‘The Four Abodes or Seats’ or ‘Chota Char-Dham’ nestled in the mystic Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand is a pilgrimage-tourism site one must undertake in one’s lifetime. The beauty of the locale, divinity in the air and the drive to overcome hardships during the yatra, given the terrain and weather will culminate not just a soul-satisfying experience but also as a fun-filled and adventurous tour.
The yatra can be completed in approximately 11-12 days. Going by the Hindu practice of’ Parikramas’, the yatra should sequentially include:
- Yamunotri: Source of river Yamuna
- Gangotri: Source of river Ganga
- Kedarnath: Abode of Lord Shiva
- Badrinath: Abode of Lord Vishnu
Why Should One Undertake Char Dham Yatra?
As stated by the Pandavas in our Epic, Mahabharata; a visit to Char-Dham including ‘Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri’ helps mortals wash away sins committed not just during the present birth, but all previous births as well. It is believed in the Hindu religion that this yatra paves way towards ‘Moksha’, freeing us from the cycle of life and death thereby uniting us with ‘God’. Yet another connotation of this yatra implies freedom for mortals from materialistic life, attainment of self-realization and hence uniting with the Almighty.
What Is The Best Time For This Yatra?
While the sacred pilgrimage commences from April and continues till November; one can choose between May-June or September-October for the yatra. Travel between the months of July- August is best avoided since this region experiences heavy rainfall occasionally accompanied by landslides. September is considered to be the best time since the rain-drenched Himalayas appear laced with mesmerizing landscapes and views.
What Hardships Might You Encounter In These Places?
Given the high altitude, even healthy people are faced with problems like altitude-sickness and difficulty in breathing. For most people, acclimatization helps alleviate the effects.
Such people having existing medical conditions including respiratory problems, blood pressure, heart-ailments, altitude sickness, etc., should avoid this yatra or consult a doctor before commencing it.
It is important that physically fit people embark on this journey. Walking even short stretches at such altitudes can be troublesome especially for the elderly. People should take adequate and frequent breaks during such treks to avoid breathlessness and fatigue.
A first-aid kit catering to wounds, sores, muscle/bone pain, and medicines for common problems including cold, fever, stomach disorder, or vomiting, should be available on person.
Where Should One Stay?
Since this pilgrimage has always witnessed footfall in lakhs year after year, it is advisable to make arrangements for accommodation well in advance. The hotels/accommodation-cum-service providers cater for people from different strata and do their best in providing hygienic, affordable, and a comfortable stay. They serve freshly cooked food and beverages appealing to the pallet of most people not just from India but the world over; while having an exception of not serving alcohol or non-vegetarian food.
How Does One Get There?
One can choose from any of the following means to reach a location closest to the Char-Dham:
The closest airport is located at Dehradun. While regional flights ply from places not so far away, one can easily fly in from most other major cities to this terminal.
One can reach any of the stations including Dehradun, Haridwar, Hrishikesh, or Kotdwar and travel to their locations from where they choose to begin the yatra using cabs or buses.
With a well-laid out road network in the state, one can reach Char-Dham by buses, taxis or privately hired vehicles from their locations.
For those who have paucity of time and/or can afford helicopter trip to Char Dham, services of Pavan Hans or Prabhatam Aviation Pvt. Ltd. too are good options.
It is advisable to undertake this yatra through agencies that conduct a package-tour and entertain online bookings for stay, food, vehicle, and ‘darshan’ during the yatra.
Here are few tips to have a hassle-free yatra. Be ready to and prepared for:
- Be ready to walk bare feet inside the temple premises
- Cover your head with a scarf, stole or large handkerchief
- Carry warm clothing catering to cold weather and raincoat for unexpected rainfall
- A pair of sturdy walking shoes
- Energy giving snacks including dry fruits or chocolate bars
- Do not carry excess cash, credit/debit cards on person
- Carry phone charging bank, torch an extra batteries since electricity might be an issue
If Char Dham Yatra with its divinity, purity and a rare sense of fun does not sound inviting, then nothing will. Come, and experience this magic in ‘Gods Abode’. Get planning and embark on this journey, one you will cherish and narrate for years to come.