The Char Dham yatra is a pilgrimage of four sacred places in the Garhwal region of Uttrakhand State, namely - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Uttrakhand is popularly known as “Dev Bhoomi” which translates to ‘Land of Gods’. The Char Dham is the highlight amidst a plethora of spiritual attractions that lie throughout the Uttrakhand region. Sar Outdoors offers extremely affordable Char DhamYatra packages. Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, collectively known as Char Dham; lie nestled in the higher Himalayan altitudes. Char Dham yatra offers the most picturesque pilgrimage in the world, attracting devotees and adventurers alike, from all over the world. The pilgrimage traditionally commences in the West and concludes in the East. Thus, it starts from Yamunotri, then proceeds to Gangotri ascending higher to Kedarnath, and finally ending at Badrinath. Char Dham Yatra was started by the great Hindu philosopher and reformer - Adi Shankaracharya; in the 8th century A.D. to revive the Hindu religion. Each of the four sites being devoted to a specific deity as well as marking itself as the spiritual source of the four sacred rivers. River Yamuna (Yamunotri), River Ganga or Ganges (Gangotri), River Mandakini (Kedarnath), and River Alaknanda (Badrinath). Yamunotri is dedicated to the Goddess Yamuna. Gangotri is dedicated to the Goddess Ganga. Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is also the abode of the northernmost Jyotirlinga. Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. All the four Char Dhams are rich with their own tales which reason the establishment of each Dham. The Char Dham is considered to be an extremely high source of spiritual power and this is what draws pilgrims from all over the world every year, to embark upon the Char Dham Yatra.
Char Dham Yatra is considered by Hindus as an extremely sacred pilgrimage. It is believed to be a life-changing and purifies one’s Karmic circle. One is directed on the path of ‘Moksha’ or salvation when they visit the Char Dhams. The four holy shrines in Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri lie at high altitudes of the majestic Himalayas. As scenic and attractive these locations, equally challenging can the journey get. Thus, one who treads on the path of the Yatra is tested not just physically; but mentally and emotionally. It tests your faith, willpower, physical and mental strength. But a devotee who embarks on the Char Dham Yatra tends to submit to God and can sense the divine within awakening, performing the pilgrimage successfully. A seeker seeking the divine, shall reach these shrines and receive the blessings their soul craves. It is a divine experience. The Char Dham are at challenging locations amidst the Himalayas which offer many trekking sites. Thus, they attract not only Hindu devotees but adventurers and trekkers too. You may not always have spiritual intent to perform the Char DhamYatra but it shall be a heavenly experience irrespective.
Our agenda for Day 1 is to drive from Haridwar to Barkot via the lush, winding road to Mussoorie. While doing so, we make several stops and visit the lovely Mussoorie Lake, as well as Kempty Falls. Kempty Falls is a great spot for lunch, as one can enjoy the view as well as quality food at this point, which may not be available later on in the journey. After this, we drive directly to Barkot, and check into our hotel. Here, you find yourself in the arms of Uttarakhand’s hills, at a height of 1,220 m. The weather of Barkot makes it an agreeable place to visit regardless of the time of the year. During the summer months, the temperature lies somewhere in the comfortable range of 25 to 30 degrees, and in winters, while the days are pleasant, the nights can get slightly chilly, with the temperature ranging between 10 and 5 degrees. Make sure to carry layers accordingly.
The itinerary for the rest of the day is empty. We spend the night at Barkot. We use this time to recuperate and conserve our energy for Day 3, which encompasses the Prahalad (hill) Yatra of Yamunotri.
Early morning, after a delicious breakfast, our first activity of the day is to drive from Barkot to the Jankichatti/Phoolchatti area. From here, we trek to the first shrine of the Chardham circuit, i.e. Yamunotri. The trek is 6 kilometers long and maybe covered by foot, by horse, or by Doli (cost not included). The landscape covered on the trek is a stunning mix of general Himalayan vegetation and some classic plants of the region, including clusters of dense conifers, birch, firs, certain species of cacti, and the ever-present rhododendron.
Once we arrive at Yamunotri, we indulge in the ritual of making prasad to take back home at the end of the journey. We do this by cooking some rice, using the steaming water of the extremely hot kund. The temperature in the Yamunotri region is mostly on the colder side. In summers, the maximum temperature is 18 degrees. In winters, the weather can get drastically cold.
Another asset that is special to Yamunotri is the various “kunds” or hot water springs. The Jamunabai kund is composed of water that is warm enough to take a dip in. The Surya kund is also worthy of attention. After doing so, one may offer prayers to the divya shila which is the Yamunotri temple, which was built in the 19th century. It even faced destruction twice, but duly resurrected. On your way back to Jankichatti, you will witness the river Yamuna in all her glory. Soon after, we return to Barkot for the night.
We wake up early today and start our day with a hearty breakfast. Afterwards, with risen spirits, we embark on a scenic drive to Uttarkashi. We check into the hotel upon our arrival, and after lunch and a short rest, we visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple, which is the main point of intrigue in this area.
The city of Uttarkashi is situated at the banks of Ganga. The weather experienced by Uttarkashi is more on the extreme side, meaning it receives generally hot summers (temperature ranging between 30 and 35 degrees). The winters, on the other hand, are chilly.
The Vishwanath temple was reconstructed in the year 1857. Other facets of the structure include the Shakti temple (situated right across the Kashi Vishwanath temple), which is most well known for its magnificent “Trishul”, standing at a height of 6 meters, made of iron and copper. In addition to the Shakti temple, other shrines like that Ganeshji, Markandeya Rishi and Sakshi Gopal also compose a big part of the Vishwanath spiritual shrine here. The soulful aartis are a major part of the early morning and evening rituals here.
Today, we make the uphill journey to Gangotri, which is situated at the astonishing height of 3,048 meters. We take a packed breakfast with us to enjoy on the way. We stop at a hot spring named Garam kund at Ganganani for a holy dip quite unlike any other spiritual experience. Afterwards, we take the Harsil valley route straight to our objective destination of the day – Gangotri. We take our time and enjoy the ravishing hamlet valley of Harsil, with unprecedented views of the Himalayas, and its alpine vegetation consisting mainly of clusters of deodar and fir.
Owing to its height and abundance of vegetation, the weather at Gangotri is almost always cold. The temperature even in summers ranges between 10 and 20 degrees. Light layers are recommended while making the trip. During winters, because of heavy snowfall, the place is closed and inaccessible.
We soon reach Gangotri, and take a moment to pray and bathe in the holy waters of river Ganga (referred to as the Bhagirathi, at its point of origin). The Gangotri temple (established in the 18th century), is situated on the right bank of the mighty river. After offering our prayers, completing the pooja rituals and taking some time to enjoy the view presented to you in the lap of nature, we take a beautiful late sunset drive back to Uttarkashi, and spend the night there.
After a sumptuous breakfast, we drive up to Guptkashi. The name “Guptkashi” translates to Hidden Benaras, and is derived from the legend that Lord Shiva once hid himself from the Pandavas at this location. Guptkashi is a wonderfully pleasant place to visit in the summers. The temperature never goes beyond 30 degrees. During the winter months, however, it can get considerably chilly.
We make the journey via the Moolgarh and Lambgoan route, which offers us breathtaking glimpses of river Mandakini. One interesting fact is that river Mandakini actually originates from Kedarnath, which only adds to the spiritual energy and aura that makes this entire trip special.
While driving alongside the river, we soon find ourselves at the Ardh Narishwar temple at Guptkashi. After taking some time to visit the temple and offer prayers, we check into our hotel, and take the night to recuperate.
Day 6 is one of the most eventful days of the entire Chardham trip. Our destination for the day is Kedarnath, possibly the most well known and widely travelled dham in our itinerary. According to old legends, Kedarnath is the place where Lord Shiva granted the Pandavas redemption after many prayers and requests, upon the end of the Kurukshetra war. “Kedar” is one of the many other alternative names for Lord Shiva. The Kedarnath shrine boasts the entire robust Kedarnath mountain range in the background, and is situated at one of the most majestic locations possible.
Because it stands tall at 3,583 meters, the temperature witnessed at the Kedarnath shrine is almost always cold. Light to semi-heavy layers of clothing are recommended even during the summer months. During winters, the weather is so cold that it is not even widely travelled to, and because the climatic conditions can be risky, it is even avoided.
There are two main ways of reaching the Kedarnath shrine. One could either take the helicopter (Cost not included in package), for which you will be dropped to the helipad in the morning soon after breakfast. This route, though quicker, stands on the relatively expensive side. Another way to reach the shrine is by trek. You will be driven to Sonprayag, after which a local jeep to Gaurikund will seamlessly bring you to your starting point for the trek. To make your way back, you will have to follow the same route and take a local jeep to Sonprayag again. Regardless of which mode you choose to opt for, you may inform the driver about the duration of your flight or trek, so he can find a suitable place to park and pick you up the next day without any hassle.
After witnessing the shrine and spending some time at the dham, we check into a hotel for the night.
After a vibrant, calming pooja and a delicious breakfast, we check out of our hotel and make the journey back from Kedarnath to Sonprayag. After your driver picks you up at the pre-decided place, we drive back to Guptkashi, where we check into the hotel once again. The itinerary for the rest of the day is empty, giving you enough time to take in and the warm, spiritual energy of the journey so far, and resting for the next few days to come.
Our last dham for the trip, i.e. Badrinath, is the objective of our day today. After breakfast, we drive straight to Badrinath, and check into our hotel. The maximum average temperature at Badrinath is around 18 degrees, and the minimum would be around 8 degrees. Extra layers of clothing are always required for Badrinath, regardless of the time of the year. During winters, it is mostly closed for tourists.
One of the most significant holy rituals of Badrinath is taking a bath in Taptkund. After this, one may embark on sightseeing or darshan of Badrivishal, followed by the beautiful aarti in the evening. In the interim period, you may take the time to explore other popular gems of the region, namely Mana village (Indo-Mongolian tribe inhabited), Bhimkund, Matamoorti, Vyas gufa (the cave where Ved Vyas is said to have composed the Mahabharata), and the mouth of the Saraswati river. Most of these points of interest are located within three to five kilometres of Badrinath.
After spending time at the shrine and witnessing one of the most spiritually-charged aartis you will ever witness, we stay overnight.
We shall wake up to a beautiful sunrise in Badrinath. After a sumptuous breakfast, we will drive to Rudraprayagen route Joshimath. We shall make a stop at Joshimath at the Narsingh Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s 4th incarnation in Narsimha avatar. Later, we shall drive back to Rudraprayag via Joshimath. At Rudraprayag, we shall check into a hotel and call it a day.
In the morning, after having our breakfast and freshening up; we shall drive to Haridwar. On our way, we shall visit the Yoga capital – Rishikesh. Rishikesh is a charming town with such strong spiritual vibes. The Ganges flows in Rishikesh which lies surrounded by the Shivalik range. We shall check into a hotel, and then you can tour the town visiting LaxmanJhulla, Temples of Rishikesh, etc. Later, we shall drive to Haridwar and check into a Hotel there. We’ll spend the night at the Hotel.
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