By: Ahana Raghavan, 14 years old
For: Gurukulam – The Online Shloka Learning Centre
What is Char Dham and why is it significant?
Char Dham is a series of four pilgrimage sites located in India. These sites have great significance and it is believed that visiting them can help one achieve moksha.
What is moksha and what does it have to do with Char Dham?
As I have stated in a previous article, moksha is a point in time when one is released from the cycle of rebirth. Reincarnation is the idea that when people die, they are born in a different body. When you no longer reincarnate, you have attained moksha. It is said that every Hindu should visit these sites at least once in their life. Hindus also believe that visiting the sites and going on the Char Dham tour allows for salvation and washes away all their sins.
Background Information on Char Dham:
- The four temples that make up the dhams are Yamunotri Dham, Gangotri Dham, Badrinath Dham, and Kedarnath Dham.
- They are all located in the state of Uttarakhand.
Detailed Information on Char Dham:
- Yamunotri Dham
The Yamunotri Dham’s Yamunotri temple is dedicated to the second most sacred river, the Yamuna River. The most sacred river is the Ganges. A dip in the Yamuna River is believed to protect one from death taking place at an unsuitable place or time. The Yamunotri temple is in the center of the Yamunotri Dham and has thousands of devotees visiting every year. The temple is located in a narrow gorge.
- Gangotri Dham
Gangotri is burrowed in between Himalayan peaks, forests, glaciers, and more. It is one of the highest pilgrimages in India, being around 3415 m. Legend has it that the Ganges river descended from heaven to earth here in Gangotri. Lord Shiva released the river from his jata, or hair.
- Badrinath Dham
Badrinath is located in the Himalayan range and is believed to have been established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. It is only open for six months in a year and in winter it becomes out of reach (snowfall becomes too intense).
- Kedarnath Dham
Kedarnath is also located in the Himalayan range. It is said that the Pandavas felt guilty after the war in the Mahabharata, and came to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. They hoped for forgiveness. However, Lord Shiva avoided them many times and sought out this region. He took refuge here in the form of a bull.
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