Embark on a Char Dham Yatra to the four most venerated Hindu pilgrimage destinations on the Himalayas.
Nestled amidst lofty Himalayan peaks, the Char Dham destinations in Uttaranchal are collectively referred to as 'Kedarkhand'.
According to sacred Hindu religious texts those who complete atleast one Char Dham yatra in their lifetime attain freedom from the vicious cycle of life and death. Some believe that a Char Dham yatra helps to wash away all the sins one commits in a lifetime.
The four main pilgrimage destinations that form the Char Dham circuit are Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Devout Hindus believe that the heaven and earth meet at these four sacred points.
Each destination on the Char Dham circuit should be visited from the left to the right i.e. from Yamnotri to Gangotri, then Kedarnath and finally Badrinath. Ancient scriptures indicate that these four destinations were placed together at the beginning of the 'Kaliyuga' but they drifted apart over the centuries.
Yamnotri lies at an altitude of 3,235 meters above the sea level in Uttarkashi, Uttaranchal. Yamnotri is also the source of River Yamuna and the temple at this sacred spot can be reached after negotiating a 13-kilometer trek from a point called Hanuman Chatti.
The Gangotri glacier is the source of River Ganges. The legend associated with the descent of Goddess Ganga on Earth is that the deity descended on Earth to wash away the sins of King Bhagirathi's predecessors after he committed severe penance.
Kedarnath of course is known for having one of the 12 most sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The region is also the source of River Mandakini. Scriptures indicate that the five Pandava brothers traveled to Kedarnath to wash away their sins after the conclusion of the battle of Kurukshetra.
Badrinath, the last of the four pilgrimage destinations lies on the banks of River Alaknanda.