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Char Dham

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Char Dham

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Char Dham is a rejuvenating spiritual experience in the misty heights of the majestic Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand state in India. The name Char Dham literally means "four pilgrimages" and refers to the group of four of the holiest Hindu sites located in this region. These are Gangotri and Gaumukh, the source of the River Ganges (called Bhagirathi here), Yamnotri, the source of the River Yamuna, and the celebrated temples of Badrinath (the northernmost major pilgrimage site for Vaishnavas or worshippers of Vishnu), and Kedarnath (the northernmost Jyotirlinga or the northernmost site where Lord Shiva manifests himself as a "Lingam of light"). The region is also one of the most popular trekking destinations in India.


Garhwal is right in the middle of the Himalayas, with Himachal in the West and North-West; Tibet in the North; the plains of Western Uttar Pradesh in the South and the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand in the East. Historically, it has been described as Kedarkhand, extending from Gangadwar (modern day Haridwar) in the South to the high mountains in the North, and from the Tamsa (Tons) river in the West to Buddhachal (the Nanda Devi group of peaks between Garhwal and Kumaon) in the East.

Yamnotri Perched at an altitude of 3293 meters above sea level, Yamunotri is located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It is very close to the Indo-Chinese border and is surrounded by the Himalayan offshoots on all sides. Yamunotri, lies near the Bandarpunch Mountain, which is 6315 m high and lies to the north. The glacial lake of Saptarishi Kund (Champassar Glacier), on the Kalind Parbat, at an altitude of 4421 m, about 1 km upstream. Pilgrims do not frequently visit he source of the river as it is not easily accessible. Among the major attractions of Yamunotri are hot water springs nearby. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes to offer at the shrine, by dipping them in these hot water springs, tied in muslin cloth.


Getting around

According to Hindu scriptures, the sites of Char Dham should be visited from left to right - beginning with Yamnotri, going on to Gangotri, Kedarnath and culminating the journey at Badrinath. This route follows the Hindu tradition of parikrama or clockwise circumambulation.