Char Dham yatra or the pilgrimage to four holy abodes is the name given to the four pilgrimage places in India that are widely revered sites for Hindus. It has been practiced since ancient time and even today millions of devotees from all corners of the world take this pilgrimage tour during the annual pilgrim season. According to a popular belief, doing Chardham Yatra will wash away all the sins and liberate the soul from birth and death cycles. Adi Shankracharya the great reformer, mystic and a philosopher set up this tour in 8th century in order to connect and bind people from all corners of the world. The yatra to these four pious abodes of almighty God offers a rhapsodic experience to its visitors and wash the soul of all the sins. Each site has its own legend and significance in mythology and it is believed that every Hindu must make at least one tour to these pilgrimage sites in his lifetime.
Nestled in the majestic Himalayas all the four dhams receive the water from the holy four rivers namely Yamuna in Yamunotri, Bhagirathi Ganga in Gangotri, Mandakini in Kedarnath and Alaknanda in Badrinath. Every year millions of devotees undertake Chardham Yatra that provides an environment where God and transcendent coexist. Traditionally the Char Dham Yatra is undertaken from west to east. Thus the pilgrimage to sacred sites starts from Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and then finally concludes at Badrinath.
Yamunotri:-It is the seat of Goddess Yamuna and from here the Chardham yatra begins. Yamunotri is the spot from where the river Yamuna originates. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess which opens every year on Akshaya Tritya for Chardham tours. There are number of thermal springs near the temple of which Suray Kund is renowned for its healing powers. Devotees dip the rice and potatoes in these hot springs to be offered to the deity before taking it home. Gangotri:- Gangotri is situated in Uttarakhand at an elevation of 3,048 meters above the sea level. The Gangotri Temple is situated on the right bank of river Bhagirathi is an 18th century temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga who believed to have descended from haven as the stream of life in response to king Bhagirath’s penance. The Shrine of Gangotri opens during the last week of April or the first week of May, on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. Kedarnath:-Kedarnath, is among the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva is the next dham of Chardham yatra. Situated at an altitude of 3,584 meters above the sea level at the head of river Mandakini, the shrine is amongst the holiest pilgrimage site for Hindus. At Kedarnath there are several kunds that are known for their religious significance. Surajkund, Retkund, Hanskund, Udakund, Rudhirkund are among the most prominent one. During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow & hence is closed. Badrinath:- Dedicated to Lord Vishnu ,situated along with river Alaknanda , at an altitude of 3,235 meters above the sea level between the two mountains Nara and Narayana, is one of the holiest temples for the Hindus. Besides the main temple of Badrinath there are four other smaller badri temples which are collectively called as Panch Badris is no less than a paradise.