Chardham means four pilgrimage places/sites which originally comprises of Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram. But after the mid 20 century, Chardham is more popularly known as the four dhams located in the state of Uttarakhand – Yamunotri dham, Gangotri dham, Kedarnath dham and Badrinath dham. In Hindu mythology it is believed that every individual once in their lifetime must do a Chardham yatra. Pilgrims believe that by visiting these holy places, one can wash away all their sins and attain moksha after death.(peace). Well of course this is a matter of belief, but yes if you visit these holy places with little belief and faith, you will definitely enjoy the peace, purity and beauty that these places has to offer.
So here I am to take you to the probably fastest photo journey to the Chardham.So sit back and enjoy the yatra.
Thousands of pilgrims gather here everyday and take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga to wash away their sins and pray for a new beginning.
However the main attraction of Haridwar is the “Evening Aarti” , it is a prayer offered to Goddess Ganga. A spectacular sight with colorful lights and diyas flowing in the river and in the background, sounds of continuous bells and prayers.
Seeking the blessings of Goddess Ganga and taking a dip in the sacred river, we move ahead to our next destination, Yamunotri- our first dham.
Yamunotri is located in Uttarkashi district. It is the main source of River Yamuna and seat of Goddess Yamuna. To visit Yamunotri, one has to stay back in the town of Janki Chatti and then walk up to 6 kms to the main temple. The 6 kms walk will act like a warm up practice since a longer and tougher 14 kms walk lies ahead in the yatra at Kedarnath Dham. However, not to worry since very good facilities of horses and dolis are available for pilgrims who are unable or does not prefer to walk.
The 6kms yatra is filled with mesmerizing views of the Himalayas and the river flowing at the one end.The last 1 km is pretty tiring as the climb becomes more steeper and rough. However all the tiredness will obliterate once you enter the temple and dip your legs in the natural hot water springs. The main Yamuna temple is perfectly located on the edge of the River Yamuna. River Yamuna originates from the Yamunotri glacier located at a height of 6,387 metres (20,955 ft), which is inaccessible for the pilgrims.
Again with the blessings of Maa Yamuna, we continue our yatra to the next dhaam- Gangotri Dham.
Gangotri again located in the Uttarkashi district, is the source of the longest and most sacred river of India- Ganges. River Ganga is originally known as River Bhagirathi at the source. The journey to Gangotri temple is one of the most scenic and enchanting experience.
Reaching the Gangotri temple, all you feel is the sounds of gushing River Bhagirathi and you will surely be awestruck by the immense force and power of the River. After offering prayers to the Goddess Ganga, one can sit back and enjoy, rather feel the pure air and enjoy the gushing water sounds in the background.
Now we are heading to one of the most beautiful dham- Kedarnath dham. Kedarnath is located in the Rudraprayag district. One has to stay back at the Guptkashi, a small town located around 35kms from Gaurikund- from where the actual 14 kms Kedarnath yatra commences.
Kedarnath yatra needs to be started early in the morning due to climate and weather constraints. Helicopter, horses and doli facilities are available from Gaurikund. Reciting the name of Lord Shiva, we begin our yatra with full energy and faith. Flanked by the Himalayan ranges on both the sides, river flowing down on one side and continuous chants of Lord Shiva, the yatra will surely take you to a completely different world. The 14 kms yatra will definitely test your perseverance, physical and mental strength as you start moving up and feel the altitude changes. But all the efforts will be totally worth as you will enter the Kedarnath town, located at a height of about 3,583 m (11,755 ft). The first glimpse of Kedarnath temple with the magnificent Himalayas in the background will leave you speechless and you will start appreciating more the beauty and creation of God.
With divine blessings of Lord Shiva and memories of beautiful yatra, we move forward to our last Dham – Badrinath Dham.
Badrinath, a holy town of Lord Vishnu is located in the Chamoli district. Badrinath is more developed compared to the other three Dhams and the town is accessible by roads till the end. Badrinath is situated at a height of 3,100 metres (10,170 feet) and source of River Alaknanda, another name of River Ganga. It is believed that on their way to Swarga(heaven), the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata. The main Shrine in the Badrinath temple is gold plated and looks majestic and royal.
Leaving the Badrinath town, you will feel saddened realizing that yatra has come to an end but at the same time feel rejuvenated and pure visiting these holy and divine places
The pictures and description mentioned in the post are way back before the terrifying Himalayan floods disaster stroked in the state of Uttarakhand in 2013. This incident was one of the country’s worst natural disaster and I pray never such incident happen again. I hope we learn a lesson from this incident and create a new more secure and strong infrastructure both for the locals and the pilgrims.
This travelogue was first published by AMATEUR TRAVELER.