The Himalayan Char Dham Yatra
It’s been more than a month now that Himalayan Char Dham Yatra has started. With the ceremonial opening of the dwars(portals) of Gangotri and Yamunotri, the Char Dham yatra is declared open. It happens on the pious occasion of Akshay Tritiya. Amidst the divine environment with the chanting of Vedic hymns and prayers, bells and instrument playing in the background, worshipping Goddess Ganga and Yamuna. The portals of Kedarnath and Badrinath open a few days later.
Both the goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna along with lord Kedarnath and Badrinath come from their winter abodes at temples in Mukhba, Kharsali, Ukhimath and Joshimath, respectively when the yatra season starts in the month of May. In October-November with the onset of winter, the season is also declared off and their idols are sent to their winter abodes.
The Holy Char Dham Starts from Yamunotri to Gangotri and then proceeds to Kedarnath and then to Badrinath. It draws millions of Devotees not only across the nation but many people fly down from different countries. The yatra season adds a maximum percentage to the tourism revenue of the state and is a major contributor to the economy too. Most of the locals’ livelihood depends on it.
Yamunotri is a glacier from where River Yamuna starts. It’s located at a height of 3,293 metres above sea level which is almost 30 Km north of Uttarkashi. If folklores are to be believed, just by taking a dip in the river, people wash off their sins which protects them from an untimely and painful demise.
According to Puranas, Goddess Ganga took the form of Bhagirathi river to wash off the sins of King Bhagirath’s ancestors for which his entire kingdom was paying the price after his tough penance. The flow was so fast and uncontrollable that Lord Shiva had to accumulate her into his matted hair. Gangotri is a glacier from where river Ganga originates as Bhagirathi and meets Alaknanda at Sangam in Devprayag and becomes Ganga.
One of the main Chaar Dhams Badrinath is Dedicated to Lord Vishnu. If the legends are to be believed when Adi Shankaracharya found the Saligram Idol of Lord Badrinath submerged in Alaknanda and set it up in a cave somewhere close to Tapt Kund or Hot spring. People believe it has some healing powers and it’s customary to take a dip in Hot Spring before entering the temple.
One of the Panch Kedars in Uttarakhand and Twelve Jyotirlingas across the country, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s situated at an elevation of 3,584 metres above sea level. According to the lores and legends, Adi Sankaracharya built it in 8th AD. It has been standing intact since ages and the Himalayan Tsunami of 2011 also couldn’t mark a dent on the built.
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