Char Dham is referred to the four Hindu religious sites in Uttarakhand state of India. These are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Nestled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, these four sites are the epicenter of religious activity in north India. Traditionally, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east. Thus, the yatra starts from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Amongst the four Char Dhams, Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to goddesses Yamuna and Ganga respectively. On the other hand, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, people also visit Hemkund Sahib in the vicinity, which is one of the highest located religious sites in the country. Thus, pilgrims visit all these places in aspiration of washing away their sins and to attain salvation, by the blessings of the Lord.

Badrinath Temple:

On the right bank of alaknanda lies the sacred spot perched at an altitude of 3,133 meters above the sea level. Encircled by a beautiful valley, the 15 mts. high temple is dedicated to lord vishni. It is built in the form of a cone with a small cupola of a ilt bull and spire.

Built by adi guru shankaracharya the philosopher-saint of the 8th centurty.

The temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches. Its colourful ‘singh dwara’ or the mainentrance gate give it a new, modern look.

The temple is divided into three parts the ‘garbha griha’ or sanctum sanctorum, the’ darshan mandap’ where the rituals are conducted and the ‘sabha mandap’ Where devotees assemble. The complex has 15 idols. Specially attractive is the one metre high image of Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose.

Kedarnath Temple:

Amidst the mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve ‘ Jyotirlingas’ of Kedar or Lord shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3.581 mts. Above sea level on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimage for the Hindus.

The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic – Mahabharata. According to legend.

the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins fafter the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repetedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull.

On being followed HE dived into the ground, leaving behind HIS hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol on the shrine. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva are worshipped at four places the arms (bahu) at Tungnath, mouth (mukha) at Rudranath, naval (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar. Together with Kedarnath, these places are known as the panch Kedar.

Gangotri Temple:

The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinter lands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time.

According to mythology, Goddess Ganga – the daughter of heaven, manifested herself in the form of a river to absolve the sins of king Bhagirath’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries.

Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source. Along the right bank of Bhagirathi stands the shrine of Gangotri dedicated to the Goddesss. Perched at a height of 3.042 mts., it was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh Thapa.

Yamnotri Temple:

The first stopover for the Char Dham Yatra is the westernmost shrine of Yamunotri in the Garhwal Himalayas. Dedicated to Goddess yamuna, it is perched atop a flank of the Bandar Poonchh peak (3.165 mts. Above sea level) and is situated opposite to Gangotri. The shrine attracts devotees in large numbers from May to October.Yamunotri is the source of the revered river yamuna which originates from the Champasar Glacier lying 1 km ahead of the shrine, at an altitude of 4,321 mts. Pilgrims do not frequently visit the source of the river as it is not easily accessible.

Posted in: Religious Travel
 

Comments

5 Responses to “CharDham Yatra – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamnotri”
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