Friday June 21, 2019

Why Chaar Dham Yatra is a true test of every Hindu’s quest towards spiritual enlightenment



By Rituparna Chakrobarty

Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, collectively called the Char Dham-the four abodes of god, are the places which every Hindu associates with his/her spiritual quest.

These four destinations symbolize the  three most important sects of Hinduism- Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. The Chaar Dham Yatra was started by Adi Shankrachyra about 1000 years ago.

According to the pilgrims the journey not only washes away all the sins one  incurs in life but also sets the soul on the path to salvation.

The origins of Char Dham Yatra are very ambiguous, as almost every Hindu myth and belief is connected to it.


According to the Hindu mythology, Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of death and Yamunotri is the place from where Yamuna originates. It is also the hermitage of the revered sage Asit Muni.

Yamunotri is famous for its thermal spring and glaciers. Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri, is located at Kalind mountain at the height of 4421meters above sea level.

Magnificient Gangotri Temple


Gangotri is the place of origin of holy river Ganga. It lies close to the holy rock or ‘Bhagirath shila’, where the King Bhagirath worshipped lord Shiva, to bring down Goddess Ganga from the heaven to earth in the form of river.

The Gangotri temple was built by emperor Amar Singh Thapa in about 18th century. The temple is located amidst a pleasant surrounding of deodar and pines. The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3048mts.



Badrinath also has a historical significance because the temple was set up by Adi Shankarachrya in the ninth century. It is also known as Badrinarayan temple.  After seeking knowledge of Vedas he came to Badrinath and settled with his disciples there. The location with its overwhelming  natural beauty, is very peaceful and serene. Maha Vishnu is the presiding deity. At present it is located in the Chamoli district.


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Kedarnath temple is one of the most important destination in Char Dham yatra. It is the worshipping place of Lord Shiva and is believed to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is situated near the Mandakini river (Ganga).

According to the temple priests the temple was founded in the 9th century by Adi shankarachrya, though the topic has remained a subject of debate between the Hindu priest  and scientist. According to the scientists the temple remained buried in glaciers for more than 400 years. They prove this by resorting to the marks of glaciers visible outside the temple building.

For its extreme climatic conditions the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshya Tritriya) to Karthik purnima (November).

Kedarnath tragedy

The flood in June 2013 affected the Kedarnath the most although somehow it did not cause any harm to the temple, which was miraculous. The surrounding premises and the other buildings in the market area were wiped out by the floods. The disaster caused a great loss to human life and property. Though the state and central government were quick to take necessary action for its rehabilitation, there is still a long way to go.



Next Story

A Clean Ganga Not Possible Without Continuous Flow: Green

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made

The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay

By Bappaditya Chatterjee

The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.

“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.


Ganga, travel
River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.


Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.


River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.
River Ganga is also the most polluted river.

Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.

Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”


Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.

However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge Over Brahmaputra River

Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)