Char Dham Yatra | Four Pilgrimage Sites in Uttarakhand
When one start’s thinking about his death. The all deeds of his life whether good or bad comes in front of him in just a glance or a sight. If the deeds are good, what else can be more assuaging and fruitful than that? But the actual trial by ordeal starts when the deeds did the humans are bad. And they count the days of their life that how can they get salvation from their sins. Because if we talk religiously, this has been stated in every religion that after the death of a person he or she is will be given the place of hell or heaven according to their deeds in their life. The beauty of heaven is explained in every book and is known by every human being. And the curse of hell is even much more elaborated and explained. But it’s on one’s hand who themselves choose the place of their own with their karma. But in life, if there is a problem then also has it’s solution. If there is sickness then has it’s cure. That is the ultimate practice of life. Nothing in the world stands alone. Mistakes are a part of being human. But even these mistakes also have a solution by the Creator itself. God has made a few solutions to sanctify evil deeds. Char Dham Yatra is the ultimate solution to all the earnings of human beings according to Hinduism and Hindu Culture.
According to Hinduism Char Dam are the names of four pilgrimage sites in India. Char Dham actually comprises Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri, and Rameshwaram. The other pilgrimage sites are in the Indian State. of Uttarakhand. These are the four most holy sites of Uttrakhand. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. They were earlier known as Chota Char Dham, to differentiate them from the bigger circuit of Charm Dham sites, after the mid-20th century they have been also referred to as the Char Dham. To visit these highly holy places one’s in a lifetime is considered really sacred. The Char Dham is defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of four Vaishnavite pilgrimages. But when and how these places got linked in a pilgrimage circuit together is not known. Each place has its own legendary story and history.
Owing to the significance of this religious circuit, devotees from all over the world, come here to experience the eternal bliss. Char Dham is filled with commotion and activity with great hurly-burly during the season of summer in months of the end of the April and start of May. After 6 months of Prayer and worship, they close the Valve of the Temple in the second month of November. The picturesque surroundings of the mountainous region are simply enthralling, giving all the devotees a great opportunity to unwind themselves by filling their lungs with fresh and religious air. Amongst the four Charm Dhams, Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Yamunotri to goddess Yamuna and Gangotri to goddess Ganga. Badrinath is considered one of the holiest places in the Hindu religion. Adi Shankaracharya found the idol of Lord Badri in Alaknanda River and put it up in a cave near Tapt Kund. In the 16th century, a Garhwal King got the temple erected, which has been renovated much time because of the results of Natural calamities.
History: According to Hindu Mythology, The indulgent lifestyle of Lord Vishnu was once criticized by the sage Naarad Muni. He made comment on how Lord Vishnu always need to be served by Goddess Lakshmi.
Listening to this Lord Vishnu left his place and went to the forest of Himalayas. At that time that place was filled with Berry trees. In the Sanskrit language, they are called Badri, So the place was named Badrika – Van i.e. The forest of Berry. He went to that place and started doing Tapasya there as an act of penance. Goddess Lakshmi has no knowledge about the incident. So when she did not found Lord Vishnu at their place. She went in search of him. And after a lot of searches, she finally reached the forest of the Himalayas where she found Lord Vishnu meditating. Looking at all this Goddess Lakshmi (his wife) became a berry tree to shade him from the sun and other harsh elements of nature. Post-Tapasya, Narayan (other names of Lord Vishnu) said, people will always take her name before his name, hence Hindus always refer ‘’Lakshmi-Narayan’’ unlike ‘’Shiva-Parvati’’. IT was therefore called Badri-Nath i.e the Lord of Berry forest. All this happened in the Sat – Yuga. So the Badrinath came to be known the first Dham. There is another divine tale of Badrinath. It states that Badrinath used to be the realm of Shiva. Vishnu tricked Shiva into leaving the site and established himself instead. This was a place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati lived. It was a magnificent place at around 10,000 feet in the Himalayas. One day when Shiva and Parvati went for a walk. When they came back, they found a baby crying at the entrance of their home. Looking at the little baby crying Parvati couldn’t stop her maternal feelings those were overflowing. She wants to hold that baby and stop him from crying. But Shiva asked ‘‘Not to touch that baby’’. Parvati said ‘‘How can you be so cruel’’. Shiva said ‘‘This is not a good baby’’. How can he come here by himself? who can leave him here when there are no footsteps of any persons in the snow. But Parvati was still on her decisions that ‘‘Whatever it might be, this is a small baby and I can’t resist until I hold him up and make him stop crying. She left that baby up. Made him stop crying and fed him. The baby was really comfortable in her hands and was looking gleefully at Lord Shiva. After that Shiva and Parvati went to take bath on the hot springs. When they came back they found the door their house locked. She was aghast. ‘‘Who closed that door’’. Shiva said ‘‘ I have asked you not to touch that baby. You brought that baby in the house and now he has locked that door. Parvati said, ‘’What shall we do now?’’ Shiva had only two options with him. Either burn everything in front of him or find somewhere else to live. He said ‘‘ It’s your beloved baby. I cannot touch it’’. And left the place. This is how Shiva and Parvati lost their own house and walked around in search of an ideal place to live. They finally settled down in Kedarnath.
Kedarnath is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region. It is situated in the Rudraprayag district of
Uttrakhand, Kedarnath is the most remote pilgrimage spot in the yatra. About Kedarnath, it is believed
that the temple of Kedarnath is built by Pandavas. And Adi Shankaracharya got the present structure
constructed in the 8th century adjacent to the old temple site. This temple, over a thousand years old
built of massive stone slabs over large rectangular forms. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Thalamus.
History: Legend 1 – According to the Hindu Mythology, Nara and Narayana – the two incarnations of Lord Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of Shivalingam. They wanted to please Lord Shiva with their devotion. With their utter devotion and worship, Shiva got pleased and appeared in front of them and asked them to wish whatever they want to ask for. Nar and Narayana requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed their miseries. The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.
Legend 2- Another history related to the Kedarnath Temple is that Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareshwar to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. Bhairon Temple- A little away from Kedarnath is a temple dedicated to Bhaironathji who is worshipped at the openings and closings of Kedarnath. The belief is that Bhairavnathji protects this land from evil during the time when the Temple of Kedarnath is closed.
Legend 3 – According to the history of Hindu mythology, During the Mahabharatha war, the Pandavas killed their relatives. Pandavas were searching for Lord Shiva to absolve themselves from their sins committed at the battlefield of Mahabharata. The Pandavas undertook a pilgrimage. Lord Shiva was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas. On learning this, Pandavas left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Kashi. They saw Lord Shankar from far away. Lord Shiva was in no mood to forgive them so easily. So he hid from them and converted himself into a bull and went to Garhwal side of Uttrakhand. Then Dharmaraj said: ‘‘Oh, Lord, You have hidden from us because we have committed a sin. But our sins will get washed away only when we will get your darshan and whatever would happen we will seek you anyhow. This place where you have hidden will be known as Guptakashi and become a famous shrine.’’
After Guptkashi the Pandavas went ahead and while they were wandering in search of Lord Shiva. Nakul and Sahdev found a bull that was unique to look at. Then Bheem went after the bull with his mace. But was not able to catch him. Bheem started to pull it by its tail. In this tug of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar.
On this hind part of Shiva, a Jyotirlinga appeared and Lord Shiva appeared from this light. By getting the Darshan of Lord Shankar, the Pandavas were absolved of their sins. Then Shiva told the Pandavas,‘ From now on, I will remain here as a triangular-shaped JyotirLinga. By taking a Darshan of Kedarnath,
devotees would attain piety.
It is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttrakhand, the original temple of Gangotri was built by Amar Singh Thapa, a Gurkha general, in the early 19th century. Gangotri Dham is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, who is said to have descended on earth to absolve the sins of humankind. The river originates at Gaumukh from the Gangotri glacier which is some 19 km from the town of Gangotri. The river is called ‘‘Bhagirathi’’ at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier. It is preached at a height of 3042mts. There are also many legends about the Gangotri according to Hinduism.
History: According to Hindu Mythology, King Sagar after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. The horse was lost, tracing the horse to the sage Kapil muni’s ashram, the 60,000 sons stormed the ashram and disturbed sage who was in deep meditation. Engraved Kapila opened his fiery eyes that turned all 60,000 sons into ashes. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and grant salvation to them. Lord Shiva tied Ganga and distributed its water in a number of strams to save the earth from its mighty force.
Legend 2- Ganga came down to the earth in a human form and married King Shantanu – an ancestor of the Pandavas of the Mahabharat, yielded seven children, all of whom were thrown back into the river by her in an unexplained manner. The eighth – Bheeshma – was spared, thanks to King Shantanu’s intervention.
Yamunotri is the second most holy river of India, The River Yamuna, takes birth. It is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 meters (10,797ft) in the Uttarkashi district of Uttrakhand, Yamunotri Dham is the first stop in the pilgrimage. It is believed that bathing in its water cleanses all sins and protects from an untimely and painful death. The shrine of Yamunotri is believed to be built by the King of Tehri, Naresh Sudarshan Shah, in 1839. There are many hot water springs near the temple, Surya Kund is the most important among them. Devotees boil rice and potatoes in the kund and accept it as a Prasad of the Devi.
History: The Goddess Yamuna is believed to be Sun’s daughter and the twin sister of Yamraj who according to the
Hindu scripture is the God of Death. The Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a traut that she developed because according to a common story, Yamuna’s mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband. It is said 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.