CHar Dham Yatra
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Badrinath
Badrinath is situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth peak (6,597mts.) in the background. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute to

Lord Vishnu
It is believed that to revive the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite the country in one bond, Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four pilgrimage centres in four corners of India. Among them were Badrikashram (Badrinath temple) in the north, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. Badrinath situated at an elevation of 3,133 mts. is considered to be amongst the most pious.

The revered spot was once carpeted with wild berries which gave it the name 'Badri Van' meaning 'forest of berries.' Built by Adi Shankaracharaya, the philosopher-saint of the 8th century, the temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches and restored in the 19th century by the royal houses of Scindia & Holkar. The main entrance gate is colourful & imposing popularly known as Singhdwar.

Kedarnath
Kedarnath is the seat of Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve "Jyotirlingas"of Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m at the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath Temple is amongst the holiest pilgrimage for the Hindus. It is no wonder that Adi Guru Shankaracharya - a great scholar & saint, chose to enshrine Lord Shiva in this land, where the unholy becomes oly and the holy becomes holier. Kedar meaning powerful is another name of Lord Shiva the protector and the destroyer. Situated in the backdrop of the majestic Sri Kedarnath range, Kedarnath Temple is a 14 km trek from Gaurikund.

At Kedarnath there are several Kunds (pools, tanks) that are known for their religious significans - shivkund, Retkund, hanskund, Udakkund, Rudhirkund are the most important. A little away from Kedarnath is a temple dedicated to Bhaironathji who is ceremoniously worshipped at the opening & closing of Kedarnath. The belief is that Bhairavnathji protects this land from evil during the time when temple of Kedarnath is closed. There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli district itself, the most important one is Sri Kedarnath.

During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow & hence is closed. Fortunate are those who have good weather, but twice blessed are those who are at Kedarnath on a moonlit night- the snow peak gleams like hundred silver pinnacles atop the glittering mountains.

The holiest of Shiva's shrines is linked to Gold among base metals so that every pilgrims finds peace here, and it is said that devotees who die here become one with Shiva himself. Beyond the temple is the highway to heaven, called Mahapanth.

Gangotri
The revered shrine of Gangotri, situated at an altitude of 3,200 mts. about sea-level amidst sylvan surroundings, constitutes one of the most important pilgrimages for the devout Hindu.

The temple was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander Amar Sigh Thapa. The existing temple is said to be the one reconstructed by the Jaipur dynasty. Every year thousands of pilgrims through the sacred shrine between May & October. The Pujaris & brahmins are from the village of Mukhwa. The water from Gangotri is carried to offer to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this water has amrit (nectar) in it and will soothe the throat of Shiva who gulp the poison.

Yamunotri
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 goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Jankichatti (7 km. Away)The actual source a frozen lake of ice & glacier (Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri Glacier) located on the Kalind mountain at the height of 4421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible and hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer pooja at the temple itself.

The temple of Yamuna is on the left bank of Yamuna constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna like Ganga has been elavated to the status of 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. Suryakund is the most important Kund. Near the Suryakund there is a shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs, tied in muslin cloth. Rice so cooked is taken back home as prasadam.The pujaris of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsali near Jankichatti. They are the administrators of the sacred place and perform religious rites well versed in Shastras.

Panch Badri
All as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu reveres the five Badris. Badrinath is devoted to the worship of Vishnu who, according to an amusing tale, Usurped this place from Shiva. For Vishnu had come here as the gods once did, to offer penance. He loved the place so much that he plotted to unseat Shiva from his meditation here. He took on the form of a beautiful child and began to wail. Shiva's wife, Parvati picked him up but could not calm the child.

Since his wailing continued to disturb Shiva, he shifted to Kedamath in exasperation, leaving the spot free for Vishnu to occupy. But remainders of Shiva's stay continue to linger, most visibly in the name, badri, a kind of berry that Shiva was most fond of, and the gigantic tree, invisible to the mortal eye, that served Shiva. Considered one of the Char-Dham or four principal places of Hindu worship, Badrinath's four subsidiary badris include Bhavishya Badri, Yogdhyan Badri,Vridht Badri, and Adi Badri.

Panch Kedar
Panch Kedar refers to the five temples of Lord Shiva popularly known as Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar. Panch Kedar is one the most difficult pilgrimages in India as routes are difficult to trek with few lodges and eating places.
* Kedarnath
* Madhmaheshwar
* Tungnath
* Rudranath
* Kalpeshwar

Hemkund Sahib
The high altitude Lokpal lake, known as Hemkund ( 4329 mts.) lies in heavenly environs. A steep trek from Ghangharia leads one to this spot in about four to six hours.

It is an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Sikhs, as well as for people from other faiths. There is a Sikh Gurudwara and a Lakshman temple built on the bank of the lake.

Encircled by seven snow clad peaks and their associated glaciers, it reflects its surroundings enchantingly on its crystal clear serene waters. The glaciers from Hathi Parvat and Saptrishi peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out of this lake.

As alluded to, in the holy Granth Sahib, Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikh faith had meditated on the bank of this lake in one of his earlier births. It is widely believed among Sikhs that Guru Govind Singh introduced the features now universally associated with Sikhism. On 15th April 1699, he started the new brotherhood called the Khalsa (meaning the pure, from the Persian word 'Khales') an inner core of the faithful, accepted by baptism (amrit).

Valley of Flowers
"High in the Himalayan ranges of Garhwal hills of Uttaranchal lies an enchanted valley. Here flowerful pastures with clear running streams are set against silver birches and shining snow peakf. Dew lies thick on the flowers,birds sing in the surrounding forest and the air is pure and charged with floral smells. Hidden from the probing eyes of civilisation, this valley had been known to the inhabitants as the Bhyundar Valley, the playground of fairies and nymphs.

Trespassing their celestial abode was avoided although shepherds did take the liberty to graze their cattle here. Legends associate this valley with the area from where Hanumanji of Ramayana collected. 'Sanjeevani' herbs to revive Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama. Hanuman had to visit far-flung areas in his search for the life-saving herbs, some named after him."

The Valley was introduced to the world as the Valley of Flowers by Frank S, Smith - mountaineer, explorer, botanist who camped here for several weeks in the monsoon of 1937 and did valuable exploratory work. He authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.

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