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Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri: What is Char Dham Yatra?

The pilgrimage in Char Dham Yatra yatra includes four shrines namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath

Kedarnath temple

Kedarnath temple

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The doors of the Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand were opened to the general public on Thursday, April 27 2023. Devotees chanted mantras as one of the holiest shrines for Hindus welcomed them.

Shri Badrinath Dham shrine is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Situated on the banks of the Alaknanda River, it is among India's most visited pilgrimage centres. Last year, the shrine registered a footfall of around 2.8 million in just two months when it was open.


What is the Char Dham Yatra?

Originally, the Charm Dham Yatra referred to a longer pilgrimage circuit covering four important Hindu temples located on four cardinal points of the subcontinent. These were Puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka, and Badrinath. The credit for its formation is given to the renowned 8th-century philosopher Shankaracharya.

The yatra in the state of Uttarakhand is, thus, actually the "Chhota" Char Dham Yatra. Colloquially, it has now come to be known as the Char Dham Yatra.

The pilgrimage in this yatra includes four shrines, namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. Devotees visit all these holy shrines one by one in a clockwise direction.

The pilgrimage starts from Yamunotri leading to the first stop of the yatra, Gangotri. Thereon, devotees go to Kedarnath, and the yatra culminates at Badrinath.

One of the holiest Sikh shrines, Hemkund Sahib, is also connected to this Char Dham Yatra.

The four shrines, situated at high altitudes, remain shut for around six months every year and are opened in April or May. They are closed on the arrival of winter and remain inaccessible for devotees till next April or May.

There are arrangements to complete the yatra by road or by helicopter services.

Some devotees even perform a Do Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to two shrines. This includes Kedarnath and Badrinath.


How does Char Dham Yatra benefit Uttarakhand?

Charm Dham Yatra plays a significant role in growing Uttarakhand's economy, mainly due to travel and tourism. According to reports, it contributes Rs 7,500 crore to the state's economy annually.

Additionally, religious tourism in the state employs over a million people across sectors that include hospitality, transportation, and local vendors, among others.


How does the Uttarakhand government promote Char Dham Yatra?

The state government has laid special emphasis on the Char Dham Yatra to smoothen the experience for the pilgrims. Since the floods of 2013, Uttarakhand has invested Rs 1,000 crore to redevelop the Kedarnath Shrine.

Moreover, a sum of Rs 550 crore was also allocated for renovating and improving arrangements at the Badrinath Temple.

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First Published: Apr 27 2023 | 2:54 PM IST

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