Uttarakhand, the dev-bhumi (land of god) perhaps draws the largest chunk of pilgrims in India. Blessed with lofty mountains, green hills and gushing rivers, Uttarakhand has a divine charm and out of the innumerable pilgrimage sights of the Hindus strewn all over the state the Chardham is the most sought after circuit. Char Dham in general refers to the four Hindu religious sites in Uttarakhand that covers Yamunotri Temple, Gangotri Temple, Badrinath Temple and Kedarnath Temple in one go. Needless to mention that the panoramic landscapes stemming from the majestic Himalayas proves a godly presence and the tranquility of the valley at its foothills is undoubtedly an ideal location for meditating both religion and nature. The pilgrimage covering these four special spots is called the Chardham yatra which is traditionally is undertaken from Yamunotri in the west to Badrinath in the east.
The eternal bliss of the mountains no wonder heal one from his soul’s burden and the religious significance of these four spots makes the human quest for salvation a wonderful experience altogether. The popularity of the place each year brings lakhs of devotees not only for the length and breadth of the country but from all over the world and in the first place the hustle bustle in all the dhams do not go with the concept of serenity and meditation. But, the probably the charm of a pilgrimage lies in sharing the journey. Thus, the whole process takes the shape of a great Indian festival. The only difference is that we find god in the end. And most of the pilgrims even find the true meaning of life during this holy journey.
The tranquility of the valley is often rippled by the holy chants laced with ghastly wind and clinking bells and when they come back reverberating through the verdant valley and snow capped mountains it touches one’s soul. Besides, nothing feels holier than the nature itself. Discovering nature in its purest form is in itself an achievement. The Mighty Ganges flowing past this blessed land is indeed the epitome of God’s graces and they say a dip in the Ganges can magically rub off one of his sins. No wonder, the Gangotri dham named after the Goddess Ganga is the ideal spot for seeking salvation. Similarly, Yamunotri named after another holy river Yamuna is another Hindu pilgrimage site. On the other hand, people climb up to Kedarnath in order to find Lord Shiva in his abode while Badrinath is believed to be the dwelling of Lord Vishnu.
The ideal time to go searching for peace and god at the Himalayas is from May to October. Although, the pilgrims never mind the physical tribulations but most of the time they avoid monsoons due to road blockages and landslides. Heavy snowfall season is also avoided because the roads become inaccessible due to snow. Interestingly, during these difficult seasons, the idols are shifted to nearby pilgrim points in order to continue the holy visits. One can also visit one single spot and skip the rest but if time permits it is advisable to complete the whole circuit because each one of them has its own charm and significance.