Char Dham of India

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Char Dham of IndiaChar Dham can refer to the ancient pilgrimage sites in Garhwal Himalayas strung together in a single pilgrimage course. These are Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath & Kedarnath. The term Chardham can also allude to the larger all India Char Dham journey initiated by Guru Shankaracharya in the eighth century. The recent surge in interest about the Himalayan Char Dham or Chota Char Dham, terms employed to differentiate it from the larger all India religious circuit, causes slight confusion among the novice about which is which. This article of ours intends to give you sufficient information about the Char Dham of India as opposed to the smaller one nestled in the Himalayas.

Adi Shankara is credited with his highly successful efforts at enjoining the warring and conflicting streams in Hinduism under his Advaita School. This highly acclaimed Hindu theologian, saint, and the philosopher must have sought the induction of a sort of an archetypal Indian pilgrimage, the first of its kind, in wishing to consolidate such disjointed sites from the cardinal points of the Indian peninsula as part of Char Dham. Char Dham literally translates to four dwellings, Chardham acts as an allusion to them being the four abodes of Divinity. The four monastic institutions, on each of which Shankaracharya built adjacent to the chosen sacred shrine, came to be known together as the Chardham school of Hinduism.

After a brief but informative glimpse into the historical background of All India Chardham, let us now move towards an individualistic exploration of each of the sites.

All India Chardham

Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand:

Badrinath Temple is the only temple in the conglomerate that is part of the other Char Dham, the shorter one strewn across Garhwal Himalayas. The temple’s legend suggests that Maa Lakshmi incarnated as a fecund Badri tree to protect her meditating consort from the extremities of its weather. The site no longer has any traces of any Badri tree, of which the region was rife within the bygone era. Badrinath is situated in between the peaks of Na, Narayan, and Neelkanth. It is said that the construction of the present edifice of the temple and installation of its beautiful black statue was done by Lord Shankaracharya himself. The temple thus also houses the statue of its founder Guru in his honour. Badrinath forms the northernmost point in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. Quite adjacent to it is located the fourth Dham of Badrikashram.

A trip that covers the entirety of all of these cardinal pilgrimage sites is bound to let the pilgrim aware of the diversities that constitute the essence of India. This must have been the primary intent behind Adi Shankaracharya’s inception of the tour. Also, the fact that this trip continues to be revered throughout the ages by pilgrims also speaks volumes about its spiritual efficacy in evoking the Divine in one’s material life. If the idea of embarking on this All India tour speaks to your heart, you can count us as your most reliable travel partner committed to ensuring your trip does truly bring you closer to God.

Dwarkadhish Temple, Dwarka:

Dwaraka houses another famous shrine of Lord Krishna. The city in itself is famous for it being Lord Krishna’s dwelling place in the Dwapara Yuga. The subsequent culmination of the Yuga saw it being submerged under the ocean. In fact, it is rumored that the city has been through six such cycles of destruction and reconstruction. The construction of Dwarakadheesh temple is attributed to Vajranabha, Sri Krishna’s grandson. This is not supported by any historical references though. Devotees believe that visit to Dwarkadhish temple can act as the catalyst towards one’s journey towards nirvana, thus earning it the nickname of ‘Moksha Puri. The skyline of Dwaraka looks embellished by the stupendous height at which the temple stands, this five-storied temple draws its inspiration from the Chalukya architectural style. An interesting fact that is unique about the rituals practiced here is that the deity is adorned in a different color for every day of the week.

Jagannath Temple, Puri:

The monumental temple standing at a stupendous height of 58 m houses Lord Krishna along with his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra.  The eastern Indian state of Odisha takes pride in its beautiful temple city of Puri. Adi Shankaracharya chose this abode of Shri Krishna to found his Govardhana Matha. Rarely does one come across anybody familiar with Indian heritage who has not even heard of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra. This annual Rath Yatra was first celebrated to commemorate the successful construction of the temple by the then ruling dynasty. This temple of more than 1000 years old is the only holy shrine where Krishna’s sister Subhadra is worshipped. Pilgrims to Puri do not consider their pilgrimage successful if they fail to dip in the holy waters of Panch Tirtha. As the name suggests, there are five bathing spots considered sacred in Puri which are the Markandeya Tank, the Rohini Kunda, the Indradyumna Tank, the Swetaganga Tank and the ocean Bay of Bengal herself as “Mahabodhi’!

Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu:

This quaint seashore village situated in the Southern strip of Indian Peninsula worships Lord Shiva as Lord Ramnath Swamy in its famous jyotirlinga. It is a popular conception that a visit to the famous Varanasi remains incomplete unless one supplements it with worshipping at Rameswaram. Legend has it that this temple was consecrated by Lord Vishnu himself in one of his human avatars as Lord Rama. The story goes that Sri Ram reached this site in search of his abducted wife Sita. Since she was held captive by the ruler of Lanka Ravana, he set out to build a bridge across the ocean to enable the passage of his cavalry consisting of vanaras. Before the gigantic task was begun, he sought the blessings of Lord Shiva himself here.

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