Harsil and The Maha Prayag at Bhagirathi River

Harsil is a small sleepy village and important Cantonment of Indian Army situated at a height of 8300 ft. on main road to Gangotri, 73 kms from Uttarkashi, it was once on the old caravan route of India to Tibet most of the people are of Bhutia origin and use Harsil as winter base, more importance is due to village Mukhwas where the statue of Goddess Ganga is brought and worshiped during the winters when Gangotri’s main temple is inacceseble due to snow, it is on the left banks of river Bhagirathi and the Mayank Shikhar. Importance of this place is due to less known fact  that it is a confluance of Seven rivers and a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, many Saints and Sanayasis preferred to meditate here

Harsil is a small sleepy village and important Cantonment of Indian Army situated at a height of 8300 ft. on main route to Gangotri, 73 kms from Uttarkashi, it was once on the old caravan route of India to Tibet most of the people are of Bhutia origin and use Harsil as winter base, more importance is due to village Mukhwas where the statue of Goddess Ganga is brought and worshiped during the winters when Gangotri’s main temple is inaccessible due to snow, it is on the left banks of river Bhagirathi and the Mayank Shikhar. Importance of this place is due to less known fact  that it is a confluence of Seven rivers and a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, many Saints and Sanayasis preferred to meditate here, Godess Ganga’s temlpe the Gangotri is further ahead 23 Kms. from here.

Deodar Forest in Harsil

 Deodar Forest in Harsil

 

Mayank Peak, Harsil

Mayank Peak, Harsil

The Story and History

According to the  Kedarkhand, a chapter in Skandha Puran, it was here Lord Shiva was helped by Lord Vishnu to kill the demon Jalandhar who was brother of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu’s wife, Demon Jalandhar’s wife Vrinda went into the deep forest and started praying to protect her husband but Lord Vishnu followed her and disguised himself as Jalandhar started living with Vrinda, when Vrinda recognized him she cursed Lord Vishnu that someone deceitfully abduct his wife in his next incarnation, she entered the pyre after this, Lord Vishnu was so obsessed with the beauty of Vrinda that he painted the ashes from the pyre and started roaming all over the Lokas, then his worried Devatas were guided by Godess Parvati with the assistance of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati, they gave some seeds to them and directed them to  spray those seeds on the ashes of  pyre, on which Vrinda had given up her life.

Three holy plants manifested from that pyre  Amla, Tulsi and Malti. Later on Tulsi and Malti attained to the  Vishnuloka, by the virtue of their respective penance. Later Tulsi became the wife of demon Shankhachuda, he wanted conquer the Indraloka which resulted in a war with lord Shiva who was finding it difficult in wining over him due to the Tapasya of Tulsi. On being instructed by goddess Parvati, Lord Vishnu met Tulsi in the guise of her husband  Shankhachuda, so that the breach of Tulsi chastity could help lord Shiva to kill Shankhachuda, who derived his power from Tulsi’s chastity and virtuosity. When Tulsi recognized Vishnu she became very angry and cursed lord Vishnu to become a stone. She was crying inconsolably. Lord Vishnu contemplated on Shiva as a result of which he appeared. Lord Shiva blessed Tulsi that she would become the beloved of Lord Vishnu. Due to Tulsi’s curse, Lord Vishnu attained the form of Shaligram which is a stone and because of lord Shiva’s blessings. Tulsi leaves started being offered to the Shaligram in the process of its worship. Vishnu also known as Hari who is lying as stone (Shila), This place is called Harsil, this black Shaligram is visible in winters when there is less water in Bhagirathi because of snow.

Jalandhari is sister of goddess Lakshmi and demon Jalandhar, was on her way to meet her sister  Lakshmi and brother-in-law Vishnu, upon reaching here when she came to know about Visnu becoming Shaligram, she melted and met Lord Vishnu in form of a river who was lying in Bhagirathi.

There is a temple of Lord Vishnu on the banks of river Bhagirathi built by Raja Ram Brhamchari in the year 1921 AD (Shaka Samvat 1978), to the east is Lord Shiva’s temple and in the north is Maa Bhagvati’s temple, the rituals of puja are being performed since then by his family, at present Dr. Nagendra Ravat performing it for the last 35 years every day without fail it starts with a holy dip at Bhagirathi river and until puja is over which takes about 4-5 hrs. not a single word is uttered other than the mantras / shlokas until the first meal of the day is taken.

Lord Vishnu Temple at Harsil

Lord Vishnu Temple at Harsil

 

Lord Shiva Temple, Harsil

Lord Shiva Temple, Harsil

The Confluence of 10 Rivers

The Seven rivers are Tilangana, Jalandhari (demon Jalandhar’s sister), Vishnu Ganga or Kakora, Lakshmi Ganga, Him Ganga and Pawan Ganga pour their water in Bhagirathi at this place, little up stream 3 kms is a place called Dharali where Bhim Ganga, Kheer Ganga and Hatya Harini rivers join the Bhagirathi in all there are ten rivers which join and form Bhagirathi in this area hence it is called the Maha Prayag.

According to legend when one of the Pandva’s brother Bhim was bringing the Chaman Rishi to light the holy fire at Aswamegh Yagna on his way to quench the thirst of Rishi he hit his Mace (Gada) at a place from where the water came out, this stream is called Bhim Ganga, bathing in  the river Hatya Harini absolves the sins of killing some one by mistake or otherwise (Barham Hatya Dosh).

River Jalandhri at Harsil

River Jalandhri at Harsil

Around Harsil

Just below the Mukhwa Village is Maharishi Markandeya ashram who created the Maha Mritunjay Mantra it is here he created the Durga Saptashati, there are 700 shlokas (verses) in thirteen chapters, in the praise of Maa Durga and killing of demons, here there is a white temple of Maa Annapurna and Lord Shankar, 1 km ahead is Maa Durga’s temple.

Dense Deodar forest, apple orchards, Waulnut, Chestnut and Wild Flowers are in abundance in this area, Harsil is connected to Baspa Valley by Lamkhaga Pass which opens into Chitkul, Kinnaur of Himachal, one can have a views of peak Bander Punch 6316 mtr.  and peak Srikanth from Dharali village.

A View of Banderpunch Range from Harsil

A View of Banderpunch Range from Harsil

 

Maharishi Markandaey Ashram in White and banks of River Bhagirathi near Harsil

Maharishi Markandaey Ashram in White at banks of River Bhagirathi near Harsil

Harsil is well-connected by a road and there are regular helicopter landings during the months of May , June  Late September till mid October , land slides are common in monsoons otherwise one can reach here throughout the year.

For more information and packages contact + 91 9810506646

Office contact 011 – 45725562, 63, 64

Callers from outside India contact +44 7700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Website : promarktravels.com, yatrachardham.com

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

 

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

 For more details and packages contact +91-9810506646

Office Contact 011 – 45725562, 45725563, 45725564 

Callers from outside India contact +44 700093414

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

visit our website : yatrachardham.com , promarktravels.com

 

 

Char Dham Yatra, Holiest Pilgrimage in Himalayas

No Comments

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

Email : promark@promarktravels.com

Website : promarktravels.com , yatrachardham.com

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

Helicopter Service Yamunotri, Gangotri Do Dham

Traditionally the Yatra Chardham as per Hindu system starts the parikama clockwise i.e. starts from Yamunotri to Gangotri and then to Sri Kedarnath last is the Sri Badrinath the Yatra for the year 2016 starts from 10th May the Akshya Tritya of Vikram Samvat . 

The road journey which covers Yamunotri and Gangotri from Rishikesh takes Five days of not only difficult driving in the Himalayas but also danger of falling rocks and road blocks due to heavy traffic on the roads during the Yatra period from May till mid June . Helicopters carry 4-5 person at a time depending upon the maximum carry load of 300 kg.

Yamunotri Temple and Yamuna coming down from Kalind Glacier

Yamunotri Temple and Yamuna coming down from Kalind Glacier

 

Opening of helicopter service  has reduced the journey time to  few hours and Do Dham Yatra is completed in two days . Helicopters carry 4-5 person at a time depending upon the maximum carry load of 300 kg. with a night stop at beautiful place , Kharsali a village which is having the oldest Lord Shani temple next to the helipad  or Harsil  which happens to be the Maha Prayag of Eight  rivers in to Bhagirathi ( Jalandhari, Vishnu GangaLakshmi Ganga, Pawan Ganga, Telangna, Bhim Ganga, Kheer Ganga , Kakora and Hatya Harini) ,  an age old  temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and a temple dedicated to Ma Durga at a place where Maharishi Markandey wrote the Durga Saptshati are worth a visit.

The flight operations are from Dehradun a 45 minute flight for  Kharsali ( the starting point for 6 km trek for Yamunotri ) , the Yatris can do the trek , perform pooja at Yamunotri and return in 4-5 hrs at the helipad one can visit the oldest temple of lord Shani Dev at Kharsali village, one can stay a night at Kharsali or fly same day for Harsil a 40 minutes flight . Jeep/ Car will take you to a 26 km drive to the Gangotri temple , on way are Bhairo temple and the deepest gorge in Asia , after performing the pooja return to Harsil for a night stay and Dinner

Mayank peak Harsil

Mayank peak Harsil

 

Next morning after breakfast transfer to the helipad for return flight for Dehradun  a 45 minutes flight . All above arrangements are also available ex Delhi .

For more information please contact : 09810506646 

Delhi Office contact : 011-45725562, 45725563, 45725564

Callers outside India:  +44 7700093414

Email at:  promark@promarktravels.com

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

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

Harsil on way to Gangotri, Uttrakhand

Harsil is 24 kms. before Gangotri and 73 km. from Uttarkashi , a small sleepy village with an army cantonment situated at a height of 7860 feet from sea level,  beautiful place full of Pine, Deodar trees and medicinal plants , orchards  famous for its juicy Apples . It is inhabited by Bhotias of Himalayas, very close to the Tibet border. Famous for its variety of trekking routes, camping, and dense forests. It is a small village with some places of interest in the surroundings like bird watching, trekking, or simply building camps with kids and family near the river Bhagirathi .

River Jalandhari at Harsil

The mythological importance of this place is it has a reference in Skandh Purans chapter Kedarkhand . It is here at Mukhwa village the Idol of Ma Ganga is kept and worshiped during the winters . Mukhwa is a place where Chaman Rishi took rest with Pandva prince Bheem when he was coming to lit the holy fire at Ashwamegha Yagna , The reference of Mayank Parvat in it is here .

River Bhagirath and Banderpunch mountain range Harsil

 

It is a Maha Prayag of nine rivers joining the Bhagirathi the  rivers are Jalandhari, Vishnu Ganga, Kheer Ganga, Bheem Ganga, Lakshmi Ganga, Telangana, Pawan Ganga and  Hatya Harini cris crossing the valley , at the Prayag ( confluence) of Vishnu Ganga, Jalandhari  into Bhagirathi there is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Ma Bhagwati , it is said that lord Vishnu took the form of Shaligram here and lying at this Prayag ( confluence ).

Lord Vishnu temple at Maha Prayag Harsil

Lord Vishnu temple at Maha Prayag Harsil

There is a temple didicated to Ma Durga on the banks of river Bhagirathi , it is said that it is here Maha Rishi Markandey wrote the Saptshati in praise of Ma Durga the first ever worship of female Goddess  in Sanatan Dharma.

For more information and packages contact +91-9810506646

For Callers outside India +44 7700093414

Office contact 011 45725562, 63, 64

email : promark@promarktravels.com

Visit our website :  yatrachardham.com , promarktravels.com

Blog : promarktravels.com/blog

Yatra Chardham Lesser known places

No Comments

Yatra Chardham in Garhwal region of Uttrakhand State in Himalayas is considered to be one of the Holiest and devout wish of a Sanatan Hindu to perform it once in his/her life time. This yatra ( pilgimage) is not only being performed since the establishment by Sri Guru Adi Shankaracharya in the Eight centenery but also our old texts like Skandh Puran , the Garur Puran and many other books have a mention of places and events happend in this part of land known as Kedarkhand named after the King Kedar who ruled this land in Satya Yug he is also father of Vrinda who performed Tapasya for 60,000 years , she is wife of Demon King Jalandhar who was killed by Lord Shiva .

Places are Kharsali , Devprayag, Karanprayag, Vishnuprayag, Rudraprayag, Soneprayag, Guptkashi, Tungnath, Pandukeshwar, Harsil, Dharali, Mukhba, Joshimath, Uttarkashi, Kedareshwar and many more places in Kedarkhand the Garhwal Uttrakhand.

I would like to invite the readers to share their knowledge about these places or any legend which is lesser known or any ritual which is followed by the local people which have any religious significance. Please also comment on the articles how you have liked it. Register your email on our blog page  promarktravels.com/blog  for your articles and comments.

My Yatra Chardham by Helicopter

Yatra Chardham in Uttrakhand Himalyas is one of the wishes of any Sanatan Hindu, it is the salvation of soul , our life of birth and rebirth is free from this cycle after making prayers at these places, the soul rests in peace or it attains the “Moksha“. Reaching by road to all four Dhams is long journey , difficult treks at Yamunotri and Shri Kedarnath , road journey from Joshimath to Shri Badrinath is very tiring . The opening of Helicopter services to all these places have cut down the journey from 12 days to 2-3 days it is a boon for the old aged and people with time constrain can fulfill their wishes.

The helicopter used in this tour were state of art BELL407 four seater along with the Pilot and Flight Engg. From Dehradun Sahstrdhara helipad, it takes 35 minutes flight to Kharsali , helipad is on the left bank of river Yamuna there is no motor able road from helipad one is to walk across the foot bridge to reach Janki Chatti, from Janki Chatti there is a 6 km. steep trek one is to climb from 2650 meters to reach Yamunotri temple at a height of 3293 meters, one can take a horse or Palanquins a chair which is carried by four porters . One can perform the puja and return to Janki Chatti and then crossed the river to helipad at Kharsali in 4 to 5 hours. There is a oldest Lord Shani Dev temple at Kharsali which is constructed like a fort made of stones and wood it is also called the Someshwer temple .

Flight from Kharsali to Harsil is of 30 minutes located at a height of 2623 meters from sea level , Harsil the Maha Prayag of nine rivers in to Bhagirathi and a temple didicated to lord Vishnu, place where lord Vishnu is in form of Shaligram at the confluence of river Jalandhari , Vishnu Ganga and Bhagirathi, we stayed at Harsil Retreat cottages next to the confluence , the Mah Prayag at river Bhagirathi, a beautiful village Dharali the last village on Indian side on Indo-Tebitean border is about two km from Harsil

Rishi Markandey Ashram which is marked by a white temple didicated to  Ma Bhagwati on the right banks of river Bhagirathi where he wrote the Durga Saptshati the first ever written text on the Godsess Durga .

After the night stay early morning we took a car arranged for us from Uttarkashi , road to Gangotri is 24 Km drive along the river Bhagirathi which crosses the Asia deepest Gorge near Bhairon Ghati , road is good, passing through dense pine forest and Apple orchards, except for few rough patches , before the temple there is an arched gate from here the main shrine is about 600 meters this temple is at a height of 3120 meters from sea level was built by Gurkha Army commander in early 18th century. the actual source of river Ganga is at Gaumukh which is a climb of a beautiful 18 km trek at a height of 4120 meters the Bhagirathi glacier which is fed by three glaciers namely the Raktvarn , the Chaturangi and the Kirti , the impressive Aarti is performed at Gangotri temple it is a stately affair on the banks of rushing holy river  Bhagirathi here, we return to Harsil for the night stay . Harsil is beautiful landscape full of Deodar and Pine trees with apple orchards and nine rivers ( Jalandhari, Vishnu Ganga, Bhim Ganga , Telangna, Lakshmi Ganga, Him Ganga, Pawan Ganga, Khir Ganga and Hatya Harini ) criss crossing and joining the Bahgirathi to form a Maha Prayag , from here there is a beautiful view of Mayank Parwat and Banderpunch range.

Mayank Parvat

Next morning after the early breakfast we reach the helipad at Harsil on the banks of river Bhagirathi it took a 45 minutes of flying over the Tehri Dam a lake a massive water body fourth largest in the world ,we change the helicopter at Phata and flew over the Mandakini river in a narrow valley to reach Kedarnath situated at a height of 3553 meters surrounded by snow-capped mountains , the main temple is about 600 meters from the helipad , one is to be careful not to walk fast here because of thin air low in oxygen can result in head ache and breathlessness.

deepest Gorge in Asia near Gangotri

Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jotirlings of Lord Shiva , the present structure is built by Adi Shankarcharya at the site which existed at the time of Mahabharta , Lord Shiva is worshiped of his Hump over ground at the entrance there is a Nandi Bull , it is also one of the Panch Kedars the body parts of Lord Shiva others are Tungnath , Rudranath, Madhmaheshwar and Kalpeshwer are in Uttrakhand while Pasupatinath is in Nepal. This temple is a massive rock stone structure fixed without the mortar surrounded by high snow covered mountains standing on a plateau in a glacier , there are several Kunds (pools, tanks) are known for their religious significance – Shivkund , Retkund, Hanskund , Udakkund, Rudhirkund are the most important. A little away from Kedarnath is a temple dedicated to Bhaironathji who is ceremoniously worshipped at the opening & closing of Kedarnath temple . The belief is that Bhairavnathji protects this land from evil during the time when temple of Kedarnath is closed in winters . just behind the temple is the Adi Shankaracharya samadhi , it is said that after establishing the Dhams The Shankaracharya at the age of 33 took the “Jal Samadhi” here. There is a priority darshan slip for the pilgrims arriving by helicopter at the main shrine .

It took about an hour and half to have darshan and to perform the pooja , we took our flight back to Phata where helicopter for flight for Sri Badrinath ji was waiting , 35 minutes flight over Rudra Pryag, Joshimath and having the view of Nanda Devi peak, Choukhamba peak and Hathi , Ghora, Palki peak we landed at helipad after taking a circle of the main temple which looked beautiful, from helipad the main temple is a small distance passing through the street with restaurants and shops on both sides, after crossing the Alaknanda river bridge is the main shrine , from out side the Blue , Red , White and Golden colour of main entrance, impressive gate look like a Budhist Mutt ,

This temlpe is about 1200 years old built by the Adi Shankaracharya to re establish the Sanatan Dharma which was being over took by Budhisim and Jainism , we were taken inside and seated just in front of the main deity for 15 minutes with the help of main pujari to perform the pooja The image of Badarinarayan here is made out of Saligram. Sri Badarinarayan is seen under the Badari tree, flanked by Kuber and Garuda, Narad, Narayan and Nar. Mahalakshmi has a sanctum outside in the parikrama Lord Badari Narayan (also called as Badari Vishal) is armed with Shankh (Conch) and Chakra in two arms in a lifted posture and two arms rested on the lap in Yogamudra.The principal image is of black stone and it represents Lord Vishnu seated in meditative pose.

We were overwhelmed after completing the pilgrimage which is one of the life time wish of a devout Hindu in a short time of just two days which normally takes 12-14 days if done by road , the flight back to Shastradhara was an hour flying over the river Alaknanda ,

confluences at Karnpryag , Rudrapryag and Devprayag from here it is known as the Ma Ganga , flows onwards to its journey to Rishikesh and down plains of North and East of India as a holy mother giving birth to the civilasations and making the land most fertile in Asia before entering into Bay of Bengal at Ganga Sagar , making a world famous delta in the Sundarbans with mighty Bharamputra river .

All above arrangements were handled by M/s PROMARK TRAVEL SVCS PVT LTD NEW DELHI  phone 09810506646

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/madhu.jpg[/author_image] Mrs. Madhu, Joint Director, Govt of Indiais currently in Parliament House Secretariat.She loves to travel to Religious Places in India.
[/author]

Helicopter Charter Chardham

We all gathered at Dehradun on a hot summer day, but comparatively cooler than Delhi. Stayed night at Hotel Pacific which is one of the best in this city. It was a nice Chinese dinner after a long time , we had to retire early as next day we were to be at helipad early in the morning.

Helicopter at Yamunotri , Kharsali helipad 

 

Senior Citizen pilgrims in Doli/palki from Kharsali helipad to Yamunotri

 

It was a nice day with a pleasant weather at helipad but little haze in the mountains. With lots of excitement we took off at 0800 hr. from Sahastradhara helipad for Kharsali , hovering over the green steps fields , small villages here and there.  In about 40 minutes we were at Kharsali helipad, recevied by our local representative Mr. Rajpal Rana, he lives next to the helipad and owns a peice land around and Janki Chatti it is on the left bank of River Yamuna approach is through a dirt road, the old bridge is closed as main road collasped and not yet repaired, a parallel small hanging bridge is being used to cross the river.

Janki Chatti bus stand and foot over bridge at Yamuna from Kharsali

 

When local people cross the river they pay their respect by bowing their head to the river. We had to hire the Palki or Doli, a light wodden chair carried by four men on their shoulders  from the helipad I hired a mule for 6 km a steep climb of 800 meters from Janki Chatti  to Yamunotri trek which is on the right bank of river it is narrow at many places the passage is cut through the rocks one is to take care of head due to low height of passage there are many tea and cold juice vendors, on the way people from all age groups walking and chanting “Jai Yamuna Maiya Ki”

Senior Citizen pilgrims carried in a basket chair on way to Yamunotri

Steep climb treak from Janki Chatti to Yamunotri after the bridge

I could see the faith on their faces in spite of tiredness due to difficult  climb , it took us about 2 hr to reach the main shrine the temple of Maa Yamunotri River which is on the left bank of stream comming down from the Kalind mountain the Champasar Glacier. This temple is tall  pyramid style structure painted yellow a strong contrast with surrounding, we performd the puja at Tapt Shila  which is just over a hot water spring the floor where we performed the puja was of white marble stone we could sit comfortable on warm surface had a darshan of Yamuna Maa in the temple after the puja , the water at hot water spring was boiling hot and pilgrims were cooking rice tied in a cloth  dipping it in the hot water, there is one more hot water spring whose water is less hot and pilgrims were taking bath before coming in for the puja at Tapt Shila.

Yamuna decending down from Kalind mountain and Yamunotri Temple

 

Tapt Shila , before the Yamunotri temple poja is first performed here

 

Soon after we started our journey back to Janki Chatti to take our chopper flight to Gangotri , on our way back mid way it started drizzling which is quite unpredictable, by the time we reached the helipad it started to pour we took shelter at Raj Singh’s house next to the helipad  there I got a call from the control room that  Choppers are stuck up in bad weather at Phata and Dehradun  there is no chance we were to be picked up from Kharsali for our onward destination  Harsil helipad , it started raining heavily  at Janki Chatti  Promark Travel representative Raj Singh arranged for two rooms with western toilets  Raj Singh also arranged the Doli for the us  transported from helipad to the guest house as it was pouring and the dirt road became slippery with out light it bacame more dangrous but the passage from Janki Chatti to Yamunotry we were told is always illuminated with high-powered lamps.

We spent our night in a small guest house called Modi Bhavan owned by one of the priest at Yamunotri temple , had our dinner just opposite the guest house it was pouring and cold but we enjoyed our hot simple dinner in candle light as there was no power but the trek to Yamunotri was well illuminated after the dinner we decided for next day to fly for Kedarnath instead of Gangotri if time allows we may do it after the Badrinath visit, I informed the headquarters about the change I was told the chopper will be there  at 0600 hr. to pick us up , it poured the whole night but early morning the chirping of birds assured me of clear weather before I could look out from the window.

We had a hot water in buckets for bath got ready, our porters were waiting for us they loaded the luggage and picked up the three dolis while I prefered to walk up to the helipad , Captain Ahluwalia was in time entered the valley and landed at the helipad he didn’t  switched off the engine and got us in the cabin and took off , we had a nice clear view of Bander Punch mountains and flew over the Tehri Dam on the way we were informed that there is no parking place at Badrinath helipad we may have to either wait at Gauchar or Phata helipad .

View of Bander Punch from the helicopter cockpit  

View of Bander Punch range from Helicopter

We landed at Phata where we changed the helicopter and took off to Badrinath after getting the clearance it took about an hour to reach there on the way had a beautiful view of Nanda Devi peak, Hathi Ghora Palki , Chukhamba peak , flew pass the beautiful entrance to the Valley of Flowers.

Mount Hathi Ghora Palki view from Helicopter on way to Sri Badrinath

 

Before landing at helipad the chopper took a circle of the Sri Badrinath temple the bright blue, red and golden painted entrance  more typical of a Buddhist temple is a contrast to the surrounding , it was clear sky but at a height 3133 meters from sea level and surrounded by Nar and Narayan peaks with Neelkanth peak in the back it was cold and windy out here our local representative Vineet was there to pick us up in a car to the main shrine which is about a kilometer from the helipad , passing through the shops and restaurants we crossed the bridge over the river Alaknanda.

Ariel View of Sri Badrinath temple on banks of Alaknanda

 

On the right bank of river is the Brham Kapal and the two hot water springs the Tapt kund where before entering the temple pilgrims take bath, we had the arrangements for a priority darshan which is with a fee paid to the shrine board , within few minutes we were allowed to enter the temple seated in the enclosed just opposite the main black stone statue of lord Badri Vishal representing lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose along with Garuda and Godess Mahalaxmi, a ten minutes  puja with Sanskrit shlokas was performed by the priest who offered us the Prasad and the green Tulsi leaves garland of lord Badri Vishal as blessings, my heart was full of gratitude we came out in the market and informed Capt Ahluwalia to pick us up for our onward journey.

The main entrance to the Sri Badrinath Temple

We waited for about an hour at helipad finally sighted the chopper entering the valley it landed and we boarded the chopper within two minutes without switching off the rotors again we took off for a 45 minutes flight to Phata , we had to change to a six seat chopper for Kedarnath , it took off and within minutes we were in a narrow valley flying over the river Mandakini I can never forget this 15 minute  flight as it gave me a feeling of a 3D movie show .

Entering the narrow valley from Phata to Kedarnath flight over Mandakini

 

Flying in the narrow valley to Sri Kedarnath 

We landed at the height of 3384 meters from sea level helipad and wanted to walk up to the shrine but one of the lady felt breathless due to thin oxygen we waited and hired two porters to carry the old ladies on their back for a distance of  800 meters , we showed the priority darshan slip to the office just next to the main temple  were escorted by a  priest,  lots of pilgrims were inside and it was almost free for all with no control over the crowd , facing the  main entrance is the big statue of the Nandi the bull , the main temple is made of big blocks of stone and one wonders as to how without facilities this construction job would have been done without using any kind of mortar to grip the stones together 1000 years ago . we entered the first room where there are statues of the five Pandavas brothers and the Dropdi ,after crossing the narrow door with stone foot steps  in the Garbh Griha is the main Sadashivam lord Shiva in a form of conical rock is worshiped , we sat there for a while performed puja I offered almonds which I had carried with me from Delhi , came out and took a  parikarma of temple , there were lots of sadhus devoties of lord Shiva each one a unique in appearance bare foot nominal or no cloths on body , the weather was clear and warm but with chill in the air the small dhabahs serving pakoras and samaosa tempted us to have it with tea while waiting at helipad , we took off and flew back to Phata where our chopper was waiting for us, we inquired from the captain if he can take us to Gangotri , he informed that it was not the right time as the weather can change any time in the afternoon there .

Sri Kedarnath temple view from the main street

We decided to return to Sahastradhara / Dehradun flying over the Rudra Pryag, Karan Pryag , Srinagar watching the confluences of rivers Alakhnanda and Bhagirathi  to form river Ganga finally at Dev Prayag , at Rishikesh an hours flight we turned right  in the direction of Dehradun leaving behind the river Ma Ganga  landed at Shastrdhara helipad , we had to wait for some time for our car to pick us up to our hotel as roads were blocked due to felling of trees on the previous days hail storm, we had a nice diner at hotel slept with fond memories of a life time wish fulfilled.

 

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 trade since 1980. 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)
[/author]

The Journey through The Sacred Land to Gangotri

by
No Comments

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]