the magnificent Garhwal hills; Gangotri is situated in the Uttaranchal. Its temple sits at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level; near the Indo-Tibetan border. The shrine of Gangotri is around three centuries old renovated in the 20th century.
Tourist Destinations: The 20-feet high structure of white granite at Gangotri is the major tourist attraction. There is also a natural rock shivling called the Jalamagna Shivling, which is visible only during winters. This is the place where Lord Shiva received Ganga in His hair locks and then released her in seven streams, as desired and prayed by King Bhagirath. For this reason, the Ganges is also known by the name Bhagirathi here. The most famous site is the Gaumukh (literal meaning, cow's mouth) glacier, the geographical origin of the Ganges at an altitude of 4200 meters above sea level. Nandanvan is a 6-km tough trekking route along the glacier and gives a view of the Shivling. The Bhairon Valley, at the confluence of the rivers Bhagirathi and Jat Ganga is famous for its temple dedicated to Bhairavnath.
Yamunotri - The Origin of Yamuna
Location: Perched at an altitude of 3293 meters above sea level, Yamunotri is located in the Uttarkashi district of the northern state of Uttaranchal. It is very close to the Indo-Chinese border and is surrounded by the Himalayan offshoots on all sides. Yamunotri, lies near the Bandarpunch Mountain, which is 6315 m high and lies to the north. The glacial lake of Saptarishi Kund, on the Kalind Parbat, at an altitude of 4421 m, is the real source of the Yamuna River.
Tourist Destinations: The Yamunotri Temple is the major attraction dedicated to the river Yamuna. Surya Kund is known for its thermal springs. The temperature here is as high as 190?F. Divya Shilla is a rock pillar is worshipped by the pilgrims before they enter the Yamunotri temple. Janki Chatti is well known for its thermal springs. From Janki Chatti, one can reach Kharsali. The place has a three-storied temple carved of stones on the walls. It is a Shiva temple dedicated to Lord Someshwar, the God of the intoxicant Soma. Saptarishi Kund is the actual source of the Yamuna River generally covered with ice. The place is well known for the rare Brahma lotus, which grows here.
How to Reach Chardham
By Air : The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant, Dehradun near the Chardham - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Chardham Yatra by Helicopter is also option alongwith small private airlines that are allowed to land at the airport.
By Rail : The nearest railheads are Rishikesh and Kotdwar. They are well connected to all the major tourist spots nearby, namely, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kotdwar, Dehradun, and other hill retreats of the Garhwal and Kumaon region.
By Road : Commutation within these Chardham places and intra-city transportation is quite convenient and easily accessible due to well-laid road network. There is no straight route to Yamunotri. One can reach Hanuman Chatti by bus from Rishikesh, Mussourie, Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Badkot, Haridwar and Dehradun. From there, one has to either trek a distance of 14 km or use ponies and palanquins, which are available on hire. Jeep hire are also available.
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