Chhota Char Dham

Chhota char dham yatra

The concept of the Chota Char Dham Yatra became popular after the Indo-China war of 1962 as India began investing in road and infrastructure development projects. The improvement of roads in the area made it easier to access the holy shrines and other places of Uttarakhand, erstwhile Uttar Pradesh. The Chota Char Dham slowly began to replace the original Char Dham.

 HISTORY OF YAMUNOTRI

Yamunotri is where the second most holy of river of India, the River Yamuna, takes birth. Situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Yamunotri Dham is the first stop in the pilgrimage. It is believed that bathing in its water cleanses all sins and protects from untimely and painful death. The shrine of Yamunotri is believed to be built in 1839 by the king of Tehri, Naresh Sudarshan Shah. Besides the Yamuna Devi (goddess), the idol of Ganga Devi too is housed in the revered temple. There are many hot water springs near the temple; Surya Kund is the most important among them. Devotees boil rice and potatoes in the kund and accept it as a Prasad of the devi.

Places to visit:

  • Saptrishi Kund: The glacier is the actual source of Yamuna River and is located at an altitude of 4421 meters above the sea level. The strenuous trek to Saptrishi Kund involves a day for acclimatization at the temple.
  • Surya Kund: It is one of many thermal springs in the region. The Goddess Yamuna is believed to be the daughter of Surya (the Sun god) and Sangya.
  • Divya Shila: It is a powerful rock pillar near the Surya Kund at Yamunotri. As a ritual, the pilgrims offer prayers to the pillar before entering Yamunotri.

How to reach

By Road: The most preferred route to Yamunotri heads on through Dehradun and Barkot.

By Railway: Train connectivity is only up till Rishikesh after which you will have to hire a cab, taxi or a bus which will be heading towards Yamunotri via Dharasu, Barkot, and Janki Chatti.

By Air: The closest nearby domestic airport is Jolly Grant which is located in Dehradun.

HISTORY OF GANGOTRI

Gangotri Dham is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, who is said to have descended on earth to absolve the sins of human kind. The river originates at Gaumukh from the Gangotri glacier which is some 18 km from the town of Gangotri. Situated in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, the original temple of Gangotri was built by by Amar Singh Thapa, a Gurkha general, in the early 19th century.

Places to visit:

  • Gangotri Temple: Built in the 18th century by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa, the temple is home to the shrine of Gangotri.
  • Bhagirath Shila: It is believed to be the holy rock where King Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva.
  • Submerged Shivling: This Shivalingam is submerged in the waters of River Bhagirathi at Gangotri. According to the Hindu mythology, it is here that Lord Shiva sat to receive Goddess Ganga in his locks.
  • Pandava Gufa: A 1.5 km trek from Gangotri takes you to the Pandava Gufa where the Pandavas are believed to have meditated and rested en route Kailash.

How to reach

By Road: The holy town of Gangotri is well connected to a number of Uttarakhand states from inside out.

By Railway: The closest railway station is situated in Rishikesh which is located at a distance of 250 km from Gangotri.

By Air: Jolly Grant domestic airport in Dehradun is located at a distance of 226 km from Gangotri which caters to regular flights from numerous major cities.

HISTORY OF KEDARNATH

Situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath is the most remote pilgrimage spot in the yatra. It is believed that originally the temple of Kedarnath was built by Pandavas. And Adi Shankaracharya got the present structure constructed in the 8th century adjacent to the old temple site. The grey stone structure is an architectural marvel because of its imposing design and its ability to survive for so many centuries in such a harsh terrain.

Places to visit:

  • Kedarnath Temple: Built in the 8th century by the Hindu philosopher Adi Shankaracharya, the Kedarnath Temple is known to be built in the same vicinity as the ancient temple built by the Pandavas.
  • Gandhi Sarovar: The lake is believed to the place from where Yudhishthir – the eldest Pandava – departed to heaven.
  • Shankaracharya Samadhi: Located very close to the Kedarnath Temple, the place is believed to be the place where Adi Shankaracharya took Samadhi.
  • Bhairon Temple: Located 1 km from the Kedarnath Temple, the Bhairon Temple is believed to be the home to the protector of the Kedarnath Temple and valley.

How to reach

By Road: For a road journey your pilgrimage will commence from the holy town of Rishikesh where you will be made to board the bus heading onward towards Gaurikund which is the last motorable road till Kedarnath.

By Railway: There are no railway stations in Kedarnath and the closest railway station is located in Rishikesh.

By Air: The closes airport to Kedarnath is situated at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and is located at a distance of 239 km from Kedarnath dham.

HISTORY OF BADRINATH

Badrinath is considered one of the most holy places in Hindu religion. One of the 108 Divya Desams, Badrinath temple is part of both Char Dham and Chota Char Dham. Adi Shankaracharya found the idol of Lord Badri in Alaknanda River and put it up in a cave near the Tapt Kund. In 16th century, a Garhwal King got the temple erected, which has been renovated many times as a result of natural calamities. Sandwiched between Nar and Narayan peaks, the beauty of Badrinath Dham is further enhanced with the glorious background of Neelkanth peak.

Places to visit:

  • Badrinath Temple: The story goes back to the time of Shankaracharya who discovered a black Saligram stone image of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Badrinarayan.
  • Neelkanth: The ‘Garhwal Queen’ is a snowy peak that forms a pyramid-like background to the Badrinath Temple. The peak, 6597 meters above the sea level, is the first place to receive the sun’s light in the region.
  • Tapt Kund: The abode of Lord Agni, Tapt Kund is a hot spring that is famous for its medicinal properties. Surya Kund and Narada Kund are also present in the vicinity.
  • Vasudhara Falls: The 400 feet high waterfalls are located 4 km from Badrinath in the Mana Village. It is believed that the water of the falls will turn away from the visitors who are not pure at heart.

How to reach

By Road: Badrinath can be reached via a bus or taxi service which can be hired from either Haridwar or Rishikesh the major pilgrimage holy towns and serve as the starting point for the Chota Char Dham Yatra.

By Railway: Ne closest railway station is located in Dehradun, which caters to a number of trains from the major cities across India.

By Air: The closest airport to Badrinath is located in Dehradun i.e. Jolly grant which is situated at a distance of 317 km from the main temple shrine.

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