When it comes to the Chota Char Dham journey in the state of Uttarakhand, it is one of the holiest journeys that a Hindu devotee can undertake. It includes sites such as the Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Situated among some of the most scenic landscapes that you can visit, one can also undertake the journey as it will give you some time of what you are doing- explore your inner self, calm your soul and rediscover yourself. Here are some of things that will help you prepare for the journey and what is in store for you.
# Starting off
Make Haridwar as your base as it also gives you a chance to explore the holy city and the stunning evening aarti. Take the road that connects Dehradun and Mussorie and reach Barkot from where it is only a 40 kilometer ride to Yamunotri, the starting point of the Chota char Dham which ends with the trip to Badrinath.
# Best time to visit
The tour of the Chota char Dham remains open for only 6 months a year, from May to November as it gets very cold and snows a lot at those high altitudes during the winter months. However the best time to visit is during September as the monsoon is on a retreat and you can enjoy the balmy weather that comes along with autumn.
# Permissions Required
After the floods of 2013, it is now mandatory for everyone embarking on the journey to register themselves with the Uttarakhand government with the help of biometric scans so that a track can be kept of the people undertaking the journey. Registrations are done at the Char Dham offices at Haridwar and Rishikesh.
# The Sacred Sites
Yamunotri- Situated at the foothills of the Bandarpooch Mountain, a waterfall at the backdrop and the Yamuna river passes by at a close proximity. The source of the river is nearly impossible to determine the actual source, a tribute to Goddesses Yamuna in the form of a temple was built here. To reach here you need to take a 6 kilometer trek from Hanuman Chatti, the nearest village. Explore the temple, worship the divine and take a dip in one of the hot springs around the temple.
Gangotri is the source of the River Ganga, it is the lifeline of millions across the vast expanse of our country. From the temple built as a tribute to Goddesses Ganga you can undertake a 20-kilometer-long trek to reach the Gangotri glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayan mountain range and the source of water to the river Ganges at its source. You also get to see Gomukh, the cave from which the glacier originates but do not dare to venture further.
The temple of Kedarnath is situated amongst the backdrop of the mighty Kedarnath peak at an altitude of 3500 meters. The journey to the temple is not an easy one as the route lacks a good road and the location is pretty remote as well. The floods of 2013 ravaged the entire village but the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva remained unscathed. The routes have been changed and the trek is now 22 kilometers long but it hardly deters a devotee who wished to visit.
Badrinath is one of the most popular pilgrimages sites of India and is surrounded by valleys and mountains on all sides. The temple is a tribute to Lord Vishnu and is the easiest to reach among the sites in the Char Dham. The trip to Badrinath passes through some of the most gorgeous meadows, rushing rivers and pine forests and is also the gateway to some of the remotest places in the North, such as the village of Mana, Vasundhara falls and the Vyas caves where tourism is allowed.