Places To Visit During Chardham Yatra

Religious Places to Visit During Chardham Yatra

Neha RawatLast Seen: Apr 16, 2024 @ 8:49am 8AprUTC
Neha Rawat
@NehaRawat

20th February 2024 | 3 Views
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The following article provides a comprehensive list and information directory of places to visit during Chardham Yatra.

The Chota Chardham of Uttarakhand encapsulates the crux of pilgrimage stopovers spread across Garhwal Himalayas. Apart from the four Dhams of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, the pilgrimage trail carries in her mantle many other sacred shrines. Also, one comes across a multitude of tourist attractions known for their scenic beauty, adventurous treks, etc. To ensure that your itinerary does not miss relishing in the wonders of the entire pilgrim trail, we have created a comprehensive list of all the major places to visit during the Char Dham Yatra.

Places to Visit During Chardham Yatra

Haridwar:

Har Ki Pauri: Taking a dip in the holy waters of Ganga at Har ki Pauri is said to free one’s ancestors from the cycles of birth and death they are irrevocably caught in. In fact, this site is cited as the place of penance at which King Bhagirath successfully sought to please Lord Shiva for the sake of his ancestors.
Mansa Devi Temple: Resting on the nearby hilltop, Mansa Devi is said to grant the wishes of every devotee who ties to the sacred trees within the temple. The temple can be reached via a cable car ride or ‘Udan Khatola’ (in the local language).
Chandi Devi Temple: One needs to ascend further from Mansa Devi Temple to reach Chandi Devi Temple residing on the top of Neel Parvat. This is famed as one of the Siddha Peethas of Haridwar. Both Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi temples can also be reached by trekking.
Ganga Aarti: As the day metamorphosizes into varied hues of dusk, Haridwar worships Mother Ganga in its famous ‘Ganga Aarti’. The aarti usually begins with a pledge in which thousands pledge to honour the river and keep it clean. It then proceeds to float of thousands of diyas into its waters from devotees spread across the shore. The beautiful panorama of the river bearing thousands of lights just as darkness tightens her hold in the surrounding environment enchants every heart that beholds her. This has been cited as one of the must-experience events in one’s life.

Places To Visit During Chardham Yatra

Barkot-Hanuman Chatti-Janki Chatti-Kharsali

  • Barkot acts as an important stop-off for pilgrims on the Char Dham Yatra. A hill station in its own right, Barkot gifts one an ideal escapade into the serene joys of natural beauty and spiritual joy with its snow-engulfed views of ‘Bandarpoonch’ Peak and the holy environment of an ancient Shiva temple.
  • Hanuman Chatti boasts of a famous Hanuman temple as its major attraction. You will part ways here with those treading on adventure treks to Dodi Tal and Darwa Top.
  • Once one reaches Janki Chatti, the real perilous trek to Yamunotri begins. This steep climb of 6 km requires intense physical stamina. Ponies or Palkies can be hired for those who find it difficult to travel by foot. But the trail also gifts some of the most enchanting views of Himalayan topography. Make sure you savor the scenery and do not get lost in the rush to reach the destination.
  • When extreme winter necessitates the closing of Yamunotri, the idols are brought down to Kharsali to be worshipped in the interim. Kharsali is also famous for its very ancient Shani Dev temple, one of its kind. 

Yamunotri

A visit to Yamunotri is considered incomplete without one’s paying obeisance at Divya Shila and the thermal kunds. One may keep in mind that the actual origin of River Yamuna occurs at about an altitude of 1 km up from the Yamunotri temple, at Champasar glacier. Owing to the steep climb, only adventurers strive to approach the River’s source. The rest of the devotees pay homage to Shakti, embodied as the River Yamuna, at her temple built at the foot of the mountain.

As has been mentioned above, the most important sites to visit around Yamunotri temple include the thermal spring named Surya Kund. Legend claims that Goddess Yamuna is the daughter of Surya, the Sun God. The necessitated ritual one is supposed to take part in before entering the temple includes one’s taking a bath at this natural thermal spring. Also, taking home the prasad of rice and potatoes, boiled after their having been dipped in this hot water spring, is a popular practice. There is a pillar of rock built near Surya Kund called Divya Shila. Before worshipping at the shrine inside Yamunotri temple, devotees pay their respect at the ‘Divya Shila’. 

Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi, Kashi of the North, bearing the ‘Swayambhu lingam’ of Lord Shiva at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the venerated Trident as Shakti at Durga Temple, and Manikarnika Ghat falls en route to Gangotri. One ought not to miss the spiritual serenity the confluence of Shiv and Shakti evokes in this holy town. 

Gangnani

The thermal spring, namely ‘Rishikund Teerth’, at Gangnani is a popular stopover for pilgrims heading to worship Maa Ganga at her origins in Gangotri. 

Harsil, Dharali, Mukhba Village

It is only recently that Harsil has marked its emergence in tourist itineraries. In fact, its rather concealment comes as a boon as its idyllic beauty, salubrious fresh air, and peaceful charms unwind and rejuvenate one’s physical and emotional well-being. If time permits, try going for a trek to ‘Sattal’. This site of several high-altitude alpine lakes beautifully clustered together creates such pristine beauty for the senses to indulge in that one would carry its imprints in memory forever.

The idol of Goddess Ganga is brought down from the temple at Gangotri during winter and worshipped at the nearby village of ‘Mukhba’ for six months. The village replete with colorful gardens, forests of sky-high pine and rhododendron trees, and tiny rustic huts will not let you drive away without having captured its picture-perfect beauty in camera.

At a mere 2km from Harsil, one encounters the village of Dharali. The ‘Shiv Temple’ in Dharali is a popular stopover for the pilgrims on Char Dham Yatra. Also, continue to be enchanted by the beautiful views of the apple orchard the village gifts. 

Gangotri

Gangotri offers much more than just the revered temple of Maa Ganga. Its submerged Shivling and Bhagirath Shila bring alive the myths popularly evoked about the inception of the River. The Submerged Shivling is cited to be where Lord Shiva received the incredible flow of Ganga from the heavens in his matted locks while Bhagirath Shila is where King Bhagirath did his tapasya to please Lord Shiva.

Don’t forget to head onto the beautiful Surya Kund waterfalls, located just half a kilometer ahead of the Gangotri Temple. The nearby Pandav Gufa is another site bearing its mythical reference, of having been once the abode of Pandavas before they ascended to the heavens.

Witnessing the actual conception of the River Ganga from the cow-shaped glacier at Gaumukh is an experience not to be missed by anyone whose spirit of adventure permits the same. The perilous trek should not be taken lightheartedly though. This 18 km trek from Gangotri requires one’s obtain special permits from the Uttarkashi Forest Department Office. One will be duly warned of the probability of encountering landslides en route to the glacier. There are even more arduous treks to Tapovan and Nandanvan, which a few spirited travelers successfully complete. The enchanting view of Shivling Peak the course offers is worth all the risks,. 

Ukhimath, Guptkashi, Son Prayag, Gauri Kund

Ukhimath is blessed as the site of worship of Lord Kedarnath and Lord Madhyamaheshwar at its Omkareshwar Temple during the cold winter months when the original shrines remain closed. The town also houses one of the 108 Shakti Peethas at its revered ‘Kalimath Temple’. The eighth chapter of Devi Mahatmya portrays how Goddess Kali annihilated the demon Rakhtbeej, whose each drop of blood engendered a new ‘Rakhtbeej’ in a fiery battle. Well, the temple is said to have been constructed at the battle site.

The picturesque town of Uttarkashi, resting along the serene banks of the Mandakini River, is said to have prepared the sacred ground for Lord Shiva’s marriage proposal to Goddess Parvati. Its major attractions include Vishwanath Temple, Ardhnarishwar Temple, and Manikarnika Kund.

Head along a bit further on the course to come across the actual wedding site of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at the “Triyuginarayan Temple’ in Sonprayag. This divinely auspicious Vishnu Temple set the divinely auspicious stage for the holy union.

The trek to Kedarnath begins at Gaurikund. The site not just reverberates with the ascetic devotional penance of Goddess Parvati whose single-minded soulful will won her Lord Shiva as the chosen husband, but also with her affectionate murmurings in molding Sri Ganesha, her son, from clay on her own. The site is known for its having been the birthplace of Lord Ganesha and for its preparing the sacred ground for Maa Parvati’s rigorous penance born of her unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva harbors temple dedicated to Maa Gauri. Pilgrims set out on their perilous trek to Kedarnath after taking a bath in the thermal spring at Gaurikund and paying their obeisance at the temple.

Kedarnath

Well, the most attractive of all sites in Kedarnath remains its temple for Lord Shiva, housing its beautiful jyotirlinga, nestled in between the banks of River Mandakini and peaks of Kedar and Swargarohini. Not just does the temple finds itself among the ‘Char Dham’, but also does it form a part of a conglomerate of ‘Panch Kedar’.

An eight km long trek would take one to Vasuki Tal. It is revered to have been the site where Lord Vishnu bathed himself. Bhairav Temple can be reached after a one km long trek from the Kedarnath shrine; what one discovers at the site of the temple is the marvel and abundance that Kedarnath valley is, for the panorama the temple’s location offers of the valley is inexpressible even for poetic elegance. Lord Bhairavnath, the major deity of Bhairavnath Temple, is worshipped by the local population to be the guardian of the entire valley.

Chopta

This hill station, known for its beautiful meadows and lush green evergreen forests, forms the crux of the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary. It is emerging as a very popular destination for trekking, snow skiing, rock climbing, rock craft, wildlife photography, etc. A moderately difficult trek of 3 km would take one to Chandrashila Peak through the mesmerizing forests of oak and rhododendron interspersed with emerald green meadows. What can one say of the breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks the trail graciously offers? One must experience the pleasure of imbibing so much natural beauty at least once in their lifetime.

Also, Chopta acts as a base camp for trekking towards Tungnath Temple, another of the Panch Kedar conglomerate dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Gopinath Temple located in the adjacent village is another Shaivite shrine that attracts many a devout heart to offer their homage to Lord Shiva.

Nandprayag, Joshimath, Vishnuprayag

Pilgrims on their route toward Badrinath do not fail to visit the temple at Nandprayag. Mythic legends suggest that this is where King Nand was granted the boon to be the father of Vishnu’s human incarnation as Krishna. One can enjoy the confluence of River Alaknanda and Mandakini in this beautiful Prayag. Before long, one would reach Joshimath. Known for its having been established as a Math by Adi Shankaracharya and its Narasimha temple that shelters the Lord Badrinarayan during the winter months, Joshimath is as attractive a destination for the adventurous spirit as for the pilgrimage fervor. In fact, Joshimath offers itself as the ideal base camp for treks to ‘Hemkund Sahib’, ‘Valley of Flowers, and ‘Auli’. The striking views of the Himalayan topography the roads of Joshimath offer are so rejuvenating they relieve one of all remnants of fatigue caused by the trip.

Another popular halt en route to Badrinath is at Vishnuprayag, where the streams of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga merge. Worship at the ‘Vishnu kund’ and Vishnu Temple, probably you get to share in the divine ecstasy of Lord Narada’s worship of Vishnu eons ago on this site. Also, Hanuman Chatti attracts many devotees owing to its fame in granting all wishes to the sincere heart. Hanuman Chatti is cited as the site where Lord Hanuman annihilated Bheema’s ego.

The ‘Yog Dhyan Badri Temple’ housing Lord Vishnu’s meditative form in Pandukeshwar is said to be as old as the Badrinath temple itself. Pilgrims also offer their homage to Lord Vishnu here before heading towards the darshan of Lord Badrinarayan.

Badrinath

Other than the temple at Badrinath worshipping Lord Badrinarayan, Badrinath offers the thermal water spring at Tapt Kund, the water spring at Narad Kund from where Lord Badrinarayan idol was first discovered and Mana village harboring ‘Vyas cave’ and ‘Ganesh Temple’ as its chief attractions to include in a tourist itinerary. One might be astonished to come across the ‘lost river’ Saraswati still embodying a physical form in a minor stretch of water near the Mana village before it disappears into its subterranean cocoon. Also, a 6 km trek from the Mana village invites one into the captivating beauty of Vasudhara Falls and its surrounding environs.

Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag & Devprayag – Three of the Rest of ‘Panch Prayag’

We did halt to imbibe the astonishing natural beauty only the confluence of two rivers can inspire at Vishnuprayag and Nandprayag before we reached Badrinath. The rest of the three Prayags – Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, and Devprayag form major stopovers after one finishes one’s darshan at Badrinath. Karna Prayag sees the merging of the waters of the Alaknanda and Pindar rivers. The site houses temples dedicated to Karna and Uma Devi.

In Rudraprayag, where the rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini come together as one, one can visit temples dedicated to Lord Shiva at Rudranath temple and Koteshwar (cave) temple, Goddess Chamunda at Chamunda Devi temple, Lord Kartik Swami at his temple perched at one of the highest peaks in Rudraprayag offering magnanimous views of the valleys below. Also, the temple dedicated to Goddess Hariyali situated at a distance of 35 km from Rudraprayag attracts many pilgrims and forms one of the 58 ‘Siddha Peeth’ in India.

Devprayag witnesses the communion of the Bhagirathi River and the Alaknanda River, whence the River Ganga earns its name. The Raghunath temple in Devprayag is said to be built where Lord Rama performed his penance to relieve himself of the karmic stains of having murdered Ravana. The two water springs, called Brahma Kund and Vasisht Kund, are other major attractions in the town. Also, the water spring at Baital Shila is said to have medicinal properties that cure even leprosy.

Augustmuni

The ‘Augustmuni Mahadev Temple’ in Agastyamuni falls on the banks of the Mandakini River. Not only does the site offer spiritual sanctuary akin to what it offered Sage Agastya for his tapasya, but it also harbors such scenic beauty to help relish your senses in recovering from the fatigue caused by the inbound trip. 

Srinagar

While at Srinagar, consider paying your homage at Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple. Its mythic significance abounds from the fact that this is where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva by placing one of his own ‘lotus eyes’ when he fell short of Lotus petals to culminate the pooja. The Dhari Devi Temple is another venerated spot of the Shakti. The Goddess portrays the fleeting nature of human reality by showing the metamorphosis of a girl to an old woman during the course of a single day. The temple is highly revered as a spiritually potent site for Shakti.

As you can see for yourself, places to visit during the four Dham Yatra boast of as equal mythic, religious, and spiritual significance as the four dhams themselves. That one on this pilgrimage trip gets to offer their sincere worship of the Divine at so many of its manifest forms at such spiritually potent sites that have inspired the spiritual evolution of many great saints and true yogis is a true blessing. Add to it the aesthetic pleasures of the intimate encounters with the Himalayan trails and rivers, and one can count it among the most pleasurable and awe-inspiring memories in her lifetime.

Neha RawatLast Seen: Apr 16, 2024 @ 8:49am 8AprUTC

Neha Rawat

@NehaRawat

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