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About Char Dham Yatra in Garhwal Himalayas

The 'Uttarakhand Char Dham', also known as the 'Chhota Char Dham', holds a great religious significance for Hindus all over the world. Considered to be the holiest religious circuit in India, the 'Char Dham Yatra', is also one of the most demanding expeditions amongst the pilgrims owing to its great heights and arduous trekking routes up till the four shrines. 'Char Dham' which means the four holy abodes of the almighty, mainly comprise of four pilgrim destinations namely, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Nestled in the lap of Garhwal Himalayas, surrounded with immense scenic beauty, a visit to these holy destinations not only offers a spiritual bliss and inner peace but also purifies ones soul. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from all across India and different parts of the world take part in this soul liberating Char Dham pilgrimage tour.

Significance of the Char Dham Yatra

The 'Char Dham Yatra' is one of the most sacred pilgrim tours for Hindus and is believed to wash away all your sins of present and past lifetimes. As per Hindi mythological beliefs, commencing on the 'Char Dham Yatra' at least once in lifetime relieves you from the vicious cycle of life and death, thereby helping you attain salvation or 'Moksha'.

Besides mythological reasons, there are many scientific and medical reasons associated with the significance of this holy pilgrimage tour. Since, all the sacred shrines are located in higher mountainous regions, a trek to these destinations in a year helps a person attain fitness and physical stamina which is also very important for a healthy mind and heart. Secondly, the abundant natural beauty comprising of lofty peaks, gurgling rivers, sparking waterfalls and serene lakes enroute to these holy sites, help a person feel relaxed and rejuvenated, thereby regulating the neurotic senses. Besides these, the whole atmosphere sanctified with enchanting of mantras and shlokas brings a lot of positivity which in turn regulates various body hormones, pulse rate, and heartbeat.

Dates for Char Dham Yatra in 2016

Every year, the 'Char Dham Temple Committee' declares the dates for the commencement of this holy yatra. Usually, the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya is chosen as the day of commencement for this holy pilgrimage tour. This year also, the doors of 'Char Dham Yatra' will open on the same auspicious day which falls on 9th May, 2016. This is the date when pilgrims can start off with their spiritual journey, the temple opening dates slightly differ from this date. Yamunotri & Gangotri temple is scheduled to be opened on 9th May and Kedarnath-Badrinath Temple is to be opened on on 11th May.

Starting these dates, the shrines will be remained opened for 6 months and will close down on the day of Diwali, 30th October, 2106 due to heavy snowfall in winters, making the routes inaccessible. During the winter months, the deities from the main temples are brought down to their winter homes where they are worshipped till the doors of the main shrines open again in the next subsequent year.

Top Tourist Attractions on the Char Dham Yatra

The journey for the 'Char Dham Yatra' begins from the holy city of Haridwar either taking you via Rishikesh or Dehradun – Mussoorie routes. Make sure to start this pious journey by taking a holy dip in the waters of sacred Ganges at 'Har-ki-Pauri' in Haridwar. Also, pay homage at the 'Mansa Devi' and 'Chandi Devi' temples where the wishes of devotees are believed to be fulfilled.

If you are taking the Rishikesh route, get the blessings of 'Lord Triambakeshwar' and 'Neelkanth Mahadev' at the respective temples or feel the essence of spirituality by soaking your souls in the echoing sounds of hymns and prayers during the captivating 'Ganga Aarti' at the 'Triveni Ghat'.

For those taking the Dehradun-Mussoorie route, stop by for some time at the 'Sahastradhara' and rejuvenate your mind and body by dipping your feet in the ice-chilled water of this water spring. You can also take a refreshing bath in the gushing 'Kempty Falls' at Mussoorie.

As you make your way further on the route, enjoy the panoramic vistas of the 'Bandarpoonch Peak' and stop by to pay homage at the ancient 'Shiva Temple' at Barkot. From Barkot, once you reach 'Hanuman Chatti', take blessings from Lord Hanuman at the 'Hanuman Temple' and proceed towards 'Janki Chatti' where you can get rid of all the fatigue by taking a bath in the natural thermal water springs. From Janki Chatti, trek towards the first sacred Dham of the 'Char Dham Yatra', the holy shrine of 'Yamunotri' and enroute, get the blessings of 'Shani Dev' at the village of 'Kharsali', the winter home to Goddess Yamuna.

Yamunotri is the holy abode of Goddess Yamuna and a sanctified place from where River Yamunotri makes her way, originating at the 'Champasar Glacier'. Believed to be the sister of God of Death, Lord Yama, it is said that taking a dip in holy waters of Yamuna brings an easy and painless death. While at Yamunotri, first purify yourselves by taking a dip in hot waters of 'Surya Kund' and also, prepare the Prasad of rice and potatoes. Afterwards, pay your respect to the 'Divya Shila' and then finally take the pious darshans of Yamuna Ji at the main 'Yamunotri Temple'.

From Yamunotri, the next major stopover is at the holy city of Uttarkashi, located on the banks of Bhagirathi River. A spiritual retreat for the 'Char Dham' pilgrims, this is a sacred site dotted with many temples and ashrams. While at Uttarkashi, get the blessings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga at the ancient 'Vishwanath Temple' and 'Shakti Temple' respectively.

As you proceed towards Gangotri, the second sacred Dham on the spiritual journey of Char Dham Yatra, take a halt at Gangnani and get yourself sanctified by bathing in the natural thermal waters of the 'Rishi Kund'. Take in the beauty of scenic natural vistas as you pass through the picturesque village of Dharali, known for its striking 'Apple Orchards'. As you progress on one of your most memorable sacred site tours, revel in the pure aura of 'Mukhba Village', the winter home to Goddess Ganga where she is enshrined in the 'Ganga Temple'.

From Mukhba Village, you are not far off from the holy village of 'Gangotri' from where River Goddess Ganga, known as Bhagirathi, makes her descent to the plains, originating from the 'Gaumukh Glacier'. At Gangotri, take blessings from Goddess Ganga at the 'Gangotri Temple' and explore other sites of attraction including the 'Pandava Gufa', 'Bhagirathi Shila' and 'Suryakund Waterfalls'. If you are lucky, God Shiva will bless you by making an appearance in the form of Shivlinga that most of the year, remains submerged under water. For ardent pilgrims, the yatra to the 'Gangotri Dham' does not end at the village, they make their way 18 km. uphill to see the actual source of Ganga, the 'Gaumukh Glacier'.

After the divine darshans of Ganga Ji at Gangotri, it's time to proceed further on the Char Dham pilgrimage tour. Make your way to Ukhimath either via 'Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Augustmuni' route or the 'Uttarkashi – Tehri – Ghanshali' route. 'Ukhimath' is the winter home to Lord Kedarnath and is a major stopover enroute to Kedarnath from Gangotri. At Ukhimath, make sure to pay homage to Lord Shiva at the 'Madhyamaheshwar Temple', one of the sacred temples of the 'Panch Kedar' group.

From Ukhimath, make your way to the third Dham of the 'Char Dham Circuit', the holy 'Kedarnath'. Navigate through holy city of 'Gupt Kashi', taking blessings from the almighty at the 'Vishwanath' and 'Ardhnarishwar' temples. Pass through the enchanting town of 'Sonprayag', paying homage at the 'Triguninarayan Temple'. Stop by at the 'Gaurikund', take bath in holy waters of the thermal spring and seek blessings from Goddess Parvati at the 'Gauri Temple'. Finally, you reach your third sacred destination, the shrine of Kedarnath where Lord Shiva in the form of a triangular Jyotirlinga absolved the sins of Pandavas.

At Kedarnath, revel in the breath-taking vistas of the Garhwal Himalayan peaks of 'Swargarohini' and 'Kedar', take blessings of Lord Shiva at the 'Kedarnath Temple', and pay your obeisance to Lord Bhairavnath, the guardian deity of Kedarnath during winters at the 'Bhairav Temple'.

From Kedarnath, proceed further on your way to the last sacred Dham of 'Badrinath'. On your way, take a halt at the quaint 'Chopta Village'. Home to the 'Panch Kedar' temple of Tungnath, Chopta Village also provides you with incredible views of the 'Chandrashila Peak', tucked between the forests of rhododendrons and lush meadows. Enroute to Badrinath, stop by at Nandprayag, one of the sacred sites of 'Panch Prayag' group. From Nandprayag, proceed further to Badrinath via Joshimath, Vishnuprayag and Pandukeshwar.

At Badrinath, take holy dip in the waters of 'Tapt Kund', pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu at the main 'Badrinath Temple', get to know the legends associated with Mahabharata at the 'Mana Village' and revel in the beauty of 'Vasudhara Falls'.

Visit the holy sites of Karnprayag, Rudraprayag, Augustmuni, Srinagar and Devprayag on your way back to Haridwar after the completion of the sacred Char Dham Yatra.

Bookings for Char Dham Yatra Package

We provide special packages for the 'Char Dham Yatra' at best of the prices. With our tour packages, you can choose from variety of options ranging from 'do dham tours' that comprise of Yamunotri-Gangotri and Kedarnath-Badrinath pilgrim tours to 'char dham packages' that include a visit to all 4 sacred dhams. We also arrange for customized char dham tour packages with which you have the flexibility of adding and skipping tourist attractions of your choice along the journey; our tour experts specialize in creating best itineraries as per your requirements and preferences. Besides sight-seeing, with these packages, we also arrange for your hotel stays inclusive of complementary breakfast and AC vehicles for hotel and inter-city transportations; comfort and world class services to our guests takes the first priority for our entire team.

For bookings, please send us your name, email address, contact number, preferred dates of travel, number of persons and any particular choice for category of hotels. We will get back to you at earliest with a customized tour package of your choice. Fill this enquiry form.

Days Required for Char Dham Yatra

Usually the Char Dham Yatra tour gets completed in duration of 12-13 days. Keeping the well-being and health of our guests in mind, we plan for a comfortable expedition not making you rush through rugged terrains and rough trekking trails. Each day, our aim is to cover 6-7 hrs of the journey giving you ample time to relax at your hotels and indulge in an unmatched sight-seeing experience along the route.

Best Time for the Char Dham Yatra

The doors of the four sacred pilgrim sites open in the months of April-May and get closed during October-November and there is a huge rush of pilgrims starting day one. But, if we talk about the best time for the char dham pilgrimage tour, then September is the most recommended month to get on with this spiritual journey owing to the fact that all the sacred dhams, during this month, are beaming with serene and magical natural beauty that fills your heart and soul with an extreme sense of divinity and solitude. The months of June to August are prone to heavy rainfalls making it difficult for pilgrims, especially the elder ones.

Transportation Setup for Char Dham Spiritual Tour of Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand state run buses and private deluxe & luxury coaches regularly ply from Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun for the holy Char Dham Yatra. From the same locations, taxi services can also be hired from private taxi rental services operating in the area. If you wish, you can also opt for chartered helicopter services for a tour to the four sacred dhams, details of which are given in one of the sections below.

Permissions Required for Char Dham Yatra

All the pilgrims commencing with the char dham yatra are required to undergo a biometric registration process under which they will be issued with biometric cards also known as the 'Yatra Pass' or 'Yatra Permit'. The registration can be done at the yatra offices in Haridwar, Rishikesh or Tapovan (Tehri District). With the biometric registration, government also aims at maintaining a check on the number of pilgrims entering and leaving a shrine through a GPS-based monitoring system. This will help the government to plan for safety measures for the pilgrims at a given point of time just in case an emergency situation similar to flash floods of 2013 arises again.

If you plan to trek to Gaumukh or further up to Nandanvan or Tapovan from Gangotri, special permissions are required to be taken from the forest department in Uttarakhand.

Accommodation Options Along the Char Dham Route:

The Char Dham Yatra route is always bustling with a variety of accommodation options ranging from lodges, GMVM tourist guest houses, budget hotels to 3-4 star properties. Luxury hotels and resorts are very limited in these hilly areas. Besides the normal hotel stay, if you wish to soak your spirits in ample serenity and take in full pleasure of this soulful and sanctified journey, then the best option is to stay in luxury camps that are built amidst tranquil settings and provide ample peace to your fatigued souls. These camps are set up in Barkot enroute to Yamunotri, Harsil enroute to Gangotri, Gupt Kashi enroute to Kedarnath and Joshimath enroute to Badrinath.

Helicopter Services

It has become very difficult for people these days to get themselves a break of 10-15 days from their busy schedules. For such pilgrims, who have a very limited time in their kitty, helicopter services can be a good choice enabling them to cover the char dham sites in shortest span of time. Besides saving lots of time, the helicopter tours also give you an opportunity to witness the natural beauty of the magical landscapes from a different angle. For Yamunotri, chartered helicopter services can be booked from Sahastradhara in Dehradun till Kharsali, from where pilgrims need to take pony rides up till Yamunotri. For Gangotri, chartered helicopters ply from Kharsali to Harsil, from where Gangotri is just 30 km. drive away. Kedarnath and Badrinath can be reached through helicopter services available at Phata near Guptkashi.

We can provide you with best deals for the char dham packages combined with helicopter services. The booking are required to be done well in advance due to limited availability of seats.

Best Recommended Travel Tips:

  • If you are planning for the yatra, get ready both physically and mentally as walking up the rough hilly terrains require a lot of physical and mental stamina. Start the preparation early on by taking walking sessions of 3 -4 km. every day and if possible, practice this on an inclined platform.
  • Take the services of a reliable tour operator who can make all arrangements ranging from arrival/departure to hotel stays to inter-city transfers. Friends and relatives are the best source of reviews for the tour operators. You can even read the comments and feedbacks for various tour operators on social sites and forums.
  • Get a medical check-up done before commencing on with the journey. Get yourself tested for cardiac problems, blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. Only if you are in a fit condition, take on with the yatra.
  • Carry a medical kit along containing your prescribed medicines and off the shelf medicines for fever, stomach problems, cough & cold, sprains etc.
  • Make sure to carry proper woollens as you will be travelling at high altitudes during the char dham spiritual journey. Also, carrying raincoats and umbrellas make sense if you are travelling in rainy season.
  • Carrying a torch, lighter and extra batteries for cameras and handycams is always advisable.
  • Avoid carrying jewellery but do carry sufficient cash along as very few ATMs are located on the yatra route.
  • Make sure you have the helpline numbers handy just in case you need any assistance.
  • If you are not travelling through a tour package, get the accommodation bookings done well in advance to avoid any hassles of last minute bookings as hotels and lodges tend to get occupied in minutes owing to peak rush.
  • Owing to greater heights where weather changes every few minutes, always keep track of weather conditions and forecasts to avoid adverse situations of cloud bursts or landslides.
  • While hiring ponies or palanquins, take the services of licensed operators.
  • It is always advisable to carry a light luggage with only necessary items.
  • Carrying few packets of dry fruits is a wise decision as they will provide you with the required energy needed during arduous walks and hikes.
  • Your footgear also plays an important role along the journey. Wear comfortable and sturdy sport shoes during the yatra. If you have recently bought them, make sure you wear them in so that there are no blisters or shoe bites making your ascent uncomfortable.
  • Plan your trip in a group so that you have an assistance of someone in case of a difficult situation.
  • Respect the rules and regulations of the shrines; do not indulge in photography at prohibited places.
  • Keep in mind, the cleanliness of environment; do not throw away any wrappers, packets or bottles on the roads.

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