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India is a land of temples and some are simply more mystical that others, while others are popular destinations of worship. Beliefs run deep and many take on pilgrimages in the belief that prayers will be answered and that their lives will be blessed. One such revered pilgrimage destination in India and perhaps the most important for Hindus are the four temples of the Char Dham. Char Dham translated loosely means 'four sacred spots' and each one of these destinations houses a unique and ancient temple.
The Char Dham comprises four sites - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These four holy destinations are all situated in the Himalayan mountain range in the Gharwal section of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Char Dham represents the important denominations of Hinduism - Shaivism and Vaishnavism.
These four sites are also located in such a way that they represent the four earthly directions of north, south, east and west. Another feature of these four sites is that they each receive holy water from tributaries of various rivers. It is believed to be auspicious to visit the Char Dham in a clockwise or left to right direction beginning at Yamunotri and proceeding to Gangotri, Kedarnath and ending at Badrinath. Another oft-visited holy spot enroute is the Hemkund Sahib.
Owing to the significance of this religious circuit, devotees from all over the world, come here to experience the eternal bliss. Char Dhams are hustling and bustling with activity during the summer months, as hundreds of devotees embark upon the holy journey. The picturesque surroundings of the mountainous region are simply enthralling, giving the visitors a perfect opportunity to unwind themselves by filling their lungs with fresh air. Moreover, these otherwise silent and tranquil locales resound with the names of the Lord as the pilgrims advance towards their destination.
Travel to Char Dham
The Char Dham in Uttarakhand rest among the Himalayan Mountains making them inaccessible or unsafe during winter months. Thus the best time to Char Dham is between the months of May and October. Travel to these pilgrimage sites should also be avoided during the monsoons due to safety reasons.
While the Char Dham themselves are only approachable by road, you will need to head to either Haridwar or Rishikesh to set out on your pilgrimage. Haridwar and Rishikesh are holy destinations themselves and can be reached via road or train from Delhi. From these starting points, various options are available to reach the holy shrines including a helicopter service. If you choose to take the traditional road route, you will need around 12 days to complete the Char Dham Yatra.
The temples and centres of pilgrimage of the Char Dham have their own mystical elements, from hot springs to divine calm. When you decide to embark upon this journey, be prepared for difficulties, a tough journey and immense crowds. Also be prepared for spiritual enlightenment and the awe of being able to witness various rituals including the pujas by the river Ganga.
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Chola Temples - Revisit the past glory of the mighty Cholas
Madurai Meenakshi Temple - One of the Biggest temples
Tirupati temple - Lord of the 7 Hills
Rameshwaram Temple - Sethu Yathra
Swamimalai Temple - The Son who taught his Father
Guruvayur Temple - Bhuloka Vaikunta
Sabarimala Temple - Makara Jyothi
Padmanabha swamy Temple - Ananthasayanam
God in Himalaya Mountains - Abode of Shiva and his consort Shakthi
Char Dham - Most revered 4 temples of Hindu Pilgrimage in Himalayas
Yamunotri - Yamunotri - dedicated to Goddess Yamuna
Gangotri - Holy destination that embodies the origins of the Ganga
Kedarnath - Kedarnath on the Garhwal Range built by Adi Shankaracharya
Badrinath - Badrinath dedicated to Vishnu - supreme God of Vaishnavites
Temples in Mathura and Vrindavan - Temples dedicated to Lord Krishna
Temples in Dwarka - legend and lore that surround the temples in Dwarka
Amritsar Golden Temple - In the Pool of the Nectar of Immortality
Vaishno Devi Temple - Shakti - Source of all Power
Konark Sun Temple - Intricate sculptural work
Khajuraho - Breathtaking sculptures of Khajuraho
Puri Jagannath Temple - 12 century Hindu Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Temple in the oldest living city
Shirdi Temple - White marble temple
Thiruvannamalai temple - Padal PetraSthalam
Saradamba Temple Sringeri - Sringeri Temples
Ranganatha Swami Temple - Largest Temple in the World
Udupi Krishna Temple - Kanakanakindi
Vaitheeswaran Koil - Prime center for naadi shastra
Sripuram Golden Temple - Temple of Gold
Sakshi Gopal Temple Puri - Witness by God
Srikalahasti Temple - Kailas of the South
Kanchipuram Temple - Ancient Pallava built Temple
Palani Temple - Temple dedicated to Tamil God
Thiruchendur Murugan Temple - Part of the 6 Abodes of Murugan