Tuesday, August 7

Planning Char Dham Yatra


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Unlike Amarnath or Mansarovar where you need to register yourself for the Yatra, the registration is not required for the Chardham Yatra. It is considered as one of the most strenuous Yatras in India. The breathtaking scenic beauty of Rawaai Ghati is amazing during the journey to Yamunotri.

Yamunotri is the first destination of the Char Dham Yatra located up in a deep cleft on the western face of the Banderpoonch Peak. The enchanting and charming journey to Yamunotri Dham is alongside the River Yamuna itself. There is a temple here represented by a black marble idol which is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. There is a white image of Goddess Ganga here, the other deity.

You can see the Divya Shila, a dark rock from which springs a stream of very hot water just outside the main temple. This holy area is considered to be the origin of the Yamuna. The pilgrims seek blessings here before going to the temple.
Champasar Glacier, near Saptarishi Kund, is about 1 km above the shrine where you need to trek. It is where the source of cold stream of Yamuna located. It is at an altitude of about 14,500 ft above sea level and is accessible through a very difficult terrain; you need to be careful if you wish to go there.  

The miraculous hot waters of the Taptkund is where the Pilgrims take a holy dip. It is located next to the main temple in Yamunotri. The source of the hot water is from the Suryakund nearby. The men and women have separate bathing tanks here. After the holy dip the pilgrims offer puja at the Divya Shila. This is of immense importance, and is done before visiting the main temple. Pilgrims also cook small offering of rice and potatoes in the Suryakund which offered to the deity in the main temple, and returned to the pilgrim as prasad. Pilgrims also carry water from Yamu­notri to offer it to Krishna in their homes during Janmashtami or on other special occasions related to Krishna.

The Yamuna Valley where Yamunotri is located is also known as Rawaai Ghaati. It is absolutely fabulous for its scenic beauty. The roads in the dark mountains are very narrow with recurrent twists. However the view is a surprise around every bend. The River Yamuna runs and flow with huge pace all along the journey. The vegetation all around is abundant but will not restrict the amazing view.

En route to Yamunotri, you will find a very scenic halt, Barkot which is interesting as you will witness here the mountain ranges open up. You will see exotic and exquisite stepped rice fields and red-topped choulai (a variant of spinach) fields seem to be arranged for the pleasure of the visitor.

Yamunotri Temple Timings 6 am-8 pm
Yamunotri Season - The temple opens on Akshay Tritiya (usually May) and closes on Yama Dwitiya, or Bhai Duj, the second day after Diwali
Yamunotri Main Temple Aarti timings 6.30 am and 7.30 pm.

The holy place of Gangotri ignores the rumble of River Bhagirathi and is set located in the middle of craggy mountains and deodar forests at 9,980 ft above sea level. Gangotri is the pious and holy source of one of the holiest rivers in India, the Ganga. Ganga is also known as Bhagirath here. It is named after the ancient king Bhagirath, brought her down from the heavens by performing penance. People have this faith and belief that bathing in Bhagirathi’s waters will bring deliverance from sins com­mit­ted in the present and past births. The actual source of Ganga is the ice cave of Gaumukh.

Gangotri Temple Timings 6.15 am-2 pm, 3-9.30 pm (summer); 6.45 am-2 pm, 3-7 pm (as winter approaches)
Gangotri Season - The temple opens on the day of Akshay Tritiya and closes down on Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Duj 

After Yamunotri and Gangotri the pilgrims go to Kedarnath to offer prayers and to seek blessings. Kedarnath Temple is located at around 11,746 ft above sea level, near the source of another holy River Mandakini. Once you reach Gaurikund in your vehicle you need to trek 14 kms northwards to reach the holy Kedarnath. You have other options to reach there like ponies or palanquins hoisted by four men. The amazing and breathtaking trek to Kedarnath is alongside River Mandakini. The 14 km journey itself is a heartening experience through spectacular waters, stark mountain faces, snow peaks, flowers and floating clouds. 

Kedarnath Temple Timings 6 am-2 pm, 5-8 pm
Kedarnath Season - The opening date of the Kedarnath will depend on Shivaratri (mid-Feb) by the panch purohit (five priests) in Ukhimath and then announced and communi­cated through various agencies. The opening dates usually falls around mid-May. The closing date is, however, fixed and falls on Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Duj. The temples at Yamunotri and Gangotri close on the same day.

The holy Badrinath Temple is located by the banks of the River Alaknanda at an altitude of 10,276 ft above sea level, situated against the background of the Neelkanth Peak, nestled between the Nara and Narayana mountains.

Badrinath Temple Timings 4 am-noon, 3-9 pm
Badrinath Season - The decision to open the Badrinath temple is taken by the Raj Purohit of Tehri Maharaj at the Narendranagar Palace. The day of closure is decided on Vijayadashmi (mid-Oct) by the dharmadhikari of the temple committee in Badrinath.

Where to stay: In Yamunotri - Hotels and Guest Houses in Yamunotri
On the way to Yamunotri and in Yamunotri there are numerous dharamshalas. There is a GMVN Guest House that has 3 dormatories. However you need to book it in advance. Hanuman Mandir Dharamshala run by Rambharose Das famously known as Nepali Baba is very famous. It is believed that he has not stepped out of Yamunotri for more than 40 years now.

The Hanuman Dharamshala has around 30 rooms and the charges range between Rs 500-700 per room. Other good Dharamshala’s include, Kali Kamli Dharamshala (8 rooms), Yamuna Ashram (35 rooms), Ramanand Ashram (8 rooms) and Kalindi Ashram (8 rooms).

Barkot – It is about 32 km before Yamunotri
One of the better GMVN Guest Houses is located in Barkot, Contact detail of this guest house in Barkot is Tel: 01375-224236. It has 17 rooms, four of which are deluxe.

In Sayana Chatti – It is about 13 km before Yamunotri
There are many big and small hotels and guest houses in Sayana Chatti. Some of the hotels include Hotel Kalindi (Tel: 01375-233385). There are around 20 rooms and tariff is between Rs 500 to Rs 1000 in Hotel kalindi Sayana Chatti Yamunotri. There is another good hotel named Hotel Himalaya (Tel: 233321; Tariff: Rs 500 approx). Some other hotels include Deepin Lodge which has 37 rooms. Do not forget to bargain the tariff during off-season. There is a GMVN facility which has 9 rooms.

On the way to Yamunotri there are some other good destinations like Rana Chatti 11 km before Yamunotri and Janki Chatti, 5 km before Yamunotri where you can find some good hotels and guest houses.

 Where to stay: In Gangotri - Hotels and Guest Houses in Gangotri
On the way to Gangotri and in and around Gangotri there are many private hotels and ashrams. There is a GMVN Tourist Rest House in Gangotri,located about 100 m from the Temple, the contact details are Tel: 013772-22221, the Tariff ranges between Rs 400-1,300. Other hotels in Gangotri include The Great Ganga Hotel Gangotri contact details Tel: 22272 and Tariff: Rs 300-600. Other hotels include the best hotel in Gangotri, and Bhagirathi Sadan. You will also find many ashrams are located on the other side of the river, some of which provide accommodation to visitors.

In Bhojbasa and Chirbasa
There is GMVN guest house in Bhojbasa which is 14-km trek east, ahead of Gangotri. You can also get the Tent Accommodation In Chirbasa  which is about 9-km trek east, en route Bhojbasa

Harsil is about 28 km before Gangotri which boasts of a huge army camp. There are many hotels in Harsil, some of them include Leisure Hotels, Hotel Skylark, Hotel Snow  and Hotel Mini Swiss

There is a good hotel at Dharali about 25 km before Gangotri - Hotel Springdales with all the facilities.

Hotel Rishilok at Gangnani 59 km before Gangotri is another good option while traveling to Gangotri.

You will also get good accommodation in good hotels in Uttarkashi about 100 km before Gangotri.
There is Hotel Shivlinga and Bhandari Hotel with good restaurants.

The Kali Kamli Dharamshala is also well maintained and is an economical option with neat and clean rooms..

Where to stay: In Kedarnath 
You have an option to stay at GMVN Tourist Bungalow the contact number is Tel: 01364-263210 and Tariff ranging between Rs 400-1,400. There is a very good rest house maintained and run by the temple committee. There are many other options to stay in Kedarnath as you will find number of private hotels and dharamshalas offering neat and cheap accommodation.

You can also stay in Guptkashi located about 32 km before Kedarnath
Here you will find a GMVN Guptkashi contact details Tel: 01364-267221 and Tariff ranging from Rs 650-800. You have an option to stay in Leisure Hotels’ tents the contact details are Tel: 011-26413304, 26447803; Tariff will depend on your package. Make sure that you bargain on the tariff before finalizing..

You can also stay at Gaurikund 14 km before Kedarnath. Here you have option to stay at the GMVN Gaurikund the contact details of which areTel: 01364-269202 and the Tariff ranging between Rs 600-700. There is a guest house run by temple committee with 9 rooms. Apart from these option there are number of private hotels in Gaurikund. Some of the hotels in Gaurikund near Kedarnath include Devlok Hotel,. Panjab Sindh Awas, Annapurna, Dhariwal Guest and Sunil Lodge near GMVN Gaurikund, also reasonably clean.

Accommodation and hotels in Rudraprayag (90 km before Kedarnath)
You have many options to stay in Rudraprayag. There is GMVN guest house the contact detail of which is Tel: 01364-233347 and the Tariff ranging from Rs 900-1,600. The sangam of Mandakini and Alaknanda is visible from here.  Then there is  Hotel Pinaki of the Radhe­shyam Group, and Monal Resorts in Rudraprayag which are good to stay.

Where to stay In Badrinath

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While in Badrinath you have number of hotels where you can have comfortable stay. Some of the hotels in Badrinath include Narayan Palace contact detail Tel: 01381-222380/ 1 and the Tariff ranges between Rs 2,000-5000. This is one of the best hotels in Badrinath, most luxurious option.

Now there is Park Inn. You have GMVN’s Hotel Devlok contact details Tel: 222212 and Tariff ranging between Rs 350-1,150; dormitory bed at Rs 80). Travellers Lodge in Badrinath, Govind Seva Sadan are some other options to stay in Badrinath

Places to see en route To Kedarnath
Vasuki Tal
Chaukhamba Peak. 
 Ukhimath Guptkashi,

Places to see en route to Badrinath
Baini Tal,
Adi Badri.
Panch Badri. 
Bhavishya Badri Yoga Badri
Adi Badri Vridha Badri 

While in Badrinath
The Mata Murti
Mana Village  

*Please check the updated conatct details and tariffs with the respective hotels or guest houses

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