What is the significance of the Char Dham Yatra for Hindus?
India is full of beautiful and scenic tourist places. Spiritual beliefs, cultural values, and heritage wonders are some of the major reasons influencing pilgrims to plan an expedition. Also known as the land of temples, India has plenty of sacred destinations and is undoubtedly a paradise for the seekers of tranquillity and spirituality.
Out of the various pilgrimages, Char Dham Yatra in the state of Uttarakhand boasts of being among the most visited centers. The Hindus describe Char Dham Yatra as the Teerth Yatra (pilgrimage) to four well-known dwellings of the Hindu Gods. These include Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. These four pilgrimage sites included in the Char Dham Yatra are located in the different districts of Uttarakhand.
The Char Dham Yatra is considered a must-visit pilgrimage tour among Hindus in order to achieve salvation. Each year, more than 2 Lac pilgrims visit the holy shrines. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that the Hindu philosopher Shri Adi Shankaracharya coined the term ‘Char Dham Yatra’. The literal meaning of this is the four abodes of God or Holy Destinations. These four shrines are in the region famous for several captivating mountains that are covered by a thick layer of snow and an unadulterated atmosphere.
In India, Hindus believe that the Char Dham Yatra opens the gates of salvation and washes away all their sins. It is also believed that this journey must be completed at least once in a lifetime. The four shrines of the Char Dham Yatra have a great significance and place in Hindu mythology. According to this, Shri Adi Shankaracharya received freedom from reincarnation in the Shri Badrinath Dham. The doorway to the Char Dham Yatra is Yamunotri, followed by the nest destination well-renowned as the Gangotri shrine. After that, pilgrims have to visit Shri Kedarnath Dham and finally Shri Badrinath Dham. After the completion of the Char Dham Yatra, the pilgrim achieves an absolute serenity of the mind.
The Yamunotri Dham is a preferred pilgrimage destination among the Char Dham Yatra for Hindus as it boasts Yamunotri which is the source of the sacred Yamuna River. There is a mythological story related to this holy river among the Hindus that the river was the sister of Yamraj and therefore on Bhai Dooj, Yamraj promised Goddess Yamuna that whosoever will take a dip in the river will not be taken to Yamlok and he will attain salvation. Yamunotri Dham, situated at the altitude of 3164 meters above sea level, sanctifies millions of visitors that visit this holy pilgrimage.
The highlight of the Gangotri Dham among Char Dham Yatra is Gomukh, which is the origin point of the Holy River Ganges. It is believed among devotees that after King Bhagirath meditated for a years, the river Ganga came to earth. The stone on which King Bhagirath meditated is placed near the Ganga Temple in Gangotri. Gangotri Dham is situated at an altitude of 3200 meters in the middle of imposing surroundings along the bank of the Bhagirathi river.
Shri Kedarnath Dham is a prominent pilgrimage for Hindus, being one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, the God of destruction. Apart from the Char Dham yatra, Kedarnath Dham is also a part of the the Panch Kedar. Also, Kalpeshwar, Tungnath, Madhmaheshwar, and Rudranath shrines are together known as Panch Kedar. Adi Shankaracharya restored the temple of Kedarnath. It is named after the ruler of Satyuga ‘Kedar’ and the shrine is open from April end till the Kartik Poornima.
The major significance of Shri Badrinath Dham can be understood from the fact that it is said to be the most sacred among the four shrines. Situated at an elevation of 3,133 meters above sea level, the Badrinath Dham is on the left bank of the Alaknanda River. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, also known as the protector and preserver among the divine Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). These sacred temples of Lord Vishnu are also called as Vishal Badri.
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