Uttarakhand, a state in North India, is an abode of spirituality, religion, serenity, and peace. It is equally appealing to both domestic and foreign tourists alike. The state has ancient temples and several pilgrimage sites. The Char Dham pilgrimage is important to the Hindus and is offered in Uttarakhand. It is a difficult and strenuous route to the cove, and the Yatra should travel at one’s own pace and capacity.
What Is Chota Char Dham?
Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra is of great religious significance to the Hindus. Also referred to as Chota Char Dham Yatra, which has Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath pilgrimage sites. The state is famous for its innumerable temples, religious circuits, sites, mighty Himalayas, holy rivers, spirituality, history, stunning landscapes, and mesmerising natural beauty. Also referred to as Dev Bhoomi or Land of Gods, it has colourful temples, lush green pilgrimage circuits, and enchanting flora and fauna. The rivers flow beside the pilgrimage route, gushing down and rushing towards the planes, splashing and gurgling on straight or less inclined stretches but roaring and foaming at steep inclines.
In this Dev Bhoomi lies the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit cradled in the high-altitude Himalayas. It is a difficult terrain and an arduous journey, but the enthusiasm and the zeal to accomplish it sees the pilgrims through. Some pilgrims owing to personal reasons, visit only two shrines on the route, shortening the pilgrimage to do Dham Yatra or pilgrimage to two shrines. The Char Dham Yatra places to visit are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. You have to cover Char Dham Yatra Uttarakhand in a clockwise direction. Accordingly, the voyage begins from Yamunotri, moves to Gangotri, then to Kedarnath, and ends at Badrinath. It is an uphill journey, and many devotees cover the trip by road. Some also avail of the helicopter service available. Char Dham train and bus tours are also available during the pilgrimage Yatra season.
Best Time to Visit
The shrines on the Yatra pilgrimage route become inaccessible during the winter season for about six months each year. They are in the high altitude Himalayan regions covered in thick snow. The shrines open for devotees after the advent of the summer season, sometime in April or May. They are closed for pilgrimage, with the onset of winter in October or November.
Essentials to Carry
- Photo Identity Proof
- Snacks and Dry Fruits
- First Aid Kit
- Medicines (if any prescribed)
- Mobile Charger and Power Bank
- Water Bottle
- Trekking Shoes
- Towel and Toiletry Kit
- Rain Coat or Umbrella
- Face Mask
Char Dham Official Website
The official website of the Yatra is https://badrinath-kedarnath.gov.in/ and the government tourism website of Uttarakhand is http://uttarakhandtourism.gov.in/activity/char-dham.
The Char Dham Yatra map is available online to check and decide on the service you wish to take.
Modes to Register for the Char Dham Yatra
Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra registration is mandatory for pilgrims visiting the shrines. You can register through:
- Online mode through the official portal
- Mobile application through the app
- Personal application at the locations mentioned by the authorities
The Yamunotri Temple is the first shrine on the Uttarakhand pilgrimage circuit. Located in UttarKashi district, the temple is situated 3293 meters above sea level. It is built in a gorge near the ‘udgama sthal’ (source of Yamuna). There are several hot water springs close to the temple. The water in the Yamuna River comes from the Yamunotri glacier, which lies at the height of 6387 meters near Bandarpunch peaks in the lower Himalayas. The carving of the idol in the temple is on black marble. Maharani of Jaipur built the present temple in the 19th century. Then, it was destroyed due to climatic conditions. Maharaj Pratap Singh of Tehri, Garhwal, created it. Devotees go to the Yamunotri because of the spiritual significance of the river and its purity. As a ritual, the devotees cook raw rice in the hot springs and use it as prasad. There are many shrines, ashrams, and other temples around it.
Some places to visit at the spot are:
- Surya Kund
- Hanuman Chatti
- Janaki Chatti
- Saptrashi Kund
Located in Uttarkashi district, the Gangotri shrine is dedicated to the river Ganga, the holiest and most revered river in India. Gangotri is a very important Char Dham Yatra name. Although it is considered the source of the river, the river originates from the ‘Gaumukh’- a glacier situated 19 kilometres away from Gangotri Temple at 3100 meters above sea level. The Gangotri temple opens to devotees sometime in May on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya. It is closed on Bhai Dooj, also known as Yama Dwitiya in November. The temple remains shut for six months. During this period, the deity is worshipped at Mukhwa. According to Hindu mythology, Ganga came to Earth after King Bhagirath’s Tapasya (penance). The king spoke out of fear that the river might destroy Earth if it came down on Earth in full force. Lord Shiva agreed to hold her in his locks and slowly descend. There is a shila (sacred stone) near the temple, marking where Ganga first touched down on Earth. So, Ganga is also referred to by the name Bhagirathi. A Gorkha commander Amar Singh Thapa constructed the temple in the 18th century. People believe that the Gaumukh glacier was near the temple but receded owing to global warming.
Kedarnath temple is one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres of Northern India, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Its location is in the Rudraprayag district. The shrine is on the bank of the Mandakini River, 3584 meters above sea level. It is also known as Kedar Khand. The temple is one of the Char Dham Yatra shrines and one of the Panch Kedar in Uttarakhand. Its importance lies in the fact that it is among the country’s 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. High snow-capped mountain peaks surround the Kedarnath temple. The scenic beauty is breathtaking. When the temple is open to the devotees, thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the temple to pay obeisance. The temple’s name is after King Kedar, who ruled in the Satyug. Some stories claim that Lord Shiva absolved the Pandav brothers for killing their Kaurava cousins in the Kurukshetra war. The Pandav brothers did Tapasya (penance) in Kedarnath to Lord Shiva for their sins, and they had built the earlier temple. Adi Shankracharya built the present temple. You can glimpse the samadhi of Adi Shankracharya behind the Temple.
Some places to visit at Kedarnath are:
- Chorabari Tal
- Gauri Kund
- Vasuki Tal
- Panch Kedar
Badrinath Char Dham Yatra
People say that Adi Shankracharya found the Badri Narayan idol in the Alaknanda River. He installed the idol in the tapt Kund (hot water spring). In the 16th century, the king of Garhwal built the present temple. The temple’s architecture resembles the Buddhist Vihara temple. Moreover, the traditional carvings, ornamental stones, and designed pillars adorn the temple. Situated between the Nar and Narayana Mountain ranges, Badrinath is the last shrine on the Chota Char Dham Yatra name list. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it represents one of the 108 incarnations of the Lord and one of the most revered and holy shrines for vaishnavites. The Panch Badri temples include Yog Dhyan Badri, Adi Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Vriddha Badri, and the Badrinath temple itself. Located in the Chamoli district, the temple is situated about 3415 meters above sea level. It is in the silent valley of Garhwal Himalayas on the banks of the Alaknanda river. The dense forests, the snow-covered mountains, the green valley, and the holy river flowing past all add to the charm. Here, people celebrate festivals like Kedar-Badri Utsav, Mata Mruti ka Mela, and Janmashtami.
Besides the Badrinath Temple, other sightseeing places are:
- Badrinarayan temple
- Panchprayag temple
- Tapt Kund
- Vasudhara Falls
- Bheem Pul
Char Dham Yatra 2022 Dates
The Char Dham Yatra Uttrakhand can travel after the shrines are open to the public. This year the Char Dham Yatra opened on 3rd May 2022.
The Yatra starts on Akshay Tritiya or Akha Teej. The Char Dham temple committee and the Kedar-Badri mandir Samiti announce the dates. The Yamunotri Temple and Kedarnath opens on the day of Akshay Tritiya and closes on Bhai dooj. The Gangotri temple closes on Diwali, and the Badrinath Char Dham Yatra ends on Dussehra.
The opening and closing dates (tentative) are below:
|Chardham Yatra||Opening Dates||Closing Dates (Tentative)|
|Yamunotri Temple||3rd May 2022||24th October 2022|
|Gangotri Temple||3rd May 2022||25th October 2022|
|Kedarnath Temple||6th May 2022||24th October 2022|
|Badrinath Temple||8th May 2022||26th October 2022|
Development in The Place
Earlier the supreme court had permitted to widen the road up to 5.5 meters but now, owing to national security concerns, it has granted permission to the government to construct double lane roads for the Char Dham Yatra. The current Char Dham road project status is that the route will soon connect the four shrines.
Which is the Char Dham?
The Char Dham of Uttarakhand are:
- Yamunotri Dham
- Gangotri Dham
- Kedarnath Dham
- Badrinath Dham
In which state is the Char Dham located?
The Chota Char Dham is located in Uttarakhand
Which is the first Dham of India?
The first Dham on the list of Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra is Yamunotri
When will Char Dham Yatra 2022 start?
The Char Dham Yatra commenced on 3rd May 2022