Char Dham Uttarakhand or Chota Char Dham is one of the most famous religious circuit of India located in Uttarakhand. All the four dhams are located in the Gahrwal region of the state which includes Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Chota Chardham Yatra is held annually which starts from day of Akha-Trij or Akha-Teej and typically closes 2 days after Diwali. Chardham Yatra 2018 Dates are decided by the Dham and Temple community which generallly starts by th end of April. The Yamunotri Temple and Gangotri Temple open on the day of Akshaya Tritiya every year followed by the portal opening of Kedarnath Temple and Badrinath Temple after a couple of days. Chardham 2018 Yatra will most probably start from May 2018 since then only all the four dhams will open for the devotees and common citizens.
Chardham includes four of the most ancient temples in the world. History of Chardham are from thousands of years ago and their are number of myths and beliefs regarding history of Chardham Yatra. Every Dham of this circuit have their own importance and history. A famous reformer and philosopher Shankaracharya was the one who established the Char Dham Circuit.In the original Char Dham, three of the three sites are Vaishnava (Puri, Dwarka and Badrinath) while one is Shaiva (Rameswaram). The Chota Char Dham included representatives from all three major Hindu sectarian traditions, with two Shakti(goddess) sites, (Yamunotri and Gangotri), one Shaiva site (Kedarnath), and one Vaishnava site (Badrinath).
According to the ancient legend, sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. All his life, he bathed daily both in the Ganges and the Yamuna. Unable to go to Gangotri during his old age, a stream of the Ganges appeared opposite Yamunotri for him.
The temple and the place opens every year on the auspicious day of the Akshaya Tritya, which generally falls during the last week of April, or the first week of May. The temple always closes on the sacred day of Diwali in mid-October – first week of November, with a brief ceremony. The temple staff return to their villages and for the rest of the time the valley is gripped in no-man silence and covered with a white sheet of snow. With the melting of the snow next summer, the temple re-opens.
The original temple was built by Maharani Guleria of Jaipur in the 19th century. The current temple is of recent origin as earlier constructions have been destroyed by weather and the elements. There seems to be a confusion as to who built the temple of Yamunotri. However, according to sources, the temple was originally constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.
Sangya is the birthplace of the Yamuna in the Champasar Glacier (4,421 m) just below the Banderpoonch Mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalind Parvat, (Kalind being another name for the sun deity – Surya). Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a trait that she developed because, according to a common story, Yamuna’s mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband.
Gangotri is the place of the origin of the most auspicious river of India Ganga. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa.
According to this legend, King Sagara, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King’s 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the “Yajna” (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagara stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.
Kedarnath is named in the honour of King Kedar, who ruled in Satya Yuga. He had a daughter named Vrinda who was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. She performed austerities for several years and the land is named after her as Vrindavan. However, Kedarnath and its temple exist from the Mahabharata era when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Lord Shiva by doing penance there. But lord shiva was angry with them, so they disappeared from there. It is one of the most important dhams amongst the Chota Char Dham. The Shiva statue here is considered to be decapitated where as the head is believed to be in Doleshwor Mahadeva Temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
According to Hindu legend, god Vishnu sat in meditation at this place, keeping away from Thuling, a place in the Himalayas which was corrupted by meat-eating monks and unchaste people. During his meditation, Vishnu was unaware of cold weather. Lakshmi, his consort, protected him in the form of the Badri tree (jujube or Indian date). Pleased by the devotion of Lakshmi, Vishnu named the place Badrika Ashram. According to Atkinson (1979), the place used to be a jujube forest, which are not found there today. Vishnu in the form of Badrinath is depicted in the temple sitting in the padmasana posture. According to the legend, Vishnu was chastised by a sage, who saw Vishnu’s consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Vishnu went to Badrinath to perform austerity, meditating for a long time in padmasana.
The Vishnu Purana narrates another version of the origins of Badrinath. According to the tradition, Dharam had two sons, Nar and Narayan—both of which are modern names of Himalayan mountains. They chose the place to spread their religion and each of them wed the spacious valleys in the Himalayas. Searching for an ideal place to set up a hermitage, they came across the other four Badris of the Pancha Badri, namely Bridha Badri, Yog Bhadri, Dhyan Badri and Bhavish Badri. They finally found the hot and cold spring behind the Alaknanda River and named it Badri Vishal.
Kedarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the most famous Shiva Temples in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to November (Kartik Purnima – the autumn full moon). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. It is not accessible by road and has to be reached by a 18 kilometres uphill trek from Gaurikund. Pony and manchan service is available to reach the temple. The temple was built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. Kedarnath Temple is among 5 of the Panch Kedars.
Badrinath Temple is another most famous shrine of Lord Vishnu and one of the most famous temples in India. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The image of the presiding deity worshipped in the temple is a 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, black stone statue of Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. The Badrinath temple is one of five related shrines called Panch Badri, which are dedicated to the worship of Vishnu. The main shrine houses the 1 m (3.3 ft) Shaligram (black stone) image of Badrinarayan, which is housed in a gold canopy under a Badri Tree.
Gangotri Temple is another dham of Chota Chardham Yatra Circuit which is highly reverred by all the Hindu community around the world. Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. In the pilgrimage journey of Chota Char Dham, Gangotri is often visited after Yamunotri (located on the western region of Garhwal Hills). Pilgrims generally make Uttarkashi as their base camp. The time taken from Uttarkashi to Gangotri temple is about 4 hours by road.
The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The temple of Yamuna, on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna, like the Ganges, has been elevated to the status of a divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
|Yamunotri Temple||19 April (Tentative)|
|Gangotri Temple||19 April (Tentative)|
|Kedarnath Temple||21 April (Tentative)|
|Badrinath Temple||30 April (Tentative)|
Chota Chardham is located in Uttarakhand State of India whose starting points are Haridwar and Rishikesh. Haridwar and Rishikesh are very well connected with Delhi via Train, Bus and Air. There are regualr bus services from Delhi to Haridwar also one can book taxi or cab from Delhi or Haridwar. The Yatra to all the 4 dhams generally takes about 8 nights from Haridwar. Devotees can book transport and hotels in advance since there is too much rush during peak times and you will be facing shortage of accommodation and price hikes in Hotels and Transport.
Devotees can book the Char Dham Packages from Delhi to Delhi or From Haridwar to Haridwar. Delhi is the national capital of India and hence it is well connected to all over the India with every means of transport. You need to book the package from Delhi if you don’t wish to continue moving to Haridwar.
Delhi By Train : There are 3 Major Railway Stations in Delhi namely Old Delhi Railway Station, New Delhi Railway Station and Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station . New Delhi Railway Station is one of the famous railway station of Delhi. Most pairs of Shatabdi Express originate and terminate at this station. It is also the main hub for the Rajdhani Express, hence making it the biggest and busiest railway station of Indian Railways.
Delhi by Air : Delhi International Airport or Indira Gandhi International Airport is one of the most connected airports in India which connects Delhi to all the major cities in India as well as abroad. There are number of flights on daily basis from all over the country which operates to Delhi on Daily basis. Be sure to book flights in Advance inorder to save money on flights.