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Char Dham Yatra – Highly Sacred 4 Dham in India Travel Guide

char dham yatra tour

Char Dham Yatra in India 2018

Char Dham (literally meaning ‘the four abodes/seats’) are the names of Char Dham in India that are widely revered by Hindus. It comprises of Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram. It is considered highly sacred by Hindus to visit 4 Dham yatra during one’s lifetime. This char dham yatra is highly popular. The 4 Dham defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of four Vaishnavite pilgrimages.

Importance of Char Dham in Hindu Religion

The Char Dham Yatra is considered as a must visited pilgrimage tour in order to get salvation. Every year, more than 2 Lac tourists visit these holy shrines. The literal meaning of this term is four abodes of God or Holy Destinations. In India, the Hindus believe that the Char Dham tour opens the gates of salvation or ‘Moksha’ by washing away all their sins and  relieves us from the vicious cycle of life and death. It is also believed that this journey must be undertaken at least once in a lifetime. These four shrines have a great significance and place in Hindu mythology.

What are 4 dham

According to Hindu mythology, Badrinath became prominent when Nar-Narayan, an incarnation of Vishnu did Tapasya there. At that time that place was filled with Plum trees.So the Badrinath came to be known the first Dham.

The second place, the Rameshwram got its importance in the Treta-Yug when Lord Rama built a Shiv-ling here and worshipped it to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. The name Rameshwram means “the God of Lord Rama”. Rama himself is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The third Dhaam Dwarka got its importance in Dwapar Yug when Lord Krishna another incarnation of Lord Vishnu, made Dwarka his residence instead of Mathura, his birthplace.

The Four Shankaracharya Peeth (Seats) at the Chaar Dham school of Hinduism, created at least four Hindu monastic institutions. He organised the Hindu monks under four Maṭhas (monasteries), with the headquarters at Dwarka in the West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Sringeri Sharada Peetham in the South and Badrikashrama in the North.

Char dham in india

Jagannath Puri Temple

Puri is located in the state of Odisha, India. It is one of the oldest cities in the eastern part of the country and is situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The main deity is Shri Krishna which is celebrated as Lord Jagannatha. It is the only shrine in India, where goddess, Subhadra, sister of Lord Krishna is worshipped along with her brothers, Lord Jagannatha and Lord Balabhadra. The main temple here is about 1000 years old and was constructed by Raja Choda Ganga Deva and Raja Tritiya Ananga Bhima Deva.

Puri is the site of the Govardhana Matha, one of the four cardinal institutions or Mathas established by Adi Shankaracharya. Brahma, Vishnu & Maheswara, all three of them are together everywhere and here Jagannath is held to be Vishnu, Balabhadra to be Maheswara & Subhadra to be Brahma. Oriya people celebrate a special day in this Dham which is known as Ratha Yatra (“Chariot Festival”).

How to Reach Puri

Nearest Railway Station – Puri (PURI)
Nearest Airport – Bhubaneshwar (BBI)

Travel by Bus

Puri has well-connected road network. Regular bus service is available from Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack, Baleshwar, Kolkata and Vishakapatnam.

Travel by Train

Puri has direct rail connectivity with major Indian cities.Khurda Road junction, just 44 KM away from Puri, is another important railhead. Khurda Road station has direct rail connectivity with Bangalore, Chennai, Kochin, Trivandrum, Hyderabad and Vijaywada.

Travel by Air

Travel by air, then Bhubaneshwar airport is the nearest one, about 54 KM away from Puri. Being the state capital of Odisha, Bhubaneshwar has daily flights to and from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Guwahati.

Rameswaram  Temple

Rameswaram located in the South is in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. According to legends, this is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge, the Ram Setu to Lanka. The Ramanatha Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva occupies a major area of Rameswaram. The temple is believed to have been consecrated by Shri Rama Chandra.

Rameswaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram. The presiding deity here is in the form of a Linga with the name Sri Ramanatha Swamy, it also is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Brahma, Vishnu & Maheswara, all three of them are together everywhere and here Rama is held to be Vishnu, Laxman to be Maheswara & Hanuman to be Brahma.

Ramanathaswamy-temple-Rameshwaram

How to Reach Rameshwaram

Nearest Railway Station – Rameshwaram (RMM)
Nearest Airport – Madurai (IXM)

Travel by Bus

The city of Rameshwaram is connected with all major cities of Tamil Nadu by the network of roads. The nearest major city is Madurai, around 169 KM away. Regular bus service is available from Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Kanyakumari and Coimbatore. the most preferred mode of transport for tourists from major South Indian cities like Hyderabad, Bngalore and Trivandrum.

Travel by Train

Rameshwaram is a major railhead in Tamil Nadu. Direct trains are available from Chennai, Bangalore, Trichy, Tirupathi and Madurai. People coming from other parts of India can arrive at either Chennai or Bangalore and subsequently catch a connecting train to Rameshwaram.

Travel by Air

Nearest airport is in Madurai. Madurai airport is well connected to major Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. It also has a couple of international flights to Colombo and Dubai. Travellers from other foreign countries can arrive at Chennai International Airport and then proceed towards Rameshwaram by train, bus or taxi.

Dwarkadeesh Temple

Dwarka in the west is a city in the state of Gujarat, India which derives its name from the word “dvar” meaning ‘door’ or ‘gate’ in the Sanskrit language. It is located where the Gomti River merges into the Arabian Sea. However, this river Gomti is not the same Gomti River which is tributary of Ganga River.The legendary city of Dwarka was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna. It is believed that due to damage and destruction by the sea, Dwarka has submerged six times and modern day Dwarka is the 7th such city to be built in the area.

How to Reach Dwarka

Nearest Railway Station – Dwarka (DWK)
Nearest Airport – Jamnagar (JGA)

Travel by Bus

Dwarka can be reached by roadways, railways and airways. Regular bus service to Dwarka is available from Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Vadodara and Bhuj.

Travel by Train

Dwarka has a railway station of its own and it is well connected to the rest of the state. Multiple daily trains are available to and from Ahmedabad, Okha, Somnath, Surat, Bhoj, and Rajkot. Besides, there are direct trains to Dwarka from Kolkata (Howrah), Mumbai, Jaipur, Puri, Varanasi, Guwahati, Gorakhpur, Ernakulam, Tuticorin and Dehradun.

Travel by Air

Jamnagar airport is the nearest domestic airport, situated at a distance of 137 km from this holy city. It is a small airport that has connectivity with Mumbai only, operated by Air India. Rajkot has an alternative airport for travellers coming in from other parts of India. The Rajkot airport has connecting flights to major Indian cities including New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. International travelers can come down to Mumbai International Airport and then catch a flight to Jamnagar.

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath is located in the state of Uttarakhand. It is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m).Badrinath is well connected by road from all major cities in Uttarakhand. Bus, cab and shared taxi services are available from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Kotdwar, Garhwal and Kumaon region.

If you are travelling by train, then Rishikesh is the nearest railway station, situated at a distance of 297 KM from Badrinath. However it’s a small station with only a few connecting trains. Haridwar railway station, a further 24 KM away, has connecting trains to other parts of India including Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

Badrinath doesn’t have an airport and the nearest one is at Dehradun. Dehradun Airport is 310 KM away from Badrinath and it has direct flight connectivity with Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Lucknow.

How to Reach Badrinath

Nearest Railway Station – Rishikesh (RKSH)
Nearest Airport – Dehradun (DED)

Travel by Bus

Badrinath is connected by motorable roads with other major destinations of the region. To reach Badrinath by road, one has to take NH 58 from Rishikesh via Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nand Prayag, Chamoli, Joshimath and Govindghat. From Rishikesh, Badrinath is 298 Km while from Joshimath, it is 48 Km.

Travel by Train 

The nearest railway stations to Badrinath are at Rishikesh (300 km), Kotdwara(327 km) and Haridwar. The first two are small stations and are not connected by fast trains. However, Haridwar is connected via the Indian Railway network to major cities in India.

Travel by Air

The nearest airport to Badrinath is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. Badrinath lies at a distance of 331 km from Dehradun.

Char Dham Travel Tips

  • At least a month before the Char Dham Yatra, it is advisable to start preparatory exercises: Even a brisk walk of about 4 to 5 km per day would be beneficial. Breathing exercises like Pranayama would help combat the lack of sufficient oxygen at high altitudes.
  • Avoid drinking water at all cost unless it is bottled water or from some clean natural source.
  • Food-wise anything that is boiled, cooked or fried is a safer bet than anything cold or raw. So avoid cold salads, raw vegetables, drinks with ice etc.
  • Carry a mosquito/insect repellent wherever you go to avoid diseases like malaria or simply even the itchy discomfort.
  • Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhoea, fever etc. Also, keep on your personal band-aids and an antiseptic ointment.
  • Use sunscreen all the time to prevent sunburn. Try and wear a hat if you’re going to be in the sun.
  • Ensure you are physically and mentally fit to perform the journey as the Yatra involves trekking at an altitude of 1,4000ft. Get yourself medically examined and certified fit for the journey.
  • Do carry heavy woollens, including thermal body warmers, wind cheaters, raincoats, sleeping bags, blankets, water-proof shoes with sufficient grips, small water proof tents, torch with sufficient batteries and walking sticks.
  • Keep a slip with your Name, Address and the name of accompanying yatri in your pocket.
  • Women are advised to avoid sarees and opt for salwar kameez or trousers.
  • Carry water and dry eatables. Ration and firewood quota is available en route and can be purchased.
  • All medical facilities during Yatra are free. It is advisable to carry your own personal medical kit and First aid box.
  • Hire only a registered ponywalla or porter. Don’t walk far away from ponies carrying luggage.
  • Move slowly and steadily, as this is an arduous pilgrimage and maintain discipline.
  • Don’t relax at places where warning signs are fixed. Don’t attempt short cuts on the route.

Chota Char Dham 

There are four Abodes in Himalayas collectively referred as “Chota Char Dham of India ” and popular as “CharDham Yatra” which includes four holy shrines of Hindus: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. All of these temples are situated within the Garwhal region of Uttarakhand state in North India.