During the spiritual yatra of the Chardhams, apart from visiting the four Dhams, there are many other places in between notable for their spiritual significance and natural splendor. The article below will introduce you to the many other places which you can visit in the course of your Chardham yatra.
It takes time and effort to prepare for a pilgrimage to the famous char dhams Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. The entire region abounds in natural beauty and when you visit spare time to visit nearby attractions. Here is what you may want to know about local attractions in each place.
Your char dham yatra usually starts with a trip to Yamunotri, source of Yamuna River and a site where the temple dedicated to Yamuna Mata attracts millions of devotees.
- Once you have attended the aarti and had a darshan, it is time to think of visiting nearby places of interest. Janki Chatti is where you will find thermal springs. Since it is on the route to Yamunotri, you could stop here and have a quick bath before going on to Yamunotri.
- Surya Kund is another thermal spring said to have medicinal properties.
- Hanuman Chatti is about 13 Km from Yamunotri and you have to trek or take a pony to this place said to be the confluence of the Yamuna and Hanuman Rivers, a place of wild rugged beauty.
- Uttarkashi is about 78 km from Hanuman Chatti, a longish trip if you consider you are traveling on curving mountain roads but well worth the efforts since it has religious connotations as well as scenic beauty to capture your heart. The frolicking Bhagirathi river challenges you to take to water rafting and the mountains beckon you to climb their rugged faces.
- After all the trekking and travels you may want a brief respite. Barkot is a hill resort about 49 km from Yamunotri with decent accommodation and fresh air to invigorate you even as you take time to explore the town and admire the Himalayas in the distance.
- Dodi Tal is another nearby attraction, located at a height of 3307 metres and said to be the birthplace of Lord Ganesha. If not for the religious significance this lake is just as attractive for its limpid waters, cool atmosphere and lovely view of the forests carpeting the mountain slopes.
Gangotri Temple is about 234 Km from Rishikesh and is the second leg of the chardham tour, a significant on considering that it is where the holy River Ganges starts and there is a temple dedicated to Ganga Mata here. A picturesque spot located at a height of 3100 metres, Gangotri has quite a few attractions in the vicinity you may want to visit once you have completed your worship here.
- Only 14 Km way but a strenuous walk nonetheless, Kedartal is rewarding as you gaze into the clear waters of the lake reflecting the Himalayan mountains. It is at a height of 4912 metres and can get very cold so plan to get there during morning hours and return well before sunset.
- About 47 km away is Gangnani, site of thermal springs and immersing yourself in the hot waters is a relief from the cold, icy winds that can chill your marrow. Just look up and admire the beauty of the mountains.
- Harsil is on the banks of the Bhagirathi River and is a place of ineffably charming beauty, a place you will fall in love with even though it takes quite an effort to traverse the 21 km distance.
Kedarnath is the site of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and the Shiva Temple. From here you can go on to visit Vasuki Tal, a 7 km trek and one place that is too lovely for words. However, before you reach Kedarnath, stop at Gaurikund, at a distance of 14 km and worship Goddess Parvati or Gauri as She is known. Do take time off to visit the Samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya in the vicinity: it is he who established these mini char dhams to fulfill religious aspirations of millions of Hindus who could not undertake a pilgrimage of the major chardhams spread across the four corners of India.
Trijuginarayan Temple is the place where Lord Shiva married Parvati after proposing to her at Gaurikund.
Chopta is a place you must not miss. It is like Switzerland in miniature and is fast becoming one of the most popular winter resorts as well as a summer getaway. From here you may want to go on to Tungnath where you will find a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The other places worth a visit are Ukhimath, where the idol of Lord Shiva resides during winter, and Rudraprayag, a holy place made holier by the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini Rivers. For the religiously inclined, Kalimath is a must-visit Shaktipeeth and, luckily, is open throughout the year unlike the char dham temples that are open only during summer.
Badrinath is the last leg and home to temple of Lord Vishnu. There are myriads of places in the vicinity worth a visit. In and around Badrinath you will walk to TaptKund, a hot spring and bathe before going to the temple and then visit Brahma Kapal, a site where Hindus conduct ceremonies for their ancestors. It is a short climb to Neelkanth where there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. More enchanting is the view from here as the sun sets. Narad kund in the vicinity of Tapt Kund has thermal springs and a dip here is obligatory for devotees. Take a walk to the cave where Ved Vyas is said to have dictated the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha who sat in his cave as he wrote the epic. As you walk you will come across Sheshnetre, site of two small picturesque lakes resembling a snake. You cannot miss the Panch Dharas or five streams of which the most striking is Indira Dhara.
Other places to visit are the Vasudhara Falls, Satopanth Lake with its pure waters and Pandukeshwar 24 km from Badrinath and home to two temples. Joshimath is the temple set up by Adi Shankaracharya to serve as the winter home of Lord Badrinath. Auli is a must visit resort close by not only for the enchanting view but also for a ride on the longest cable car in Asia. Round off your trip with a visit to the Valley of Flowers, a place that seems like heaven.