The Char Dham is the most important pilgrimage circuit for Hindus in India. Located on the lofty peaks of the Himalayan in the Garhwal region of the state Uttranchal, the four holiest shrines: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are collectively
called the Char Dham. Sacred Hindu scriptures have referred this shrines as the land of the gods and this shows its religious importance. Thousands of pilgrims visit these sites to perform rituals and offerings. Now there are four temples in these four shrines which attracts pilgrims from all parts of India in search for the divine power and to release from the cycle of birth.
Pilgrimage Shrines :
Yamunotri - Situated at a height of 3,235 m, the shrine Yamunotri is the source of Yamuna river. The original old temple complex have been destroyed by weather and the present temple was built by the Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. The temple is dedicated to goddess Yamuna and is the main pilgrim sites where daily rituals are performed by priests of a particular caste and family. The nearby hot springs and the rock pillar at the entry point of the temple also have religious importance.
Reaching - For reaching this site, one has to a journey from Rishikesh to Hanumanchhati and the remaining 13 km have to covered on foot as there is no motorable road network.
Gangotri - The Gomukh glacier is the original source of the river Ganga and hence the shrine dedicated to the goddess Ganga. Located at an altitude of 3,048 m above sea level, Gangotri is one of the four most important pilgrim sites for Hindus. The present temple was built by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa in 18th century and now the main spot for worship. The Gaumukh glaciers, a sacred stone and a number of Ashrams are other prime attractions of the place.
Reaching - Gangotri is easily accessible from Rishikesh, Dehradun by regular bus services. The shrine remains closed from November to April due to heavy snow fall.
Kedarnath - Located in Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,581 m, it is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. It is the place where Pandavas the heroes of the epic Mahabharata came to worship Lord Shiva after the battle of Kurukeshtra seeking salvation after killing their own brother in the war. The 8th century built temple is the major place for worship and on adjacent to it there is an ancient temple believed to have built by the Pandavas. The samadhi of Adi Guru Shankaracharya is another attraction of this place.
Reaching - The shrine Kedarnath can be approached by road from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and other parts of the Himalayan regions by bus services.
Badrinath - Located at a height of 3,133 m, Badrinath is considered as one of the most visited pilgrimage place for Hindus. The temple stands on the bank of the river Alkanda, is dedicated to Badrinathji or Lord Vishnu. The temple was built by Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya during 8th century and is divided into different parts like Singh Dwar(main entrance), Garbha Griha(sanctum), Darshan Mandap and Sabha Mandap.
Reaching - Badrinath is well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun by good motorable road network. The nearest railhead is at Rishikesh and at a distance of 300 km.