The Char Dham Yatra - a journey through Badrinath, Rameshwaram, Dwarka, Puri - proclaims charm like no other! What Mecca is to Islam practitioners, the Char Dham Yatra is to Hindu practitioners. To embark on this incredible journey at least once within one's lifetime is considered to be of high merit.
Often confused with the Chota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand which has gained exceeding popularity in modern history, the original Char Dham Yatra is spread all across India. Char Dham literally means four seats and are located in four corners of India - Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West, and Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East. It's called yatra (journey) for a reason. The beauty and challenges of visiting these temples lies mostly in the journey rather than the destination itself. They say your merit increases with the increase in difficulty of your journey. Travel by foot and your chances of the Lord noticing you are greater! However, with passing time, facilities have opened gates to the inner alleys of God's residence with ease. And you can escape this sacred journey blaming anything but yourself!
Char Dham Yatra
It is widely believed that Sankracharya established the journey to the char dhams. With 3 vaishnavite and 1 shaivite abodes, the Char Dham Yatra traditionally starts in Puri and continues in clockwise direction.
Also called Badrinarayana, Lord Vishnu is self-manifested in the form of idol at Badrinath, Uttarakhand. This holy abode is part of both the original char dham yatra and the small scale chota char dham yatra. Usually open only from April to November every year due to harsh weather conditions, Badrinath is considered one of the holiest of Hindu pilgrim spots.
The Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram is reputed to have the longest corridor among Hindu temples all over India. With corridors at the length of 3850 feet and 1212 pillars in the outer corridor, the temple is beautiful. The extensions of the temple were made mostly during the Pandya rule. Being a holy abode of the shivling, this place is also one of the 12 jyortirlinga temples.
Believed to be 2,500 years old, the Dwarkadeesh temple is situated in the town of Dwarka in Gujarat. Dwarkadeesh literally means Dwarka's first lord. The temple was built in memory of the city ruled by Lord Krishna himself that was submerged in water after the great war of Mahabharata.
The temple sanctum is held together by 72 pillars and is called Jagat Mandir. The north entrance is called "moksha dwara" - the door to salvation and the south entrance is called "swarga dwara" - the door to heaven.
The Jagannath temple at Puri, Odisha is famous for its annual Rath Yatra or Car festival. Festivities beckon this coastal region all round the year. An important pilgrim centre for the Hindus, there's a Sudarshan Chakra in the temple that is offered special prayers. A platform made of jewels called ratnavedi holds the three main idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The Char Dham yatra is traditionally begun here.