Char Dham Yatra

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Char Dham Yatra Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 10-12 days

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Also Refered As:

Chota Char Dham

Top places within Char Dham Yatra

"The Four Sacred Abodes"

Char Dham Yatra Tourism

Char Dham, which translates to "four abodes," holds significant spiritual prominence in India. Located in the majestic state of Uttarakhand, this pilgrimage circuit encompasses four sacred sites: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. Each of these destinations is deeply intertwined with Hindu mythology and offers solace to millions of devotees who embark on the journey every year.

It's essential to differentiate between the Char Dham of Uttarakhand, often referred to as 'Chota Char Dham', and the larger, all-India Char Dham pilgrimage. The all-India Char Dham includes Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East, Rameswaram in the South, and Dwarka in the West. While both circuits are of great religious significance, the Chota Char Dham primarily focuses on sites within Uttarakhand and is the most popular among pilgrims.

Yamunotri, the first stop in the circuit, is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna. It marks the origin of the sacred Yamuna River. Devotees pay homage at the temple and also take a dip in the thermal springs nearby, believed to purify the soul. Following Yamunotri is Gangotri, a shrine dedicated to the goddess Ganga. This site marks the origin of the holy Ganges River, and like Yamunotri, it holds great significance in the purification rites of the Hindu religion.

Kedarnath, the third destination, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is accessible through a trek, making the journey both spiritual and adventurous. The last of the quartet, Badrinath, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. With the Neelkanth peak forming a captivating backdrop, the temple's vibrant architecture and its legendary tales of Lord Vishnu's penance make it a fitting conclusion to the Char Dham Yatra.

The pilgrimage is not just a test of devotion but also of endurance, as the terrains can be challenging. However, with the recent developments and facilities, the journey has become more accessible to a wider range of devotees. During the winter season, from late November to April, the temples remain shut because of significant snowfall. They typically reopen in May, based on the prevailing weather conditions. Hence, the ideal time to embark on the Char Dham Yatra is between May to October, avoiding the monsoon and extreme winter months.

Must Know Before You Travel to Char Dham Yatra

Online Registration
  • Visit the official website dedicated to Char Dham Yatra registration.
  • Fill in the required details, including personal information, ID proof, and the proposed date of visit.
  • After filling in the details, you will be required to upload a scanned copy of an ID proof like Aadhaar Card, Voter ID, PAN Card, or Passport.
  • After successful registration, you will receive a Registration Number. Keep this number handy as it will be required for future references.
  • Print the Yatra e-pass, which will be generated after successful registration.
Offline Registration
  • Biometric registration counters are available at prominent locations, including Haridwar, Rishikesh, and a few more starting points of the Yatra.
  • You will need to fill a form and provide a photo identity card at these counters.
  • Once your details are verified, you will be issued a Yatra pass.
Additional Points to Remember:
  • The registration is free of cost.
  • Make sure to carry the original ID proof (the same one used for registration) during the Yatra.
  • Registration is essential for everyone, irrespective of age.
  • It's recommended to register well in advance to avoid last-minute hassles and to get a preferred date for the Yatra.

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How to Reach Char Dham Yatra

How to Reach Overview

Char Dham, situated in the rugged terrains of Uttarakhand, primarily consists of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. Given their mountainous location, reaching these spots involves a combination of flights, trains, buses, and trekking.

How to reach Char Dham Yatra by flight

Nearest Airports
  • For Yamunotri and Gangotri: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the closest, approximately 210 km and 250 km away respectively.
  • For Kedarnath: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is about 238 km away.
  • For Badrinath: Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest, located roughly 310 km away.
  • From Jolly Grant Airport, one can hire taxis or take buses to reach the base towns or directly to the pilgrimage sites.

How to reach Char Dham Yatra by train

Nearest Railway Stations:
  • For Yamunotri: Dehradun and Haridwar are the closest railway stations, situated about 175 km and 220 km away respectively.
  • For Gangotri: Rishikesh and Haridwar are the proximate railheads, approximately 250 km and 270 km distant respectively.
  • For Kedarnath: Rishikesh and Haridwar serve as the nearest stations, about 210 km and 241 km away respectively.
  • For Badrinath: Rishikesh and Haridwar are the nearest, located roughly 295 km and 320 km away respectively.
  • From these railway stations, one can find buses or taxis that ply towards the Char Dham locations.

How to reach Char Dham Yatra by bus

State-run buses and private buses operate from key locations in Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Rishikesh, and Haridwar to the main towns near Char Dham.

To Yamunotri: Buses/taxis can be taken to Hanuman Chatti or Janki Chatti. From Janki Chatti, it's a 6 km trek to Yamunotri Temple. Earlier, the trek used to start from Hanuman Chatti, which made it a 13 km trek, but with the construction of the road up to Janki Chatti, the trek has been shortened. Pilgrims can undertake this trek on foot or hire ponies or palanquins.

To Gangotri: Direct buses/taxis are available from Rishikesh, Haridwar, and other major towns. However, if pilgrims wish to visit the actual source of the Ganges, Gaumukh, there's a 19 km trek from Gangotri.

To Kedarnath: Buses/taxis ply up to Gaurikund, the last road point. The base for the trek to Kedarnath Temple is Gaurikund. From Gaurikund, it's a 16 km trek to Kedarnath. This trek can be undertaken on foot, or pilgrims can hire ponies, palanquins, or even opt for helicopter services. This trek is quite challenging due to its length and the altitude involved.

To Badrinath: Buses and taxis operate directly to Badrinath from major towns in Uttarakhand. However, the Mana Village, which is just 3 km from Badrinath and is the last village before the India-Tibet border, can be explored on foot.

Char Dham Yatra Photos

Char Dham Yatra
Kedarnath Temple

FAQs on Char Dham Yatra

What kind of accommodations can be expected?

Along the Char Dham route, various accommodations like dharamshalas, ashrams, guesthouses, and hotels are available. However, due to the influx of pilgrims, it's advisable to book accommodations in advance.

Is the Char Dham Yatra accessible to foreign tourists?

Yes, foreign tourists can undertake the Yatra. However, they may require special permits, especially when traveling close to border areas, such as Mana Village near Badrinath.

What should I carry with me on the Yatra?

Essentials include warm clothing, rain gear, medications, a first aid kit, walking sticks (for those trekking), energy foods, a water bottle, and important documents, including the Yatra pass and ID proof.

Do the temples remain open throughout the year?

No, the temples close during the winter months (from late November to April) due to heavy snowfall and usually reopen in May, depending on weather conditions.

What is Char Dham Yatra?

Char Dham Yatra refers to the pilgrimage circuit encompassing four revered sites in Uttarakhand, India: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.

Is it safe to travel during the monsoon season?

Traveling during the monsoon season (July to August) is generally discouraged due to frequent landslides and potential road blockages.

How long does the entire Char Dham Yatra typically take?

If everything goes as planned, the entire Yatra can be completed in approximately 10-12 days, though many pilgrims choose to extend their stay for more exploration.

What are the nearest airports and railway stations to Char Dham?

The nearest airport for all four sites is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. The closest railway stations are Rishikesh and Haridwar.

Are there facilities for elderly pilgrims or those unable to trek?

Yes, ponies and palanquins are available for hire. Additionally, helicopter services are available for Kedarnath.

Is trekking involved in the Yatra?

Yes, particularly for Yamunotri (from Janki Chatti) and Kedarnath (from Gaurikund). Gangotri and Badrinath are accessible by road.

Do I need to register for the Yatra?

Yes, the Uttarakhand government mandates biometric registration for all pilgrims. This can be done online or at specific counters set up in cities like Haridwar and Rishikesh.

When is the best time to undertake Char Dham Yatra?

The optimal time for the Yatra is between late April to early June, before the monsoon, and then from September to early November, post-monsoon. The Yatra is generally avoided during the monsoon due to potential landslides and disruptions.

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