One of the most auspicious journeys one can take according to Hindu Mythology is the Char Dham Yatra. Char( four) Dham ( abodes/seats') is the most important Hindu pilgrimage circuit in the Indian Himalayas. Located in the Garhwal section of the state of Uttarakhand the circuit consists of four sites—Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. While each site is unique in its own fashion, inclusion in the Char Dham has, over time, caused them be viewed together in popular imagination and actual pilgrimage practice.
The Char Dham Yatra commences usually during 1st week of May every year and goes on till end October.The appellation Char Dham used to be reserved for India's most famous pilgrimage circuit, four important temples—Puri, Sringeri, Dwarka, and Badrinath—grouped together by the great 8th century reformer and philosopher Shankaracharya (Adi Sankara), into the archetypal All-India pilgrimage circuit to the four cardinal points of the subcontinent. At some point, Badrinath, the last visited and the most important of the four sites in the original Char Dham, also became the cornerstone site of a Himalayan pilgrimage circuit dubbed the Chota (little) Char Dham.
The Char Dham Yatra usually commences from Haridwar and follows the clockwise order as found auspicious in Hindu Mythology from Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and culminating at Badrintah.Individaul Dhams Yamunotri
Yamunotri is situated at an altitude of 3,235 m above the sea level. The source of the river Yamuna lies about 1 km further ahead at an altitude of about 4,421 m. It is the seat of the goddess Yamuna, The actual temple is accessible by a 13 kilometer walk from the town of Hanuman Chatti and a four kilometer walk from Janki Chatti (horses or palanquins are available for rent). The hike from Hanuman Chetty to Yamunotri is very picturesque with beautiful views of a number of water falls. The original temple was built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. The current temple is of recent origin, as past iterations have been destroyed by the weather and elements. There is quite a few thermal springs in the vicinity of the temple, which flow into several pools. The most important of these springs is the Surya Kund. Divya Shila is a rock pillar which is worshipped before entering the Yamunotri Temple.Gangotri
Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, and form the second stop of Char Dhams. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, which is a 40 km trek from Gangotri. Along the right back of Bhagirathi stands the shrine of Gangotri dedicated to the Goddess. Perched at a height of 3042 mts., it was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh Thapa. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus.
Kedarnath, where a form of the Hindu god Shiva is venerated as one of the twelve jyotirling (linga of light). Besides its affiliation with Siva, Kedarnath is also believed to be the site of Shankaracharya's samadhi (place of enternment). The actual temple, an impressive stone edifice of unknown date, is accessible only after a steep 13 km walk (horses or palanquins are available for rent). The most remote of the four Char Dham sites, Kedarnath is flanked by breathtaking snow-capped peaks.
Badrinath is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage. Badrinath is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River, at an elevation of 3133 m. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m). Badrinath is located 301km north of Rishikesh. The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple
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