The Chota Chardham also known as Himalayan Chardhams are four most revered pilgrimage destinations in the Himalayas. These four Dhams of the Chota Chardham circuit are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. This Chardham Yatra is considered as holy as the main Chardham Yatra and is believed to offer one salvation from the cycle of birth and rebirth forever
The India Char Dham
The original Char Dham or the four abodes of God, connected by the 8th century philosopher Adi Shankara are: Puri (east), Rameshwaram (south) Dwarka (west) and Badrinath (north). Badrinath is last one to be visited and is of utmost importance.
Char Dham of Uttarakhand
Badrinath, being the most important religious destination, at some time, became the corner stone of the Char Dham of the Himalaya.
The pilgrim ‘season’ starts in May and goes on till October with a break of two month in between because of the monsoon, which renders the roads dangerous.
People from the entire Indian subcontinent come to experience the religious bliss and it is estimated that in a year the number of pilgrims coming here reaches up to 250,000.
The Four Abodes:
As instructed in the Hindu religion, the circuit starts with left with Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Usually the pilgrims start their journey by taking a holy dip in Ganga in the equally important Haridwar.
The origin of the holy river Yamuna, this place is a goddess Shakti site. The temple is located in the Uttarkashi district and is reachable only by a six kilometre long trek from Hanuman Chatti. The hot water spring near the temple are also of importance as people boil rice here, which they take home as prasadam.
The origin of the holy river Ganga, Gangotri is situated in the Uttarkashi district. The origin of the river is in ‘Gaumukh’ in the Gangotri glacier, at a distance of 19 kilometres from the temple. Gangotri, being easily accessible than Yamunotri, is more frequently visited by pilgrims. Gangotri is also a goddess Shakti site.
Kedarnath is the third stop in the Chota Char Dham circuit and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated in Rudraprayag district near the head of River Mandakini. It is accessible by two ways: either a 14 kilometre trek on a paved path or through air, by the government’s started service called, Pawan Hans Pinnacle Air, Heli Aviation, UTAir, Prabhatam Aviation, Heritage Aviation Helicopter service.
The final destination, where the Chota Char Dham as well as the original Char Dham completes, is the holy Badrinath temple. Badrinath is counted amongst the holiest shrines of the country and receives pilgrims in very large number. The temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu, who is worshipped here in his Badrinarayan form. The temple is located in the Chamoli district and is easily reachable by vehicles and buses, which drive up to the temple.