June 23, 2022
CM Content Team
India is known for its many pilgrimage sites. Millions of pilgrims seeking moksha visit these places to attain spiritual peace. One of the most spiritual pilgrimage journeys is the Chota Char Dham Yatra. Located in Uttarakhand in North India, the four abodes Badrinath, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Gangotri form the Chota Char Dham Yatra. It is called Chota Char Dham Yatra so that tourists don’t confuse it with the big circuit.
According to Hindu mythology, it is said that whoever does the Char Dham Yatra is relieved of all their sins from their past lives, and they can attain salvation after death. It is one of the biggest reasons why millions of pilgrims do the Char Dham Yatra. The four shrines are in the Garhwal regions of the Himalayas. The picturesque beauty of the mountains attracts many tourists every year.
The Char Dham Yatra follows a fixed sequence. Pilgrims start that Chota Char Dham journey by visiting Yamunotri first, then Gangotri, then Kedarnath, and ends with Badrinath Dham.
Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, this Dham is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. Yamunotri Dham is the first location where the pilgrims start the Chota Char Dham Yatra . Goddess Yamuna is the twin sister of Yamraj and daughter of the Sun. According to legends, on Bhai Dooj, Yamraj promised his sister Goddess Yamuna that whoever takes a dip in the Yamuna river won't go to Yamlok and attain salvation. Devotees believe that a dip in the Yamuna river cleanses all the sins and avoids a painful and untimely death. During the winters, the area is inaccessible. The idol of Goddess Yamuna is moved to the Shani Temple, down at the Kharsali village in Uttarkashi during this time.
After visiting the Yamunotri Dham, pilgrims go to Gangotri Dham. Located on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, this Dham is dedicated to Goddess Ganga. Ganga is the most revered river in India. According to legends, the Gangotri Dham is where Goddess Ganga descended first after the thousands of years of penance by Bhagirath. Legends say that Goddess Ganga was ready to go down to the Earth, but her force was so intense that it put the entire Earth in danger of drowning. That is when Lord Shiva kept her in his locks and released her as a stream onto the Earth. This stream on entering the Earth came to be known as Bhagirathi.
Located on the banks of river Mandakini and the lap of Himalayas is Kedarnath Dham–the third stop on the Char Dham Yatra. Kedarnath Dham is one of the most important temples among the Panch Kedar. According to legends, the Pandavas felt guilty for killing their blood relatives during the Mahabharata battle. They reached out to Lord Shiva for his blessings and to rid themselves of their sin. Lord Shiva refused and transformed into a Bull. He dived underground to avoid the Pandavas. Bhima recognized Shiva and caught the bull by its tail and its legs. The bull still managed to enter the ground and reappeared at five locations. The hump of the bull appeared in Kedarnath. The stomach appeared in Madhya-Maheshwar, the face in Rudranath, the hair-lock in Kalpeshwar, and the two legs appeared in Tungnath and Nevil.
The fourth and final leg of the Chota Char Dham Yatra is the Badrinath Dham. Located on the banks of the Alaknanda river, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the most visited temples in the country. Badrinath Dham is part of the Chardham yatra and the Chota Char Dham Yatra. There is a 1-meter-long black stone statue of Lord Vishnu inside the temple, surrounded by idols of other gods and goddesses.
There are many legends about how this Dham came into being. The most popular one is that Lord Vishnu visited this place to meditate and attain peace. He got so engrossed in meditation that he did not notice the cold weather. To protect him, Goddess Lakshmi manifested herself into a Badri tree. To honour Goddess Lakshmi’s devotion, Lord Vishnu named the place ‘Badrikashram’.
The idol of Lord Vishnu is moved to the Narsingh Temple of Joshimath for the winter months since the area becomes inaccessible due to extreme cold.
Chota Char Dham Yatra can be completed in a matter of 10-15 days. The spirituality, the rich history of the Dhams, and the surrounding natural beauty of the mountains will make your trip worth it.
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