Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam)

Tripoto
21st Sep 2015
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Char Dham ( four abodes) is four ancient Hindu pilgrimage sites located in the Garwal region of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It consists of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. It's also referred to as Chota Char Dham. These shrines are closed in winter due to snowfall and reopen for pilgrims with the advent of summer. Access to the pilgrimage is either from Haridwar, or Rishikesh, or Dehradun. The tradition is to visit the sites in the following order:

1. Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna River and the head of the goddess Yamuna.

2. Gangotri, the source of the Ganges (River Ganga) and head of the goddess Ganga.

3. Kedarnath, where a form of the Hindu god Shiva is venerated as one of the twelve jyotirlingas.

4. Badrinath, the seat of the Hindu god Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayan.

Well, being a solo traveler, I was looking for a reputed and trusted travel agency that organizes package trips to visit Chardham. Through online searching, I found GMVN ( Garwal Mondal Bikash Nigam, A Govt. of Uttarakhand Enterprise ) that organizes package tours to visit Chota Chardham ( gmvn.in)

I booked this trip ( Tour No. 3) from Kolkata office of GMVN ( Can be booked online also) a month prior. It was a 10 Nights and 11 Days Bus trip. The package cost was around 14K only for lodging and transportation. Food was own payment basis. Pick up and drop point was Bharat Bhoomi Tourist Complex, GMVN, Rishikesh.

Rishikesh : 372 m

Bharat Bhoomi Tourist Complex, Rishikesh

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

After reaching Haridwar by train, I booked a cab to reach Bharat Bhoomi Complex, Rishikesh. It took almost 45 minutes to reach. After checked-in, I got fresh and took lunch there. Food was delicious. In the afternoon, I went for a sightseeing Laxmanjhula, Ramjhula, etc. Once I got back to TRH, our team manager met me and briefed the trip.

Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Day 1 : Rishikesh to Phool Chatti

The next morning, we started for Phool Chatti via Dehradun, Mussoorie & Barkot. At the beginning of our journey registration for Chardham yatra was made from Rishikesh Booking Counter.

On the way, you would pass a beautiful shiv temple and Kempty waterfalls. We had a flat tire around noon. The place was very scenic, so we all had to stroll on the roadside amidst beautiful nature while the driver and his helper were busy to fix it. Still, it was a relief that they had a spare one. We reached Barkot TRH by 2 p.m. and had lunch.

Shiv Temple ( Name not known)

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Kempty waterfall ( View from the Bus window )

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Barkot : 1,220 m

Barkot TRH, GMVN

Photo of Barkot, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Barkot is a scenic place and TRH is nestled in the lap of Himalayas amidst greenery. After an hour lunch break, we headed towards Phool Chatti, our last destination for that day.

Phool Chatti : 2561 M

We reached Phool Chatti TRH around 5 p.m. It's consists of a few small cottages in a valley surrounded by lush green lofty mountains.

Rooms are very neat and clean, only one plug point was available for charging. Toilet was clean with geyser. Enough blanket was there in each room.

Phoolchatti TRH, GMVN

Photo of Phool Chatti Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

My room @ Phool Chatti TRH

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

The evening was very cold. A bonfire was arranged in the courtyard and we all sat around the fire. An introductory session was held and I got to know that rest of the group consisted of 5 couples, a family of 3 including a college girl, a team of 5 people and 4 solo travelers including me, our Team Manager ( a young lad), driver and his assistant. Most of the travelers were retired persons except three, one who was 55 years old, that college girl and me. They belong to different parts of India viz. North, south, West and East( There was another person in the group who was also from Kolkata). The dinner was served by 8.30 pm, after that we all retired to bed.

Our group

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Day 2 : Trek to Yamunotri via Janaki Chatti & Back

Janaki Chatti : 2,650 m

The next morning, we were dropped at Janaki Chatti, further 3 km ahead of Phool Chatti, the starting point of Yamunotri trek. It's an almost 5 km uphill trek. The entire trail is paved and has good fencing which is quite distinct.

You can also take the services of Dandi/Palki or ride a Mule/Ponies which can be booked from a booking counter at Janki Chatti.

Jankichatti horse stand

Photo of Janki Chatti, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Distinct steps on the way to Yamunotri

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

The trek to Yamunotri is not difficult although the route has some steep parts. I opted for horse riding whereas many of us, even they were much older than me, opted for trekking. The scenic beauty of the trail was spectacular. Lofty mountains, lush green valley, here and there the sight of small waterfalls and the course of river Yamuna below along the trek route was a sight to behold. On the way, you came across a Ram Mandir and a Vairo Devi temple.

Steep part of the trek

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Yamunotri : 3,293 m

Yamunotri Dham Horse stand

Photo of Yamunotri, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

I reached Yamunotri by 11 a.m. The temple houses the Goddess Yamuna, in black stone along with Laxmi and Maa Ganga. Photography is strictly prohibited. The Darshan timing is from 06:30 am to 07:30 pm. After offering puja, I visited the Hanuman temple, Divya Shila, took some holy water in a small bottle from Surya Kund and clicked plenty of photos.

Yamunotri temple

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Hanuman Temple : There is a small Hanuman temple at Yamunotri.

Surya Kund: There are a Number of thermal springs in the vicinity of the temple, which flows into numerous pools. The most important of these is the Surya Kund.

Divya Shila: A rock pillar, worshiped before entering the Yamunotri Temple.

I started the return journey by 12.30 pm. Horse dropped me at GMVN janaki Chatti. We were asked to had our lunch at Janki Chatti, GMVN TRH & stayed there until all the members returned from Yamunotri. We finished our lunch with rice, dal and aloo Jeera which is a very common food in Uttarakhand. After all of us came, the bus started for Phool Chatti by 4 pm. We all were very tired and after having an early dinner, retired to bed.

Day 3 : Journey to Himalayan Hamlet Harsil

The next morning we hit the road again towards Harsil. The distance from Phool Chatti to Harsil is almost 250 km. The winding road was going through the hills studded with pine trees. The beauty was stunning.

We took our lunch at Uttarkashi TRH and continued. From Uttarkashi, Bhagirathi kept us company all the way till Gangotri. The course of Bhagirathi through the mountain gorge was spectacular.

Way to Harsil

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

River Bhagirathi

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Bhagirathi river bed on the way to Harsil

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Harsil : 2,620 m

We reached Harsil Bus stand by 5 p.m., encircling the same valley endlessly. Harsil is a quaint little hamlet, surrounded by towering Himalayan peaks. GMVN TRH is situated on the bank of river Bhagirathi, a few meters away from the Bus stand. The narrow path was going through the apple orchard. The small trees were laden with numerous red apples. It looked amazing. Plucking apples were strictly prohibited, so we were just admiring the beauty while the staff of the TRH brought our luggage all the way form bus stand for a minimal price.

Apple orchard on the way to Harsil TRH

Photo of Harsil, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

The Harsil TRH is a two-storey building. I was allotted a room on the up stair. The rooms are small but clean with basic amenities. River Bhagirathi is seen from many rooms of this TRH but my room was on the front side, so I could not get a view of the river.

Harsil TRH, GMVN

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

In the evening, we all gathered in the large dining hall on the ground floor to have hot tea and snacks as the evening was very cold. Soon started drizzling, so we had early dinner and went to bed. Night was shivering. It was raining all night in cats and dogs. I woke up so many times due to the platter of rainfall and the rumbling of river.

Day 4 : Visit to Gangotri and back to Uttarkashi

Gangotri : 3,415 m

The next morning, the weather was much better. Rain stopped although the peaks are covered with clouds. After having breakfast, we started for Gangotri. Although the night was very cold and rainy but the day was sunny and pleasant. We reached at Gangotri Bus stand by 9 a.m. The temple was a few meters walking distance from there.

Entrance to shrine is through an arch gate followed by a narrow lane, lined up with small shops, restaurants, hotels on either side that take us to the main temple courtyard.

Gangotri bus stand

Photo of Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Gongotri temple is nestled amidst the beautiful surroundings on the left bank of river Bhagirathi. The temple houses the Goddess Ganga. It has a large courtyard and elaborate ghats. Timings for darshan, pooja and other religious ceremonies are morning: 6:15 am to 2:00 pm & evening: 3:00 pm to 9:30 pm. The amazing mountain range of Himalayas and the flowing Bhagirathi by the side makes this place picturesque. The pilgrims are required to bath in the crystal clear waters of the pious river before visiting the main shrine. We sprang the holy water over the head and made darshan, also took some water in a small container to bring back at home.

Gangotri temple

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

The courtyard is filled with several small temples. After exploring all these temples, Bhagirathi Shila and relaxing for some time in these lovely surroundings, we made our way towards the bus stand. On the way, we found two waterfalls known as Surya Kund & Gouri Kund. There was a cave almost 1.5 km from the temple premises known as Pandav Guha but none of us went there due to lack of time.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

River Bhagirathi in formt of the temple

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

After having lunch from a roadside hotel, we started for Uttarkashi. On the way, some 10 km downstream from Gangotri, near the confluence of Jade Ganga (also called Jhanvi River) and Bhagirathi, lies the temple of Bhairav Nath.

Bhaironath Temple

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

As per a legend, Bhairon Nath was chosen by Lord Shiva as the protector of the region. And every visit to the Gangotri temple should be followed by a visit to the temple of Bhairon. There is another temple, we visited, on the way - Kalpa Kedar Temple.

We reached Uttarkashi by the afternoon and checked in the GMVN, Uttarkashi TRH. It was raining cats and dogs then. Rain continued till late at night so we could n't able to visit Lord Biswanath temple on that day.

GMVN Uttarkashi TRH

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Day 5 : Journey to Rudraprayag

Uttarkashi : 1,158 m

The next morning, I first paid a visit to the famous Lord Bishwanath Temple of Uttarkashi. It was a walking distance from GMVN TRH. There was also a Shakti temple in the compound. Post breakfast, we hit the road again.

En-route, we visited the beautiful Tehri Dam, the highest Dam in India. We reached Rudraprayag TRH by 5 p.m. for the night halt.

Photo of Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Rudraprayag : 895 m

Rudraprayag is the sacred confluence of two rivers, Alaknanda coming from Badrinath and Mandakini coming from Kedarnath. Rudraprayag TRH, GMVN is situated just opposite to the confluence. I was very fortunate that day as I got a beautiful room overlooking the confluence. After checked-in, I went to visit the confluence. It was almost 1 km from TRH.

Photo of Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Day 6 : Fly to Kedarnath

Phata : 1,500 m

The next morning, we started off Kedarnath temple. We were going along the winding mountain road with a beautiful sight of snow-capped Kedar peak and Chowkhamba. All of us were busy capturing the best picture of it. Soon, we reached Phata from where all the heli services were being operated for Kedarnath. There were two to three helipad nearby. Those who booked their tickets in advance were dropped at their respective helipad.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

We reached our helipad ground by 9 a.m. The place was overcrowded as everyone was availing chopper services because the new trek route to Kedarnath was just formed after the flash flood and it was longer by 5 km than the old one. We all were waiting patiently. The Manager informed us that it would take almost 4 hours to get the boarding passes.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

As our return was on the next day, we were issued boarding passes around 2 p.m. My turn came around 3 p.m.along with the other 3 co-travellers. It would take only 5 to 10 minutes to reach Kedarnath Helipad. That was my first chopper ride. I was so excited. The aerial view was awe-inspiring. The entire newly built trek route was visible from air but no trekker as well as horse was there.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Newly built trek route after flash flood

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Kedarnath : 3,584 m

As soon as we landed at the helipad, the cold wind hit us. We readily equipped ourselves with worm clothes as the temperature was freezing and soon started drizzling. We were welcomed by a priest and were taken to the temple.

Kedarnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingams and the most important temple among the Pancha Kedar.

The first sight of the temple on the backdrop of majestic kedarnath range was mesmerizing. The serenity and tranquility of the place leaves you speechless. It felt like we were in heaven.

Photo of Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

We bought puja thali from one of the several small shops around the temple and continued. There was a huge crowd inside but I could manage to touch the lingam and offer prayers with the help of the priest. It's black in colour and pyramidal in shape. After darshan & puja, when we came outside, the drizzling stopped by then.

Photo of Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

We wait for some time in the lounge beside the helipad. Some of us went for GMVN lodge for the night stay. It was a few kilo-meters away from the temple and some of us including me decided to stay at Tent Colony near the temple.

This tent colony has been prepared by NIM (Nehru Institute for Mountaineering )for providing accommodation to the tourist during Chardham season. Each tent is spacious enough for 10 people to stay. This tents provide cozy bedding along with sleeping bags.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

In the evening, we went to the temple once again to witness evening arati. The sight was magical, instead of running minus temperature, the temple was overcrowded by tourists. After coming back, we took dinner at the canteen near the lounge and slipped into the sleeping bag.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Day 7 : Kedarnath to Gauchar via Guptakashi

The next morning, once again visited the jyotirlingam and came back to helipad for return journey.

Guptakashi : 1,319 m

After all of us came back to Phata, we started for Gauchar. On the way, we stopped at Guptakashi to visit the Viswanath temple along with the Ardhanariswar temple.

Viswanath temple with Manikarnik Kund

Photo of Guptakashi, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

In the courtyard of the temple, there is Manikarnika kund where two streams of Ganga and Yamuna meet. After having lunch from a roadside hotel, we continued and reached at Gauchar TRH, GMVN by afternoon for the night halt.

Day 8 : Journey to Badrinath via Joshimath

Gauchar : 800 m

That day we started early. On the way, we had our breakfast at Pipolkoti TRH, GMVN. It's a very beautiful place. On that day, we passed two important Prayag viz. Karnaprayag - the confluence of river Alaknanda and river Pindari, then Nandaprayag - The confluence of river Alaknanda and river Nandakini.

Joshimath : 1,875 m

We reached Joshimath during lunchtime. First, we visited the Narsimha Temple. The deity of the temple is the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of half Lion and half Man. It is also considered to be one of the most sacred places by Hindus who believe that Badrinath (The God Vishnu) resides here in winter. Next, we had lunch from roadside hotel near the temple and proceeded towards Badrinath. We crossed another confluence Bishnuprayag - where river Alaknanda meets with Dhauli Ganga and JAYPEE's HEP(Hydro Electro Plant).

We reached Badrinath TRH by the evening. After Checked - in, we went to visit the Badrinath Temple.

Narsimha temple

Photo of Joshimath, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Badrinath : 3,300 m

It's located on the bank of river Alaknanda, the holy town is named after Badrinath, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. We saw evening arti, spend some time and came back to lodge as the temperature was very low. After dinner retired to bed.

D 9 : Journey to Mana Village and then Kalpeswar TRH

In the morning, we went to the temple and after standing almost 2 hours in the long queue completed the Darshan ceremony by 8.30 a.m. The temple was looking awesome on the first sunshine in the morning. Visited the Pancha shilas near Tapta Kund, took the holy water of river Alaknanda and came back to TRH. GMVN TRH is situated just in front of Mt. Neelkanta on Nar Hill, opposite the temple is Narayan Hill and others are Kuber Hills. After having breakfast we started for Mana village.

Photo of Badrinath, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Neelkanta Peak

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Norsimha Shila as seen from the bridge

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Mana village : 3,200 m

Mana is the last village of India. It is 4 km from Badrinath and located on the bank of river Saraswati. Visiting Mana village is a wonderful and adventurous experience. There are many places to visit in this village.

Kesav Prayag, confluence of Alkananda and Saraswati River

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Vyasa gufa - This is the place where great Hindu sage Ved Vyasa wrote the 4 Vedas.

Ganesh Gufa

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Ganesha Gufa - It is the place where Lord Ganesha penned down the epic Mahabharata as directed by Veda Vyasa.

Kesav Prayag - The confluence of River Alaknanda and Saraswati River.

Vyaas Gufa

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

Bheem pul - One of the bridges that made by mightiest Pandava Bheem. Take a cup of hot tea in the India's last tea stall.

There is a cave where a sadhu Baba lives and gives blessings to every one.

India's last tea stall

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati
Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati

In the evening, we reached Kalpeswar TRH, GMVN. It is situated on the bank of River Alaknanda amidst the greenery.

Day 10 : Kalpeswar TRH to Rishikesh

The next morning, we started for Rishikesh. On the way, we visited Vashishta Gufa and reached Bharat Bhoomi Tourist Complex by 2 pm. Finished lunch and booked a cab for Haridwar and caught the train at night for my return journey to Kolkata.

Photo of Chardham Yatra with GMVN(Garwal Mondal Vikash Nigam) by Vaswati
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