Yatra Chardham – Yamunotri

Yamunotri is the place where the river Yamuna originates from the Himalayas and flows down to the plains of North India and meets river Ganga at Allahabad ( Prayagraj ), it is situated at the height of 3293 meters from the sea level, the actual source is the Champasar glacier in the Bandar Punch range in the Kalind mountain at 4421 meters above the sea level one km further up, it is difficult to reach their, the temple is at the foot hill. The main Idol of Ma Yamunotri is of a black stone in the shrine which is on the left bank of the river, before paying visit in the temple, there is a hot water spring the Surya Kund where pilgrims first take bath and offer their puja at the Divya Shila then pays respect to the Ma Yamunotri in the shrine, the Yamuna is given a status of Ma ( mother) equivalent to river Ganga.

Ma Yamunotri Temple

Legend

The Asit Rishi who use to take daily bath in the river Ganga and Yamuna had his hermitage here, he in his old age and weakness was finding it difficult to reach Gangotri a stream of Ganga appeared here for him. Another legend associated is that Yamuna is daughter of  Sun God Surya and his consort  Sangya gave her the birth here, the Kalind Parvat is next to the source of the river, Kalind is also  one of the name of Surya .

The temple opens on Akshya Tritya of Vikram Samvat ( the Hindu Calendar) every year which falls somewhere end of April and first half  of May every year.

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.

Where to Stay

There are guest houses and dharamshalas at Jankichatti from here the Yamunotri is 6 km trek, the good hotels and Swiss tent accommodations are available at Barkot  which is about 50 km before Jankichatti.

Places Around

Kharsali is the winter seat of Ma Yamunotri , it is also the oldest temple of lord Shani Dev, lord Shanidev is also brother of Ma Yamuna

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, it is available till Kharsali which is about a kilometer from Jankichatti, from here onward one can walk the 6 km trek , hire a mule or a palki carried by a porter or a pitthu who carries the person in a basket on his back.

Distance Delhi to Rishikesh               230 km

Rishikesh to Barkot                           170 km

Barkot to Jankichatti                           50 km

Jankichatti to Yamunotri                    6 km

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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.

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Shani Dev, Yamuna Temple at Kharsali, Uttarakhand

The beginning point of Chardham Yatra is Yamunotri which lies at an 3293 meters from the sea level, there is a good road till Barkot and then up to Janki Chatti, from here one goes for 6 km uphill difficult trek to Yamunotri, this temple is closed during the winters and the main idol of Maa Yamuna or Yamunotri is kept at Lord Shani Dev temple at Kharsali  which lies at 2675 metres from the sea level , till the winter ends. This place  is also known as Khushimath  is one kilometer from Janki Chatti across the River Yamuna.

Shani Dev Temple at Someshwar

 The History and Story

Yamuna, The daughter of the Sun God (Surya) and consciousness Chhaya (the Shadow) she has one sister Sangya, brother Shani Dev, Yamraj and Gangotri are also called her cousin and sister. Every year in the first week of May on “Akshya Tritiya”, Lord Shani Dev accompanies his sister Yamuna to Yamunotri and returns back to Kharsali and again meets to bring her back on the “Bhai Dooj” or “Yam Dwetiya” two days after dipawali it is also a day for Yamuna to meet her brother Yamraj.

 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 Wall Supports of the Temple

 Importance

The importance of this temple is that it is the oldest temple of Lord Shani Dev, he particularly treats the people bad who are habitual betrayals, Back stabbers or into unjust revenges in other words Lord Shani punishes the guilty ones, he is a trouble maker for bad but rewards the good people, any one affected with Shani Sadsati and Shani Dhaiya, if performs pooja here the bad effect of Sadsati and Dhaiya is reduced, anyone if having a fear of Black Magic takes blessings from here is never attacked by its ill effects. Lord Shani Dev rides on a black vulture, carrying arrow, sword and two daggers, always wears black cloths, he has a limp in his one leg.

This photograph of the footbridge across the Yamuna River between Jānkīchaṭṭī and Kharsali was taken from the Jānkīchaṭṭī side of the river

Footbridge to Harsil across the Yamuna at Jankichatti

 Religious Beliefs & Practices

During the months of July, August (Sawan and Bhadon) a date is announced by the priest when a Pandava Nritya (dance) is performed by the special people in the courtyard to please the Nag Devta (Snake God), this dance starts after midnight witnessed by the locals from the surrounding  villages, it is believed that any one who performs fast on this day and recites the Mahamritunjay Mantra is protected from having unnatural death, this place is also believed to be place where the Nag Devta shows his presence once a year .

Significance of this temple is that after having darshan and pooja at Yamunotri one must pay a respectful visit at this place to make the darshan as complete. One can have a beautiful panaromic view of river Yamuna, Janki Chatti and the snow capped Himalyan Mountain Range.

 For more information and packages +91 9810506646

Office Contact 011 – 45725562, 63, 64

Callers from outside India + 44 7700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Website : yatrachardham.com

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anil-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anil Kumar Rajput – Managing Director at Promark Travel, is in the Travel Industry since 1980. He travels to write articles and blogs frequently. For more Info Do Visit (promarktravels.com) which caters all the travel needs of it’s clients. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anil.k.rajput) and Twitter (@PromarkTravels)
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Yatra Chardham – Hurdles this year 2014

Sri Badrinath Ji Temple

 

The Yatra Chardham for the year 2014 will start from Akshaya Tritiya which falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of Hindu month of Vaishakha , when the Sun and Moon are in exaltation; they are simultaneously at their peak of brightness, which happens only once every year .   Lord Vishnu and his incarnations are worshiped on the day. People also conduct Lakshmi puja on Akshaya Tritiya.

This year it falls on 2nd May 2014 and pilgrims from all over India will assemble at Haridwar / Rishikesh and start the holy journey on 30th April or 1st  May to reach the dhams at the time of opening of gates at the main temples of Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath .

The devastating  floods, last year on 16th and 17th June 2013, washed away many roads and bridges in the Uttrakhand along with many thousand deaths of pilgrims and the local residents, it also washed away many guest houses, hotels and flat land suitable for the camps .

Upon talking with the local residents the information shared about the road conditions is bad at many places , Govt. agencies are working to repair the damaged roads and bridges but with the onset of winter the and snowfall in the area the works are stopped and it will resume only after the melting of snow around mid or end March 2014 .

The roads towards Barkot and Janki Chatti were not affected much and are in good condition , the onward  7 km trek to Yamunotri temple is safe ,  the road for Gangotri , Uttarkashi on wards washed away at 7-8 places  near Bhatwari , it is a soft road and at present suitable for light vehicles .

The road form Rudraprayag to Guptkashi / Phata is good for small / light vehicles but onward road to Gaurikund is in bad condition , the 14 km old trek route along the river Mandakini  from Gaurikund  to Rambara and then to Sri Kedarnath is washed away at many places and a new trek is under construction , this new route is aprox. 24 km long climbing up to  13000 ft. and then coming down to Sri Kedarnath at 11760 ft. , it is not possible to travel this distance in one day, one night stop will be required in both the directions and  it is not certain if Govt. will allow the pilgrims to have a night stay at Sri Kedarnath , where the yatris will spend the night , even if it is decided it will be in the tents or may be this year the Yatra for Sri Kedarnath will be by Helicopters with same day return .

The road from Guptkashi to Chopta and then to Pipalkoti is good for small vehicles , the road from Rudraprayag to Pipalkoti and then to Joshimath is better . Road from Joshimath to Gobindgaht and then to Pandukeshwer is ok but onward to Lambagarh, Hanuman chatti till Sri Badrinath is not good only light vehicles can go . There are chances of preparing a helipad at Gobindghat for Helicopter Shuttle service for Sri Badrinath . The trek for Ghangharia , Velley of Flowers and Sri Hemkund Sahib are travel worthy .

Changed flow of river Alakhnanda at Lambagarh after June 2013 floods , it use to flow on the other side of temple built by JP Hydel Project .

In all the preparations this year,it seems that most of the pilgrims will avoid Sri Kedarnath and the road journey will be done in small vehicles for Yamunotri , Gangotri and Sri Badrinath .

This year the yatris may have to get registered and will be allowed only to travel by registered Tourist and State Roadways vehicles .

 

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The Journey through The Sacred Land to Gangotri

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It was a special day, I had arrived from Jaipur to Delhi and was all set to depart for The Land of Gods and Goddesses, Uttarakhand. I was so excited in the train while travelling towards Delhi and couldn’t wait to start my journey. I reached Delhi and packed all my bags, took my camera, recharged all the batteries, emptied the memory cards and I was all set to leave. We left Delhi after lunch in our Scorpio Jeep driven by my father, who loves long drives especially in Himalayas, so I couldn’t even ask him for the wheel not even on the plain roads and spoil his ‘long drive‘. So I sat besides him and we departed from Delhi.

The Start of The Great Himalayas

Journey from Delhi to Haridwar was on NH-58 and that was our resting place, we spent a night there to begin our actual journey in the mountains as the plains end at Dehradun, in our original we had to take a road to Chamba but we took the road to Barkot, a longer route, we knew it’d take longer but we were excited to explore the other side too. There were beautiful waterfalls, bumpy broken roads, falling rocks, landslides, rubble over the roads. One can never cross these roads on a low rider vehicle. We had our Scorpio so it was an ease for us. Although we had to survive the jerks and vibrations which felt like as if my backbone rifted apart all together. We went past Dehradun and the Rajaji National Park stopped on the way to have some tea and breakfast. Went past Mussourie and The Kempti Falls, those are really beautiful falls but the natural beauty seems to be getting destroyed by the people. We didn’t stop for a second there and carried our journey further and got on to NH-123 and were heading towards Barkot.

On NH-123

On NH-123

Near Kempti Falls, Mussourie

Near Kempti Falls, Mussourie

The Alternate Route

This was a really tiring journey and we all were getting irritated as we had taken a long route due to which we reached about 5 hours late. But this tiring journey was full of Green Mountains, Valleys, Lovely River Banks, Waterfalls and hardly any cars on the road. We reached Barkot and gave second thoughts to continue our journey after seeing the direction board in the picture below which said Yamunotri to the left and Gangotri to the right. Stopped for few seconds and discussed about it, we chose Gangotri as it was planned as it was already late. All this time my mother was praying to the god that, we reach safely to the destination and back home, we both (me and papa) were getting irritated from that too but didn’t pay any minute attention towards that and she was so scared all the time that she was reminding papa to blow horn at every turn that we drove through.

The Barkot Bend

The Barkot Bend

The Last City: Uttarkashi

We were following River Bhagirathi all this time and were back on to NH-108 by entering into a tunnel which was built inside a mountain and lead directly to Uttarkashi, as the dark appeared slowly our average speed started declining. After Uttarkashi, there was no big city and we had to travel a long journey of about 75Kms to Harsil. After Uttarkashi, we were heading straight to Harsil, on the way we went past Maneri and the Maneri Dam Project which was built upon River Bhagirathi and the water was flowing out of the small gate at very high speed which was creating mist in the atmosphere and just stopped by to take some photographs, it was dark when we left Maneri. So with no further delay we moved on, the weather started to go down. I was just holding tightly to the handles and whatever I could hold onto to save myself from spinal pains.

Landscape along the River Bhagirathi

Landscape along the River Bhagirathi

River Bhagirahthi

River Bhagirathi

The Maneri Dam Project at Maneri, Uttarakhand

The Maneri Dam Project at Maneri, Uttarakhand

It was so dark, we could hardly see anything besides the road and the oncoming traffic whose frequency was like one car in 20 minutes. Those 75 Kms felt as if we were never going to reach Harsil that night. These 75 Kms on the plains seem just an hour drive but in the mountains it takes about 3-4 hours approximately on broken roads with rocks and pebbles all over. It was okay till now as the car stereo was playing nice music, the stereo mouth fell off due to the jerks and refused to join back as it broke off. After that it was a total silence in the car and still 50 Kms were left. I was just staring at the dark and the tiny lights on the mountains blinking all over the place, these were all small villages settled all over the mountains. This map helped us alot

The Route Map

Harsil

I was just watching the road and eventually we reached Harsil, our final destination for that day and we spent a night at nice cottages in The Harsil Retreat, owned by Mr Rajiv Mehta. We had dinner and went to sleep. It was really a tiring day but I didn’t felt anything by looking at the beauty of  The Great Himalayas.

Harsil Landscape

Harsil Landscape

Gangotri

Woke up early in the morning and had a bath with hot water, clicked photographs, had breakfast and departed for the sacred land Gangotri. The road from Harsil to Gangotri was plain with less landslides and rocks, it was clear at most places as it is maintained by the Army and Border Roads Organization. On the way to Gangotri, which was 25 Kms from Harsil and was a 1 hour drive, we saw the 10 rivers meeting into River Bhagirathi and a beautiful and is one of the deepest gorge in Asia and ‘one of its kind’ bridge which is built over this gorge. The vegetation was pine and deodar trees all over and we could see pine cones everywhere on the roads and the sideways. Finally we reached our final destination, Gangotri, The Origin of The Holy River Ganges

The Sacred Temple at Gangotri

The Sacred Temple at Gangotri

 

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anuj-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anuj is currently pursuing his Engineering Degree in Computer Sciences and has a keen interest in travelling to different places round the year. He also writes blogs and articles in many online blogs. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anujrajput) and Twitter (@AnujRajput)
[/author]