In the folds of the snow-covered reaches of the lofty Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand are located the sacred Hindu shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. They together form the Char Dham or the Four Holy Shrines. The region is referred as the land of the gods in the ancient Puranas. Scores of pilgrims visit the shrines by trekking arduously along the mountain paths, all for a communion with the divine.
Over the centuries, these sites have been described in sacred scriptures as the very places where devotees could earn the merits of all the pilgrimages put together. Subsequently, temples were built at these sanctified sties for all and sundry.
Each of the four holy shrines of the Char Dham is located at a height above 3,000 m above sea level. The four temples in a geographical context form two distinct groups, that of Badrinath-Kedarnath and Gangotri-Yamunotri, with the common starting point at Rishikesh.
Badrinath-Kedarnath lie towards the northeast of Rishikesh. Gangotri and Yamunotri are up north from Rishikesh. Of these sites, Badrinath and Gangotri are directly accessible by road while Kedarnath is reached by road followed by a short trek of 15 km from the Gaurikund road head. Yamunotri is a 13-km trek from Hanuman Chatti.
Best Time and Clothing
The best time to go on the Char-Dham Yatra is summers (April to June), when the weather is clear in the hills with stress-reliving temperature. Pack light woolen as well as cotton clothes to face various temperature cycles in the way. Drink a lot of water to face altitude sickness and bring with yourself some good pair of canvass shoes with strong grip, as you might need to trek at some places.