Char Dham conveys the presence of four sacred abodes. But it has a got a great significance in Hindu religion. Char Dham originally used to refer to a pilgrimage circuit encompassing four holiest sites which were located at four directions of India - Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka. They were established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD. A relatively smaller circuit of Hindu pilgrimage is formed by the four hallowed places of Indian Himalayas, which are also known as Chota Char Dham. 'Chota' means small in Hindi. Alternately called Char Dham of the Himalayas or Char Dham of Uttarakhand, the revered group possesses four sacred sites - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri.
Hindu pilgrimage circuit of Indian Himalayas represents all the primary cults by having two Shakta sites (Yamunotri and Gangotri), one Vaishnava site (Badrinath) and one Shaiva site (Kedarnath). Adi Shankaracharya, who has been credited with the creation of the four holiest abodes in India, is believed to have attained freedom from his bodily form in Kedarnath.
Char Dham Yatra starts from the western end and ends on the eastern end, i.e. the Char Dham Yatra starts from Yamunotri, then Gangotri then Kedarnath and finally ends in Badrinath. On the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya, the valves of Chardham temple open with great fanfare, temples are darshan by the devotees as soon as the temple is valves, and after the festival of Deepawali the valves of the temple are closed for the winter abodes.
According to Hindu traditions, pilgrims visit Chardham to get salvation. There is such a belief that who travels to these holy Chardham, he is liberated from the bondage of life and death and he finally gets salvation. In these holy places, people also perform rituals such as Pindan for their dead ancestors. In Char Dham, each Dham is dedicated to a specific goddess-gods. Yamunotri Dham Devi Yamuna, Gangotri Dham Devi Ganga, Kedarnath Dham Lord Shiva and Badrinath Dham are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Badrinath Dham is one of the Char Dhams of Uttarakhand state and India and Kedarnath Dham is one of 12 Jyotirlingas in India.
Badrinath Dham:- Badrinath Dham was founded by Adi Guru Shankaracharya in the 9th century. Badrinath temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Inside the temple, the statue of Lord Vishnu is made of black rock (Saligram stone). This temple is situated on the banks of the holy Alaknanda river. The main entrance of the temple it has been prepared by colourful ‘Singh-Dwara’ artistic composition. Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple. This holy temple is situated between two mountain ranges called Nar and Narayan. This temple of Lord Vishnu, built in ancient style is very spacious. This temple is also called "Vaikunth of Earth".
Kedarnath Dham:- Kedarnath Dham is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India and the holy four dhams of Uttarakhand. This sacred temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva is worshipped here as a natural Shivling. This holy and ancient temple was built by Adi Guru Shankaracharya at the beginning of the 8th century. This famous temple is more than a thousand years old, this temple is made of stones of the big rectangles. Kedarnath is completely surrounded by snowy peaks and beautiful mountains. It is the most famous of the Panch Kedars of Uttarakhand state. This is the largest Shiva temple in Uttarakhand.
Gangotri Dham:- Gangotri Temple was built by Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkha commander in the 18th century. Gangotri Temple is situated on the banks of the holy Bhagirathi (Ganga) river. This holy temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga. King Bhagiratha is also worshipped with Goddess Ganga in this temple, as a result of their austerities, the Goddess came upon Ganga earth. For the salvation of ancestors by the curse given by Kapil Muni, King Bhagirath had done penance to bring Goddess Ganga to the earth. For this reason, the sacred river Ganga was given the name of the river Bhagirathi.
Yamunotri Dham:- Yamunotri Dham is a holy temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. Goddess Yamuna God is the daughter of the sun and the sister of Yamraaj (God of death). The first pilgrimage in the four dhams starts with this holy shrine. Yamunotri temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal in the year 1919. This temple was rebuilt in the 19th century by the "Maharani Gularia" of Jaipur. The holy Yamuna river flows near the Yamunotri temple.
Char Dham is a group of four major religious places of Uttarakhand state. These Char Dhams include Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri Temple. During the visit of these religious places, which are considered as deliverable and liberal in Uttarakhand, many scenic scenes, waterfalls, high mountains, beautiful rivers, etc. make this trip attractive. It has become a major pilgrim centre for Hindu pilgrims.
The best time to visit Char Dham is in summers, from May to June and then September and October. Travelling Chardham in these months is the best and enjoyable. In the winter season, the journey of Chardham is closed for 6 months. During the winter season, the weather of here is cold. Due to heavy snowfall in the winter season, the temperature of here goes down very much. Due to heavy rains in the rainy season, it is a bit difficult to travel of Chardham because of heavy rains threatening landslides.
During the Char Dham Yatra, you will find at these holy place different types of shops to shopping. Here you find some religious items, Such as religious books, rudraksha garland, some quality goods made of brass, idols of gods and photographs of lords. From here you can take some souvenirs items for your home, relatives and friends. There are various types of shops for shopping at these place.