Sunday, 28 July 2013

Char Dham - Yamunotri


Yamunotri is the starting point of the holy River Yamuna. It is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal range of the Himalayas, balanced on the borders of Bandar-Poonch Parvat.The Shrine of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna is situated in the direction opposite to Gangotri and the road bifurcates and goes to Yamunotri from Dharasu, a place between Rishikesh and Uttarkashi. Yamunotri can also be visited via Mussoorie and Barkot. Situated at an elevation of 3235 mts. above sea - level, the shrine of Yamunotri is one of the 'Four
Dhams' of Uttarakhand. The source of Yamuna lies about one km. ahead at an altitude of about 4421 mts. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer pooja at temple itself.

Yamunotri is dedicated to the Goddess Yamuna who goes along the pilgrims to the high altitudes of the
picturesque Rawai Valley. Yamunotri stands high up in the deep left on the western face of the Bunderpunch Peak. The most sacred area of Yamunotri is a dark rock from where the hot springs emerge, called the Divya Shila. Here at the origin of the Yamuna pilgrims offer their first prayer. It is believed that a bath in the waters of the Yamuna protects the devotee from untimely death that could hinder one’s chances of achieving eternal emancipation.
The Shrine of Yamunotri at the source of river Yamuna is the western – most shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas. Atop is a flank of Bandar Poonch peak (3615 m). The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at the height of 4421 m above sea level is about 1 km further up is not easily accessible. Hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The Temple of divine mother Yamuna was built by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The tiny Yamuna has icy cold water and its absolute innocence & the infantile purity heightens that deep feeling of reverence, which Yamunotri has for the devout. According to the legend ancient sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. The trek to Yamunotri is truly spectacular, dominated by a panorama of rugged peaks and dense forests.

The daughter of the Sun god, Surya and consciousness, Sangya the birth place of the Yamuna is the Champasar Glacier (4421 m). Just below the Banderpoonch mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalinda Parvat. Kalinda being another name of for Surya.
Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a trait that she developed because as per a common story - Yamuna's mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband.

The shrine of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna is situated in the direction opposite to Gangotri and the road bifurcates and goes to Yamunotri from Dharasu, a place between Rishikesh - Uttarkashi.

Another 55 km away is Barkot, affording a fabulous view of the Banderpunch Range. Barkot is also approachable by road directly from Delhi (334 km ) via Saharanpur, Harbartpur, Nainbagh and Naugaon.8 km from Barkot is Gangani, a place of pilgrimage, on the left bank of Yamuna.

The holy tank here is called Gangayan Kund. Water from the tank is taken for puja purposes to the opposite village of Than, housing the imposing temple of Rishi Jamdagni. 2 kms. from Gangani is Kharadi a place known for its roaring waterfall.
The motorable road continues till Jankichatti via Syanachatti, Ranachatti and Hanumanchatti, 50 km from Barkot. From Jankichatti its is a 5 km trek to yamunotri for which ponies,dandies and kandies (baskets for carrying children) are also available.
The trek to Yamunotri temple is a full day one with a 6km walk from Hanuman Chatti and 4km from Janki Chatti. Rugged peaks and dense forests usually dominate the trek. You can have horses and palanquins on
rent. The climate is extremely harsh with major parts covered in snow for most time of the year. One must carry light to heavy woollen whenever he is traveling to Yamunotri.

It is from Barkot that the road to Yamunotri starts wending its way along the banks of the Yamuna and the roads from Mussoorie and Kalsi meet here. There is motorable route up to Hanuman Chatti. This little Chatti is just 7 kilometres from Sayana Chatti and set against beautiful surround­ings. A 13 kilometres trek to Yamunotri starts from here.

Two perilous routes connect Hanuman Chatti toYamunotri. The route along the right bank proceeds via Markendeya Tirtha, where the sage Markendeya wrote the Markendeya Puran. The route on the left bank goes to Kharsali. From here, the climb takes five or six hours. There are two kunds atYamunotri, at a height of 3292 metres: Surya Kund, whose water is boiling hot; and Gauri Kund, where it is just tepid. The idol of Yamuna is a vision in black; and Ganga, a lady in white. The river Yamuna flows from Kalindi Parvat in the
Bandar Poonch range. Here, flowers, especially wild roses, grow in abundance. Yamunotri is surrounded by some hoary chestnut trees. According to Hindu mythology and custom a dip in the Yamuna here would absolve one of all sins.

The main attraction here is the Yamunotri temple visited by a large number of tourists, both religious and non-religious every year. Moreover, there is Surya Kund, whose water is used to make Prasad; and Divya Shila, a rock pillar.

Yamunotri Temple:-
 The Yamunotri temple is located in the Uttarakashi district of Uttarakhand. The temple is located about ten kms trek from the town of Hanuman Chatti, with a break in Janaki Chatti.
Maharani Gularia of Jaipur built the temple in the 19th century. Destroyed by a major earthquake in 1923, it was subsequently rebuilt, then again damaged in 1982. It is located at a height of 3252 meters (10,700 feet), about 6 km below the glacier. The temple is dedicated to the river Yamuna, who is represented in the form of a silver idol, bedecked with garlands. Goddess Yamuna is the daughter of Surya, the sun God, and
Sangya, the Goddess of consciousness. Yamuna is also the sister of Yama, the God of death, and so anyone bathing in the waters of the river is spared of a painful death.
There is confusion about who built the temple of Yamunotri but as the sources say, the temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.

Yamuna Glacier:-
This glacier is located at a distance of about 1 km from the holy shrine of Yamunotri, which is quite difficult to reach. The destination is situated close to Indo-China border. Trekking up to Yamunotri requires a day and the route traverses through dense forests and uneven terrain.

The actual source of Holy River Yamuna is a frozen lake of ice and glacier known as Champasar Glacier. The glacier is located at an altitude of 4421m on the Kalind Mountain. The holy shrine has been located on the foot hill as the actual site is inaccessible and offerings and prayers are done at the temple only.

The Yamunotri temple is on the left bank of Yamuna constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna like Ganga has been elavated to the status of divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
Yamunotri is also known for exciting trekking options. Not only this, the pilgrims also visit here for trekking from all across the country. It is very exciting and enjoyable for pilgrims and for tourists as well. Devotees can also reach the shrine by trekking for a few kilometres. The picturesque sight, peaks of mountains and the surrounding greenery gather its beauty in a frame.

 The Goddess Yamuna's idol (made of black marble), on our right flows the freezing waters of river Yamuna coming from our back.
Gradually, unable to go to Gangotri during his old age, a stream of Ganga appeared opposite Yamunotri for him. Another legend says that Yamuna’s supposed frivolousness was due to her mother’s inability to look at Yamuna’s father, Lord Surya, in the eye due to his tremendous radiance. It is also said that if one bathes in
the waters of Yamuna, the person ceases to die a painful death since Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the lord of death.
Legends associated with Yamunotri
The most ancient legend tells us about Sage Asti Muni. He bathed at Yamunotri all his life in the holy water of Yamuna and Ganga. He was unable to visit Gangotri because of his old age.

Shri Siddh Hanuman Mandir:-
The temple complex of Yamunotri overlooks another Mandir, dedicated to Hanuman. In this Mandir, devotees can offer prayers not only to Hanuman but also Ram and Sita. The temple is believed to be located at the site of an ancient cave.
It is 13 km from Yamunotri, the confluence of Hanuman Ganga and Yamuna rivers,from where the trek to Dodi Tal (3,307mt)starts. A six hours climb through the lustrous meadows and the woody hills enjoying the aromatic fragrance of the Himalayan shrubs provides one with sheer amusement.

Divya Shila:-
Kharsali is a small village situated near Yamunotri. There are several waterfalls, natural springs, and an ancient temple devoted to the Hindu Lord Shiva here. There is a holy slab of stone called the ‘Divya Shila’ (literary meaning the slab of divine light) close to the Yamunotri Temple. Devotees worship the Divya Shila before visiting the Yamunotri Temple.It is believed that seven great Rishis (sages)—Kasyapa, Atri, Bhadravaj, Visvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Vasistha— performed penance at Saptrishi Lake for millions of years in ancient times. As the route of Saptrishi Lake is covered with ice, it is an extremely difficult journey which needs a guide. It takes 16 hours to go up to and back down.

Surya kund:-
The hot spring of water located near the temple is known as Surya Kund. The Divya Shila near the Surya Kund is worshipped before the Pooja in the temple. Pilgrims prepare rice and potatoes tied in muslin cloth as offerings. The pujaris at Yamunotri temple come from the nearby village Kharsali.
The main attraction here is the Yamunotri temple visited by a large number of tourists, both religious and
non-religious every year. Moreover, there is Surya Kund, whose water is used to make Prasad; and Divya Shila, a rock pillar.

Saptarishi Kund:-
 Saptarishi Kund is regarded as the origin of Yamuna River. At an altitude of 4421 meters, Saptarishi Kund is regarded as the origin of Yamuna River. With its murky bluish waters, pebbly banks and the rare display of Brahama lotus, Saptarshi Kund beholds delightful scenery. Before you venture your trip to Saptarsi Kund, it is necessary that you should familiarize with the climatic conditions of this region by staying a day at Yamunotri.
This is the source of Yamuna but being a little difficult to access, few people go there and most offer their prayers in the temple itself. A twelve kilometre difficult trek route will take you to Saptrishi kund. A natural glacial kund, the trek upto Saptrishi kund eases out around the base of Kalinda parvat. Dark blue waters, slate stones on the banks, and a rare variety of lotus adorning the water, Saptrishi Kund is a sight to behold. Trip to Saptrishi Kund requires you to be acclimatised for at least one day at Yamunotri and a guide to take you.

 Kharsali presents exciting surroundings and lovely ambiance to the picnickers. A quaint with lots of thermal springs and pretty cascades, Kharsali is one of the most renowned tourist location in this region. A mind-blowing meadow where Oak and conifers trees surrounds the environ, Kharsali presents natures beauty at its zenith.

 It is a small town located on the way to Yamunotri, just 49 kilometers away from Yamunotri. Barkot have one of the ancient temple and ideal for meditation.

The temple is open for Darshan 6am to 12pm & 2pm to 8pm, and helpful pandits are always at hand to guide the visitors. The aarti is held at around 7 am in the morning and again at 8:00 pm in the evening; and those who wish to participate in the aarti need to spend the night at Yamunotri.

Opening and Closing Timings:-
The temple opens on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritya. Akshaya Tritya comes every year either in last week of April or first week of May. The temple remains closed from the day of Diwali. The temple area is a no-man land during the winters and is covered with blanket of white ice. The temple re-opens on Akshaya Tritya and witness thousands of pilgrims.

How to Reach Yamunotri:-

By Air:-
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to Yamunotri situated at a distance of 210kms. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights. Hanuman Chatti is directly not connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis are available from Jolly Grant Airport to Hanuman Chatti.

By Rail:-
The nearest railway stations to Yamunotri are Rishikesh and Dehradun. Dehradun railway station is situated 175kms from Yamunotri and Rishikesh railway station is situated 200kms before Yamunotri on NH58. Rishikesh and Dehradun are well connected by railway networks with major destinations of India. Trains to Rishikesh are frequent. Hanuman Chatti is well connected by motorable roads with Rishikesh and Dehradun. Taxis and buses are available from Rishikesh, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarkashi and Barkot and many other destinations to Hanuman Chatti.

By Road:- 
Yamunotri is directly not connected with motorable roads and the trek commences from Hanuman Chatti. Hanuman Chatti is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand state. Buses to Rishikesh are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Buses and Taxis to Hanuman Chatti are easily available from major destinations of Uttarakhand state like Rishikesh, Dehradun, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Barkot etc.

Char Dham- Gangotri


The most sacred of all rivers is the Ganga.The Ganga symbolizes purity. It washes away all sins. It is compared to a mother goddess which presides through all the stages of life: from birth to death. The river is believed to have been born out of Vishnu's big toe. It is said to flow through the skies (like the Milky Way).These are but a few of the myths about the Ganga, whose temple is situated on the right bank of the Bhagirathi, right in the middle of the tiny village Gangotri, 3140 metres above sea level, where the sun filters through the branches of giant deodars and conifers in a mesmeric display of light and shade.The Ganga legend tells us all about King Sagar's 60,000 sons who were reduced to ashes and about King

Bhagirath's'tapasya'to Shiva who appeased and brought them back to life.The stone slab on which Bhagirath meditated is called the Bhagirath Shila and it is located near the Temple of Ganga which was built by the Gorkha General, Amar Singh Thapa.

Was built in the early 18th century by a Gurkha commander, Amar Singh Thapa and later rebuilt by the Maharaja of Jaipur, in the early 20th century. The 20ft high temple is made of white granite. By November, Gangotri is snowbound, and so the deity is taken 25km downstream to Mukhba, so that her devotees are not thwarted. Despite the severe cold, however, several "Sadhus" (sages or holy men) remain at Gangotri year round, even through the very severe winter. The original temple was constructed by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa. Every year people from all around the world visit this shrine. A number of ashrams and dharamshalas are located on the other side. It is believed that Raja Bhagirath used to worship Shiva on a slab of rock.

Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall. The river itself begins at Gangotri which literally means Ganga Uttari or Ganga descending She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.
The Pujaris & Brahmins are from the village of Mukhwa. The water from Gangotri is carried to offer to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this water has amrit (nectar) in it and will soothe the throat of Shiva who gulp the poison.

According to mythology King Sagar after slaying the demons on earth staged an Aswamedh Yagna to proclaim his supremacy. The King's 60,000 sons born of Queen Sumati and one son Asamanjas of Queen Kesani were to accompany the horse. Lord Indra fearing loss of his supremacy stole the horse and tied it to the ashram of ancient sage Kapil who was then deep into meditation. On their search for horse, the 60,000 sons stormed the ashram of Kapil and just before the attack on him the sage opened his eyes and reduced all the 60,000 sons of King Sagar except Asamanjas to ashes. King Sagar's grandson Anshuman was
successful in recovering the horse from Kapil and was told that those 60,000 burnt will attain heavenly adobe if Ganga is brought down from heaven & their ashes were cleaned by its water. Then the great task of bringing Ganga to earth started. Anshuman failed and so did his son Dilip but his grandson Bhagirath succeeded.

The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.

The holy shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3200 metres above sea­level. It is linked by a good motorable road. The distance is about 248 kilometres from Rishikesh.A number of Ashrams are located on the other side, some of them provide accom­modation for visitors.

Gangotri is associated with several other sacred traditions. One of the best known is the belief that the Pandavas made their great Deva Yagna in the vicinity to atone for the deaths of their relatives in the battle of Mahabharata.

The river enters Gangotri as a turbulent rushing stream, milky green in colour. It meanders, forming its own channels in a wide, boulder-strewn riverbed.

Gangotri temple:-
The 18th century temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located near a sacred stone where king Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is believed to have touched earth at this spot. According to another legend, Pandavas performed the great Deva Yagna here to atone the deaths of their kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharata. The temple is an exquisite 20 ft. high structure made of white granite.

The slab on which King Bhagirath is believed to have meditated is called Bhagirathi Shila. The mother Ganga is worshipped as Goddess and the holy river in the temple. Before performing the Puja rituals, a holy dip in the Ganga flowing nearby the temple is a must. The Pujari's (priest) belong to Brahmin community from Mukhwa village. Ten of them are selected by rotation every year to perform all the functions covering the temple and they also perform the duties of pandas.

1. Submerged Shivling
2. Kedar Ganga Sangam
3. Kedar Tal
4. Dayara Bugyal
5. Sat-Tal
6. Gaumukh

Gaurikund and Devghat:-
This site has huge importance for the Hindus. Parvati is wife of Shiva also known Gauri in several parts of India. Gaurikund is dedicated to the Hindu goddess "Parvati". Gaurikund captures its area in the Garhwal Himalayans, located at height of 6,000 ft above sea level. As per Hindu traditions, it is the sacred spot where Gauri won Lord Shiva's heart. Finally, Lord Shiva accepted Gauri's love and they got married. Gaurikund also has a hot spring, which has high mythological significance. The religious site attracts thousands of devotees from all across the country.

A spectacular lake situated at a distance of about 18kms trek from Gangotri, negotiable through a rough mountain trail. The trek is very tiring and testing even for a hardy trekker. There is no facility of any kind on the way and one has to make all arrangements in advance. A local guide is essential.

The lake is crystal clear with the mighty Thalaysagar (sphatikling) peak forming a splendid backdrop. The place is about 15,000 feet above sea – level and is the base camp for scaling to Thalaysagar, Jogin, Bhrigupanth and other peaks.

Kedar Ganga Sangam:-
Around 100yards from the Ganga temple, flows the river Kedar Ganga. Starting from the Kedar Valley, this river meets the Bhagirathi River on its left bank.

Submerged Sivling:-
The natural rock Shivling, submerged in the river, is an amazing sight reinforcing the power of the divine.

According to mythology, Lord Shiva sat at this spot to receive the Ganga in his matted locks. The Shivling is visible in early winter when the water level goes down.

Not only Gangotri glacier but Bhagirathi is also the source of Gaumukh River. Gaumukh has immense importance for the pilgrims. You can arrive at Gaumukh by a pony or on foot. Devotees reach here from all
over the India to take a holy dip. There is no accommodation for pilgrims at Gaumukh. Options are available only at Bhojbasa, at a distance of 2 km from the Gaumukh. You can also pitch tents on the river bank.

Sat-Tal:- Sat-Tal, meaning seven lakes, is situated just above Dharali, 2 Kms. beyond Harsil. The trek of about 5 Kms. is rewarding as this group of lakes is situated amid beautiful natural surroundings. It also provides lovely camp sites.

Dayara Bugyal:- Dayara Bugyal is a popular attraction in the area. A motorable road connects Bhatwari,
which is 27 km from Uttarkashi with Raithal village, from where Dayara Bugyal is a 6 km long trek.

Gangnani:- 55kms from Gangotri. Noted for its thermal springs and close-up views of famous mountain peaks, its peaceful and tranquilizing environment provides an ideal setting for meditation.

Bhatwari:- 70kms from Gangotri. It is a small upcoming town located at about 25kms from Gangnani.

Maneri:- 92KMS from Gangotri. It has lately emerged as a place of tourist interest as a result of the construction of a dam across the Bhagirathi River, from where the water is fed to the turbines through a 08km long tunnel at Tiloth in Uttarkashi. The resultant lake at Maneri has added to the charm of the place.

Uttarkashi:- 107kms from Gangotri. An important pilgrimage center equated with Varanasi or Kashi in
divinity. It is located in a wide stretch of the valley.

Dodital:- The Road from Uttarkashi to Gangotri bifurcates at 04km from Uttarkashi and vehicles can go unto Kalyani, 07km further up, from where, Agoda is 05km trek away at an altitude of 3,307mt. The trek from there ascends gradually through thick forests and beautiful mountainous scenery. Dodital, a sparkling and crystal clear lake surrounded by forests is 16km further, at an elevation of 3,307mt. The famous Himalayan trout’s are found in abundance in the lake. Permit for fishing can be obtained from the Divisional Forests Officer, Uttarkashi.

There is a beautiful Camping site, forests rest house and a log cabin by the side of the lake. From there one can trek down to Hanumanchatti (27km) and then to Yamunotri.

Nachiketa Tal:- A drive through the terraced fields takes one to Chaurangi-Khal, a place 29 kms from Uttarkashi. From there a 03km trek through lush green forests takes one to Nachiketa Tal, a tranquil spot. There is greenery all around and a small temple at the bank of the lakes gives it a serene look. Nachiketa, the devout son of Saint Uddalak, is said to have created this lake, hence the name.

There is no accommodation facility and visitors have either to come back to Uttarkashi or stay at the PWD Inspection House at Chaurangi – Khal.

Tehri:-Former capital of Tehri Garhwal principality. The town lies at the confluence of Bhagirathi and
Bhilangana rivers. It is also the site of a giant hydel project.

Harsil:- 26 km from Gangotri. Located in the topographically mountainous district of Uttarkashi, this hamlet is famous for its natural beauty and delicious apples.

Harsil is situated at a distance of 72kms from Uttarkashi on the main highway to Gangotri and is at a height of 2,620mt above sea level.

From Harsil, the adventurous tourist can trek to Sat Tal, situated just above Dharali, 2km beyond Harsil, to be greeted by the rewarding sight of seven lakes situated amidst beautiful natural surroundings.

The Harsil-Jangala Chatti routes are amidst dense Deodar forest.

The word Gaumukh translates to the face of a cow. The Hindus believe cow to be a holy animal. It is the destination where the holy river Ganga came into existence. Trekking is the enjoyable way to reach Gaumukh. Trekkers will be required to cover 16 kms.

Vishwa Nath temple:- One of the most famous temples in Uttarkand temple bears a description in the Kedar Khanda or Skanda Puran. The temple is 300 mts away from the local bus stand at Uttarkashi. This holy shrine has a Shivling which is 60 cms tall and is 90 cms in circumference.

Bhairon Ghati:- 10 km from Gangotri. Astride to the Uttar Kashi and near the confluence of Jat Ganga and
Bhagirathi rivers is situated, Bhagirathi. The temple of Bhairav Nath surrounded by thick forests is worth visiting.

Gaumukh Glacier:- The Gangotri Glacier, situated at a height of 4238 mts, moves along the Gangotri track starting from Chaukhamba and finally merging into the Gaumukh. It is a known fact that the water of the Ganges is 100% pure in nature and contains absolutely no impurities.

Nandanvan Tapovan:-
An arduous, 25 kms long trek along the Gangotri Glacier leads to scenic Nandanvan - the base camp of Bhagirathi peaks, that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Shivaling peak. A trek across the snout of the Gangotri Glacier leads to Tapovan known for its beautiful meadows the encircle that base of the Shivling peak.

There is a falls called Sahasradhara about 100 yards below this confluence. Just before the falls the river squeezes itself into a narrow gorge about one metre wide.

Another strong sign of environmental degradation was Gangotri's water quality.  The Ganges had significant levels of coliform bacteria, both above and below Gangotri.  The contamination in the Ganges above Gangotri is probably caused by the large numbers of people who trek to Gaumukh, and poor sanitation practices.  Bhojvasa (4 km below Gaumukh) had pit toilets, and signs asking people to use them, but most people simply went "out back."  The number of people is simply more than this fragile ecosystem can absorb.

The picture at right shows the Gangotri glacier, with the Ganges emerging at the lower left.  One significant ecological worry is that for the past few decades the glacier has been receding about 30 meters per year.  As the glacier melts, one concern is that melt water lakes could create disastrous floods, a more serious worry is that the Ganges itself could disappear, or become a seasonal river (which would turn parts of north India into a dust bowl).  For further perspective on this, here's a link to a site provided by Svaccha Ganga, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the Ganges.

Special Puja of Ganga both inside the temple as well as on the river bank. The temple's closes on the day of Diwali followed by a formal closing ceremony amidst a row of oil lamps. It is believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhwa, her winter abode (12 km downstream) .


Air : Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, 226 kms.
Rail : Nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 249 kms.
Road : Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi.

Distances in km from some cities are as per follows:
Dharasu – 125 Km
Dehradun – 275 Km
Deoprayag – 225 Km
Haridwar – 268 Km
Rishikesh - 248 Km
Tehri – 156 Km

Yamunotri - 247 Km

Friday, 26 July 2013

Char Dham-Badrinath Temple,BadriDham

Badrinath Dham is one of the most sacred pilgrimage places of Hindus in India. This temple is known to be tribute to Lord Vishnu and hence is called Badri Vishal and Badrinarayan Mandir. It is also one of the beautiful tourist places in Uttrakhand state.

Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of the four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank river Alaknanda. With the splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, Badrinath mandir is an important destination on the scared itinerary of every devout Hindu. Once the spot was
carpeted with ‘badris’ or wild berries and hence was famous as ‘Badri Van’. Badrinath Yatra is considered a must for every pious Hindus, If you haven’t undertaken the journey till now, let us give you details of the Badrinath tour.
Badrinath is consideration an Adisiddhapeeth- a place renowned for its mystico-magical power and hence considered conducive to the practice of spiritual-meditational exercises, tantric ritual or penance. There are interesting tales attached to its name. Badri is the Sanskrit word for a common berry, ber, usually offered to Shiva. The faithful believe that a gigantic badri tree is situated here which is not visible to mortals in the age of Kali. Considered one of the Char Dham or four principal places of Hindu worship, Badrinath is perched comfortably at an altitude of 3,122m on the slopes of a U-Shaped valley, protected from avalanches by a rocky projection above. Nilkanth stands by like a sentinel, and below the temple flows the crystals-clear torrent of the Vishnu Ganga. A short distance and a hard climb away from the main shrine are the Vyas and Ganes gufas (cave). The Mahabharata, according to tradition, was composed and dictated there.

The Badrinath temple is naturally the biggest attraction in town.The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikasram in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu's dual form of Nara-Narayana. Another legend has it that when the goddess Ganga descended to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore, the mighty Ganga was split into twelve holy channels, Alaknanda being one of them. It later became the abode of Lord Vishnu or Badrinath.

Architecture of Badrinathdham Temple:-

Badrinath is consideration an Adisiddhapeeth- a place renowned for its mystico-magical power and hence considered conducive to the practice of spiritual-meditational exercises, tantric ritual or penance. There are

interesting tales attached to its name. Badri is the Sanskrit word for a common berry, ber, usually offered to Shiva. The faithful believe that a gigantic badri tree is situated here which is not visible to mortals in the age of Kali. Considered one of the Char Dham or four principal places of Hindu worship, Badrinath is perched comfortably at an altitude of 3,122m on the slopes of a U-Shaped valley, protected from avalanches by a rocky projection above. Nilkanth stands by like a sentinel, and below the temple flows the crystals-clear torrent of the Vishnu Ganga. A short distance and a hard climb away from the main shrine are the Vyas and Ganes gufas (cave). The Mahabharata, according to tradition, was composed and dictated there.

The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the Mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the Garbhagriha, or main shrine area.

The Badrinath temple is divided into three parts – the ‘Garbha Griha’ or the sanctum sanctorum, the ‘Darshan Mandap’ where the rituals are conducted and the ‘Sabha Mandap’ where devotees assemble.

At the Gate, directly opposite the main Idol of the Lord himself, is seated the idol of Bird Garud, the vehicle of Lord Badrinarayan, sitting in prayer with his hands folded. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.

Garbha Griha:-The Garbha Griha portion has its canopy covered with a sheet of gold offered and houses Lord Badari Narayan, Kuber (God of wealth), Narad rishi, Udhava, Nar & Narayan. The complex has 15 idols especially attractive is the one-metre high image of lord Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone.According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple. It represents Lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose called padmasan.

Darshan Mandap:- Lord Badari Narayan is armed with Conch and Chakra in two arms in a lifted posture and two arms rested in Yogic Pose. Badarinarayan is seen under the Badari tree, flanked by Kuber and Garuda, Narad, Narayan and Nar. As you look, standing to the right side of Badrinarayana is Uddhava. To the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Narada Muni is kneeling in front on the right side and is difficult to see. On the left side are Kubera-the god of wealth, and a silver Ganesh. Garuda is kneeling in front, to the left of Badrinarayana.

Sabha Mandap:- It is a place in the Temple complex where devotees and pilgrims assemble.

Entrance Gate And Compound Development :-
Badrinath was established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. In recent years its popularity has increased significantly, with an estimated 600,000 pilgrims visiting during the 2006 season,compared to 90,676 in 1961.The temple in Badrinath is also a sacred pilgrimage site for
Badrinath has been mentioned as a holy place in scriptures and legends for thousands of years. According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, “There in Badrikashram the Personality of Godhead (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.4.22).
Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath means “Lord of”. Badri is also the Sanskrit name for the IndianJujube tree, which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath. Legend has it that the Goddess Lakshmi took the form of the berries to provide sustenance to Lord Vishnu during his long penance in the harsh Himalayan climate.

About Badrinarayana at BadriDham:-
According to Skand Puran the idol of Lord Badrinath was recovered by Adiguru Shankaracharya from Narad Kund and was re-enshrined in the 8th century A.D. in this temple. Skanda Purana describes more about the place: “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.”

According to mythics, Badrinath oftenly called as Badri Vishal, was re-established by Adi Shri Shankaracharaya to revieve the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite nation in one bond.

 The idol of Lord Vishnu (Badri Nath) is made of black stone (Shaligram) and seated in a Padmasan Posture. Devotees can see the idol of Lord Badri Nath as Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, Hanuman, Kali or
Guru, in what so ever form they wish to see the almighty, all pervading and all in one.

There are many holy statues to worship and the main deity is 1m tall Murti (statue) of Lord Vishnu as the Bhagvan Badrinarayan. This Badrinarayan statue is made of dark saligram stone. The holy statue is believed by Hindus as one of 8 self-manifested or swayam-vyakta-kshetras Murtis (statues) of Lord Vishnu. The holy statue depicts lord Vishnu sitting the posture of meditation, rather than Vishnu’s more traditional posture of redining.

Five Badris(or)Panch Badris:-
Besides the main Badrinath temple, there are four other smaller badri temples. These are collectively called the panch badris or five badris. Very few pilgrims however, visit the other four Badri temples.

Yogadhyan Badri (1920 m.):-
Closest to the main Badrinath temple lies this tiny, sleepy hamlet which remains unnoticed by most pilgrims and is the winter home for the idol at Badrinath. Pandukeshwar is also an important archaeological site. Some years ago, four ancient metal foils engraved with a description of several kings in the region were discovered here. Believed to be over 1500 years old, these foils are kept at Joshimath, 30 km downstream.

Bhavishya Badri (2,744 m.):-
The bhavishya or future badri is situated at Subain near Tapovan, about 17 km east of Joshimath. According to Hindu belief, when evil is on the rise in this world, the two mountains Nara and Narayan at Badrinath will close up on each other and destroy the route to the present Badrinath. This would also mark the end of the
present world and the beginning of a new one. Lord Badrinath will then appear at the Bhavishya Badri temple and be worshipped here instead of at the present one.

Bridha Badri or the ‘Old Badri’:-
Bridha Badri or the ‘old Badri’ is the third temple about 7 kms short of Joshimath, on the main Rishikesh-Badrinath motor road at Animath. It is believed that Badrinath was worshipped here before its enshrinement by Shankaracharya at the main Badrinath seat. The temple of Bridha Badri is open throughout the year.

Adi Badri:-
Adi Badri is the farthest from the other four badris. It is approachable from Karnaprayag by a motorable
road enroute Ranikhet. The temple complex has 16 small temples with intricate carvings.

Tapt Kund:-
Devotees take a holy dip in the natural thermal springs on the banks of the river Alaknanda, before entering
the Badrinath Temple. The water of the kund is believed to have medicinal properties.

The route from Haridwar till Badrinath is dotted with so many pilgrimage sites such as Deoprayag (where the Alakananda and Bhagirathi rivers merge to form the holy Ganga), Rudraprayag (where Mandakini River merges with Alakananda), Karnaprayag (where Pindar River merges with Alaknanda), Nandaprayag (where Nandakini River merges with Alaknanda) and Vishnuprayag (where Dhauli Ganga river merges with Alaknanda) and Pandukeswar where king Pandu did penance and where his sons Pandavas stayed, on their way to heaven. A river will always flow along the route till Badrinath and one will find too many falls, small and big, on the way. Though the buses start from Haridwar at 5 in the morning and reach Badrinath in the evening, but one should never travel the distance in a single day. It will not only tire you, but you will also miss the beauty of the hills. It is advisable to travel by a private vehicle or is still better to hire a SUV (Innova, Tavera, Sumo etc) to enjoy the route and be comfortable in your journey.

The route is Haridwar--->>Srinagar/Kirtinagar--->>Rudraprayag--->> Chamoli --->> Pipalkoti--->> Joshimath--->> Govindghat--->> Badrinath.

Vasundra falls: - Vasundhara Falls is five kilometers away from the Mana village. It is 400 feet high and water falls like droplets due to the height. It is an amazing view.

Valley of flowers: - Nanda Devi National Park or Valley of flowers is a protected UNESCO world Heritage site, known for its immensely beautiful meadows that get carpeted with flowers during rainy season. It, nestled at 3858 m in Himalayas, has 87.5 sq kms area of pristine meadows. 20 kms of stiff trekking (from the base station Govindghat) takes one to this amazing valley which is in its full bloom in the months of July,
August and September. Camping is not allowed anywhere in the Valley as it is risky. GMVN tourist rest house is available at Ghangria, 5 kms before the Valley of Flowers.
A majestic peak of the Himalayas, towering to a height of 6,600 m. Other places of interest are the Mata Murti, Sesh Netra and Urvashi temples & Charanapaduka

Nara Parvatham is also called as Kubera Bhandar since lots of precious gems and diamonds are found on its glaciers. Once, there lived an arakkan (demon) by name "Sahasrakavacha", who gave lots of trouble for the Rishis and yogis. All of them prayed towards the perumal to save them out from the Demon. At that time, both Naran and Narayanan did tapas towards the perumal. On hearing that these two persons were doing severe tapas towards the Emperumaan, Sahasrakavachan rushed towards them to kill them. Both, Naran and Narayanan fought strongly with the demon and finally killed him. Thus, they permanently stayed in Badrinath to save all the Rishis and Yogis from all the demons.

About 5 miles away from Badrinath, is a place known as "Dharma Shila". It is believed that in this place, Dharma Rajan and his wife Kala did tapas towards the Lord Sri MahaVishnu. As a boon from the Lord, Dharma Raja and his wife asked that the Lord should also be along with them and that's the reason why Dharma shila is found near Badrinath.
There are pancha shilas near Tapta Kunda. Sri Narada Shila is there just opposite to the Tapta Kunda. Below this (in Alakananda waters at the time we went), there is Narada Kunda where Sage Narada had done deep penance. Sri Markandeya Shila is near Tapta

Kunda in the Alakananda dhaara. Here Sage Markandeya had done aaradhana of Lord BadriNarayan. Above Narada kund, in waters, there is a shila in the shape of Lion, which is Sri Narasimha Shila. After killing Hiranyakashipu Lord Narasimha bhagwan had come here. One can clearly see Sri Varaha Shila in Alakananda waters. After killing demon Hiranyaksha, and having saved Prithvi, Lord Varaha Bhagwan stayed at Badrikashram in shila roop here. In the Alakananda there is Prahlada kund, Karmadhara and Lakshmidhaara tirth. After following small stairs towards the temple, one finds Kedareshwar temple near Sri Garuda Shila. The water flows into Tapta Kunda from below Garuda Shila

Hemkund Singh:-
Near the Valley of Flowers is the holy lake Hemkund- an important pilgrimage of the Sikhs and Hindus. Along its shores is the sacred Sikh Shrine where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru unified with God after prolonged mediation in his previous birth.

Nearby is the Lakshman Temple where Lakshman – the brother of Lord Rama performed his penance. The reflection of surrounding snow-clad peaks in its placid waters offers a scenic sight.

Brahma Kapal:-
A flat platform on the bank of river Alaknanda where Hindus perform propitiating rites for their deceased

A Pyramidical-shaped snowy peak towering above Badrinath, popularly known as the ‘Garhwal Queen’.

Mana Village (4 kms.):-
Inhabited by Indo-Mangolian tribe, it is considered to be the last Indian village before Tibet on this route. Nearby are Vyas Gufa- the rock cave of saint Ved Vyas, the writer of Mahabharata; Bhim Pul- a natural
bridge over the Saraswati river and Vasundhara Falls- a 122 mts. high waterfall- all forming and important part of the pilgrimage to Badrinath.

Mata Murti Temple (3 kms.):-
On the right bank of Alaknanda stands the temple dedicated to the mother of Sri Badrinathji.

Alka Puri (15 kms.):-
The source of Alaknanda river from the glacier snouts of Bhagirath- Kharak and Satopanth glaciers.

Satopanth (25 kms.):-
A three cornered lake with a circumference of about 1 km., situated at an elevation of 4,402 mts. above sea level. It is named after the Hindu triad- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who are believed to occupy one corner

each of the lake. The trek is hazardous with dramatic landscapes. An experienced guide is advisable.

Govindghat (25 kms.):-
The confluence of Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers. It has an imposing Gurudwara named after Guru Gobind Singh.

At an altitude of 480 m, the mighty waters of the River Ganga here are ideal for white water rafting. Rock climbing can also be arranged. GMVN conducts river-rafting courses at Kaudiyala.

Joshimath (44 kms.):-
The winter home of Shri Badrinathji is situated on the slopes above the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. It is one of the four ‘maths’ established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.

Muchukund Gupha:-
Near the summit of the mountain on which the Vyas Gupha is located, there is this Muchukund Gupha at very high altitude. The puranic story goes that Kaliya Yawan was finished by the mere sight of Muchukund the hunter. Though this was all prearranged by Lord Krishna appeared before Muchukund to give him Darshan. Muchukund paid obeisance and greeted and worshipped the lotous feet of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna advised Muchukund tiengage in penance (tapashya). Lord Krishna also informed Muchukund that his next birth would be as a brahmin and that life of brahmin will bring him salvation. In this gupha Muchukund meditated and penanced.

On the out skirts of Mana villege these is a bridge over Saraswati. It is made of huge slab of stone, popularly known as Bheempul. When the Pandvas and Draupadi were on their way to swargarohan, it was Bheem's responsibility to get them across the rivers and other difficult places.

Saraswati nadi:-
The saraswati River emerges from lateral glacier near Mana village.Touching Vyas Gufa,the river is lost in the
Alaknanda at Keshav Prayag.

Keshav Prayag:-
Keshav prayag is the confluence of rivers Saraswati and Alaknanda. This name is as originally mentioned in Skanda Purana.

Swargarohini (The Stair way to Heaven):-
These are seven steps of fabled mountain. it is believed that the Pandavas,after visiting Badrikashram,ascended to Heaven by climbing these snow steps. That is the reason the place is called
swargarohan,ascent to Heaven. Swargarohini is as beautiful as one can describe about Heaven.

Panch Prayag:-
The five important confluences- Deoprayag, Nandprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag and Vishuprayag, form the Panch Prayag.

The confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers. Ancient stone scriptures are found here. Important
pilgrim spots are Shiv Temple and Raghunath Temple.

The confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The temples of Rudranath and Chamunda Devi are

The confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The Gopalji Temple is worth a visit.

The confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar rivers with temples of Uma and Karna.

The confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers. An ancient temple of Lord Vishnu stands here by a
pool called Vishnu Kund.

The old capital of Garhwal, it is an important cultural and educational centre. Places to visit include Kamleshwar and Kilkeshwar temples and the Shankar Math.

Best Time to visit:- The ideal time or peak season to go for a Char Dham Yatra is from May to October, except monsoons. This is because; all the four sacred sites are perched in Garhwal Himalayas, which is prone to heavy snowfall. As a result, all the passage leading to the shrines are blocked. Moreover, during the monsoon season, there is undue threat of having landslides, which can further disrupt the journey.

 By Air
1) The nearest Domestic Airport is Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, nearly five hours journey from Badrinath by road. 2) The second nearest International Airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi which is located at a distance 540 Kms away from Badrinath.

By Road
Badrinath is 1)21 Kms from Nanda Devi, 2)45 Kms from Joshimath, 3)100 Kms from Gopeshwar, 4)104 Kms from Nandaprayag, 5)152 Kms from Rudraprayag, 6)187 Kms from Srinagar, 7)293 Kms from Rishikesh, 8)313 Kms from Haridwar and 9)521 Kms from New Delhi. Being located on National Highway 58, it is well connected with Delhi and also with Mana Pass in the state.

By Rail
The nearest railway stations are 1)Rishikesh (at 297 km), 2) Kotdwara (at 327 km) and 3) Haridwar railway junction, 24 km farther from Rishikesh, has train connections to most of the major cities in India.