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Moksh !!! A word with which every Hindu is able to relate. Attaining salvation is the ultimate purpose of life is Hinduism. It is a popular belief within the Hindu community conducting Char Dham Yatra is one of the ways to attain Moksh or Salvation. This what gets to me to write the blog about the pious Chardham yatra.
Before getting into the technical details let me take you a walk down the lane of history of cardham Yatra. Chardham Yatra was founded around 1200 years ago by the renowned sage Shri Adi Shankaracharya. While, the original Chardham yatra comprised of Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram the latter in 20th century was shortened to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.
The cost of chardham yatra tour package of newer version is lesser, compared to the original chardham yatra tour package. In order to absolve oneself of all the bad karma;s one undertakes the journey of chardham, this is the major driving force behind chardham tour, which attracts Lakhs of tourist every year, ultimately giving livelihood options to the people residing in these areas. Not many are aware that Chardham Yatra is undertaken in a sequence and people land up conducting the pilgrimage in a manner that suits their convenience.
Best Time For Chardham yatra
The Chardham yatra is open period of May to September (Excluded July due to heavy Rainy Season), with every year having a different opening and closing date based on the Hindu tradition of parikrama or clockwise succession.
The reason to follow the sequence is because of the significance attached to it. The sequence is as follows Yamunotri, Gangotri, kedarnath and Badrinath.
To begin with Yamunotri, it is the believed that Yamuna is the sister of Yamraj. On the auspicious occasion of Bhaidooj Yamraj promised Yamuna that whosoever takes a dip in the holy river of Yamuna would not be taken to Yamlok and attain salvation.
The next is Gangotri, the source of river Ganga which descended to Earth upon the meditation of king Bhagirath, it is said that by bathing in the Ganges one is not only freed from all their sins but also embraces goodness.
Kedarnath shrine dedicated to lord Shiva is one of the most important ,shrines in the Chardham yatra and it attains this importance due to the fact that is it also a part of 12 jyotirlinga’s.( Blog on 12 Jyotirlinga to follow soon).
Badrinath, last but not the least this shrine id dedicated to lord Vishnu who is the protector and preserver of the entire universe. This place has special importance as Shri Adi Shankaracharya attained salvation over here and became free on the cycle reincarnation.
Route & Time Taken to Chardham yatra
Inspite of the four sites being located pretty close to each other the higher mountain ranges make it very difficult to have a direct road connection amongst them.
I started my Pilgrimage with Yamunotri the first dham which is located in Uttarkashi district, one has to stay in Janki Chatti and then undertake a 6 km walk to the main temple. There are three temples along the route the first one being Ram Temple which lies to your right. You will get a hot water spring at Yamunotri. It would take approx 4-6 hours to travel from Janki chatti to Yamunotri.
After soaking in the experience of Yamunotri I proceeded to Gangotri from Janki Chatti. I started my journey at round 6 am and reached the Gangotri before sunset. The temple of Gangotri is located in the town itself, though the origin is in Gomukh. This leaves many of the pilgrims in a fix whether to travel all the way to Gomukh. The trek to Gomukh would take 2 days from Gangotri. The first destination on the route being Bhojbasa, the trek is 14kms from Gangotri which is pretty steep for the first 100 steps which leaves one exhausted though after it the trek is a cakewalk. The time duration is of 6-8 hours. Bhojbasa has located 4 km from Gomukh. One can start early next day and reach Gomukh in an hour and a half. Gomukh being the is the source of river Ganga completes your pilgrim to Gangotri. Spend some time at Gomukh and walk back to Bhojbasa. The distance Bhojbasa to Gangotri should be completed in nearly 4 hours. Gangotri completed my second dham and also taught me to be closer to nature and feel the sense of serenity. Away from the hustle bustle of life it gave me one important lesson of life “Stay tuned with nature and things will fall in place” You can take back your own learning which I am sure will be pretty different and thoughtful.
The Lord revered by the human’s as well the ghost; yes you guessed it right Shiv. The aesthetic yogi, who is absorbed within himself. The third dham is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kedarnath. Kedarnath is located in the Rudraprayag district. I started my journey to the mystical place. One has to travel to kedarnath from Gangotri is via Gaurikund and I will intimate you in advance that it is a whopping 310 kms via the mountainous ranges and it could take as long as 14 Kms to reach Gaurikund. The buses start as early as 4 am and the last bus leaves at 7 am after which there are no direct buses. One may have to take a pit stop at Uttarkashi in order to reach Gaurikund.
Gaurikund is where the road concludes itself from there one has to walk the trail. For Kedarnath yatra one needs to obtain a fitness certificate which can be obtained from Sonprayag. Incase if your health conditions are not sound you may be denied the trek of 14kms. Don’t be disheartened one still has the option to go by helicopter. The view of kedarnath is worth every pain one undertakes. The 3,000 year old temple with Himalayan backdrop is a treat to an eye. Pandavas had built this temple which makes it all the more significant.
Post the health checkup if one is allowed to undertake the trek their next stop from Gaurikund would be Rambara. Posts the disastrous flood of 2013 people have fear instilled in their minds that route is no longer safe. However, My experience was quite positive while trekking. Rambara is 11Km away from Gaurikund.
Rambara is 3 Km away from Kedarnath which takes around 2-3 hours to reach the temple. After obtaining the blessings of Kedarnath one can come and stay at Gaurikund. Kedarnath taught me detachment, to be part of the society and yet detach oneself from them. Yes this is what Lord Shiva also embraces.
After a Night stay at Gaurikund I headed to Badrinath. The distance from Gaurikund to Badrinath is 300 Km and one take’s roughly 10-12 Hours to reach Badrinath.
Badrinath along with being the abode of Lord Vishnu is also the source of river Alakhnanda. What makes Badrinath equally important is the belief that Pandavas had passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, which has famous Mana caves where sage Vyasya is believed to have written Mahabharta.
After completing the Fourth Dham one can leave for Rishikesh next day morning. The buses start as early as 4 am.
Points to remember:
- Extreme climate conditions are a part and parcel of this tour.
- Carry basic medication along with you and warm clothes as well.
- Foods that keep you warm and some other knick knacks.
- Photo ID which would be essential part.