The annual char(four) dham pilgrimage is opened for its pilgrims from Monday onwards. The two important shrine Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines are opened on the the auspicious 'Akshay Tritiya'. The pilgrimage spans for a period of six months after remaining closed for six months in the winters. Religious sites like Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath are parts of the chota Char Dham.
NewsGram decodes the significance of these four Char Dhams in Hindu Mythology:
Yamunotri temple and Ashram Source: Wikimedia Commons
This is the first stopover of the char dham yatra. Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the goddess Yamuna. It is famous for its thermal springs and glaciers is a part of famous Char Dham Yatra. Yamunotri is the source of Yamuna river. According to a legend, Asit Muni, a revered sage, used to reside here. The actual source is a frozen lake of ice & glacier (Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri Glacier) located on the Kalindi mountain at the height of 4421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible and hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer pooja at the temple itself.
Gangotri Temple, Uttarakhand Source: Wikimedia Commons
The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.
Kedarnath TempleSource: Wikimedia Commons
The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlings. Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. This temple, over a thousand years old is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. It is endowed with utter scenic beauty and lies at an altitude of 3.581 meters.
Badhrinath Badhrivishal TempleSource: Wikimedia Commons
The name of the pilgrimage originates from the local word badri which is a type of a wild berry. It is said that when Lord Vishnu sat in penance in these mountains, his consort Goddess Laxmi took the form of a berry tree and shaded Him from the harsh sun. It is not only the dwelling place of the Lord Himself but also home to countless pilgrims, saints and sages, who meditate here in search of enlightenment.