CharDham

Tips :chardham 2012


Kedarnath

Kedarnath temple is the highest among all the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. This temple, over a thousand years old is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large grey steps leading to the holy sanctum sanctorum we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps. The present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya more than 1000 years ago.The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata. According to legends, the Pandavas sought the blessings of lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into ground leaving behind his hump on the surface. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. It is situated at an altitude of 3,581 mt or 11900 feet. To reach there one can either take the helicopter or trek for 14kms from Gauri Kund.
At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage. The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct-Nov) and reopens in Vaishakh (Apr-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.

Location

Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. It is set amidst the stunning mountains of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. Kedar is another name of lord Shiva, the protector and the destroyer. Shiva is considered the embodiment of all passions - love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism which are expressed through his various forms. The shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by breathtaking snow - covered mountains, and during summers grassy meadows cover the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Kedardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is simply enthralling.

The Mythological Past

There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli and Rudra Prayag districts , out of which the most important one is Kedarnath. According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own Kith and Kin and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations.
The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.

Best Time to Visit : The ideal time or peak season to go for a Char Dham Yatra is from May to October, except monsoons. This is because all the four sacred sites are perched in Garhwal Himalayas, which is prone to heavy snowfall. As a result, all the passage leading to the shrines are blocked. Moreover, during the monsoon season, there is undue threat of having landslides, which can further disrupt the journey. For safety reasons, the gates of the temples are also closed for this period of time and the idols are shifted to nearby pilgrim points.

Badrinath is a Hindu holy town and a nagar panchayat in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage.

The Badrinath Temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.

The temple has undergone several major renovations because of age and damage by avalanche.In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur.

The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.

 

Yamunotri (Hindi: यमुनोत्री) is the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna in Hinduism. It is situated at an altitude of 3,293 metres (10,804 ft) in the Garhwal Himalayas and located approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) North of Uttarkashi, the headquarters of the Uttarkashi district in the Garhwal Division of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the four sites in India's Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti (7 km. Away).

The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible; hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself.

The temple of Yamuna, on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna, like the Ganges, has been elavated to the status of a divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.

Close to the temple are hot water springs gushing out from the mountain cavities. Surya Kund is the most important kund. Near the Surya Kund there is a shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes, tied in muslin cloth, to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs. Rice so cooked is taken back home as prasadam. The pujaris of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsali near Janki Chatti. They are the administrators of the sacred place and perform religious rites. They are well-versed in the Shastras.

Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Gangotri can be reached in one day's travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yamunotri, the first site in the Char Dham circuit. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus, meaning that it sees many more pilgrims than Yamunotri.

This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga, which was built by the Nepalese General, Amar Singh Thapa in the early 18th century. The temple is closed on Diwali day every year and is reopened in May. During this time, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, near Harsil.

Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of pujaris. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganges. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 18 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganges. 

Bhagirathi River at Gangotri

For a large number of tourists, Gangotri town serves as the starting point of the Gangotri-Gaumukh-Tapovan and Gangotri-Kedartal trekking routes.

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries.

Submerged Shivlingam

According to this legend, King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the 'Yagya' (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagara stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.

Bhavishya Badri Temple

Gangotri

Dense forests near Tapovan surround the Bhavishya Badri. The Bhavishya Badri is at a distance of about 17 km. east of Joshimath. Pilgrims trek beyond Tapovan up the Dhauliganga River to reach this holy spot. The idol of narsingha (the god with the head of lion) is enshrined here. Traditionally, it is believed that a day will come when the present route to the Badrinath will be inaccessible and the Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here and this is why the place is called Bhavishya Badri.

 

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