The Chardham holy sites of Uttarakhand are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath and temples here are dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, Goddess Ganga, Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu respectively. In India, these holy places are popularly known as Chota Chardhams.
Chardham Yatra refers to travel to four religious destinations, in Hindi char means four, Dham means a religious destination and Yatra means to travel. Uttarakhand is known as Devbhoomi(land of Gods) and the state is mostly covered with Himalayas and has Chardhams; Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. These four major holy sites are the center of the pilgrimage tour of Uttarakhand, lakhs of devotees tour these places yearly.
According to Hindu beliefs, the Yatra/tour should be completed in a clockwise direction, so this starts from Yamunotri, then Gangotri, then Kedarnath, and ends at Badrinath. The Yamunotri temple is built close to the source of the river Yamuna. River Yamuna is the second most sacred river in India after river Ganga and both holy rivers originate from Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand has many temples dedicated to various Hindu Gods but among them, the temples of Chardhams are most sacred. The shrines are situated at high altitudes in the Himalayan range, so they remain shut for 4-6 months due to winter storms. The shrines are usually opened in April-May and closed after October because of extreme cold in the region.
Thousands of devotees complete the Chota Chardham Yatra by road transportation which also involves hiking and trekking at a few locations. Helicopter service is also offered by Uttarakhand tourism. Devotees prefer Yatra in groups rather than alone. The Chota Chardham Yatra can be completed in a week of time if planned by booking a resort or Hotel in Uttarkashi.
Chardham places of Uttarakhand:
Yamunotri is the source of the holy river Yamuna where Goddess Yamuna sits as per the Hindu texts. The sacred shrine of Goddess Yamuna is situated in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas and is 150 Km from Uttarkashi. The Temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal on the bank of the river Yamuna.
Close to the temple, there are hot water springs and Surya Kund is the most important kund of Yamunotri. Divya Shila is situated near the kund and devotees worship them.
Gangotri is a town where the river Ganga originates from a glacier. The river Ganga is the most sacred of all rivers in India. The Gangotri temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and is situated on the bank of river Bhagirathi. Goddess Ganga descended to the Earth because she was pleased by the devotion of Bhagirath, the grandson of King Sagara.
Bhagiraths's 60,000 ancestors were blazed and cursed by Sage Kapila as they disrupted him while meditating. Sage Kapila cursed them that their souls would attain Moksha only if their ashes get washed by the holy waters of Ganga.
Bhagirath performed rigorous penance to please Goddess Ganga requesting her to descend to the Earth in order to free his ancestors. The Goddess was finally pleased and descended to the Earth in the form of a water body. The entry of the divine waterbody was such intense that the entire Earth would be harmed and submerged under its water. So to avoid the disaster Lord Shiva caught the divine water body in his hair locks. Bhagirath was devoted to Lord Shiva for a long time with the intention to release the water body to the Earth's surface. Pleased with his devotion Lord Shiva released the divine water body of Ganga in the stable form of three different streams, one of which is known as the Bhagirath river. The 60,000 ancestors of Bhagirath were freed from all their sins and attained Moksha as soon as the water from the holy river Ganga touched their ashes. From then, tradition is followed in the Hindu religion that after death if the ashes are thrown in the holy water of Ganga the soul is freed from all sins and attains Moksha, the ticket to the abode of God(Vaikuntha).
Bhagirth Shila is the stone on which Bhagirath meditated.
Dayara resort offers good quality Resorts in Gangotri for a comfortable stay for your Chota Chardham Yatra.
Kedarnath is located near the Chorabari Glacier in the Himalayas, the source of Mandakini river. In Sanskrit kedara means 'field' and natha means 'lord' so Kedarnath means "the field of lords". The temple is ancient and is believed to be constructed by the Pandava brothers during the time of Mahabharatha. The Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the place where Lord Shiva released the divine water body of Ganga from his hair lock in the form of a stream which is the river, Ganga. Kedarnath is surrounded by Kedarnath peak which is 6,940 m in height and one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India.
Badrinath is in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and the Badrinath temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver, and the supreme God.
Badrinath is the place where Nar-Narayana(the partial incarnation of Vishnu) meditated for thousands of years. Arjuna and Lord Krishna of Mahabharata were the incarnations of sages Nar and Narayana respectively.
Angel Urvashi was born from sage Narayana's thigh when he placed a flower on his thigh. This incident happened in Badrinath when Nar and Narayana were meditating and the king of Devas, Indra sent beautiful angels to distract their meditation.