There are four Abodes in Himalayas collectively referred as “Chota Char Dham of India ” and popular as “CharDham Yatra” which includes four holy shrines of Hindus: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. All of these temples are situated within the Garwhal region of Uttarakhand state in North India.
Among four Scared sites Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. On the other hand, Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to Goddess Ganga and Yamuna rivers respectively. In Hindu religion, the CharDham Yatra have a great importance, and it is considered that every hindu should do Chardham yatra at least once in a lifetime.
Yamunotri is the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna in Hinduism. It is situated at an altitude of 3,293 metres (10,804 ft) in the Garhwal Himalayas and located approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) North of Uttarkashi, the headquarters of the Uttarkashi district in the Garhwal Division of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the four sites in India’s Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti (7 km. Away).
The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible; hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself.
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
In the pilgrimage journey of Chota Char Dham, Gangotri is often visited after Yamunotri (located on the western region of Garhwal Hills). Pilgrims generally make Uttarkashi as their base camp. The time taken from Uttarkashi to Gangotri temple is about 4 hours by road.
Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to November (Kartik Purnima – the autumn full moon). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 18 kilometres (11 mi) uphill trek from Gaurikund. Pony and manchan service is available to reach the structure. According to Hindu legends, the temple was initially built by Pandavas, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.
The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankar discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple. The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carving.