Every year in April-May, the valleys and mountains of the Devbhoomi Uttarakhand get alive when the Chardham Yatra started. Chota Char Dham Yatra is the most popular spiritual visit in India. Millions and thousands of people visit every year to worship their ideal. Chardham means - The four adobes, and they are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. Every year with the great amid chanting of Vedic hymns or mantras, the gates of holy shrines open in the presence of thousands of devotees, and for the next six months, the doors remain open for every devotee who comes to get the darshan of their idol.
In this Chardham travel guide, we are going to share every necessary Char Dham Yatra details that can be beneficial in your yatra like - Chardham Opening/closing dates, the best time to visit Char Dham yatra, the best Char Dham Yatra route, nearby places, how to reach, etc. (हिंदी में पड़ने के लिये क्लिक करे)
Unlike the original Chardham, Chota Char Dham is located in remote areas of the Uttarakhand hills. In winter all the Dham receives high snowfall which makes the place inaccessible. That’s why in winters the Dham gets closed and the idols are transferred to their winter’s seat.
Every year Chardham Yatra's opening dates decide by the priests on auspicious occasions. Such as Kedarnath opening dates will decide on Mahashivratri, Badrinath opening dates will be declared on Basant Panchmi, and Gangotri - Yamunotri Dham opens on or after Akshay Tritya every year.
Similarly, all the shrines are closed with the chanting of Vedic hymns and rituals on auspicious occasions. Generally, the Yamunotri Dham & Kedarnath Dham closed on the occasion of Bhaiya Dooj, and Gangotri Dham closed on the Govardhan Puja. The closing dates of Badrinath Dham are decided by the Badrinath-Kedarnath committee on the day of Vijayadashami.
The Char Dham Yatra has seen an overwhelming response this season in 2023, more than 21 lakh pilgrims have visited in 44 days, as reported by Uttarakhand tourism department officials. Among the four holy sites, Kedarnath Dham has witnessed the highest influx, with a staggering 7.13 lakh visitors. The enthusiasm for the pilgrimage is evident, as more than 40 lakh pilgrims have already registered for the Char Dham Yatra by June 4. According to the Tourism Department's report, on clear weather days, over 60 thousand devotees flock daily to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri Dham. It's remarkable to witness the spiritual fervor and the immense popularity of these sacred destinations. The government is hopeful that this time a new record will be created for the number of devotees coming for the Chardham Yatra.
The opening dates of Chardham 2023 are yet not declared but, because Akshaya Tritiya will be on 22 April so we can assume that Chardham Yatra 2023 will start around 22 April to 8th May.
|CHAR DHAM TEMPLE NAME||OPENING DATE||CLOSING DATE|
|Yamunotri Temple||22nd April
|Gangotri Temple||22nd April
|Kedarnath Temple||25th April
|Badrinath Temple||27th April
Not many people are aware of the fact that the Chardham yatra follows a fixed sequence. Chardham Yatra always starts from the Yamunotri Dham, then Gangotri next is Kedarnath, and ends on Badrinath Dham.
Yamunotri Dham is the Dham that devotees visit first in their Chardham Yatra. This Dham is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna who is the daughter of the Sun and the twin sister of Yama(Yamraj). The temple is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna which is gushing out from the Kalind Parvat. According to legends - Once on the day of Bhaiya dooj, Yamraj promised to Goddess Yamuna that whoever takes a dip in the river will not be taken to Yamlok and will thus attain salvation. And I think this is the reason that Yamunotri Dham visits first in all four Dhams.
People believe that a bath in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is said to cleanse all sins and protect from an untimely and painful death. In Winters when the place is inaccessible at that time the temple gets closed and the idol of Goddess Yamuna is brought down to Kharsali village of Uttarkashi and kept in the Shani dev Temple for the next six months.
Every year, Yamunotri Dham opens its doors to devotees on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. On this momentous occasion, the doli (palanquin) of Goddess Yamuna is ceremoniously transported to the Yamunotri Dham amidst the recitation of Vedic mantras and hymns. In the year 2023, Yamunotri Dham opened on the 22nd of April, and it is scheduled to conclude on the 14th of November, coinciding with the festive occasion of Bhai Dooj.
Gangotri Dham is the next point in Chardham Yatra after Yamunotri. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga which is located on the bank of river Bhagirathi in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Ganga river is the most sacred and longest river in India. Gaumukh glacier is the real source of the river Ganga/Bhagirathi which is at a distance of 19 km from the Gangotri Temple. It is said that Gangotri Dham was the place where Goddess Ganga first descended from heaven after the 1000 years of penance by Bhagirath.
According to legends, Goddess Ganga was ready to come down to earth but its intensity was such that the whole earth could be submerged in its waters. To save the earth, Lord Shiva kept the river Ganges in his locks (Jatta) and released it as a stream which upon entering the earth became known as Bhagirathi. And later, 250 km from Gangotri, at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers, it came to be known as the Ganges River.
The third Dham which falls in Chardham Yatra is Kedarnath Dham. Kedarnath Dham is on the list of 12 jyotirlingas and the most important temple among Panch Kedar. This Dham is located in the lap of the Himalayas and near the bank of Mandakini River which is recreated by Adi-Shankracharya in 8th AD.
According to the legends, after the great battle of Kurukshetra (Mahabharat battle), Pandavas felt guilty for killing their blood relatives, and to get free from the sins they needed Shiva blessings. But Shiva was not willing to give redemption for their bad work. And to hide from the Pandavas, Shiva transformed himself into a Bull and dived to the ground. But Bhima recognized the bull as none other than Shiva and he immediately caught the bull with his tail and hind legs. The bull disappears into the ground and reappears at five different places- Hump in the Kedarnath, two forelegs in the Tungnath, Nevil & stomach in the Madhy-Maheshwar, face at Rudranath and hair-lock in Kalpeshwar. Together these five places are called Panch Kedar.
Recently, the Shankaracharya temple destroyed in the Kedarnath disaster of 2013 was renovated. A 12 feet high statue of Adi Shankaracharya was installed here, near which devotees can sit and meditate.
The fourth and the last Dham of Chardham Yatra is Badrinath Dham. Badrinath Dham is the most sacred and visited Dham in the sub-continent. Every year more than 1million devotees show their obeisance in the Badrinath temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu which is located between Nar and Narayana Parvat on the bank of the Alaknanda River. This is the only Dham that is part of both Chardham & Chota Chardham.
Inside the Badrinath temple, there is a 1 meter tall black stone idol of Lord Vishnu which is surrounded by other gods & goddesses. It is believed that the idol of Lord Vishnu is self-manifested which was founded by Adi Shankracharya in the Alaknanda river.
There is much folklore about Badrinath Temple but the popular one is that - Once Lord Vishnu sought a quiet place for meditation and visited this place. Here Lord Vishnu was so engrossed in his meditation that he didn't realize the extreme cold weather. To Save from the extreme weather, Goddess Lakshmi manifested himself into a Badri Tree(also known as Jujube). Impressed by Lakshmi's devotion, Lord Vishnu named this place “Badrikashram”. Like other Dhams, Badrinath Dham also opens for only six months from mid-April to early November. During winters, the idol of Lord Vishnu transfers to the Narsingh Temple of Joshimath and there for the next six months.
April/May-June & Sep-Nov is the best time to visit Chardham Yatra. Avoid travel in the rainy & monsoon season (July-August), because it increases the chances of landslides, road blockage, etc.
On Chota Chardham Yatra travel by own car can be doable, but it would not recommend you to do so. The Chota Chardham Yatra is around 1000 km long hilly yatra that goes through different regions of Garhwal Uttarakhand which consists of 10-12 days of itinerary with a tight schedule. Here in Uttarakhand roads are full of sharp bends & turns, also many narrow one-lane roads connect to the circuit, which needs skillful and experienced hilly drivers to tackle all these issues. If you are traveling with your family then the most preferred mode for them is to hire rental cars or drivers. This is the most comfortable and reliable for this long yatra. You will get to explore the beauty of these sacred places at their best. Although, traveling by own car on mountains is always a good choice, only if you are comfortable in driving on mountains & aware of geographical terrains of hills.
Chardham Yatra by train is currently not possible, maybe it could be possible after a couple of years or more. Currently, Rishikesh is the last or nearest station to Charhdam where you can arrive by train. Rishikesh & Haridwar is well connected with most of the major cities by rail network. It is directly linked with cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Dehradun, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Patna, Gaya, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Puri, and Kochi by a good number of express trains. Once you reach Haridwar/Rishikesh, then you have different options for different Dhams. You can take any GMOU buses, taxi, tata sumo, Shared jeep, or any other public transport, or you can hire any direct private car for your destination.
Chardham Yatra is a 10-12 day long spiritual journey. This yatra journey is quite hectic & tiring, so to get relaxed during the yatra, you can take a halt at some of the best locations. Some locations are on the way to the journey, but some are away from the main circuit. So by adding 1-2 more days, you can complete this yatra with sweet memories. Popular hill stations where you can visit in your Chardham yatra are - Auli, Chopta, Harsil, Rishikesh, Joshimath, Niti Valley, etc.
There are many Helipads from where flights takeoff for Kedarnath are -Phata, Sersi, Guptakashi, Sitapur, Gaurikund, etc. To book the helicopter flights for Kedarnath, devotees can directly book their flight tickets from the https://heliservices.uk.gov.in/ portal. By Selecting your dates, location (Phata, Sersi, Guptakashi, Sitapur, Gaurikund) & night stay on Kedarnath, or same-day return option, you can directly book your flight tickets on your own. Every year the helicopter rates updates during the Chardham starting days. But on average the price varies from 4000 to 6000 per person.