Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is renowned as the “Land of Gods” or Dev Bhoomi due to its plethora of sacred temples, holy places, and significant pilgrimages that entice countless devotees and spiritual seekers seeking enlightenment. The Garhwal region houses the four most sacred places in India, collectively known as the Char Dham, namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri, revered by millions of pilgrims. Since the Kedarnath Flood in 2014, the Uttarakhand government has made it mandatory for devotees visiting the state for the Char Dham Yatra to undergo Photometric/Biometric Registration. This registration could be easily done online or at various counters set up at different locations along the Char Dham Yatra route. As of 2023, it is compulsory for all pilgrims to register for the Char Dham Yatra.
Char Dhams are popularly known as the four prominent holy sites in Hindu Pilgrimages, situated amidst the towering Himalayan peaks in Uttarakhand. This revered pilgrimage circuit comprises four locations: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, which hold immense significance in Hinduism. Additionally, these ancient temples hold the spiritual origin of four sacred rivers – Yamuna (Yamunotri), Ganga or Ganges (Gangotri), Mandakini (Kedarnath), and Alaknanda (Badrinath). Visiting these sites at least once in a lifetime to attain salvation (Moksha) is the ultimate aspiration of every devout Hindu, as these places are considered highly sacred.
In Hinduism, undertaking the pilgrimage tirthayatra (Teerth Yatra) is considered one of the five essential duties of every devout Hindu, along with Dharma, Worship, Sanskaras, and observing religious festivals. Pilgrimage requires a devotee to demonstrate willpower, humility, and faith while traveling to often challenging locations and surrendering their problems to the Deity, focusing solely on God.
A pilgrimage is a profound and intimate experience, forging a direct connection between the seeker and the sacred. Devotees embark on pilgrimage to seek blessings from holy men and women, offer worship at revered shrines, and have a glimpse of the Deities residing in ancient sanctums. The ultimate goal of a pilgrimage is to have a life-altering, blissful encounter with the Divine, leading to the eradication of negative karma.
The Char Dham Yatra is typically performed following a west-to-east route, commencing from Yamunotri, then progressing to Gangotri, and ultimately concluding at Kedarnath and Badrinath. It is customary for pilgrims to visit Yamunotri and Gangotri initially, collect the sacred waters from the origins of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers, and then offer abhishekams to Kedareshwara. The Uttarakhand Char Dhams are also recognized as India’s Chota Char Dham.
To ensure a safe and comfortable pilgrimage, it is recommended to carry a basic emergency medical kit, consume only bottled water during the trip, and opt for boiled, cooked, or fried food. Additionally, carrying a mosquito/insect repellent and sunscreen cream is advisable. It is crucial to be physically and mentally fit for the Yatra as it involves trekking at an altitude of 14,000 ft. Starting preparatory exercises at least a month before the journey is also recommended.
Carrying heavy woolens, including thermal body warmers, raincoats, sleeping bags, blankets, water-proof shoes with sufficient grips, and a torch is necessary. Women are advised to avoid sarees and opt for salwar kameez or trousers. It is crucial to hire only registered ponywalla or porter and avoid shortcuts on the route.
The Badrinath Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is one of the four pilgrimage sites of the Chota Char Dham and the 4 Dham of India. It is closed during winter and reopens in April-May. The opening date for 2023 has been announced on Basant Panchami by Raj Purohit, and it is set to open on April 27, 2023, at 07:10 am. The tentative close date is November 21, 2023.
The Kedarnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is another popular pilgrimage site that attracts devotees from all over the world. It is closed during winter and reopens in April-May. The opening date for 2023 has been announced on Shiva Ratri and is set to open on April 25, 2023, at 6:20 am. The tentative close date is November 14, 2023, which is Bhai Dooj.
The Gangotri Temple, dedicated to Goddess Ganga, is the source of the Holy river Ganga. It is closed during winter and reopens in April-May. The opening date for 2023 has been announced and is set to open on April 22, 2023, which is the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. The close date is tentatively set for November 13, 2023, which is the next day of Diwali.
The Yamunotri Temple, dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, is a place to seek blessings and save oneself from the agony of death, as Devi Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of Death. It is closed during winter and reopens in April-May. The opening date for 2023 has been announced and is set to open on April 22, 2023, which is also the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. The close date is tentatively set for November 14, 2023, which is Bhai Dooj.
It is essential to note that registration is mandatory for the Char Dham Yatra 2023. To know more details about Char Dham Yatra Registrations, please visit https://www.sacredyatra.com/char-dham-registrations
To know more details about some of the Char Dham Exclusive Packages 2023, please click on the below mentioned links:
- Chardham Fixed Departure Tour Package
- Kedarnath Badrinath Do Dham Tour Package From Delhi
- Badrinath Tour Package From Haridwar
- Chardham Tour Package (From Delhi)
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