Chota Char Dham of Uttarakhand, India
The opening dates of kapats of Chhota Char Dham for the year 2016 are as follows :–
Yamunotri – 9th May 2016
Gangotri – 9th May 2016
Kedarnath – 9th May 2016
Badrinath – 11th May 2016
The Chota Char Dham means ‘the small four abodes/seats’ is an important Hindu pilgrimage circuit in the Indian Himalayas. Yamunotri, Gangotri, Shri Badrinath and Shri Kedarnath combined makes the religious Chhota Char Dham of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. These shrines are the most precious and important pilgrimages. A pilgrim or tourist can experience the holiness of these religious shrines. It is believed that visiting these sacred sites will wash away your sins by the Lord. Due to the heavy weather condition, the yatra gets stop during winter season and it carried out for a particular time.
This year the schedule of starting the Yatra is Yamunotri Dham (9.5.2016), Gangotri Dham (9.5.2016), Kedarnath Dham (9.5.2016) and Badrinath Dham (11.5.2016). The Char Dham Yatra is carried out from west to east and the route is to visit the sites in the following order:
Yamunotri is the resource of the Yamuna River and the settle of the Goddess Yamuna in Hinduism. It is located approximately thirty kilometers of Uttarkashi. It is one of the four sites in India’s Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The topmost magnetism at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti
The authentic source, a freezing lake and glacier located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level.
The actual source of Yamuna River is Yamunotri Glacier, at a height 6,387 metres (20,955 ft), near the Bandarpunch peaks of lower Himalayas and is devoted to the goddess Yamuna.
Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas near the river source.
Yamunotri Temple is situated in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. This temple is devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and also has a black marble idol of the goddess. One has to spend a full day in journey from Dehradun to reach the temple. The actual temple is only accessible by a trek of 13 kms from Hanuman Chatti and a 6 kilometres walk from Janki Chatti. The hike from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri is very scenic with beautiful views of a number of waterfalls.
Yamunotri temple has a shrine devoted to the Devi Yamuna. There is also an 18th-century temple at Gangotri. The temple opens on May (Akshaya Tritiya) and closes on the second day after Diwali, (Yam Dwitiya) for the winter.
Gangotri, the derivation of the holy River Ganga and realm of the goddess Ganga (the godess of power), is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage route. It is called Bhagirathi at the starting point and attains the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards. Here, it meets the river Alaknanda. The derivation of the holy river is at Gaumukh, loated in the Gangotri Glacier. This ancient temple is constructed of white granite at a height of approx. 20 feet. There is a natural sunken rock known as the partial shivalinga. As per the beliefs, this is the same place where Lord Shiva knotted the heavy waves of river Ganges into his tangled hair.
According to hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the appearance of a river to pardon the sins of King Bhagiratha’s precursors, following his severe reparation from several centuries. In the early 18th century, the temple was constructed by Sh. Amar Singh Thapa who was a Gorkha Commander.
How to reach
Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport is the nearest airport which is 226 kms away. From Gangotri, the nearest railway station (Rishikesh) is at 250 kms away. Once you reach the Gangotri, a tourist / pilgrim has to climb a trek of approx. 14 kms till Bhojbasa. Here anyone can have accommodation there and can trek further up till the glacier Gangotri.
Kedarnath Temple is a temple dedicated to god Shiva located at a height of approx.3581 m from sea level. It is near the river Mandakini in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. The temple is built in the 8th Century AD. Due to its extreme weather circumstances, the temple is open only during the end of April to the autumn full moon (Kartik Poornima), which comes usually in November. During the winters, the divinities from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and prayed there for six months. Lord Shiva’s another name is Kedar and is worshiped as Kedarnath.
When the Pandavas felt guilty after the Mahabharata war for killing their own relatives, they wanted to get pardoned by Lord Siva but he didn’t want to forgive them and converted himself to a bull to get eloped from Pandavas. He divided himself into the parts and his hump fell into this place and the other parts of the body appeared on other four places. His arms appeared at Tungnath, Face at Rudranath, and his belly at Madhyamaheshwar and his locked hair with his head at Kalpeshwar. All these places had become shrines and known as Panch Kedar.
Interior of the temple
There is an assembly hall inside the temple. There are the figures of various deities decorated in the inner walls of the assembly. A large statue of the Bull Nandi stands at the outside of the temple as a “guard”. The temple is having a Garbhgriha for worship and also a Mandap for assemblies of visitors. Inside the temple, there is a rock formation in conical shape which is worshipped as Shivaji.
Now a days
Kedarnath was the nastiest affected area during the 2013 flash floods in Uttarakhand. The temple area, nearby areas and the whole Kedarnath town faced a huge damage, but the temple structure did not endure any “key” damage, only few cracks on one side of the four walls. The surrounding premises and other structure in market area were heavily injured. The temple structure has been standing erect and facing nature’s vehemence for the past many years and it is expected that the structure has the fortitude to remain intact in the future as well.
How to reach
The nearest airport is 260 kms away – Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun
The nearest railway station is 243 kms away – Rishikesh
One cannot reach the temple directly by road and one has to access a fourteen kilometre climbing trek from Gaurikund. Pony and palki service is available to take you to the structure. The temple was built by Pandavas and amongst the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of lord Shiva.
It is the most visited pilgrimage centre of India which is located in Chamoli district along the right bank of Alaknanda River. The hill tracks where the temple is located are approx. 10,200 ft. above the sea level. The two mountains are there on opposite and behind the temple namely The Nar Parbat and Narayan Parbat respectively. It is believed that Lord Vishnu himself told to Rishi Narad Ji that Nar and Narayan were of his own.
This temple, dedicated to lord Vishnu is built in 8th century AD and situated in the town of BADRINATH in Uttrakhand. This is one of the 108 Divya Dhams of Lord Vishnu. The temple is open for six months every year between the end of April and the beginning of November, because of the extreme weather conditions of the area.
History of the Temple
As far as the history of this temple is concerned, there isn’t any historical record, but in Vedic scriptures there is a mention of the presence of Lord Badrinath Temple. It is believed that the temple was a shrine of Buddhist monks till 8th century and was converted into a Hindu temple by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. The temple had undergone numerous key renovations because of its age and spoil by the landslides. The temple had a major destruction in 1803 Himalayan earthquake which was rebuilt by the Jaipur King which was completed during the period of First World War. During that period, that was a small town which consisted only around 20 huts which were housing the temple’s workers but pilgrims started coming there in a large numbers. The State Government pronounced the region as “Zone with No Construction” so that the area can be protected from illegal encroachment.
According to the beliefs, God Vishnu sat in Dhyana (meditation) at this place. During his dhyana, Lord Vishnu was unacquainted of cold weather. Godess Lakshmi, his wife, protected him in the form of a tree named Badri. Pleased by the fidelity of Lakshmi, Vishnu designated the name of the place as “Badrika Ashram”. This is the reason that the Lord Vishnu in the form of Badrinath is depicted in the temple sitting in the posture of “Padmasana” (meditation).
Interior of the Temple
The temple has an image of the head deity a 3.3 ft approx. tall, black stone statue in the form of lord Badrinarayan with three main structures; the Garbhagriha, the Darshan Mandap and Sabha Mandap.
Just below the temple, a group of hot pond named The Tapt Kund is situated. These are considered to be medicinal. Devotees take a bath in the ponds before visiting the temple. Surprisingly, the ponds have a year-round temperature of 55 °C (131 °F), no matter whatever is outside temperature is.
Other institutions and the festivals
Other major institutions like Kashi Math, Jeeyar Mutt of Andhra, Udupi Pejavar Manthralayam Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutts etc. have their branches and guest houses there.
‘Mata Murti Ka Mela’ is celebrated here, which venerates the drop of the river Ganges on mother earth. It is believed that the Badrinath’s mother had divided the river into the twelve different channels for the sake of earth. There is another festival celebrated which is ‘The Badri Kedar festival’ in the month of June every year in Badrinath and Kedarnath Temple. Many artists from the whole India come and perform here in the festival which lasts for eight days.
Administration of the temple
The head priest of the temple is from Kerala, a South Indian state. During the period from April to November, he performs his duties in the temple as a priest with his associates who are Garhwali Dimri Pandits, Dharmadhikari, a group of priests, Cooks, devitional singer, clerk, water keeper and temple guards. The head priest has received a high holiness status by Garhwal Rifles and the state government. From December to March every year, the head priest either lives in Joshimath or returns to his native village in Kerala.
The administration of the temple had initiated a token system for its visitors in the year 2012 which can be obtained from three stalls in the taxi stands. An identity proof is essential to enter the temple.
Time to visit the temple
One can travel to the temple during the months of May to October (except monsoon seasons because during this season, a threat of road blockage due to heavy landslides has been always there). During the month of October – November, the doors of temple are shut for winter on the promising day of Vijayadasami. On the day of closure,
How to reach there
One can reach Badrinath Temple by following ways :
By Air: The nearest airport to the temple is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, which is 317 kms. away.
By Rail : The nearest Railway Station is Rishikesh which is 300 kms away.
By Road : The temple can be reached from Rishikesh via Dev Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Joshimath, Karna Prayag, Devadarshini, Vishnuprayag and Nand Prayag.