Chota Char Dham (literally mean – small “four houses”) – four sacred places of power in the Himalayas – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. All four shrines are located in Garhwal district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal). Routes to places of power are open from may to October, usually Rishikesh and Haridwar are the point of departure for pilgrims.

Yamunotri

Located at an altitude of 3300 meters above sea level, the Shrine is considered the habitat of the goddess Yamuna. Yamuna, like the Ganges, was elevated to the status of divine mother to the Hindus and was responsible for the education and development of Indian civilization. The modern temple dedicated to the goddess, built recently, and the previous ones were destroyed by bad weather and the elements. Nearby there are hot springs, the most popular of them – Surya Kund.

Gangotri – the source of the sacred Ganges

It is a city on the banks of the Bhagirathi river at an altitude of 3100 meters. According to legend, it was here that the Goddess Ganga descended from heaven when Lord Shiva released a mighty river from his hair. Nearby is a waterfall, which is also called Surya Kund. The source of the Ganges is 19 km from Gangotri, in the town of Gomukh, can only be reached on foot.

Дорога из Ганготри в Гомукх

Kedarnath and Shiva temple

Located in the snowy peaks of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level, the Shrine has many legends associated with it. The Indian epic Mahabharata describes that the Pandavas built a temple of Shiva here, which was later reconstructed by Adi Shankracharya. The temple was named Kedarnath Mandir and it is the most important of the twelve temples in the world, which are jyotirlingams – self-manifested lingams.

According to the Shiva Puranas, pilgrims who drink Kedarnath water after they have offered prayers to Lord Shiva are saved. Thus, Kedarnath has a high religious importance in Hindu mythology.

Besides the religious significance, the place has a high spiritual energy. For centuries, yogis and mystics have practiced their sadhana here. The journey to Kedarnath is complemented by scenic views of nature: the entire route passes through numerous mountain trails, ravines, thermal springs and all this is complemented by the beauty of the fabulous Himalayan peaks in the background.

Badrinath

For the first time the Shrine is mentioned in the Vedas, later described in the Puranas and other sacred texts. The temple at Badrinath is dedicated to Vishnu and is one of the holiest Hindu temples. In addition to being part of the small Chota Char Dham, Badrinath is also one of the houses in the main Char Dham, so of all the four Himalayan shrines, the largest number of pilgrims flock here.

A trip to Badrinath is not only a spiritual journey, but also an amazingly beautiful nature, so it is very popular among believers and ordinary travelers.