CHAR DHAM YATRA -UTTRANCHAL

(Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri)
Location:- Uttaranchal Famous As:- Pilgrimage & Adventure Sports

With the majestic and mystifying Himalayas as the backdrop, the four most holy pilgrimages of India never cease to amaze travelers and visitors. Char Dham, or the four pilgrimage centers, comprising of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are frequented by the religious minded as well as those intrigued by the remnants of bygone years. The holy river, Ganges, and her tributaries flow buoyantly past the four Dhams. According to the legend, Goddess Ganga descended upon Earth in the form of a river to help the suffering humanity. As the Earth would be unable to endure the force of her descent, the holy Ganges was split into channels, each of which also came to be considered as sacred. Four of these channels flow past the four Dhams, namely Alaknanda (in Badrinath), Mandakini (in Kedarnath), Bhagirathi (in Gangotri) and Yamuna (in Yamunotri). The four Dhams are blessed not only with extraordinary scenic beauty but also with a long history. This has contributed ancient temples to the panorama of these holy lands

SHRI BADRINATH JI ("LORD OF THE BERRIES")

Genral information
Badrinath is situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth peak (6,597mts.) in the background. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that to revive the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite the country in one

bond, Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four pilgrimage centres in four corners of India. Among them were Badrikashram (Badrinath) in the north, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. Badrinath situated at an elevation of 3,133 mts. is considered to be amongst the most pious. The revered spot was once carpeted with wild berries which gave it the name 'Badri Van' meaning 'forest of berries.' Built by Adi Shankaracharaya, the philosopher-saint of the 8th century, the temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches and restored in the 19th century by the royal houses of Scindia & Holkar. The main entrance gate is colourful & imposing popularly known as Singhdwar. Area: 3 sq. km. Altitude: 3133 mtr. above sea level Season: May-October Clothing: Summer - Woolen; Winters - Heavy Woolen Language: Hindi, Garhwali Local Transport:Horses/Dandies

Winter

Places to visit Sri Badrinathji 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 Vishnu. It is built in the form of a cone with a small cup of a ilt bull and spire. Built by adi guru Shankaracharya the philosopher-saint of the 8th century, the temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches. Its colourful 'singh dwara' or the main entrance 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 Sri Badrinathji, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose. Tapt Kund: Devotees take a holy dip in the natural thermal springs on the banks of the river Alaknanda , before entering the Sri Badrinathji Temple. The water of the Kund is believed to have medicinal properties. Neelkanth: A pyramidal-shaped snowy peak towering above Sri Badrinathji, Popularly known as the `Garhwal Queen`. Charanpaduka: The footprints of Lord Vishnu can be seen on a boulder in this beautiful meadow. Brahma Kapil: A flat platform on the bank of river Alaknanda where Hindus perform

Sheshnetra: A boulder having an impression of the legendary serpent- known as Sheshnag's eye.

Accomodation
Private Hotels and Dharamshala. Temple Committee Guest House.

Restaurants
Local eateries/dhabas which offer only vegetarian food. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Banks-State Bank of India, Kedarnath. Post Office-Sub Post Office, Kedarnath. Hospitals-Govt. Dispensary, Kedarnath.

Accessibility
Air
Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun

Rail
Nearest railhead is Rishikesh : 221 km, of which 207 km. is motorable upto Gaurikund. The remaining 14 km. has to be covered on foot or on ponies. See Rishikesh for rail connections.

RoadWell connected to Rishikesh , Haridwar , Dehradun , Kotdwar And other hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region

SHRI KEDARNATH JI

Genral information
Situated some 220 Km from Rishikesh. The Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Lying against the backdrop of the majestic Kedarnath range, at an altitude of 3,581 m, the imposing Kedarnath temple is surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. One of the the panch Kedar Shrines, the temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century A.D., standing at the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. Behind the temple itself is the Samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya. Chorabari (Gandhi Sarovar) with floating - ice on the crystal clear waters of the lake and Vasuki Tal, another lake at an altitude of 4,150 m are fascinating sites around Kedarnath. Wild unparalleled scenic beauty, rare panoramic views of innumerable snow - clad peaks, rhododendron forests Alpine meadows make the area utterly enchanting. An exciting blend of pilgrimage , indeed !Bhairon Ghati, Kedarnath
Area: 3 sq. km. Population: 301 (1991 census) Altitude: 3581 mtr. above sea level Season:May-October Clothing: Summer - Woolen; Winters - Heavy Woolen Language: Hindi, Garhwali Local Transport:Horses/Dandies

Winter

Places to visit
Kedarnath Temple
Built in the 8th century A.D., The temple at Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was renovated and refurbished by the religious reformer and saint, Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. Outside the temple door a large statue of Nandi the bull, stands as the guardian deity.

Samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya
Located behind the Kedarnath Temple is the Samadhi or the final resting place where

the saint gave up his life.

Bhairav Nath Temple
To the south of the main temple stands the temple of God Bhairav, the deity who guards the Kedarnath Temple in winter, when it is closed due to severe winter conditions.

Gandhi Sarovar
1.5 km. A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is said to have departed to heaven.

Vasuki Tal
6 km. At 4135 mtr. Above sea level, this lake is extraordinary, surrounded by high mountains and offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.

Gauri Kund
15 km. The trekking base to Kedarnath and the road head, this village has a temple dedicated to Gauri and also thermal springs of medicinal value.

Sonprayag
20 km. The confluence of the Son Ganga and Mandakini rivers, where there is a diversion for Triyuginarayan.

Triyuginarayan
25 km. the mythological venue where the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati was solemnized. It is a short trek of 5 km from Son Prayag. An eternal flame, which is said to have been the witness to the marriage, burns in front of the temple even today.

Gupt Kashi
49 km. Famous for the temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanathji.

Ukhimath
60 km. Winter home of Lord Kedarnath temple, and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath during winter months.

Agastmuni
73 km., Has a temple dedicated to the sage Agastya.

Chopta
Situated on the Gopeshwar Ukhimath road about 40 km from Gopeshwar at an altitude of about 2500 mtrs above sea level, Chopta is one of the most picturesque spots in the entire Garhwal region. It provides a breathtaking view of Himalayan ranges surrounding it.

Accomodation
Private Hotels and Dharamshala. Temple Committee Guest House.

Restaurants
Local eateries/dhabas which offer only vegetarian food. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Banks-State Bank of India, Kedarnath. Post Office-Sub Post Office, Kedarnath. Hospitals-Govt. Dispensary, Kedarnath.

Accessibility
Air
Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun

Rail
Nearest railhead is Rishikesh : 221 km, of which 207 km. is motorable upto Gaurikund. The remaining 14 km. has to be covered on foot or on ponies. See Rishikesh for rail connections.

Road
Regular Yatra bus services are available from Rishikesh and Kotdwar. Private taxies are also available from Rishikesh. Some major road distances are : Rambara-6 km on foot, Gaurikund-14 km on foot, Sonprayag-20 km, Guptkashi-49 km. Kund-54 km, Agastmuni-73 km, Tilwara-83 km, Rudraprayag-92 km. Ukhimath-59 km, Dogalbhita-83 km, Chopta-89 km, Mandal-117 km, Gopeshwar-128 km, Chamoli-138 km.

GANGOTRI

Gangotri Location : Uttaranchal Altitude : 3042 mts. Climate : Summer - Cool during the day and cold at night. Winter - Snow-bound. Touching sub-zero Best Season : April to November

Genral Information
Be it man's urge to placate the Gods above or to quench his desire for adventure, Gangotri is an ideal location. Gangotri, the origin of the sacred river Ganges, attracts tourists in large numbers every year. The confrontation with the daunting rivers and attempts to unravel the mysteries of the supernatural world are ubiquitous sights here. Along with the thrill of conquering nature, what one experiences here is the mystical aura that India is so famous for. Location Couched in the magnificent Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. It is on

the northernmost part of the state of Uttar Pradesh and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. It is approximately 300 km from Dehradun, 250 km from Rishikesh and 105 km from Uttarkashi. The summers are relatively cool and winters are freezing cold, with rains in the months of May and June. For the devotees and tourists, the gates of the temple are open only in the months of May to November. Mythological Legend According to an old legend, Lord Shiva rewarded King Bhagirath after his penance and Ganga came down to earth. However, due to her pride, and the fact that the earth would be devastated if Ganga came down in her full force, Lord Shiva caught her in his locks. It was then proclaimed that Goddess Uma or Parvati, Shiva's consort, would bathe in the Ganges daily and only then would she descend on the earth. The sacred stone near the temple denotes the place where Ganga first came down to earth. This is why Ganga is also called by the name of Bhagirathi. Unique Pilgrimage Attraction Submerged Shivling The natural rock Shivling, submerged in the river, is an amazing sight reinforcing the power of the divine. According to mythology, Lord Shiva sat at this spot to receive the Ganaga in his matted locks. The shivling is visible in the early winters when the water level goes down. The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. Mythological Mystery According to mythology, Goddess Ganga- the daughter of heaven, manigested 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 minimise the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source. A long the right bank 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. Every year, lakhs of pilgrims throng the sacred temple between May and October. By November, Gangotri is covered by snow. It is believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode. Prime Pilgrimage Attraction Gangotri Temple The 18th century's temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located near a sacred stone where King Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is believed to have touched earth at this spot. According to another legend, Pandavas performed the great 'Deva Yagna' here to atone the deaths of their kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharata. The temple is an exquisite 20 ft. High structure made of white granite. »Take a tour of Gangotri.- Excursion Nandanvan Tapovan An arduous trek along the Gangotri Glacier leads to scenic Nandanvan - the base camp for the Bhagirathi peaks, that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Shivaling peak. A trek across the snout of the Gangotri Glacier leads to Tapovan known for its beautiful meadows that encircle the base of the Shivling Peak. Uttarkashi (105 kms.) An important pilgrimage centre, situated at an elevation of 1,150 mts. above sea level on the bank of river Bhagirathi. Some of the important temples worth visiting are - Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi Temple. Nearby is the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. Every year, during the 'Magh Mela' people visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in Bhagirathi along with the image of their village deity. Kedar Tal (18 kms.) An enhancing lake, 4425 mts. above sea level against the splendid backdrop of mighty Thalaiyasagar peak. Accessible through a rough mountain trail, it is the base camp for trekking to surrounding peaks. The trek to Kedartal needs a local guide. Gaumukh( 18 kms.)

The snout of the Gangotri Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi river. Pilgrims trek upto the sacred spot on foot or on ponies to take a holy dip in the ice-cold water. Dayara Bugyal (93 kms.) A breathtakingly beautiful meadow, situated at a height of 3,048 mts. above sea level. A motorable road connects Bhatwari (27 kms. from Uttarkashi) with Raithal village, from where follows a 6 kms. long trek to Dayara. The famous Sheshnag Temple enroute is an attraction of the trek. From Dayara, one can also trek down to Dodi Tal (30 kms.). During winters, Dayara provides excellent ski slopes over an area of 28 sq.kms. Nachiketa Tal (131 kms.) A pleasant trek through lush green forests leads to this peaceful retreat. A small temple along the lake and lovely surroundings are an attraction. Tehri (173 kms.) Lying at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers is the former capital of Tehri Garhwal principality. It is the site of a giant hydel project. Narendranagar (239 kms.) The new capital of erstwhile Tehri state, offers a magnificent view of the Ganga valley of Rishikesh and the plains of Haridwar.

Accessibility
Airport Jolly Grant, Dehradun 226 kms. Railhead Rishikesh, 249 kms. Road Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi.

YAMNOTRI

Genral Information
One of the four sacred dhams of Uttarakhand, and revered in Hindu mythology,
Yamunotri is the source of the river Yamuna. About 220 Km from Rishikesh and 149 Km from Tehri, the picturesque shrine of Yamunotri is located at an altitude of 3,235 m. Being one of the four Char dhams it is a place of paramount religious importance for the devout Hindus. The 19th century temple of Goddess Yamuna, a number of thermal springs and Divya Shila ( Rock pillar) are prime attractions. Moreover, the place is full with scenic spot and panoramic views of Himalayas. Explore the region, go on for excursions and have Masti. Area:1 sq. km. Population: 246 (1991 census) Altitude 3235 mtrs. above sea level Season: May-June, September-October Clothing: Summers-Light Woolens, Winter-Heavy Woolens Language: Garhwali, Hindi and English Festivals:The temple opening & closing ceremonies. Local Transport: Buses/Taxis/Tempos/Auto-Rickshaws

Places to visit

Yamunotri Temple The present temple was built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. In 1923, the temple was destroyed by an earthquake, but subsequently rebuilt. Here a holy dip in the tank filled by hot springs, and cooking rice in its water are part of the rituals. Surya Kund There are a number of thermal springs in the vicinity of Yamunotri. The most important of these, Surya Kund, has a temperature of almost 1900 F. Pilgrims tie rice and potatoes in a cotton cloth, and immerse it in the water to be cooked. Divya Shila A rock pillar, worshipped before entering the Yamunotri temple.

Hanuman Chatti The confluence of Hanuman Ganga and Yamuna rivers. Trekking route to Dodi Tal starts here. 13 km from Yamunotri Jankichatti 7 km from Yamunotri, famous for thermal springs Barkot An ancient temple site, at a distance of 49 km.

Only local eateries/dhabas are available. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Tourist Information-Tourist Office, Uttarkashi Banks-State Bank of india

Accessibility
Some important road distances are

Dharasu - 107 km. Tehri 149 km. Rishikesh via Narendranagar - 222 Km. EMAIL-

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