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History of Chota Chardham in Uttarakhand

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Chardham of Uttarakhand

Termed as one of the best spiritual tours among Hindus, Chota Chardham Yatra of Uttarakhand incorporates the shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. All the shrines are nestled in the imposing Garhwal Himalayas. Yamunotri and Gangotri are the sites of Goddess Shakti, while Kedarnath and Badrinath belong to Shaiva and Vaishnavasites respectively. There is a long and affluent history added to all the four shrines. Let’s know the brief history of all four shrines in Chota Chardham Yatra…

The History of Badrinath

Badrinath Temple

Photo: Vijendra Trighatia, Flickr

Positioned at an elevation of 3133 meters from sea level, Badrinath shrine is set right at the shore of Alaknanda River. This shrine was established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya in 8th century to offer new life and energy to Hinduism. As per the mythos, it was the first residence of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Later on, Lord Vishnu made Badrinath as his own abode.

What are the legends behind Badrinath?

  • Padam Puran mentions that Lord Vishnu carried out rigorous penance at this place for numerous years. The incarnation of Nar and Narayana as human, and Goddess Lakshmi (his wife) saved him from rain and sun to be transformed in bushes of berry. Hence, because of Badri (Berry) that made this region famous as Badri Vishal. Vishnu is the nath (lord) of Lakshmi, thus, this place became popular as Badrinath.
  • Mythology also links Badrinath with Mahabharata. It is said that after the battle of Mahabharata, Pandavas and Draupadi revered this place as an ascending hills to heaven.
  • Located at a distance of kilometers from this shrine, is a cave in Mana Village where Sage Veda Vyasa wrote the great epic Mahabharata, say legends.

The History of Kedarnath:

Kedarnath Temple

Photo: Rahul Verma, Flickr

Set at the bank of sacred Mandakini River, Kedarnath Temple is one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. In Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, this shrine remains open between the Akshay Tritiya to Kartik Purnima. Devotees pay homage to Lord Shiva as the Lord of Kedar Khand, which was once the name of this region. It is said that this structure was edified by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century.

Legend behind Kedarnath

As per the legends, after the battle of Mahabharata, Pandava arrived to Guptkashi in the region of Kedar Khand in order to get the blessings of Lord Shiva and to wash away their sins of killing their own relatives. However, Lord Shiva did not want appeared in front of them and thus he transformed himself into a bull and hide himself in group of cattle and started grazing. Bhima identified him. While the cattle was returning to their habitats, Bhima stood by stretching leg over two boulders and made allow cattle to pass under his legs. Lord Shiva tried to escape and started merging himself in to the earth. Only the hump was caught by Bhima. On this, Lord Shiva became happy and appeared in front of Pandavas. Therefore, the hump of bull is revered at Kedarnath.

The History of Gangotri

Gangotri Temple

Photo: Flickr

The consecrated shrine is dedicated to holy Ganges. It is believed that the river washes all the sins and makes the souls of devotees pious. It is the way to salvation. This shrine is primarily known as the originating point of Ganges River. It is the place where Lord Shiva took Ganges in his hair curls. Gaumukh is the place where the Ganges is emerged from Gangotri Glacier.

Legend behind Gangotri

On Bhagirath Shila, which is positioned near temple, it is said that King Bhagirath performed penance to please Goddess Ganga and make her agree to come on earth from heaven. To reduce the shattering pace of Ganges while it was coming to earth, Lord Shiva took the stream in His matted hair. There is a submerged Shivlinga where it is said that Lord Shiva sat to receive the stream.

The history of Yamunotri

Yamunotri Temple

Photo: Vivek Mazumdar, Flickr

Yamunotri is the source of sacred Yamuna River. It is positioned in Uttarkashi District and lies at the elevation of about 3293 meters. It is famous for thermal springs found there. The actual source of the river is a frozen lake and glacier positioned at the Kalin Mountain at an elevation about of 4421 meters. The shrine is termed highly consecrated and it is said that the sins of the devotee wash away through visiting this shrine. There is a trek incorporated to reach this place.

Legend behind Yamunotri

The legends say that that the sage Asit Muni used to reside here. He bathed daily all his life in Yamuna and Ganga. In his old age, he was unable to go Gangotri and thus for him, a stream of Ganga appeared opposite the stream of Yamunotri. The daughter of Sun God, Yamuna is believed to be the mother of humans, offering them the nourishment. Tehri Naresh Sudarshan Shah built the Yamunotri Temple in 1839. However, the temple was damaged severely due to an earthquake and Maharani Gularia of Jaipur reconstructed this temple in late 19th century. The Surya Kund, which is a hot water spring situated near Divyashila, was presented by God Surya to his daughter. Pilgrims take sacred bath in Taptakund and cook potato and rice in Suryakund as well.

Pay a visit to Chota Chardham and get your soul drenched in spirituality and calmness.

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Having an experience of more than 16 yrs in the Himalayas, Arun is the main driving force & mentor at the Peak Adventure Tours, a leading adventure travel agency in India offers trekking tours in Indian Himalayas including Nepal, Bhutan & Tibet. A long history with exceptional experiences he is the “Marathon Man” in the field of adventure. Today Arun looks after the Peak Adventure and shapes & designs the venture of the organization. He is contributing to this blog as a regular guest author.

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