Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey

Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

You think of Uttarakhand and it instantly brings to mind the pictures of snow capped mountains, clouds flying over valleys, rolling meadows, pine forests, pristine rivers and their confluences, and of course wandering ascetics. Due to its geographic specialty and spiritual significance, this state is a haven for pilgrimage and eco-tourism.

Travelling to the 4 religious hubs in the lap of Himalayas – Yamunotri (origin of river Yamuna), Gangotri (origin of river Ganga), Kedarnath (shrine of Lord Shiva) and Badrinath (shrine of Lord Vishnu) is popularly called Char Dham yatra. This much celebrated circuit open from May to November draws Indian and foreign tourists to undertake pilgrimage and witness Himalayan splendor.

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Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

There seem to be a million question marks hovering around the much revered Char Dham Yatra to be undertaken in the state of Uttarakhand. It is overwhelming to plan everything all by yourself and is much easier to outsource it to some travel agency by following their charted itinerary. However, its always better to explore your options when it comes to the Char Dham Yatra.

Here is the ideal 10 day itinerary of the most beautiful Char Dham Yatra in India

Day 1. Arrival | Haridwar to Barkot

Get picked up from the available pickup location in Haridwar and transfer to Barkot in a traveler/bus.

● Meanwhile in the journey, relish the beautiful view which is

peaceful for the mind.

● On reaching Barkot, explore the small pilgrim town situated at the

banks of the Yamuna river.

● Get transferred to the hotel and fulfill check-in formalities.

● Have dinner at the hotel and retire for the day.

Day 2. Barkot - Janki Chatti - Yamunotri

Rise and get ready to be served with divinity. A 6 km trek to Yamunotri temple is steep and challenging. The trail is a unevenly paved often slippery due to the narrow water streams running across the path from the mountain. There are numerous pony and palki services available at very competitive prices if you bargain. It shouldn't cost more than a 1000 bucks per person on a pony to and fro Yanunotri Temple. In the months of April & May it may even be as high as 5000 pp depending upon the availability another reason to plan your trip near fag end of the Yatra season. the Itinerary goes as follows:

● Have breakfast at the hotel and start the day.

● Drive to Yamunotri Dham the second most holy river of India from where

the River Yamuna, takes birth.

● Reach Janki Chatti, the point from where the 5km trek starts, you

can opt for walk, pony or palki.

● Before starting the trek, take a bath in Jamnabai Kund. It is

believed that the water cleanses all sins and protects from an untimely

and painful death.

● On reaching the temple, bow the heads down to praise the mother Yamuna.

The idol of Ganga Devi is housed in the revered temple.

● Visit Surya Kund, a hot spring near the temple. Boil some rice and potatoes

in the kund and accept it as a Prasad of the Devi.

● Trek down to Janki Chatti and later drive back to Barkot for an overnight


● Have dinner at the hotel to end the day & take a good nights sleep

Day 3. Barkot to Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi is arranged on the banks of the river Bhagirathi at an elevation of 1352 m above sea level. Uttarkashi is home to various ashrams and sanctuaries furthermore to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. Uttarkashi (uki) implies the Kashi of North and is otherwise called Somya Kashi. Uttarkashi is an extremely religious spot for tourism. It has likewise ended up popular among brave individuals because of the extent of different bold exercises. Uttarkashi town is additionally called as Shivnagri.

● Today drive towards Uttarkashi, the holy town situated along the

banks of river Bhagirathi and is one of the district capitals of


● On arrival check in to the hotel & freshen up for local sightseeing.

● Visit Vishwanath temple situated in the heart of the town.

● It is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Northern India.

Re-constructed in 1857 by Maharani Khaneti Devi of Tehri State in

the ancient architectural style.

● Followed by, Shakti Temple is famous for its big Trishul of about 6

meters in height and a circumference of 90 cm.

● As per the epics, this Shakti was thrown on the devils by the

Goddess Durga.

● Return to the hotel to have dinner.

Day 4. Gangotri Temple

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Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

Gangotri is located at an altitude of 3100 meters(MSL), on the banks of Bhagirathi river. The white colored granite ,20 feet height exquisite temple houses Ganga Devi's idol, Goddess Yamuna and Lakshmi. BhagirathShila, where King Bhagirath is believed to have performed his famed saadhna to bring Ganga from heaven to earth, is located within the compound.

● Early morning, post breakfast drive to Gangotri via Gangnani.

● Take a holy dip in Garam Kund at Gangnani.

● Drive further to Gangotri via the beautiful Harshil valley, famous for

its natural beauty and the majestic view of the Deodar trees and


● On arrival at Shree Gangotri, take a holy dip in the sacred river

Ganges which is also called at its origin.

● On arrival at Gangotri Dham, worship Goddess Ganga, who is said

to have descended on earth to absolve the sins of humankind.

● After the Aarti, soak the beauty of the place & relax while

witnessing the greenery around you.

● Later drive back to Uttarkashi and enjoy dinner along with an

overnight stay.

Day 5. Guptkashi

Wake up early and get transferred to Guptkashi after breakfast. Throughout the journey, you will have a view of Garhwal Himalayan peaks, terraced fields and meadows located on the mountain tops. Visit the temple at Guptkashi and get your bio-metric registration and verification done at GMVN office for the next days trek to Kedarnath.

● Get a mesmerizing view of Ganga all across the journey.

● See the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river at


● The lunch stop is at Srinagar (on your own) which is the best

place in the Garhwal region. Afterward, there is no such facility

to have food, so make sure to keep all essentials from here only.

● Have a view of Rudraprayag and Ukhimath on the journey.

● On reaching Guptkashi, get transferred to the hotel.

● Visit ArdhNarishwar Temple (if time permits).

● Enjoy dinner at the hotel and retire for the day.

Day 6. Kedarnath

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Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

Kedarnath can be accessed by Helicopter which is available from Agastyamuni or Phata, foot, mule, palki or kandi. Those who visit Kedarnath by Helicopter are on the mercy of several causes like – bad weather conditions, technical reasons, VVIPS visits etc. It takes maximum 15 minutes from Phata to reach kedarnath. Those 15 minutes were the most memorable ones of the entire journey. The chopper literally goes past the clouds traversing between the mountains providing mesmerizing view of the Kedar valley and the accompanying Mandakini river. Within a span of 15 minutes, the elevation increases by roughly 2000 mt and inversely the temperature drops by at least 10 degrees Celsius.

The evening view of the temple is enchanting as the kedar dome behind the temple glittered like gold under the last light of the day. The evening aarti is magical enough to make an atheist believe in god. The place will go below the freezing point as the night starts to creep in. Make sure you are well clothed.

● Have breakfast at the hotel in Guptkashi and get transferred to

Gaurikund from where the hike to temple will start.

● Gauri Kund is a characteristic pool with warm water known for

relieving skin maladies. It is the place where Lord Shiva finally

admitted his love for Lord Gauri.

● Leave early to take part in evening aarti at Kedarnath temple

● Have breakfast at the hotel and start the trek to the Kedarnath temple

from Gauri kund. It’s a journey of about 17kms.

● One can take ponies or palanquins for the journey to make it slightly

on a comfortable side.

● Have lunch stoppage in between at various food joints & Maggie points.

● The journey will surely be worthwhile after reaching the Kedarnath


● On reaching the temple, hail the almighty Lord Shiva.

● Indulged in evening aarti at Kedarnath, when the whole valley is filled

with the sound of ringing bells and prayers will provide relief to the


● After the temple visit, stay overnight in the hotel at Guptkashi.

Day 7. Pipalkoti

Early morning, after having your breakfast, check - out from your


● Get set for your mesmerizing journey to Pipalkoti.

● Enjoy the scenic view amidst the journey.

● Reach Pipalkoti and complete the check - in process.

● Go for local sightseeing (only if time permits)

Day 8. Badrinath

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Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

Predominantly a religious place, Badrinath is perched atop 10,800 ft on the banks of the Alaknanda River, flanked by the mystifying Garhwal Himalayas. Lakhs of tourist visit this town every year to get a glimpse of the popular Shri Badrinathji Temple and seek blessings here. The pilgrimage road to the temple is open from May to September. The journey passes through lofty terrain curves, cliff and waterfalls, and landslides seem to be common in this area. Traces of loose boulders on the ground, pulverized rocks, viscous stones, parked as well as working bull dozers say lot about the frequently occurring hill disturbances and efforts taken to clear the debris for passing of vehicles.

● Get a mesmerizing view of Ganga all across the journey.

● Firstly, hit the Mana village for local sightseeing and then head

towards the Badrinath Temple.

● On reaching Badrinath Temple, explore the pilgrim town on

the holy confluence of the river Alaknanda and Mandakini.

● Get transferred back to the hotel & check-in.

● Dinner at the hotel

Day 9. Pipalkoti to Rishikesh

Akash Choudhary

Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

Sightseeing at Rishikesh.

Rishikesh is unarguably the yoga capital, of not only India but the world. It is one city in the world where multiple yoga ashrams exist in every corner and alley. The home of ancient yogis, sages and seers, Rishikesh has been spearheading the development and spread of yoga throughout the world. People from as far as South America, and from as close as Nepal, visit Rishikesh during International Yoga Festival to learn this art form.

This day is entirely for transit except for the Ganga aarti at Triveni ghat. It is a blissful evening to watch the vintage Laxman Jhula all lit.

Day 10. Haridwar

Saurabh Mishra

Photo of Char Dham Yatra: Everything You Need to Know About India's Holiest Pilgrimage Journey by Sakshi Nahar Dhariwal

Sightseeing at Haridwar

An ancient holy town and the starting point for pilgrimages to the Kedarnath Temple and the Badrinath Temple, Haridwar is the first recipient of the mighty rapid and revered Ganges, originating from the Gangotri Glacier. Its vast mythological background, beautiful temples (Shanti Kunj Gayatri Parivar), spectacular festival celebrations and the world famous Kumbh Mela (hosted every 12 years) make it a popular destination to be visited from around the world.

This day is for leisure exploring nearby temples and other religious place in Haridwar. Take the cable car to Mansa Mata and Chandi Mata mandir located on two different hills opposite to each other separated by the river, Ganga. After witnessing the famous Ganga aarti at Har ki Pauri in the evening, you can end your day with some delicious local food.

So, if you're planning a char dham yatra for yourself or your parents anytime soon, I am sure this itinerary will come to your rescue. This is one pilgrimage everyone wishes to and should do at least once in their lifetime. To see the presence of god and the greater power in the midst of snowcapped mountains and mysterious stories revolving around the existence of all the ancient temples, Char Dham Yatra will blow your mind with awe and beauty.

Here is a the ultimate list of 45 places to visit in Uttarakhand. Have you ever been to Uttarakhand? Or did the Char dham Yatra before? How was your experience? Write down in the comments below.

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