Kandariya Mahadev Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

The Kandariya Mahadev Temple built-in 1050 AD by the Chandela King Vidydhara  to celebrate his victory over Mahmud of Ghazni, is dedicated to Lord Shiva it  is  the most impressive and refined temple among all the temples in the Khajuraho , with over 900 sculptures carved into sandstone stacked without mortar the Kandariya Mahadev temple is a fine example of the craftsmanship of the medieval times. Kandra in Sanskrit or Hindi means Cave .

Kandharia Mahadev Temple Khajuraho

The east-facing Shiva temple is a culmination of the design , Shikara rises about 30 meters (100 feet) above the platform which it shares with the older Devi Jagadambi temple. 84 smaller  replicas adorn the main tower in a soaring, mountainous profusion. The Carvings on the temples portray a wide variety of sexual acts( Mithuna), in different styles and moods – refinement and vulgarity, tenderness and lust, calculation and spontaneity, can all be found here, in a seemingly endless number of configurations and positions.

On the South wall the first statue is of  the lord Ganesha and then the Chamunda one of the sacred Seven Mothers or the Matrikas slayer of two demons the Chanda and the Munda , this statue is damaged but brilliantly captures the goddess’ terrifying image. Next is the image of Bhairav  the lord of death and cremation grounds  is a fierce manifestation of lord Shiva shown here bearing a skull, hand drum, headdress of stylized flames, and accompanied by a Dog Vahan ( carrier) followed by  other sacred Matrikas namely Ma Aindri, Ma Varahi, Ma Vaishnavi, Ma Kaumari, Ma Mahesvari, Ma Brahmani ( or first sacred Matrika) and Ma goddess Virabhadra.

Makara Toran at Kandharia Mahadev Temple

The Temple has the main entrance a cave  ( Kandra ) like opening the Mukha Mandapa,  with a  Makara Torana (an arch in the form of the makara  Crocodile, a mythical water creature with the jaws of a crocodile, ears of a lion, horns of a ram and tail of a fishhas been carved out of a single stone and draped with loops from one side of the doorway to the other, leading the passage  two halls the Mandapa with two balcony the Bhadravalokna , the inner roofs of the porch and mandap are  created like great upside down pools with flower and leaf motifs, the main room where the white marble Shivaling is established is the Garbahgriha and a space between the Mandapa and Garbhagriha is Antralaya .

Multi spire shikhara , Kandharia Mahdev Temple

The great multi spire tower of the sekhari type, the most important conspicuous feature of the North India ( Nagara) temple , is characterized by an ascending cluster of spires reflecting the idea of the temple as a mountain .

Kandharia Mahadev Temple outer wall

On the southeast wall a woman plays with a ball, another stretches her love-tired limbs, another gazes into a mirror, one engaged in writing a letter. On the South side the couples are kissing, their bodies entwined in such a perfect union that one can cannot tell the arms and legs of one partner apart from the other. The love making scenes on the north side wall are more elaborate, often acrobatic and symbolic.

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Varaha Temple Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

The Varaha Temple dedicated to the third incarnation of lord Vishnu built by the Chandela King Yashaovarman in around 900 to 950 AD Built on a lofty plinth a simple modest pavilion , pyramidal roof of receding tiers resting over fourteen pillars made of sand stone , located just opposite to the Lakshmana temple of Love  .

Varaha tempel Khajuraho

Varaha is the third Avatar ( Incarnation) of the Lord Vishnu, appeared  to defeat Hiranyaksha , a demon who had taken the Earth ( Prithvi ) and carried it to the bottom of  the cosmic ocean . The battle between Varaha and Hiranyaksha is believed to have lasted for a thousand years, which the Lord Vishnu  finally won. Varaha carried the Earth out of the cosmic ocean between his tusks and restored it to its place in the universe. Varaha incarnation of Lord Vishnu married Prithvi ( Bhudevi ) in this avatar.

Varaha with Goddess Saraswati between mouth and nose with Veena , disfigured Bhudevi between the fore legs

The Varaha sculpture is colossal and monolithic and made of sandstone , the entire body 2.6 mtrs long and 1.7 mtrs. tall is covered with small images of Gods and Goddesses  in all there are  674 deities in 12 neatly carved rows symbolism to  the collective  power of these individuals  to the Lords Incarnation as Varaha to save the Bhudevi ( Prithvi ) the earth .

Varaha incarnation of Lord Vishnu with 674 carved images of God and Goddesses on its body

Goddess Sarasvati  playing Veena is carved between nose and mouth, Shesh Nag  (the Serpent ) is lying at the bottom between the legs, facing the Varaha a disfigured image of Bhudevi (The  Earth) can be seen sitting  below Seshnaga, the serpent is depicted in a devotional posture.

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Khajuraho Temples of Love Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho a small town in Madhya Pradesh State once use to be the cultural capital of Chandela Rajputs of Central India from the 10 to 12 centenary , the world famous temples also the UNESCO World Heritage Site, were built during 950 AD to 1150 AD by the Chandela artisans .

There is a airport in Khajuraho one can reach here by Air from Delhi and Varanasi , There is a overnight train from Delhi , One can also reach here by taking trains  from Delhi , Agra, Bhopal , Mumbai, Nagpur, Bangalore , Hyderabad , Trivandrum to Jhansi and then a three hours road journey to Khajuraho on way one can visit the Orcha famous for Ram Raja Temple and wall and roof paintings at Orcha Fort .

Originally 85 such temples were built spread over in a 20 sq. km area but now only 25 temples are in good shape , after the decline of Chandelas the local villagers maintained the temples , with time the dense forest cover and weather took the toll and outside world even forgot these temples , in 19 Centenary these temples came in the notice of British Officers but it came on a world tourist map with the efforts of Mr. Shyam Sunder Poddar who visited this place  and his  fore sight saw the importance of this place , he built a hotel which started receiving guests  in 1969 and then Indian Airlines started the first flight from 15 Feb 1969 , his son Mr. Kanti Poddar trained the local people how to deal with the Foreigners , today Khajuraho is a the most visited site after the Taj Mahal in India .

Lakshmana Temple , Khajuraho

People wonder how and what was the purpose these temples were built , the legend is , the Hem Raj the Raj Purohit ( Royal Priest) of  King of Benaras had a beautiful daughter name Hemvati , once she was bathing in the river at a full moon night when The Moon fell in love with her and came down Hemvati got embraced by Moon and got pregnant , she asked the Moon that how she will face the world as she was  not married , The Moon told her that she will have a brave son and she should leave this place and move to Khajuravatika  the Garden of Dates , son who was named Chandravarma

State Emblem of Chandela Rajputs , Khajuraho

The boy was talented , brave and sharp , at  the age of 16 he killed his first Tiger. He was made the king  and his progeny, called Chandel’s . They are regarded to be Chandravanshi  i.e., the descendants of Soma (Sanskrit literal meaning: moon).

Kandharia Mahadev Temple Khajuraho

After some time  Mohoba and then Kalinjar became the Political capital and Khajuraho remained as cultural capital .

Vastu , Geometry, Archetecure and Art at one place Temples of Khajuraho

The Khajuraho temples were built over a span of 200 years, from 950AD to 1150AD .  Khajuraho has no forts because the Chandel Kings never lived in their cultural capital.

One of the Erotic art plate on Temple Outer Wall , Khajuraho

The erotic sculptures were crafted by Chandela artisans.  Today, the temples serve as fine examples of Indian architectural styles that have gained popularity due to their explicit depiction of sexual life during medieval times.

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Tungnath on way to Sri Badrinath

Tungnath  temple situated at the highest spot at the height of 3680 meters from the sea at Chandranath Parbat , 3 km trek from Chopta 2700 meters from sea,  it is dedicated to lord Shiva it is more than one thousand years old and of high importance of being at the highest elevation in the world and one of the Panch Kedars of lord Shiva, legend is when Pandva brothers were searching lord Shiva who went in hiding at Guptkashi and when Bhim recognized him among the bulls , lord Shiva dived in the earth , at Kedarnath his back in the form of hump is worshiped , here at Tungnath  lord Shiva’s arms appeared and are worshiped in that form it  is a swambhu limgam ( self manifest). Head appeared at Rudranath , naval at Madhayamaheswar and Jata (hair) at Kalpeshwer. 1.5 km from here Lord Ram meditated  at Chandrashila peak and Demon King Ravana also meditated here. From Chandrashila peak one can have a beautiful view of Trishul , Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi peaks

Tungnath Temple

The Lingam here is in form of a black rock tilted slightly on left , other idols are of Ma Parvati, The Nandi bull idol is facing the lord Shiva at the entrance , Lord Ganesha idol is on the right side of the entrance , the other idols are of Rishi Vyas and Kal Bhairav . There are also images of five Pandva brothers, the temple is said to be built by one of the Pandva brother Arjun who worshiped here. The temple style is similar to Kedarnath and Guptkashi temple.

This temple was discovered by Adi Guru Shankracharya in eight century. In winters the temple is closed and symbolic of the main deity is shifted to Mukunath near Ukhimath .

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Rudraprayag on way to Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath

Rudraprayag is 34 km from Srinagar and 142 km from Rishikesh  situated at a height of 610 meters from sea level surrounded by the Himalayan  mountains it is not only one of the Panch Prayag  ( Five confluence ) or Sangam  with the holy river Alaknanda in Garhwal region of Uttarkhand in Himalayas , the river Mandakini meets the Alaknanda here but also got the religious importance  for the pilgrims travelling to Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath on Yatra Chardham. It is from here the road bifurcate and one goes to Guptkashi then to Gaurikund from here the trek to Sri Kedarnath starts while the other road goes to Joshimath then to Sri Badrinath, in between is Gobind Ghat from here trek to Ghangharia , Valley of Flowers and Hemkund / Lokpal starts

Rudra Prayag

This place is named after the Lord Shiva who appeared here in form of “Rudra” after the Rishi Narad worshiped him and asked for his teachings to learn and master the Music on Rudra Veena ,  the rock where he learned music is called the Narad Shila. Legend is that Lord Shiva meditated here before leaving for Sri Kedarnath the Koteshwar temple on the banks of Alaknanda are the cave temples where the images of Lord are in natural formations of rock (Koti is 10 million, Koteshwar means God of 10 million). It is also said that the  Sati consort of Lord Shiva reborn as Parvati daughter of Himalaya  after she immolated her self in the Yagnakund performed by her father and she could not tolerate the disrespect to her husband the Lord Shiva , Parvati dedicated herself  to be his wife again and to achieve this she performed Tapasya ( Penance ) here. There is a temple dedicated to Ma Chamunda  wife of lord Rudra is worshiped here. It is also said that the Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya  the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution.

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Uttarkashi on way to Gangotri, Uttrakhand

Uttarkashi on way to Gangotri is a district’s head quarters situated on the banks of river Bhagirathi at a height of 1352 meters above the sea level, it is on a main route to Gangotri which is about 100 kms.  from here, Uttarkashi means the Kashi of North, it has got the religious significance as it lies on the confluence of rivers Varuna and Asi next to the Varun Parvat , Ghat near the confluence is called Manikarnika Ghat .

Kashi Vishwanath Temple  is an ancient temple situated in the center of town said to be established by Rishi (sage) Parshuram , it is said that the idol here has emerged on its own at this place and in Kalyug lord Shiva will move here ,  just above the shivling is drawn a Shri Yantra. The temple structure was built out of stone by King Pradyuman Shah over 350 years ago and reconstructed in the year 1857 by the Maharani Khaneti , wife of Raja Surdarshan Shah .

Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Uttarkashi

Ma Shakti Temple is just opposite to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple  where a huge 6 meters tall  and 90 cm  base Trishul (trident)  which said to be  thrown by Ma Durga at Demons. It is made of Iron on top and Asht Dhatu at bottom , it is worshiped as form of Shakti.

Ma Shakti Temple at Uttarkashi

Parshuram Temple

It is dedicated to the sage Parshuram also known as Lord of weapons , one of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and also with the blessings of being immortal , he was sent to this place to repent the guilt of killing his mother Renuka , it is also his place of meditation ,  this temple dates back to 8th century .

Nehru Mountaineering Institute was established in the year 1965 to introduce the young Indians to the adventure and Mountaineering. It conducts regular courses and expeditions in the Himalayas.

Dodi Tal a fresh water lake is about 21 km trek from Uttarkashi. Nachiketa Tal is 32 km from Uttarkashi and then  a 3 km trek from Chaurangi .

At Ujeli many ashrams are located . Kuteti Devi Temple is located across the river Bhagirathi , Joshiara village  is famous for its Lord Shiva temples.

Uttarkashi is an important place on Chardham route as it on the way to Gangotri , most of the pilgrims stay a night here either before or after visiting Gangotri.

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Dev Prayag on way to Yatra Chardham

 

Dev Prayag is the first Prayag ( confluence ) it is 70 km from Rishikesh at a height of 830 meters from sea , it is here the river Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meets,  forms the name Ganga to flow towards Rishikesh into the plains of North India. It is one of the Panch Prayag (five sacred confluences) in the hills and is an important place of pilgrimage for devout Hindu. It is a beautiful village, on the lower side is the Prayag and on the upper side of village is a pyramid  shape stone built temple dedicated to Raghunath Ji Legend is that King Dashrath and lord Ram worshiped here and the temple is built at this place. just before the confluence on Bhagirathi river is the Brham Kund and on Alaknanda is the Vashistha Kund . It is also said that Leprosy is cured if the affected person takes a bath on a rock called Baital shila on the banks here.

It is also famous for the astronomy observatory with age old instruments used for astronomy calculations established by Acharya Pt. Chakradhar Joshi in 1946, having two Telescopes and latest equipment along with a library with a collections of books and manuscripts as old as 17th centenary, it also has the ancient equipment like Surya Ghati, Jal Ghati and Dhruv Ghati, it is situated at a mountain called Dashrathanchal

There are few more temples worth visiting are Danda Naggaraja  (the Snake Lord ) and Chandrabadni temple.  Dhaneshwar Mahadev temple and Mata Bhuvneshwari temple

The cuisines of Devprayag are also rich and famous as Devprayag. Dishes like Singori and Bal Mithai , Singori, traditionally made with khoya wrapped in form of a cone with Maalu leaves. The khoya absorbs the fragrance of Maalu leaves. Bal Mithai is a brown chocolate-like fudge, made with roasted khoya, coated with white sugar balls.

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Gangotri The Sacred Mother River

Gangotri is situated at a height of 3100 meters in the great Himalayas , the origin of river Ma Ganga known as Bhagirathi here , it is the most important part of the Chardham circuit in Gharwal Himalayas, the actual source is Gaumukh in Gangotri glacier  18 km up-stream at a height of 4120 meters about 30 km long and 2-4 km wide, it is fed by Raktvarn , Chaturangi , Kirti and Bhirghupanth tributary glaciers besides many other small ones .

Gaumukh the origin of Bhagirathi

The temple is on the right bank of the river, a White stone structure where the main idol of Ma Ganga is installed, before praying the pilgrims take bath at the holy river and then visit the main temple, this river is given a status of mother and Goddess in the Hindu way of life,  temple opens on Akshya Tritya of Vikram Samvat of Hindu calender which falls somewhere around end April to first half of May every year the temple closes on the day of Depawali and the idol of Ma Ganga is brought down and kept at Mukhba village near Harsil in the winters, the evening Aarti is very impressive and it is performed as a stately affair .

Ma Ganga is known by many names in the Sanatan Scripts , Bhagavat Padi means coming out of Lotus feet of Bhagwan ( God), Tripathaga , it is the only river which flows from all the three worlds Swarag ( Heavens), Prithvi (Earth) and Pataal ( The Hell) . While following King Bhagirath, Ganga was making lots of noise which angered the sage Jahnu who was in his meditation, he drank all the water of Ganga, the Devas requested the sage to release her , Sage Jahnu released Ganga from his ear and named Jahnavi ( Daughter of Jahnu)

 

Gangotri Temple

Legend

The King Sagar who had 60,000 son, once organised the Ashwamegah yagna to proclaim that he is the ruler of earth, a horse was sent around the earth along with the army of all his sons to complete the journey uninterrupted , the king of heaven King Indra felt if the horse takes the full round of earth and yagna is performed the King Sagar will be the threat to his kingdom , he catch hold of horse and tied it in the ashram of  Rishi (Sage) Kapil, upon seeing the horse tied there the sons of King Sagar stormed the ashram of Rishi Kapil and disturbed him in his deep meditation, The Rishi Kaipil cursed them all and as a result all burnt down to ashes. The garndson of King Sagar the Bhagirath worshiped Lord Brahma and pleased him to bring the Ganga from heavens to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and get them liberated to Moksha  at this place. It was Lord Shiva who could calmly trapped her in his hairs and let her fell on earth in small streams .

Best Time to Visit

One can visit upon the opening of the temple till the closing date which is Yam Dwitiya of Vikram Samvat , the two days after Depawali  but the best time is April till June or till the start of monsoon , then best time is September mid till October, during the monsoon there is a danger of land slides , broken roads and flooding of water streams on the way and one may have to be stranded for days to wait for roads to open.

Places to stay

There are many guest houses and dharamshalas here but good accommodations are available at Harsil 28 km  and Uttarkashi  100 km before Gangotri .

Places to visit

Harsil is a Maha Prayag of nine rivers , Lord Vishnu temple at the confluence of river Jalandhari , Vishnu Ganga and Bhagirathi , Mukhba village where the idol of Ma Ganga is kept and worshiped during the winters, Ma Durga temple where Maharishi Markandaey wrote the Durga Saptshati. Dharali is the place where Bhim Ganga and river Hatya Harini meets and having bath here one is relived of Barhm Hatya ( Killing of Human) Dosh

Bhairo Ghati

This  places is named and there is a temple dedicated to Bhairo Ji , in the winters when the Ma Ganga   idol is kept at Mukhba, no one stays back and it becomes the responsibility of Bhairo Ji to protect the place .

When to travel

One can pay visit from Akshya Tritiya of Vikram Samvat till Depawali (i.e. end April to October) in between during the monsoon ( i.e. last of June till end of August) there are rains and chances of road blocks and land slides are more .

How to reach here

There are Buses and trains available up to Hardwar or Rishikesh connections from all over India , one can also reach Dehradun by air onward journey could be performed by buses, cars and jeeps , opening of Helicopter service is a big relief for old age people , the helicopter service is available till Harsil which is 26 km before Gangotri , from here onward Jeeps are available till the temple gate

Distance Delhi to Rishikesh            230 km

Rishikesh to Uttarkashi                   152 km

Uttarkashi to Harsil                           75 km

Harsil to Gangotri                             26 km

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Kharsali on way to Yamunotri

Kharsali is a small village across the river Yamuna from Jankichatti ,  214 km from Rishikesh. During the winters  the main idol of  Maa Yamuna or Yamunotri is kept at Lord Shani Dev temple at Kharsali  which lies at 2675 meters from the sea level .

Kharsali village Winter seat of Yamunotri

This place  is also known as Khushimath  is one kilometer from Janki Chatti across the River Yamuna. It is  not only the winter seat of Ma Yamuna but there is  a oldest temple of Lord Shani Dev who happens to be the brother of Ma Yamuna and  in-charge of punishing the crooked and bad people but he also rewards the good people .

Yamunotri winter seat at Kharsali Village

This temple is very old constructed of stone and wood without using the mortar to fix the two stone slabs together , an old inscription on a stone slab is in a language which is yet to be translated by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Shani Dev Temple at Kharsali 

Yamuna, The daughter of the Sun God (Surya) and consciousness Chhaya (the Shadow) she has one sister Sangya, brother Shani Dev, Yamraj . Gangotri as cousins . Every year around the first week of May on “Akshya Tritiya”, Lord Shani Dev accompanies his sister Yamuna seven km up to Yamunotri and returns back to Kharsali . He again meets to bring her back on the “Bhai Dooj” or “Yam Dwetiya” two days after Diwali it is also a day for Yamuna to meet her brother Yamraj. ( Lord of taking away the spirits after death).

Architecture

Who built this temple here at Kharsali, an inscription on stone on its wall could not be translated till now, locals believe it is constructed by the Pandavas, looks more like fort, it is a stone and wooden four story structure. The main structure is constructed in a way by using stones, wood the Urad dal or Vigna mungo (botanical name Lens culinaris) is used as a part of mortar to fix the stones together. It has faced the mighty earthquakes and floods with no damage to the building since immortal time. One can climb up through a narrow stairs, the main Bronze idol of Lord Shani Dev is kept here along with the Chaaya (the Shadow), the Sangya (the conciseness) and the Nag Devta, there are two urns one big and one small are  kept and no one touches them because of any unforeseen danger to self or family, there is a belief that these Urns change their position themselves on Purnima (Full moon night) and Amawasya (Dark night) the Yamuna Idol is kept during the winters on the first floor.

The helipad for Yamunotri is at Kharsali, this helipad serves to the pilgrims during the Yatra period , Yamunotri temple is Seven km. from the helipad.

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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

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