The Hindu mythology is full of descriptions about the three Prime Deities – Lord Brahma (The Creator and Father), Lord Vishnu (The Preserver) and Lord Shiva (The Destroyer) and their ‘Leelas’ (mystic spells) the outcome of which signified the victory of GOOD over EVIL and BAD. Lord Brahma is believed to exist in every matter, whereas Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are believed to exist in several places across India. The four major Hindu pilgrimage destinations, known as CHAAR DHAAM (Four Sacred Abodes) are spread cross the four ‘cardinal’ points of the Country and the Asian sub-continent, namely – Badrinath (representing Lord Vishnu in North), Puri (representing Lord Shivain East), Dwarika (representing Lord Vishnu in West)and Rameshwaram (representing both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in South). According to a legend, one can pave a path towards achieving ‘Moksha’ (the Divine Salvation) by visiting these CHAAR DHAAM, once during his/her lifetime. The same ‘Faith’ has been instilled by Hindus in the four such smaller yet Sacred Abodes in the State of Uttarakhand. They are aptly named “Chote Chaar Dhaam” (smaller Four Sacred Abodes) as these represent the same ‘Faith’ as CHAAR DHAAM.
The access to this shorter version of pilgrimage circuit can be gained either from Rishikesh or Dehradun or from Haridwar. The ‘prescribed’ order of visiting this pilgrimage circuit is as mentioned below:
As such this makes a ‘Z’ trail of the travel if the map is referred to.
Yamunotri, a glacier from where the Holy River Yamuna originates is another sacred Hindu place that forms a part of the “Chote Chaar Dhaam”. Goddess Yamuna was the sister of Yama, the God of Death and hence every religious Hindu visits this place in quest for ‘Moksha’. The awe-inspiring beauty of the temple of Goddess Yamuna casts a spell of magic for the visitors. The trek and mountain lovers truly find their efforts worth in reaching this place as the temple is located about 30 Kms. up North of Uttarkashi, perched atop a flank of ‘Bandar Pooch Parvat’ (Mount Monkey’s Tail). The temple witnesses thousands of pilgrim visits every year during auspicious ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ until ‘Deepawali’ – from April until October. The major other attractions are the Holy hot water geysers at “Janki Chatti” which is about 7 Kms. further up and further 1 Km. up, the original source of Yamuna river – The Champasar glacier.
Gangotri, a sacred place of worship for Hindus and according to a legend Lord Shiva withstood the heavy stream of Ganges sent from the Heaven and placed Her in His mane. At its point of origin the river is named ‘Bhagirathi’, after the name of a mythological engineer-saint who under the guidance of Lord Shiva lead the river to the valley and plains and to its final destination – Bay of Bengal. Bhagirathi attains the name Ganges at the tributary meeting point where she meets Alaknanda river at Devprayag in Uttar Pradesh State of India. The picturesque glacier creates a lot of excitement for trekking enthusiasts and also for those coming in the name of Holy Faith. The beautiful temple of Goddess Ganges adds to the panoramic viewing pleasure.
Kedarnath is a holy town in the Rudraprayag (Home of Lord Shiva) district of Uttrakhand State in India. Out of all four “Chote Chaar Dhaam”, this place is remotest from the nearest motor able road – about 14Kms. The distance and the approach is very difficult and hence more of a reason for the pilgrim who visit here in quest of ‘Salvation’. The torrential rains in June 2013 caused heavy flash floods which wrecked a havoc at this pilgrimage. To everyone’s utter surprize, everything nearby got washed away in floods and even many sculptures of the temple were also destroyed, however the main deity statue of Lord Shiva stood intact! This was a real ‘Chamatkaar’ (God-made miracle) for everyone. The temple is located near the glacier Chorabari, from where river Mandakini originates. The temple is flanked by snow-capped Himalayas, which add more to the scenic beauty and heritage.
Badrinath, considered as most important in the pilgrimage circuit, is a Holy town located in the Chamoli district of State of Uttarakhand in India and begets its name from the Temple of Badrinath. It was identified as a major pilgrimage site and was established by a priest and monk Adi Shankra in the 9th century B.C. According to a legend, Adi Shankara while taking a bath in Mandakini river, found a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan. The stone image carved from the ‘Saligram’ stone was originally enshrined near the Tapt Kund (Hot springs) and moved to its present temple site in the sixteenth century B.C. by His Highness, King of Garhwal. The temple architecture, interestingly resembles a ‘Buddh Vihar’ (a Budhist Monastery). The term ‘Badri’ refers to an edible berry, a Sanskrit name of Indian Jujube (or Jojoba from which the ) which is abundant here. According to a legend Lord Vishnu’s beloved Goddess Lakshmi herself became a tree of Badri, while giving comfort to Her Husband while He was meditating. As she became Badri, Lord Vishnu got the name Badrinath (Badri’s spouse). This sacred place has been regularly devastated by avalanches and flash floods, however the MIGHT of the God has always prevailed!
From the month of April, the “Chote Chaar Dhaam” will reopen and remain open till October-November. This is the best time to plan your pilgrimage and hence pave your path to ‘Salvation’. For travel plans and allied queries.