Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand, a beautiful state in Northern India is known for its bountiful natural beauty, mesmerising landscape and exotic wildlife. It also has a pious and spiritual side to it, which is equally popular. The land is home to several temples and religious places and rightfully it has earned the moniker, ‘Devbhoomi,’ which means ‘land of Gods.’ 

Among the innumerable places of worship and religious sites, the most prominent one is the tour of the four holy sites called the Char Dham Yatra. In Hindi, the term ‘char’ means four, ‘dham’ means religion, and ‘yatra’ means travel. Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand holds an important place in the hearts of the Hindus. 

The Yatra involves visiting and offering prayers at four holy sites in India, namely, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri (the place where the holy river Ganga originates) and Yamunotri (the place where the holy river Yamuna originates). These places are part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra or Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra. Each of these places are dedicated to different Gods, namely Goddess Yamuna, Goddess Ganga, Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu.  

Let us know more about these temples: 

1. Yamunotri Temple

The Yamunotri temple, nestled in a narrow gorge close to the source of River Yamuna (the second-most sacred Indian river after River Ganga) in Uttarkashi district, is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. It is the starting point of the Char Dham Yatra and is one of the most revered pilgr for the Hindus.  

Located on a tiny mountain hamlet on the Western side of the Garhwal Himalayan mountain ranges, the temple attracts thousands of devotees every year. The temple stands proudly amongst the snow-clad mountain peaks and glaciers that surround it.  

It is believed that devotees coming to the temple and taking a dip in the holy Yamuna River are protected from the untimely death and are ridden of all their sins.  

Opening and Closing Dates of Yamunotri Temple in 2023 

Due to its location high in the mountains and the tough terrain surrounding it, the Yamunotri temple remains open to the devotees only during a particular time of the year. It remains closed and inaccessible to the public during the winter season and opens during the yatra season, which starts in April and continues till November.  

This year, in 2023, the gates of Yamunotri opened on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya on 22nd April, and it will close on Bhai Dooj, i.e., 14th November. 

How to reach Yamunotri temple? 

Because of its location at high altitudes, Yamunotri is directly connected to motorable roads. The only way to reach the temple is to trek up to it, and the trek begins from Hanuman Chatti. Hanuman Chatti is well-connected by road to all major cities and towns in Uttarakhand.  

If you are coming from outside of Uttarakhand, or travelling by rail, the closest railways station to Yamunotri is Rishikesh, which is about 175 kms away. From there you can take a bus to Hanuman Chatti and commence your trek up to the temple. 

2. Gangotri Temple


The Gangotri temple or Gangotri Dham is located in the sacred Gangotri town at a height of about 3100 metres on the Garhwal Himalayan ranges in Uttarkashi. The temple, which is one of the four sacred holy and pilgrimage sites of Chota Char Dham holds an important place in the hearts of Hindu devotees.  

The temple is built in Nagara style of architecture and is made of white marble stone. Unlike other famous Hindu temples, it does not have any carvings, but the inner sanctum has idols of Goddess Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Annapoorni. 

Apart from its religious and spiritual importance, the divine temple has a beautiful white structure and is known for its stunning natural surroundings. It is surrounded by the lofty mountain ranges, and Deodar and pine forests. Also, what makes Gangotri temple one of the holiest places is its connection with the holy river, Ganges.  

The Ganges River, which is considered the most sacred river in the country and is revered as a Goddess, originates from the Gangotri glacier at Gaumukh, which is located close to the temple. As per Hindu legends, River Ganga, or Ganga maa (mother), descended from heaven on earth at Gangotri, which Lord Shiva released from his locks.  

At the point of its origin at Gaumukh, the river is called Bhagirathi, and it later acquires the name, ‘Ganga,’ when Alaknanda River merges into it near Devprayag town. 

Opening and Closing Dates of Gangotri Temple in 2023 

Due to its location high in the mountains and the tough terrain surrounding it, the Gangotri temple remains open to the devotees only during a particular time of the year. It remains closed and inaccessible to the public during the winter season and opens during the yatra season, which starts in April and continues till November.  

This year, in 2023, the gates of Gangotri opened on 22nd April, and it will close on one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals, Diwali i.e., on 13th November. 

How to reach Gangotri temple? 

There are direct buses from different parts of Uttarakhand to Uttarkashi and Gangotri. If you are coming from other states like Delhi, then you must change buses either from Rishikesh or Dehradun to get to Uttarkashi and then take the private vehicle to reach Gangotri temple. If you are coming by train, the closest station is Dehradun. 

3. Kedarnath Temple

The abode of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath is one of the holiest sites in India. Part of the Chota Char Dhan Yatra, along with Yamunotri, Gangotri and Badrinath, it is the third destination for the people who are on the Char Dham pilgrimage. The temple is also one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva in India. 

As per Hindu temple, this ancient temple is believed to be built by the Pandavas, the heroes from the epic, Mahabharatha to seek penance for killing so many people during their battle with the Kauravas and seek the Lord’s blessings.   

It is made of extremely large but evenly shaped stones and the idol of Lord Shiva in the temple is in his ‘Sadashiva’ form. Just as magnificent as the temple is and the spiritual vibe it exudes, the mighty Kedarnath Peak that stands behind the temple only adds to its beauty. 

Opening and Closing Dates of Kedarnath Temple in 2023 

This year, in 2023, the gates of Kedarnath opened on 25th April, on the auspicious occasion of Shiv Ratri, and it will close two days after Diwali on Bhai Dooj, i.e., on 14th November. 

How to reach Kedarnath temple? 

If you are travelling to Kedarnath from anywhere in Uttarakhand, there are direct buses to Kedarnath. But if you are travelling from other states, you can travel to Dehradun and from there you can change buses to reach Kedarnath. There are different options to choose from, AC sleeper, semi-sleeper, and non-AC sleeper, etc. Wherever you are coming from, the bus route ends at Gaurikund from here, you have to walk/trek up to reach the temple.  

If you are travelling by railways, the closest station is Rishikesh, which is located about 210 km from Kedarnath. From there you can take a bus to Gaurikund. 

4. Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple is in the picturesque town of Badrinath at a height of 3133 metres. The sacred abode of Lord Vishnu is one of the holiest shrines in India and is part of the Hindu Char Dham pilgrimage. Apart from its undeniable spiritual and religious vibe, the temple looks like a picture from the outside.  

Set against the backdrop of the snow-clad mountain ranges, it is a place where divinity meets serenity. The temple is easily accessible by road, and you can also reach it on foot. The road leading up the temple is good, and you can start your trek from Mana village, which is about three kilometres from the temple.  

Badrinath temple has many legends associated with it, which only add to the charm and importance of the place. One such legend is that Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati were once performing tapasya in Badrinath, and Lord Vishnu came by disguised as a small boy and disrupted them by crying aloud. Recognising Lord Vishnu’s disguise, Shiva and Parvati left Badrinath and moved to Kedarnath.  

Opening and Closing Dates of Badrinath in 2023 

The opening and closing date of the Badrinath temple in 2023 is 27th April and 21st November, respectively.  

How to reach Badrinath temple? 

The most common way to reach Badrinath is by road as there are regular bus services available from major cities such as Delhi, Haridwar, and Rishikesh. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, from where you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Badrinath. 

There you have a complete char dham yatra travel guide. It is now only a matter of planning a trip to one or all these beautiful and holy temples and attain moksha


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