The Char Dham Yatra

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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.  

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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.