Char Dham Yatra, Holiest Pilgrimage in Himalayas

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Char Dham Yatra is the holiest of journey for Hindus  in Uttarakhand  Himalayas, this pilgrimage starts with the opening of the doors (Kapat) of four temples,  are closed during the winters due to heavy snow , normally opening of doors is announced on Shivaratri.  This year 2016  journey starts from 8th May with opening of Kapats (Doors) 09 May Sri Yamunotri, Sri Gangotri 09 May, Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath on 11May.

The Starting point Yamunotri
The journey starts from Rishikesh full day road journey passing through Dharsu, Sayanachatti and Barkot, entire route is full of beautiful view of snow capped Banderpunch Range, Pine forests and water falls, pilgrims stay at  Hanuman Chatti or Barkot, where most of the hotels, guest houses and dharamshalas are situated, it is also confluence of river Hanuman Ganga and river Yamuna . Next day one is to cover 6 Kms by Jeeps/SUVs up to Janki Chatti , there are guest houses with basic facilities at Janki Chatti the trek 6 Kms . to the Yamunotri Temple starts from here it is on the left bank of the river, a  hot water spring is near the temple the Surya Kund” ,  pilgrims tie potatoes and rice in cloth  dip in boiling hot water of Surya Kund , so cooked rice is taken as prasad back home, pilgrims take bath at  “Gauri Kund  which has hot water suitable for bathing. Prayers are offered first at the Divya Shila a Black stone slab   then in the Temple. The actual source of river  is further ahead 1 Km at  Champasar Glacier on Kalind Mountain, it is very difficult to reach there, people offer the prayers at the temple situated at the foot hill . Pilgrims return  same day and take rest for the next day onward journey to the Gangotri.

The next stop Gangotri

To reach Gangotri we have to returned to Dharsu and then drive to Uttarkashi to reach Harsil a 250 Kms drive, it is a small town famous for its natural beauty, apple orchards, trekking routes to lakes and undiscovered stretches of grassy meadows. One can reach Gangotri by road from here distance 23 Kms passing through pine forests ,  transport is available till the Temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga, on the banks of River Bhagirathi, the glacier mouth is further ahead 18 kms trek, towards Gaumukh, The Ganges is known as Bhagirathi here, it unites with Alaknanda at Devprayag to form Ganges. Temple is at a very picturesque location amidst high mountains , towards east is the Gaumukh Glacier. It is here  the  Bhagirath shila where King Bhagirath performed the tapasya to bring Ganga from the heavens to earth, water is ice cold here , it is difficult to stay in water for even half a minute. This place is at a height of 3142 meters . Those who want to trek to Gaumukh can spend two more days, which needs clearance from the local authorities, the trek passes through Chirwasa and Bhojwasa, Gaumukh is one of the Largest Glacier in the World, on the way one can find the Ibexes(Snow Goat) grazing on high mountains, the opening of glacier to from where it releases water to form Bhagirathi is a shape of Cows mouth that is why it is called Gaumukh. From here one can have a panoramic view of mountains, Shivaling (6540 meters), Meru (6660 meters) and Bhagirathi (6500 meters).

Ma Gangotri Temple

Sri Kedarnath – Lord Shiva’s Abode

Next place in Chardham Yatra is Sri Kedarnath,  Harsil to Uttarkashi is 69 Kms, then to Guptkashi is 230 kms, Total journey time is about 10 hrs. Passing through Srinagar, Uttarakhand, This route is followed by River Mandakini. Hotels, camps and guest houses at Guptkashi are available at a very reasonable price. Morning starts by a travel upto Gauri Kund , a motor able road or to Phata from where Helicopter Service is available to Kedarnath. Gauri Kund the starting point of Kedarnath trek is a hot water spring, here the Goddess Parvathi lived and performed sadhna to please Lord Shiva to finally got married to him. It is also the place where Lord Ganesha acquired the elephant head. 15 kms trek from here is very tough and takes about 4-5 hours.  Rambara . From Rambara the Yatris cross the River Mandakini to reach Limchuli and then to Kedarnath temple . It is at the height of 3585 meters situated near the head of river Mandakini, surrounded by snow capped mountains, it’s name is derived from the King Kedar in the Satya Yuga, his daughter Vrinda who is also an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, this temple existed in the Mahabharata period, when Pandavas performed tapasya (prayers) to please Lord Shiva. It was here the Adi Shankaracharya took samadhi at the age of 32 years,  soon after establishing the four sacred dhams, it is considered a must visit place, there is a small hot water spring which gives relief to the pilgrims from the tiredness of hard journey, there are dharamsalas, camps and small guest houses, the temple opens at 6 o’clock in the morning and closes in the evening, Kedarnath is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlings, it is built of massive stone slabs over a rectangular platform, here Lord Shiva who was evading the Pandavas hide himself as a bull, on being followed, he dived in the ground leaving behind the hump, the conical rock inside the temple is worshiped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form, outside the temple there is a large statue of Nandi Bull as a guard. After the floods of year 2013 a big boulder named as Divya Shila is also worshiped as it saved the temple by obstructing the flow of flood water to cause any damage to the temple.

One has to be careful while staying at night here because of low oxygen concentration at this altitude. Pilgrims are advised not to exert themselves too much and breathe normal. 
Staying overnight and performing poojas in the morning one returns to Gauri Kund and drive to Joshimath, there are two routes, one is which normally pilgrims take is driving through Rudrapryag, second is through Chopta which is the most beautiful, passing through dense forests of Mandal and Gopeshwar, from Chopta one can take a trek to Tungnath, it is Lord Shiva’s temple situated at about 4 kms trek from Chopta. Drive to Joshimath is about 7 hrs. It is better to stay night in Joshimath and take a morning drive to Sri Badrinath  a 44 kms distance is very rough  and takes about 4 hrs drive , on the way is Gobind Ghat from where trek for The Hemkund Sahib, Laxman Temple and Valley of Flowers starts.

Sri Kedarnath Temple Aug 2015

Sri Badrinath The Lord Vishnu Dham

Shri Badrinath Dham is the temple dedicated to lord Vishnu’s dual form Nara-Naryana, the temple is 15 meters tall with top covered with gold gilt roof, it is built of stone with arched windows, the main entrance is a arched gate, inside is mandapa a large pillared hall leading to the Garbha Griha. It is surrounded by Nara-Narayan peaks and in the backdrop is the Neelkanth peak. Legends says that to reduce the impact of Ganga on earth it was split into twelve rivers and one of them is river Alaknanda, the other legend is that the Pandavas passed through Badridham and to Mana village to ended their life by climbing the heights of peak Swargarohini, there is a cave near the village Mana where the Vyas Rishi complied  the Mahabharata. Before entering the temple, pilgrims must take bath in hot water spring at the Tapta Kund and Surya Kund fed by thermal sulphar springs, the boiling hot water falls into ice cold water of Alaknanda creates the steam over the water surface. North of the temple is a Bharama Kapal where Lord Bharama is said to reside, here the last rites of departed souls are performed. There are lots of other places around like foot prints of Lord Narayana on rock is about 3 kms called Charan Paduka, over a kilometer  on the other side of river is Shesh Netra, the eye of Shesh Nag on which the Lord Vishnu rests is seen on a rock, about 8 km. is the source of Alaknanda the Bhagirath Kharak and Satopantha Glaciers this place is called Alka Puri. One can return same day to Joshimath or stay one night to visit all these places. Sri Badri Dham is also referred as Badri Vishal thus giving the supreme status among the all Dhams.

Sri Badrinath Ji Temple

Returning Home

One may stay a full day at Joshimath , take an excursion to Auli which is at the height of 3050 meters, there are Taxis available to reach a famous winter sports destination for Skiing, there is a rare medicinal plants nursery and little above one can trek to Gorson, Tali, Kauri Pass, Khulara and Tapovan. One can have a panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range of Nanda Devi (7818 meters), Mana (7272 meters), Kamet (7728 meters), Mount Neelkanth, Mount Chaukhamba (6874 meters), Mount Hathi Ghora Palki. One can also visit Vishnu Pryag, the confluence of River Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga from Joshimath .

Return journey starts from Joshimath passing through Rudraprayag and Srinagar, Dev Prayag  and reaching Rishikesh/Hardwar  a 250/275 km. journey for a night stay, participating at Aarti at Ganga Ghats and to leave for home next day.

For More information and packages Contact +91 9810506646

Callers from outside India + 44 7700093414

Office contact 011 – 45725562, 45725563, 45725563

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Yatra Chardham year 2016 for Senior Citizens

The Yatra Chardham is the devout wish of an any Sanatan Hindu, Shivaite or Vishnuite is done in the Gharwal region of Uttrakhand state of North India, we are making the travel arrangements for pilgrims since 1980 in this area, I have seen the Senior Citizens accompanying their families and trying to keep a pace with the youngsters to make their pilgrimage to these holy places, not knowing about the difficulties, unpredictable weather and the high altitude sickness because of thin air and less oxygen,quite often it is the high emotional feeling of taking a trek as a devotional duty towards the God.

Puja at Hardwar

The entire journey which is performed by the people from all over India gathers at Haridwar or Rishikesh starts the 12 -14 days journey within the Himalayas with almost every day travelling around 200-250 kms. on single road which are prone to land slidesfalling rocksheavy rains or may be simply the heavy traffic in both directions  on road and once we reach the destination may be one is to wait in a queue to have a pooja or just a darshan in few minutes,  choice of food is the major problem, fresh vegetables and milk are rare, one is to compromise on whatever is available and most important the good comfortable place where one can have full rest at night and facilities of daily use.

Sri Badrinath Ji Temple at night

Quite often, Senior Citizens are unable to travel because someone from their family is not accompanying them, the entire  journey is comfortable and our experienced representative is with the Seniors, hiring of a vehicle with good ground clearance and comfortable seats, there are breaks at regular intervals in the journey at places where there are good facilities and good refreshments are available, a prior information about the medical needs of person travelling, contacts of medical facilities available on the route which may be helpful in case of any emergencies. Food served on this route is vegetarian, the accommodations are arranged on ground floor with hot water in the bathrooms with western toilets, beds are soft and warm, where places are at high altitude, heaters and fire in the rooms are not allowed, providing guests with hot water bottles to keep the body warm in the bed. Accommodations are selected close to the  roads .

Palki being carried by the porters at Yamunotri

At Yamunotri, arrangements of Palki , it is carried by four porters, Phata to Kedarnath is by helicopter and if desired the distance from helipad to the main shrine is arranged by a porter carrying a person in a basket chair,  Gangotri and Badrinath shrines are at comfortable walking distance, at all shrines arrangement of  priority darshan are available .

Sri Kedarnath Temple after 2013 Floods

Sri Kedarnath Temple after 2013 Floods

 

Good warm clotheswoolen sockswoolen cap and gloves are must, before starting for the pilgrimage. Good water-proof shoes should be worn and one must start using  them at least 15 days before starting the journey, sandals and slippers should not be used for walking ( Treking) , wind cheater or rain coat is always  recommended, one must drink a lot of water because most of pilgrims fall ill due to dehydration and Cold .

Sri Gangotri Temple

Helicopter Charter Service

Helicopter Charters Chardham Helipad Sri Badrinath

Helicopter Charters Chardham Helipad Sri Badrinath

There are Helicopter charters available for Chardham from Dehradun , journey can be done in two days or four days , Same day return can be done for Do Dham Yamunotri & Gangotri or Sri Kedarnath & Sri Badrinath

For more Information and Packages   09810506646 

Office contact : 011 45725562, 45725563, 45725564

Callers from outside India +44 7700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Website : http://yatrachardham.com , http://promarktravels.com

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

Leh , Ladakh by Road , Preparations and Precautions

Every year the motorbike and Jeep adventure lovers wait for the Manali – Leh highway to open, it opens around the end of May every year, there were heavy snow falls in the high passes this year , at may places the BRO ( Border Road Organisation ) had to clear the 60 ft . of snow from the highway .

Ladakh by road

Ladakh by Road

To reach Leh by road there are two options first one is  Srinagar – Leh which opens early May. From Srinagar one has to cross Zoji La pass ( 13000 ft/4000 mtrs.)  , Drass Valley ( 10990 ft/3230 mtrs.) one must visit and pay his / her respect to the martyrs at Kargil war Heroes memorial it is on the highway at the base of Tololing , one can have the best views of Rhino Knob , Tiger Hill .

Tiger Hill , Leh-Srinagar highway

Tiger Hill , Leh-Srinagar highway

Drass is the second highest coldest inhabited place on earth , Kargil , Mulbek , Namik – La ( 12198 ft/3827 mtrs.) Fotu – La pass (13478 ft./ 4104 mtr.)  and then to Leh , total distance is 450 kms.

Ladakh by Road

Ladakh by Road

The Second route Manali – Leh opens end May , passes through the two mountain ranges Pir Panjal and Zanskar with some of the highest  mountain passes in the world , there are many ice cold small streams originating from the Glaciers melts, where drivers skills are at test to negotiate through fast flowing streams ,   starts from Manali , Rohtang – La ( 13054 ft./ 3979 mtrs.) Tandi ( 8430 ft/2570 mtrs.) , Keylong , Jispa ( 11020 ft./3360 mtrs.), Darcha , Baralacha – La Pass ( 16500 ft./5030 mtrs.) , Sarchu ( 15100 ft./4600 mtrs.) , Gata Loops ( 22 hairpin bends) , Nakee – La Pass , Lachulung – La Pass ( 16616 ft./ 5065 mtrs.) , Pang , Tanglang – La Pass ( 17480 ft./5328 mtrs.) , Karu , Leh ( 11483 ft./3500 mtrs.) total distance to be covered  490 km full of not even thought of surprises and scenery .

Baralacha La

Since 1974 when restrictions were removed to visit Ladakh, every year thousands of people travel to experience this part of India which is also known as Little Tibet , there are vast barren lands golden yellow, black and grey mountains , green patches near  crystal clear  Lakes and rivers . All this is available from May to October / November only , rest of the year most of these roads and high passes are under the thick blanket of snow. Days are warm when there is sun light but there is cool breeze from the snow mountains around  keeps the temperature around 10 degrees centigrade , weather changes are fast and unexpected , there are no rains as the entire area from Rohtang onward is  Rain Shadow area , the Monsoon clouds hardly enters this area, it does not mean that there are no rains , occasional drizzles are there  , the night temperature is at many places even drops to sub-zero and there are strong winds . weather is dry and ultra-violet rays which may have a bad effect on the skin , during the day the bright sun and rays reflecting from the snow effects the eyes. Most of the travels do not experience the Acute Mountain Sickness and there is no set rule who will be effected but if precautions are taken care of one can minimize its effect .

Driving on this terrain is an ultimate challenge for a human body and the machine , selecting a vehicle , understanding of machine and body is very important  People 17-70 years of age with normal health can travel on this road , one must prepare well in advance before starting for this journey to enjoy the unspoiled beauty and well preserved rich history & Culture of Tibetan Buddhism of  Himachal and Ladakh Himalayas  .

Pangong Lake , Ladakh

Pangong Lake , Ladakh

Four wheel Jeep / SUV any vehicle with high ground clearance  or a Motor Bike (350 cc) are best suited for this trip , these custom made vehicles are available on rent per day basis or one can purchase from Delhi , there are clubs and few selected travel agents all over India who organizes  the logistics for this highly adventurous and beautiful journey in the months of June , July , August , September , October every year when the roads passing through the high passes are clear and with less snow.

High ground clearance SUVs at Pangong lake

To enjoy the beauty and adventure in this land one is to take few precautions and preparations , if one is taking his/her own vehicle then it should be of high ground clearance and preferably a 4 wheel drive , must have one extra tank for the fuel ,  extra Tyre , air pump , tool kit , Tyre puncture repair kit ,  strong ropes in case of emergency it can be towed , if driving a motor bike then extra pairs of clutch and brake wires , one must bear in mind that due to low oxygen the efficiency of machine reduces and one should not put extra burden on machine , the bags should be water proof or they must be warped with a water proof sheath .

Personal clothing should be comfortable , woolen shirts , trousers , gloves ,woolen cap , colored and plain eye protector glasses, comfortable ankle leather boots and woolen socks, wind proof jacket, raincoat are recommended . there are Glacial melt streams one is to avoid getting wet there , if got wet change the cloths and shoes with dry ones.

There are two levels of mountain  driving at this route .

 High Altitude 2500 mtrs./8000 ft. to 4000 mtrs./13000 ft. (one night stay is must at this altitude for acclimatization)

Very High Altitude 4000 mtr./13000 ft. to 5500 mtr./18000 ft.  (avoid sleeping first night at this altitude )

Normal first aid kit and one must understand the symptoms of  Acute Mountain Sickness ( AMS) to whom it can effect or not there is no thumb rule  but any where when one feels heavy head / head ache , giddiness , Fatigue , Nausea , Nose Bleed, Pins and Needles , Swelling of hand, face and feet , High pulse rate ( 110). The best way is to drink adequate  liquids, 3-4 liters a day – clean  boiled and filtered or treated , tea/coffee/soup/juice etc.  avoid smoking and taking alcohol , avoid greasy / oily food , take rich carbohydrates . 48 hrs. before the  journey take DIMOX tablets , The usual dosage is 125 mg twice a day for a few days,  must consult the doctor for the potency of medicine , people use camphor smelling , chew Mint  or Polo while travelling , the Ladakhi local remedy is to chew one clove of garlic as soon as one feels  the heaviness , usually occurs following a rapid ascent and can usually be prevented by ascending slowly, It commonly occurs above 2,400 mtrs. / 8,000  feet ,one should not ignore or take lightly these symptoms, at places there are army medical help  available and oxygen is provided to bring the person to normal state. In the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS.  The air is dry cold and chilly , it takes away the moisture from the body ,  best way to protect is to cover  properly , use a high neck , full sleeves woolen  shirts , avoid T-shirts and have warm water to keep the body warm and maintain water and  balance . Never travel alone .

For more information and packages contact +91 9810506646   

Office contact : 011 45725562 , 45725563, 45725564

Callers fom outside India contact + 44 77 000 93414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Website : http://promarktravels.com

Blog : http://promarktravels.com/blog