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Char Dham Yatra refers to a popular pilgrimage circuit located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages for Hindus and attracts millions of visitors every year.
The Char Dham Yatra includes visiting four holy shrines: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. These shrines are located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and are considered to be the abode of four Hindu deities - Yamuna (Yamunotri), Ganga (Gangotri), Lord Shiva (Kedarnath), and Lord Vishnu (Badrinath).
The Char Dham Yatra usually starts in April or May and ends in October or November. The pilgrimage requires a journey of around 1,500 kilometers and takes around 10-12 days to complete. The journey includes a trek to Kedarnath, which is located at an altitude of 3,583 meters above sea level.
The Char Dham Yatra is considered to be a life-changing experience for many devotees, as it provides an opportunity to seek blessings from the four divine deities and to witness the beauty of the Himalayas. The pilgrimage also has significant cultural and historical importance in the Hindu religion.
Due to being located in the high Himalayan region, these Char Dhams open only for about six months every year and remain closed for six months. Every year in the summer of April the doors of these four temples are opened. At the end of the year, in the month of October or November, before the onset of winter, the doors of the four shrines are closed. It is believed that the journey of Char Dham should be completed in the clockwise direction. Hence, every year the pilgrimage starts from Yamunotri, moves towards Gangotri, then Kedarnath and finally ends at Badrinath. This holy journey to Char Dham can be completed by road or by air (helicopter services are available). Some devotees even from different states of the country visit only two dhams or two pilgrimages – Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Char Dham Yatra first starts from Yamunotri. The Yamunotri temple is located close to the source of the Yamuna River in Uttarkashi district. This sacred temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. Uttarkashi district is also home to the temple of Gangotri dedicated to one of the holiest rivers of India, the Ganges. Kedarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Kedar, a form of Shiva, located in Rudraprayag district. Badrinath Temple is located in Chamoli district, dedicated to Lord Badrinarayan, Lord Vishnu. The Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand is as divine as it is arduous but satisfies the soul and calms the mind!