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As we know Hindu Religion(Sanatan Dharma) is the oldest religion all over the world. Neither no one knows when this religion started nor in any holy book is it mentioned. Followers of Hinduism absolutely heard about the CHAR DHAM YATRA, which included the four sacred places i.e, Badrinath Dham, Kedarnath Dham, Gangotri Dham, Yamunotri Dham.
These dham are also known as the CHOTA CHAR DHAM as their is another CHAR DHAM included Rameshwaram, Puri, Dwarka and Badrinath sited in the different corner of the Indian subcontinent. Chota Char Dham situated in the Gharwal region of Uttrakhand in the Indian Himalayas.
These are the vital Hindu pilgrimage and every devotee wants to go at these holy places once in their life span.
At all the four places, prayers of different God or Goddess held. Like at Kedarnath dham Lord Shiva, Badrinath Dham Lord Vishnu, Gangotri dham Goddess Ganga and Yamnotri dham Goddess Yamuna are worshipped.
Kedarnath is situated on largest height among all the dham and Badrinath is also included in the main char dham.
As these dham are on Himalayas, weather become worst in the winter season so gates of these remains closed.
The day of Aknha-trij or Akha tij in the month of the May, is the day when the gates of the temple open after the winter break. And the two days just after the diwali on bhaiyaduj marks as the closing day for the pilgrimage.
Monsoon season that is in the late july and August , roads becomes worst due to the land slides or mud slides pilgrimage become more difficult and various types of precaution have to be taken by the government for this time. Even before the monsoon government have to take various precautions to make this pilgrimage successful without any accident or loss. So the best time to do pilgrimage is May to mid June and September-October.
If we swap the pages of history, then we can see that till 1950 there were no proper roads and there were only the basic facilities. People with courage and money can do this pilgrimage, it wasn’t possible for the old and middle class family.
Only after the war between India and china in the year 1962, Indian government takes an serious action and planned to improve the roads.
Today the conditions are far better as roads are improved, boards are there for direction at danger areas, hotels are there for stay and various other facilities which makes the pilgrimage comfort. Now middle class and OLD people can do this pilgrimage easily and even there is the facility of helicopter. Every year hundred thousands of devotees do the Char Dham pilgrimage and earn saintly(punya).
Before and after the monsoon is the peak season as this is the best time for the Glimpse of God. In the year 2017, central government has pass the railway project for Char Dham which is 321 km long and will costs about 43,292 crores.
Areas where we don’t know when it will be rain or sunlight, earthquake or landslide, It will definitely become the master piece of unique engineering as making of railways track at 3000m height is not an easy task for engineers. Many devotees are waiting for the day when they can travel through train so that their children also get saint with the glimpse of God and Goddess.
Yamunotri Dham is situated in the uttarkashi district of the uttrakhand. It has been considered as the source of the Yamuna river. The temple at the yamunotri is created in the 19th century by the Maharani Gularia of Jaipur. It is built on the backdrop of the banderpumch, and before rebuilding it was demolished by snow flood twice.
Yamunotri dham is located at the height of 3293m or 10804ft. it is around 30 km north from the uttarkashi. Yamunotri dham is around 214 km far away from the rishikesh and took about eight hours to visit. Yamunotri dham is around ten to fifteen km away from the kedarnath and a 5-6 hours of a trek.
Yamuna actually originates from the champasar glacier which is at the height of 4421m and just one km away from the Yamunotri temple but it is not accessible. Maharaja pratap shah of the tehri gharwal once made the temple in which diety is made of black marble and it is located on the left bank of the river Yamuna.
It has been said that the sage asit muni have his aashram there and he daily bath in the ganga and Yamuna both. But due to his old age he never reach to the gangotri. Like all other dhams, Yamunotri temple opens on the day of Akshay Tritiya and closes just after the two days of diwali. Staff of the temple also go back to their villages and come back again next year.
It has been also said that sangya is the birthplace of the goddess yamuna in the champasar glacier just below the Banderpoonch mountain. The adjacent mountain that is Kalinidi parvat is dedicated to her father Surya.
Gangotri Dham is situated in the uttarkashi district of the uttarakhand. It is having the height of 3415m or 11,204 ft. Due to extreme winter in this area, only around a thousand people live here.
Gangotri Dham is around 268 km far away from the rishikesh and took about nine hours to reach. And it is only 33 km away from kedarnath temple. And if anyone visit kedarnath dham then he/she should visit gangotri dham but the roads are dangerous and it took around two hours to visit gangotri dham from kedarnath dham.
At the point of gangotri river ganga is known as Bhagirathi river. As when goddess ganga changes into the form of river when the king bhagirath do penance and request the goddess ganga to erase the sin of his forefather. Later when it meets with alaklanda river then it is known as the ganga.
According to some philosopher, it is also said that once king sagar after killing the giants of the earth had decided to do a yajna and a horse who have to go on a uninterrupted journey of the earth with the sixty thousand son of the king sagar from the queen sumati and one son asamajana from the other queen. But the God Indra have the fear that he will loose his legacy if the yajna will conmpleted.
So steal that horse and ties near the aashram of the sage kapila who was in the deep meditation.
After that when the sixty thousand son found the horse and attacked on the aashram of the sage kapila thn suddenly sage kapil wake up and give them a curse and all the sixty thousand died. And to provide them a moksh their raja bhagirath grandson of king saagar do the penance and request the goddess ganga to convert into the river and erase the sin of their elders.
Normally gangotri is mentioned as the place of origin of river ganga, but river ganga origin from the Gomukh. For Gomukh, there is a 19 km treck to see the perfect origin of the river ganga.
The only thing that is not in the favour is that weather, as in winter season temperature goes in negative and there is heavy snowfall and even in the we can see the snowfall so the safety measures should be taken by the government as well as by the people. Best time to visit gangotri is between april to may as there will be pleasant weather and little chances of rainfall so that you can enjoy your trip.
KEDARNATH means the “LORD OF THE FIELD”. Kedara means “field” and Natha means “lord”. This word is derived from the Sanskrit.
It is situated in the district of Uttrakhand named Rudraprayag. It is about at the height of 3553m or 11567ft. It is on the height among the all char dham. Kedarnath dham is one of the Jyotirlinga, the Shrines of the Lord Shiva. This is also the reason that more people visits kedarnath dham than any other dham, even after at the highest height.
Kedarnath temple is situated on the shore of the river Mandakini River, a tributary of the river or Goddess GANGA. From Rishikesh, kedarnath dham is around 223 km and it takes more than 6 hours by the state transport and this is also the cheapest way to reach Kedarnath Dham. But if you hire a taxi from rishikesh you can save some time, although it can cost you.
And sometimes it can consumes a whole day when it is raining because of landslides. As landslides are common during the monsoon season and it blocks the road.
People of the rudraprayag normally speaks Gharwali language as it is situated in the gharwali region but they also know the hindi language as most of the tourist visit there speaks hindi language. Due to the extreme worst condition ns in the winter , all the deities from the kedarnath temple brought to the Ugimath and worshipped there till the gates reopen.
In 2013, floods had come in the gharwal region and that affects the most in the kedarnath. It was the evening of 13th june when the heavy rain started , and on the 16th is said to the deadliest day as the mandakini river over flow and caused the melting of chorabai glacier.
This overflow of water had taken thousands of lives. According to a survey of Indian government, it was found that around 900 hundreds people were dead , more than five thousands people were missing and above seventy thousand people were affected by it.
Even from the haridwar, risikesh, Allahabad(prayagraj) and from bullandshar rescue team found the dead bodies. All the buildings , shops and every thing of rudraprayag district had flowed with water and those who rescued by the army were seem to be the luckiest person.
After this kedarnath had been closed for the people but all the rituals was going on with the help of the priest. And on may 2014, gates were reopen for the normal people. Even government had cancelled nine batches of the mansarovar yatra. Prime minister of india dr.manmohan singh provided the aid of 1000 millions for the reconstruct the affected areas. And several other states like up and Haryana also provided the aid to the affected people.
As kedarnath dham is one of the jyotirlinga and the holiest places even after that no one knows the truth that who establish this temple? There are two stories behind the this kedarnath temple. First one is that, on the request of the god narayana , Lord Shiva came.
Because after the war of kurushetra between pandavas and kouravs , all the pandavas brothers came here for seeking the forgiveness of their kin that they had done in the war with their brothers koravs. They had been advised by the sage vyas.
But the mighty Lord Shiva did not want to meet them and he converted himself into the bull and ran from there. As one of the brother saw him, then lord shiva hid behind the bushes trying to enter in the ground but pandavas holds the tail of the bull that is of Lord Shiva.
Today the head of the shiva found in the pashupatinath temple which is in Nepal nowadays and other parts also found at the different places.
And these all the five place where the parts of the lord shiva found is collectively known as the panch kedar. Panch kedar imcluded the kedarnath, tungnath, rudranath, madhyamaheshwar, and kalpeshwar. Even though in Mahabharata , no where is mentioned about the kedaranath that’s why some philosophers did not believe on that pandavas brothers establish the kedarnath temple.
The another story we heard about the kedarnath dham is that it is the place from where the Lord Shiva released the holy water from his matted hair. In the 7-8th century, it was found that in Skanda Purana there is a place named kedarnath where adi shankra died and it also contains the myth of the origin of the river Ganges.
From the book Kritiya-Kalpatru in the 12th century it was mentioned that kedarnath dham is the important pilgrimage for the Hindus. And also by English mountaineer in 1926 it has been told that kedarnath dham is a important pilgrimage and the priests of the kedarnath and badrinath were same.
But nowadays the conditions are not like before. Priests of the kedarnath temple are belongs to veerashaiva community of Karnataka. There are total five main priests of the temple and every year one of them changes into the head priest of the kedarnath dham.
As their native language is kannada so all the mantras spoken their by priests inside the temple is in kannada langyuge and we can say that this is the one of the custom of kedarnath temple and this has been followed from hundreds of years.
And according to the custom, main priest that is also know as raval did not do the pujas and all , although on his instructions ravall assistants do all the pujas. They also move to the ugimath during the winter season to perform and continue all the rituals.
When we enter in the kedarnath temole we saw that there is a small pillared hall and there are various statues of different deities are present. Like the wife of Lord shiva- parvathi, the veichle of the Lord Shiva- nandi, five pandavas brothers along with their wife draupdi and the virbhadra- guard of the Lord Shiva.
And the main thing about the statues of the man is that they are triangular carved, and the same triangular carved statue is also present in the other temple near to the kedarnath temple where shiv parvati was considered to be marry.
Adi shankra is the revived the kedarnath temple also many other temples in uttrakhand and also he attained the mhassmadhi in the kedarnath dham as hi smadhi mandir is present behind the kedarnath temple.
Badrinath Dham is situated in the chamoli district of the of uttarakhand. This is one of the most holiest town as it is included in the main char dham that is badrinath, rameshwaram , puri and dwarka. This dham is situated at the height of 3300m or 10800ft. The word Badri means “berry” and natha means “lord”, “lord of beery”.
As there are there lots of beery trees or jujube trees are found in that region so its name is badrinath. Several times it was destroyed by the earthquakes and avalanches and there were only 20 huts of staff in the badrinath dham till 1st world war. Nowadays conditions are far better.
Around fifty thousand devotees visit badrinath every year. In every 12 years on the occasion of the duodecennial festival thousand of the people visit the badrinath dham. Earlier, people have to travel 100 miles for the glimpse of god. Today conditions are totally different and there is an easy access by road. Badrinath temple is 301 km far away from the rishikesh and around 233 km from kedarnath dham.
As badrinath temple is a temple of the Lord Vishnu that’s why it is an important pilgrimage for the vaisnavites. According to some philosopher, badrinath temple is also revived by the adi Shankar in the 7th century. It has been told that adi Shankar had found the black image stone of Lord Badrinarayan made up of saligram. He enshrined the lord badrinarayan saligram in a cave near the tapt kund. After that in the 16th centuy , the king of the gharwal region came and made the badrinath temple.
In the bhagwata purana, it has been mentioned that lord Vishnu in the appearance of the sage nara and narayana were doing sacrament for the good of the humans or for all the living things.
There are several stories about the badrinath , and one of them is that when the humans are suffering on the then on the request of the king bhagiratha river ganga made her tributary Alakanda and from that Alakanda river started flowing from the badrinath.
It has also been said that once lord Vishnu was meditating between the bushes of jujube tree than Goddess Laxmi came and protect Lord Vishnu from the roasting sunlight and became herself as the berry tree.
There are several mountains around the badrinath temple which are mentioned in the Mahabharata as when the all five Pandavas were tracking Himalayas in search of the heaven then they follow this path. Even in the Jainism badrinath dham have the important place as it is included in the astapad and also many of the great sage of jains like Adinath got moksh at Himalayas.
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