Chardhams come with a special significance for any pious Hindu. If you want your sins to be washed way, at least once in your lifetime you must make a yatra to the ‘Chardhams’; that is what is commonly believed in Hinduism. Those who are unable to visit the greater circuit, make a yatra of the Chota char dhams of Uttarakhand and gather all the blessings of Almighty. Read on to learn in details about Chardham Yatra of Uttarakhand.
Being guarded by the mighty Himalayan mountain range, the Garhwal Region of Uttarakhand, hosts four of India’s most sacred sanctuaries – The Char Dham. Literal meaning of the word Char Dham is the ‘four abodes of god. The Chardham include – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The common belief of the pilgrims about these places is that the Chardham yatra helps you attain Moksha (Liberation from Samsara, the course of birth and death) by washing out all your sins and crimes. This is why thousands of pilgrims opt for these places once in their lifetime to pay their tributes to these holy shrines.
Historical Background of Chardham
The chardham Yatra was initiated for the first time by the great missionary Guru Adi Shankaracharya, thousands of years ago, back in the 8th century. Since then, pilgrims from across the globe have been visiting this place every year with the hope of attaining redemption. However, during the cold winter months the temples become out of reach of the devotees due to much snowfall.
The Yamunotri Dham
This religious shrine is situated at a distance of approximately 3164 meters above sea level. This shrine is significant as it cleanses countless moods and spirits as it brings the origin of River Yamuna. The specialty of this place is that pilgrims can experience a mixture of hot and cold climate simultaneously. The cold weather is brought up about by the Himalayan environment that causes glaciers at peaks while the hot climate is brought about by the presence of thermal springs called Kunds of Goddess Shakti.
While starting from any of the main towns of Uttarakhand like Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, it would take you almost a day’s travel. The shrine can be reached from Hanuman Chatti by a 13 km trek and by a 6 km trek from Janki Chatti. The best phases to visit this shrine in a year are from May to June and from September to November.
The Gangotri Dham
According to the Hindu Mythology, Goddess Ganga appeared in the form of the river after listening to the prayers of king Bhagirath, to wash the sins of his predecessors. It is believed that Gangotri is the place from where Ganga originated. The Gangotri dham was constructed after goddess Ganga. Built at a height of 3200 meters above sea level, the temple is situated at a distance of 100 kms from the Uttarkashi district.
The main shrine where the devotees are worshiping currently was constructed by Gorkha leader, Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century.
The temple gate is opened to the visitors during Akshaya Tritiya (usually in the month of May) and the gate gets closed during Yama Dwitiya(Usually during late October or early November). During this time thousands of pilgrims soak themselves in the holy water of Ganga and enter the temple for offering their prayer to the Goddess. During the other 6 months of the year, the temple gate remains closed to common people. During this time Goddess is worshiped at Mukhwa.
Another religious shrine that is extremely pious and a symbol of devotion to humanity is the Badrinath Temple that is located at a height of 3415 meters. It is present on the Garihwal hill which is located on the banks of the river Alaknanada. This is a holy shrine that has been built as a tribute to Lord Vishnu. The story behind the shrine being named Badrinath is that Lord Vishnu is believed to have meditated under the Badri tree for ages thereby giving the name to this shrine.
The shrine is an ideal pilgrimage spot especially for the devotees of Lord Vishnu. The deity here is composed of Shaligram statue and has Lord Vishnu in a meditating pose. The temple is believed to have been constructed way back in the 9th century by Adi Shankaracharya. The shrine is easily accessible from tourists coming from the major cities of Uttarakhand.
Shri Kedarnath Temple
The Shri Kedarnath Temple is a holy shrine that is located a stunning height of 3584 meters above the sea level. It is situated in the district of Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand. This shrine has been built as a tribute to Lord Shiva. There is a belief that it was on the hills of Mandar that the 12 distinct forms of Lord Shiva namely the Jyotirlingas were dropped near the temple location.
These shrines called as Jyotirlinga shrines are highly recommended spots for pilgrims and Lord Shiva was believed to have appeared as a fury of light here. Pilgrims from all over the country visit these shrines to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya and it was King Kedar who privileged the same. The temple is open from the months of April to November after which the presence of heavy snowfall makes it inaccessible to pilgrims. During the extreme winter season, the deities are brought over for a 6 month period to Ukhimath where it is worshipped till April.
So, when you are seeking to go for a pilgrimage in pursuit of religious peace and bliss, opt for the Char Dham Yatra to feel the difference.