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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Chardham Helicopter Charters year 2016

Chardham Helicopter Charters for the year 2016 will operate from Dehradun first flight on 10 MAY 2016.

 

Take Off from Shastradhara Helipad

To operate the Helicopter charters in this area , permission is granted by the DGCA of Govt. of India,  before the operations starts the Govt. Officials inspect the helipads situated at Kharsali ( Yamunotri ) Harsil ( Gangotri ) Guptkashi ( Phata, Sitapuri, Sirsi ) Sri Kedarnath and the Sri Badrinath , when these helipads are declared fit, only then the flights operations are allowed.

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There is a regular Shuttle service between Guptkashi (Sitapuri, Sirsi & Phata)  and Sri Kedarnath but other places only chartered flights are allowed. There is difference between Chartered and Shuttle Service.

View of Sri Badrinath from a Helicopter

Normally following services are offered as chartered Service

a. Dehradun – Yamunatri – Dehradun  same day return

b. Dehradun – Gangotri – Dehradun  same day return

c. Dehradun – Yamunotri – Gangotri – Dehradun same day return

d. Dehradun – Sri Kedarnath – Dehradun same day return  

e. Dehradun – Sri Badrinath – Dehradun same day return  

f. Dehradun – Sri Badrinath – Sri Kedarnath – Dehradun same day return

g. Dehradun – Yamunotri – Gangotri – Sri Kedarnath – Sri Badrinath – Dehradun Two days trip 

f. Guptkashi – Sri Kedarnath – Guptkashi Shuttle Service 

g. Gobindghat – Ghangharia – Gobindghat Shuttle Service ( Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib)

The Helipad at Yamunotri is at Kharsali about 7 km before the main temple , Palki, Horses and Pitthoos are available from the helipad with prior arrangements.

The Helipad at Gangotri is at Harsil about 24 km from the main temple , Jeeps, Cars are available from here

The Helipad at Sri Kedarnath is about 1 km from the main temple, it is a easy walk or Pitthoos are available

The Helipad at Sri Badrinath is about 1.5 km from the temple , Car, Jeeps are available.

To book your charter / Shuttle service, visit our website for rates  yatrachardham.com 

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Nand Prayag on way to Sri Badrinath

Nand Prayag is one of the holy Panch Prayag (confluence) on river Alaknanda  is 22 km from Karna Prayag and 205 km from Rishikesh situated at a height of 914 meters from sea. The Nandakini river meets the Alaknanda, here , Nandakini river originates from Homkund in the laps of Trishul peak

Nand Prayag view from the Highway

It is named after the Yadu King Nanda who worshiped and performed a yagna and sought blessings of lord Vishnu to be his son on earth but same boon was also given to Devki wife of Vasudev and sister of Demon King Kansa of Mathura, later on mistake was realized and  when lord Vishnu born as Krishna to Devki he was taken to Gokul at  Raja Nanda’s house and his  wife Yashoda nursed him like their own son. Here  is a temple dedicated to Gopal the lord Krishna . Rishi (sage) Kanva did his tapasya here . Legend is that here the  King Dushyant and Shakuntla had a Gandharva Vivah (wedding) .

Nand Prayag is also a starting point for the Roop kund , Kunwari Pass and Tapovan treks.

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Pandukeshwar on way to Sri Badrinath

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Pandukeshwar is a small village 283 km from Rishikesh, 20 km from Joshimath , from Govindghat  it is 4 km,  Sri Badrinath Dham is about 25 kms from here. This place is also known as Yogadhayana Badri It is a winter seat of Sri Badrinath the Udhwa , there are two temples, the other one is the Vasudeva temple from here all the rituals are performed and when the summer comes the main idol of Udhwa is carried in a procession to the Sri Badrinath dham .

Pandukeshwar Temple

This village holds very important place in the legends of Mahabharata . It was established by King Pandu who had two wife , Kunti and Madri , while hunting King Pandu killed a male deer in mating , these deers were actually a Rishi Kindama  ( sage ) and his wife, the Rishi Kindama  before breathed last cursed Pandu that when ever he will approach a women with a desire to make love he will also die , King Pandu after reaching home narrated the story to his two wife and then denounced his kingdom, handed it over to his blind brother Dhrishtrastra , Pandu never wanted to die childless and expressed his desire to Kunti , she informed him about a boon which she had from Rishi Durwasa and used it to be mother of  Yudhistar by lord Dharma , Bhim by lord Vayu and Arjun by lord Vishnu, then she the taught Madri who had twins Nakul and Sehdev by lord Ashwin Kumars , thus the Pandvas were born here.

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Yatra Chardham for the year 2016

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 Yatra Chardham for the year 2016 starts from 08 MAY , Kapats ( Doors) opens Sri Yamunotri Dham 09 MAY  Sri Gangotri Dham on 09 MAY , Sri Kedarnath Dham on 10 MAY and Sri Badrinath Dham on 11 MAY

The Yatra Chardham which is the devout wish of an any Sanatan Hindu , Shivaite or Vishnuite is done in the Gharwal region of Uttrakhand state of North India, since 1980 we are making the travel arrangements for pilgrims 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,  in travel and quite often it is the high emotional feeling of doing it by foot 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 slides, falling rocks, heavy 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 of 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 in the journey at places where there are good facilities and good refreshments 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 is on ground floor with hot water in the bathrooms, beds are soft and warm, 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 .

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Jaisalmer | Kanoi Sand dunes

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Jaisalmer Kanoi Sand dunes are in West of Jaisalmer at about 35 Km.  This place is now the best location for the virgin Sand dunes away from the noise of main Jaisalmer – Sam Highway . These Sand Dunes were open as new destination for the visitors in the year 2014.

Camel cart and Camels at Kanoi Sand dunes

The villagers of Kanoi are taking care of this area by not letting it littered by self and the tourists , the camel men and the cart men carry a bag with them and collect all the garbage , keep it at one place at the camel boarding point to be disposed off in a proper way .

Camels and Desert Spring Camp Kanoi , Jaisalmer

In the vicinity of Kanoi village there is only one camp called the Desert Spring , staff is well-trained and also training the local villagers about the Eco – friendly daily products , protection of Wild life and Sand Dunes of Kanoi 

Sunset at Sand dunes of Kanoi , Jaisalmer

The weather and sand becomes cool as soon as sunsets in the West and  best thing about this place is that there are no man made obstructions which are an eyesore in the natural view. Kalbelia dancers and Mirasis singers are present here to have a private exclusive  performance at a Sand Dune selected by you with your own privacy .

Virgin Sand at Kanoi Sand dunes , Jaisalmer

The only place to stay near Kanoi Sand Dunes is the Desert Spring Camp , it has 11 Royal Tents and 15 Comfort tents with Rajasthani folk dances , Puppet show and Manganiyar singing the Rajasthani folk songs . One can enjoy the Sunset and Sunrise in the desert from here.

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Somnath Temple , Gujarat

The Somnath Temple , Gujarat also mentioned as Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan, or Somnath Pattan is situated in Prabhas Kshetra , of Viraval town on the South – West cost of Gujarat state  of India  , is one of the twelve Jotirlings Shrine of Lord Shiva , the location of this temple, Strange but fact , it lies in a straight line to South Pole, in between  there is only water. no land mass other than the Antarctica ice in between .

                                                      
Somnath Temple Gujarat

 The research done by the Vadic Shodh Sanatan Varanasi on ancient Hindu Puranas (classical text) Prabhas Khand of Skandh Puran. The first Jyotirling Pran Pratistha at Somnath Temple was performed on the third day of Shukla Paksha of Shravan month of the 10th Treta Yug of  Vaivaswati Manvantar i.e. over 70 million years ago .

 

Somnath Temple at night

The present temple structure was constructed over the ruins of the old temple, the reconstruction, the pran pratishtha was done on 11 May 1951 by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad, it was completed and dedicated to the worshipers on 1st December 1995 by the then President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma .

According to legends the first temple was built by Lord Chandra (Moon God) to be relieved from the curse of his father-in-law, Dakasha Prajapati, whose 27 daughter was married to Chandra. Because of curse, Lord Chandra had lost its luster. Then advice from Lord Brahma, Chandra  worship Lord Shiva at this place (Prabhas Tirtha). Pleased with the devotion and (penance) Tapasya Lord blessed him to be partly relieved from the curse , which resulted in fifteen days of reducing shine (Krishna Paksha) and fifteen days for increase in shine ( Shulka Paksha ) In praise , Lord Chandra built a temple in gold. It is said Ravana the king of Lanka and devotee of Lord Shiva built it in silver followed by Lord Krishna built the temple in sandalwood and in the 10th century it was rebuilt in stone by King Bhimdev Solanki.

Somnath Temple in the morning

This temple Somnath (the protector of Moon God) and “The shrine eternal” although the temple has been destroyed six times, it has been rebuilt every time. “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction”

It is said Lord Brahama installed a Bharama Shila and paved way for the construction of the temple. It is also said the Lord Chandra and the other Deva’s requested Lord Shiva to be known as Somchandra and reside in the form of Jotirlinga here eternally.

There are other significant places as per Hindu mythology to visit are Bhalka Tirath , here Lord Krishna was shot by an arrow in his foot, this place have a temple and a legendary tree under which Lord Krishna was taking rest .

Hiran , Kapila and Saraswati Triveni Ghat

Triveni Ghat where three rivers Hiran , Kapila and legendry Saraswati meets . The temple built by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore , The cave dedicated to Lord Krishna’s brother Balram , where he transformed into a snake and went to Patal Lok. A cave and a temple dedicated to  Adi Shankaracharya where he meditated more than thousand years ago .

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Ramabhar Stupa,Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site

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Ramabhar Stupa Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site .

It is said that Lord Buddha died at the age of Eighty One years, on a full moon night . It is believed that  Lord  Buddha’s complexion became prodigiously brilliant both on eve of his Enlightenment and Nirvana. After the Mid night,Lord Buddha called up his disciples thrice, and asked if there were any confusions remaining with regard to the Buddhist doctrine. Receiving silence as reply, Buddha gave the famous advice “impermanence is inherent in all things. Work out your own salvation with diligence”. After this last sermon Lord Buddha entered Mahaparinirvana through meditation, the monks spent the rest of the night discussing the Dhamma. Over the next few days, the Mallas made elaborate preparations for the cremation of the Buddha’s body, and then on the seventh day the body was taken out of the town to the Makuta Bandhana Shrine and cremated.

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

It is said that the pyre was not burnt until Mahakashyapa, the great disciple of Lord Buddha, arrived and when he stepped into the cremation ground, the pyre burnt automatically. Surprisingly, only the skull bone, teeth and the inner and outer burial garment remained after the cremation,  the holy relics had to be divided into eight folds and eight great Stupas were built to house them. These relics were yet again subdivided, when Emperor Ashoka decided to build 84,000 Stupas,  the relics are contained in many Stupas.

Buddhist Monk at Ramabhar Stupa , Kushinagar

Buddhist MonkatRamabhar Stupa ,Kushinagar

Hirannavati River , near Ramabhar Stupa
Bank of Hirannavati River  near Ramabhar Stupa

Ramabhar Stupa, measuring a height of 49 feet, is the place where the Lord Buddha was cremated. This Stupa is mentioned as Mukut-Bandhan Vihar in ancient Buddhist transcripts.

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Matha Kuar Shrine, Kushinagar

Matha Kuar Shrine – by the side of the road is  a colossal statue of Buddha locally called Matha Kuar.  The statue measures 3.05 meter in height and this carved out one block of blue stone of Gaya region to represent Gautam  Buddha seated under the Bodhi Tree in a pose known as the Bhumsparsva Mudra   which symbolically expresses the supreme moment in the  Gautam’s  life just before his enlightenment to  become the Buddha , when He called upon the earth to bear witness to the pities performed by him in his previous birth.

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

During Buddha’s lifetime, Kushinara ( Kushinagar), as it was then called, was a small town in the kingdom of the Mallas, surrounded by a thick forest cover. It remained forgotten until the late nineteenth century, when archaeologists rediscovered the site, and began excavations.

The inscription at the base of statue is dates back to the 10th or 11th Century A.D. The name of the Stupa implies the “dead prince”. The statue was found by the Archaeologist Carlleyle in late 1870s, as broken pieces, after the statue  being restored the temple was built by Myanmar pilgrims in 1927 to shelter the statue.

 

Information on stone plate

Information on Stone Plate

This place is  is also believed to be the one where Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon.

 

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