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Char Dham Yatra in the Himalayas - Pilgrimage in the Himalayas


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Chardham (Char Dham) Yatra : Popular Himalayan Hindu Pilgrimage

Badrinath, Kedarnath

Amongst the most revered pilgrimages for Hindus is the Chardham (Char Dham). Every year, thousands and thousands of devotees set out on this sacred pilgrimage also referred to as the Chardham Yatra in the Himalayas.

Char Dham (four pilgrimage centres of India) are considered to be four of the holiest abodes for all Hindus. In fact, Hindus all over the world believe that a visit to the Char Dham atleast once in a lifetime is an absolute must to cleanse the body of all bad Karma.

Hindu Pilgrimage Centres: The Chardham, sometimes referred to as the Chota Char Dham located in the mighty Himalayas include Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri & Yamunotri. Well connected by air, rail and road, each of these holy sites has their own special significance and faith associated with them.

Letís take a look at each one of them -

Badrinath: Situated in the state of Uttarakhand, India, on the right bank of the Alaknanda river, at a height of 3133 metres above sea level, Badrinath is a holy religious centre also known as Lord Vishnuís abode. Located in the Garhwal hills, Badrinath is a picturesque spot what with the majestic hills and the meandering river.

It is believed that at one point of time, this region was abundant with wild berries (badris) that grew all over the place. The term "nath" refers to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped here. Originally built by Adi Guru Shankaracharya, almost two centuries ago, the Garhwal ruler rebuilt the Badrinath Shrine, that houses an idol of Lord Vishnu in black stone. Till date, people of all ages and castes visit Badrinath with complete faith and humility.

Getting Here: By Air - Jolly Grant Airport (316 kms), By Rail - Railhead Rishikesh (294 kms) bus & taxi services available from here, By Road - Rishikesh, Haridwar, Joshimanth.

Places to See in and around Badrinath

Neelkanth Peak: Also known as the "Garhwal Queen", the Neelkanth Peak is shaped in the form of a pyramid and towers above Badrinath. This natural beauty is definitely worth seeing.

Mata Murti Temple: Dedicated to the mother of Shri Badrinath, this temple is located on the bank of river Alaknanda.

Sheshnetra: The name simply translates into a boulder that has the impression of the eyes of the serpent, the legendary shesh nag.

Govindghat: This is the site where the Alaknanda River and the Lakshman Ganga rivers meet. A Gurudwara after Guru Gobind Singh can be found here.

Hemkund Sahab: About 42 kms from Badrinath and situated close to the Valley of flowers is the holy lake Hemkund Sahab. Frequently visited by Sikhs and Hindus alike, the shrine here holds special importance to the Sikh followers of Guru Gobind Singh as this is where the guru after continued meditation met God.


Tapt Kund: Devotees take a dip in the waters of the Alaknanda before visiting the temple. It is believed that the water of the Kund has miraculous medicinal properties.

Valley of Flowers: If you love to admire nature in all its glory, you must visit the Valley of Flowers, a national park located at a distance of 42 kms east of Badrinath. Here you will find beautiful flowers that make the area look breathtaking.

CharanPaduka: Similar to the Sheshnetra, the Charanpaduka is the impression of Lord Vishnu's feet.

Besides these, other attractions include Pipalkoti (80 kms), Chamoli (10 kms), Mana Village (3 kms), Alka Puri (15 kms) and Joshimath (45 kms), etc.

Kedarnath: Situated about 3580 metres above sea level on the banks of the River Mandakini is the holy city of Kedarnath, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The famous Kedarnath Shrine is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva or Kedar. In this temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped as a conical shaped protrusion. According to legend, this protrusion was left behind when Lord Shiva took the form of a bull while eluding the Pandavas who seeked redemption and his blessings. As he went into the ground, this hump was all that was left behind.

Kedarnath forms a part of the Panch Kedar along with Tungnath, Rudranath, Madmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar.

Getting Here: By Air - Jolly Grant Airport (250 kms), By Rail - Railhead Rishikesh (234 kms), By Road - by foot from Gaurikund, connected to Haridwar, Dehradun and Kotdwar.

Places to See in and around Kedarnath

Kedarnath Temple: This temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old, built by Adi Guru Shankaracharya in 8th century A.D. Inside the temple, on the walls you will find beautiful mythological scenes and images of dieties. Every year, large crowds of pilgrims come here to worship Lord Shiva and the statue of the Nandi Bull.


Vasuki Tal: This is a beautiful lake that is truly a sight for sore eyes. About 4132 metres above sea level, all around the lake you will find awe inspiring mountains that make the scene wonderfully picturesque.

Triyuginarayan: Some 30 kms from Kedarnath is the place which is believed to be the venue of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati's wedding. An eternal flame burns here believed to be the witness of this sacred marriage - definitely a must-see for everyone.

Shankaracharya Samadhi: As is evident from the name itself, this is the place where Adi Guru Shankaracharya took his samadhi. It is located just bejind the Kedarnath Temple. Other places to see in Kedarnath include Gandhisarovar and Sonprayag.

Contributed By: Team of Travel Writers, [email protected]

Other Holy sites in India - Bodh Gaya, Bihar | Siddheshwar Temple, Solapur Maharashtra | Discover Indian Pilgrimage - Lake Mansarovar & Kailash Parbat

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