The Char Dham, literally ‘the four abodes’, yatra refers to the journey up the mountains to four sacred temples in the north-Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is also sometimes referred to as Chhota Char Dham to differentiate it from the bigger circuit of Char Dham sites. The four temples that comprise Char Dham are, Yamunotri Dham, Gangotri Dham, Badrinath Dham and Kedarnath Dham. Each of these temples has scintillating myths associated with them, which give them immense religious importance.
Yamunotri Dham, the first Dham en route the yatra, is situated at Yamunotri- where the sacred river the Yamuna originates. It named after Goddess Yamuna, the twin sister of Yama (the goddess of death). A bath in the holy waters of Yamuna river is said to cleanse one of all sins and protect from untimely death. It is believed that sage Asit Muni lived here and bathed in both Ganga and Yamuna. In his old age, when he was unable to go to Gangotri, a stream of Ganga started to flow across the steam of Yamuna. The temple houses a black marble idol of the goddess.
Gangotri Dham, is the birthplace of the holy river Ganga. According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair. Dedicated to the goddess, Gangotri Dham is the second temple that falls on The Chota Char Dham route. It was built by the Nepalese General, Amar Singh Thapa. The origin of the holy river, however, is at Gaumukh, the sacred snout of the Gangotri Glacier, which is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Bhaghirath Shila and Pandava Gufa are religious spots located very close to the Gangotri Dham.
Kedarnath Dham, is about 500 meters above Badrinath and is believed to be one of the five uprisal spots of Lord Shiva. The word ‘Kedar’ refers to Lord Shiva in Vedas & Puranas. Kedarnath, as per holy belief and sacredness, is known to be the land of Lord Shiva, where Lord still resides in the form of Linga. It is also the highest located jyotirling. The temple is an old stone edifice located on the shores of Mandakini River. It is believed to have been built by the Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankara in 8th century CE. The view of this temple against its snowy backdrop is just resplendent. Kedarnath Dham is definitely one of the most important Dhams in the yatra.