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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Office contact 011 – 45725562, 45725563, 45725563

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Kedarnath New trekking route 2014

Opening ceremony Sri Kedarnath Temple 2014

Opening ceremony Sri Kedarnath Temple 2014

Please note this route is changed and new route is being constructed which will be allowed for pilgrims from April 2015 . for more details check for Yatra Chardham year 2015 New route to Sri Kedarnath

The floods in Uttrakhand in June 2013 had a major impact on the roads and bridges , many places bridges were swept away and roads got damaged due to land slides or got washed away near the river banks , the major impact was in and around the roads to Guptkashi , Gauri Kund and trekking route Gauri Kund to Sri Kedarnath. Most of the places roads and bridges are repaired and few places work is still going on .

Till last year 2013  the Gauri Kund – Sri Kedarnath route was of 14 km and one could do it in a day with having rest and refreshments at Rambara . this route near was at places completely washed away in the floods and due to land slides the hill was not found to be safe for re construction of trek .

Year 2014 the Sri Kedarnath ( 11750 ft) is approachable through a new trekking route which starts from Gauri Kund is now of 21 km. The best part is one can reach Sonprayag  by any transport , from here onward the Govt. agencies have taken over for the all arrangements Govt. vehicles are available to take the pilgrims up to Gaurikund . All pilgrims are medically checked up to make sure that they are able to climb and walk in the high altitude area , after the registration they are allowed to start the trek  from Gauri Kund . 7 km. trek first stop is Bhim Bali where the refreshments are available, next halt is after 7 km at Linchauli ( 11000 ft)  from Bhim Bali , free tented accommodation , free food is available from the Uttrakhand Govt . Mules are available to take the pilgrims on payment basis till Linchauli

The next day the pilgrims are just 6 km short of Sri Kedarnath main temple , pilgrims are to visit the temple and return same day for a night stay at Linchauli ,it is a steep climb and quite exhausting,   for Senior Citizens free helicopter service is available , this year Uttrakhand  Govt. is taking all precautions and not allowing any one except for the priests and security personal to stay in the temple area and the Kedarnath Valley .

For more information contact  +91 – 9810506646

Callers from outside India + 44 7700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Blog : www.promarktravels.com/blog

Gauri Kund on way to Sri Kedarnath

Gauri Kund main entrance

Gauri Kund is an important place on the begning of trek to Sri Kedarnath , here is a hot water spring which is connected with Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati also known as Gauri. Legend is that Ma Gauri wanted to marry the Lord Shiva and please him  she did lots of penance and Yogic practice, during this period she lived here and it was in this place lord Shiva accepted her ,they were finally married at Triyugi Narayan, which is about 15 km from here,  this place is also said to be where Ma Gauri  made Lord Ganaesha out of soap suds, gave life and placed at  the entrance when Lord Shiva was stopped by him he was beheaded and when came to know the facts placed the elephants head on the body to give him the life. devotees take bath in the hot spring before starting their trek to Sri Kedarnath. Just as the Kedarnath temple closes in the winter so is this temple and images are taken to the nearby village for the daily rites and puja.

In the olden days pilgrims use to stay a night at Gauri kund have a bath in the hot water spring perform the puja and next morning proceed to Sri Kedarnath but now mostly they proceed same day to save the time.

One can see the rate chart here for registering and performing puja at Sri Kedarnath Shrine.

Rate chart at Gauri Kund for Puja at Sri Kedarnath shrine

During the floods in 2013 this places had maximum impact of flood water and yatra was suspended for one year from Gauri Kund . This year 2015 the trek ( Yatra) is repaired and expected to be operational from April trek  will start again from here to Rambara 07 km on the right bank of river Mandakini then cross the bridge over Mandakini river trek 06 km on left bank to reach  Limchuli, from here almost a plain trek 3.5 km to Sri Kedarnath .

Palki, Mules and Pitthu porters are also available from here, it is advised to hire these services through the office of Zila Panchaayat very next to the gate from where the trek starts. they issue the receipt for the money paid  and give a token number of porter who is registered with them.

For more details and packages contact +91 9810506646 

Office contact 011 45725562, 63, 64

For Callers outside India +44 7700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com 

Website : www.yatrachardham.com