- Char Dham is a set of four pilgrimage sites in India. It is believed that visiting these sites helps achieve moksha. The four Dhams are Badrinath, Dwarka, puri and Rameshwaram. It is believed that every Hindu should visit the Char Dhams during one’s lifetime.
The Char Dham as defined by Adi Sankaracharya consists of four Hindu pilgrimage sites. These main ‘dhamas’ are the shrines of Lord Vishnu and Rameshwaram is a shrine of lord Shiva. All the ‘dhamas’ are related to four epochs,
(1) Dham of Satyuga- Badrinath, Uttarakhand
(2) Dham of Tretayuga -Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
(3) Dham of Dwaparayuga – Dvaraka, Gujarat
(4) Dham of Kaliyuga – Jagannatha Puri, Odisha.
Chhota Chardham Destinations
Another circuit of four ancient pilgrimage sites in the Indian state of Uttarakhand viz. Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath is referred to as Chota Char Dham to differentiate it from this bigger circuit of Char Dham sites. The Chota Char Dham shrines are closed in winter due to snowfall and reopen for pilgrims with the advent of summer
Yamunotri, also Jamnotri, 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 150 kilometers (93 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.
Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is 99 km from Uttarkashi, the main district headquarter. It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi – the origin of the river Ganges.
Kedarnath Temple (‘temple of the God of the field’) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple is located in the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand, India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between April (Akshaya Tritiya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the full autumn moon). During the winters, the vigraha (deity) of the temple is carried down to Ukhimath to be worshipped for the next six months. Kedarnath is seen as a homogenous form of Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedarkhand’, the region’s historical name
Badrinath or Badrinarayana Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu that is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, India. The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu – holy shrines for Vaishnavas – who is worshipped as Badrinath. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India, having recorded 2.8 million (28 lakh) visits in just 2 months in 2022
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. The main deity is Shri Krishna, celebrated as Lord Jagannatha.
The main temple here is about 1000 years old and constructed by Raja Choda Ganga Deva and Raja Tritiya Ananga Bhima Deva. Puri is the site of the Govardhana Matha, one of the four cardinal institutions or Mathas converted by Adi Shankaracharya.
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. According to legends, this is the place where Lord Ram along with his brother Laxman and devotee Hanuman built a bridge (Rama Setu) to reach Sri Lanka to rescue his wife Sita who had been abducted earlier by Ravan, the ruler of Sri Lanka. Rameswaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram.
Dwarka located in the west is in the state of Gujarat, country India. The city 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. However, this river Gomti is not the same Gomti River which is a tributary of Ganga River The city lies in the westernmost part of India. The legendary city of Dvārakā was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna. It is generally believed that due to damage and destruction by the sea, Dvārakā had submerged six times and modern day Dwarka is the 7th such city to be built in the area.
Badrinath is located in the state of Uttarakhand. It is in the Garhwal hills, 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). There are other interesting sightseeing spots like Mana, Vyas Gufa, Maatamoorti, Charanpaduka, Bhimkund and the Mukh of the Saraswati River, within 3 km of Badrinathjee. Joshimath is situated on the slopes above the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. Of the four Maths established by Adi Shankaracharya, Joshimath is the winter seat of Chardham.