Updated: September 29, 2019
The Char Dham or 'four abodes' is a set of four pilgrimage sites in India that comprises Badrinath, Dwarika, Puri and Rameshwaram. It is believed that every Hindu must visit the char dhams during his/her lifetime as visiting these sites helps achieve 'Moksha' or salvation. One of the ancient Hindu philosopher and reformer 'Adi Sankracharya' coined the famous term 'Char Dham', which denotes the four Hindu pilgrimages in the four different directions of India. The destinations are Badrinath in the North, Rameshwaram in the South, Dwarka in the West and Puri in the East.
Another set of four ancient pilgrimage sites is in the Indian state of Uttarakhand which is referred to as Chota Char Dham that comprises Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. These Chota Char Dham shrines are closed in winter due to snowfall and reopen for pilgrims with the advent of summer.
Badrinath is known as the first Dham out of the four as it got its importance in Sathya/Sath-Yuga. According to Hindu purana, when Nar-Narayan, an avatar of Vishnu, did Tapasya in Badrika-Van, Mata Lakshmi became the berry tree to save Lord Narayan from the rain and the sun. Pleased by mata Lakshmi, Narayan said, people will always take Her Name before His Name, hence Hindus always refer 'Lakshmi-Narayan'. It was therefore called Badri-Nath i.e. the Lord of Berry forest.
The second place, Rameswaram got its importance in the Tretha-Yuga when Lord Rama built a Shiva-Lingam here and worshiped it to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. The Name Rameswaram means 'Rama's Lord'.
The third Dhaam Dwarka got its importance in the Dwapara Yuga when Lord Krishna made Dwarka His residence instead of Mathura.
Badrinath is located in the state of Uttarakhand and is considered as the abode of Lord Vishnu. It is in the Garhwal hills, at a height of 3,415 meters above sea level. Situated on the banks of the Alaknanda River, the town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560 m). It is a two-day long journey from Kedarnath and tourists can also visit the Hemkund Sahib. Hemkund Sahib, also spelled as Hemkunt is a Sikh place and pilgrimage site in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, India. The Sikh shrine is devoted to the tenth Sikh Guru 'Guru Gobind Singh Ji' and finds its mention in Dasam Granth.
Mana, Vyas Gufa, Maatamoorti, Charanpaduka, Bhimkund and the Mukh of the Saraswati River are some of the other interesting sightseeing spots within 3 km of Badrinath.
Joshimath is situated on the slopes above the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Dhauliganga, which is one of the four Maths established by Adi Shankaracharya, and is the winter seat of Chardham.
Badrinath Dham remains open for pilgrims darshan from April to October each year.
Dwarka located in the west is in the state of Gujarat, country India. The city lies in the westernmost part of India. It derives its name from the word 'dvar' meaning door or gate in the Sanskrit language. It is located confluence to where the Gomti River merges into the Arabian Sea. Dwaraka 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.
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. Rameshwar temple or Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva located on Rameswaram island. There are two lingams inside the sanctum. One built by Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity, Ramalingam and the other brought by Hanuman from Kailash called Vishwalingam. Rama instructed that the Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since it was brought by Hanuman and the tradition continues even today.
There are sixty-four Tirthas or holy water bodies in and around the island of Rameswaram. According to Skanda Pura?a, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these Tirthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tirthas are within this Temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in the quiver of Rama. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea.
This Jyotirlinga is closely associated with Ramayana and the victorious return of Ram from Sri Lanka. According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to the god Shiva to absolve him of the sin committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have a large lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman to bring a lingam from the Himalayas. When Hanuman was delayed in bringing the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum.
It is also believed that Ram on his way to Lanka stopped at Rameshwaram and worshipped the lingam made with sand by himself and sita and asked for its blessings to defeat Ravana. He got the blessings from Lord Shiva who then turned into a Jyotirlinga and resided at the place for eternity.
Puri located at the east, is located in the state of Odisha, India. Puri is one of the oldest cities in the eastern part of the country. It is situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Lord Jagannatha is worshipped at famous Jagannatha temple who is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu and also revered by the followers of Vaishnavism. 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 Govardhana Matha, one of the four cardinal institutions or Mathas converted by Adi Shankaracharya is in Puri. The world famous Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festiva is celebrated at famous Jagannatha temple in Puri every year. In Gregorian calendar it falls in month of June or July.
The Chota Char Dham Yatra refers to the trip in the lap of Himalayas. The places that include Chota Char Dham Yatra are as below:
Yamunotri is the seat of river Yamuna and is situated atop the edge of Bandar Poonch Parvat at an elevation of 3,293 meters. The original source of River Yamuna is the famous Champasar Glacier, situated on the Kalind Mountain at an elevation of 4,142 meters.
Surya Kund is one of the most important attractions nearby Yamunotri. As Yamuna is the mythological offspring of Sun God, it is called as Surya Kund. The temperature of Surya Kund is 88 degrees. The presence of this thermal spring bordered by snow-covered mountain peaks is one of the major attraction of this place.
Divya Shila is a powerful rock pillar that is located close to the Surya Kund. The devotees found pleasure in climbing up to this place.
Gangotri is a small town located on the banks of River Bhagirathi and situated at an elevation of 3,100 meters in the Greater Himalayas. The Gangotri Dham is enclosed in the spectacular Garhwal Hills, at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. The most attractive sight of this place is the evening Aarti performed on the banks of River Ganges.
Uttarkashi, also known as 'Kashi of the North' is home to a number of ashrams and temples and also to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.
Guptkashi is famous for the Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that is located within the Northern Himalayan belt within the Mandakini River Valley.
Kedarnath Temple is a holy and revered place that is located near Rudraprayag District in Uttarakhand. It is considered as the abode of Loard Shiva. It is surrounded by enthralling snow-capped mountains, including the Mount Kailash. It is also revered as one of the â€™12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shivaâ€™, and rests at an altitude of 3584 meters from the outfall of the holy river 'Mandakini'.
Rudraprayag is one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of River Alaknanda and River Mandakini which is located in Rudraprayag district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The famous man eating Leopard of Rudraprayag was hunted by Jim Corbett here.
Badrinath is the final destination of Chota Char Dham Yatra and is considered as the abode of Lord Vishnu.
Char Dham Yatra by Helicopter is organized by the local tour & travel operator to help devotees who are either physically disabled or running short of time.
The helicopter services are arranged in conjunction with the private and government aviation operators.
Divyadesam Temples are the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars (saints).
Dudhani lake is large water front of the Damanganga river located 20 kms from Khanvel and 40 kms from Silvassa.
Hirwa Van Gardens is a popular picnic spot which literally meaning Green Forest.
Khanvel is a popular tourist destination that is situated 20 kms to the south of Silvassa.