Chota Char Dham
Hindu do the Char Dham Yatra as was done by the Pandwas while going to Swarag. the tradition is to visit the sites in the following order:
Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the goddess Yamuna.
Gangotri, the source of the Ganges (River Ganga) and seat of the goddess Ganga.
Kedarnath, where a form of the Hindu god Shiva is venerated as one of the twelve jyotirling (linga of light).
Badrinath, the seat of the Hindu god Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayan.
Badrinath Temple is among the char dham in Hindu Dharma.
Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,235 metres (10,614 ft) near the river source. The original temple was built by Maharani Guleria of Jaipur in the 19th century. The current temple is of recent origin as earlier constructions have been destroyed by weather and the elements. There seems to be a confusion as to who built the temple of Yamunotri. However according to sources, the temple was originally constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.
According to the legend ancient, sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. All his life, he bathed daily both in the Ganges and the Yamuna. Unable to go to Gangotri during his old age, a stream of the Ganges appeared opposite Yamunotri for him.
The temple and the place opens every year on the auspicious day of the Akshaya Tritya, which generally falls during the last week of April, or the first week of May. The temple always closes on the sacred day of Diwali in mid-October - first week of November, with a brief ceremony. The temple staff return to their villages and for the rest of the time the valley is gripped in no-man silence and covered with a white sheet of snow. With the melting of the snow next summer, the temple re-opens.
The daughter of the Sun god, Surya and consciousness, Sangya the birthplace of the Yamuna is the Champasar Glacier (4,421 m) just below the Banderpoonch Mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalind Parvat, Kalind being another name of Surya. Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a trait that she developed because, according to a common story, Yamuna's mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband.
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Gurkha general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
According to this legend, King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the "Yagya" (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagara stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.
Kedarnath is named after honour of King Kedar, who ruled in the Satya Yuga. He had a daughter named Vrinda who was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. She performed austerities for several years and the land is named after her as Vrindavan. However, Kedarnath and its temple exist from the Mahabharata era when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Lord Shiva by doing penance there. It is one of the most important dhams amongst the Chota Char Dham. The Shiva statue here is considered to be decapitated where as the head is believed to be in Doleshwor Mahadeva Temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya (April end or first week of May) and closes on Bhai Duj (October end or 1st week of November) due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold weather during winter. Gaurikhund is 75 km (47 miles) from Rudraprayag. In between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath there are several places of pilgrimage such as Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phauli- Pasalat Devi Maa, Bamsu (Lamgoundi) Vanasur, Maa Jwalamukhi Devi village Andarwari, Maa Chandika Devi village lwara, Maa Kali at Kalimath, Trijugi Narayan (7 km (4 mi) from Son Prayag) (Where Lord Shankar got married to Goddess Parwati from when the fire of hawan kund is still alive) and Kashi Vishwanath at Guptakashi.
Udar Kund is located here. It is written in Kedar Khand of Shiva purana that the water of Udak Kund is mixture of all the 5 Oceans and always remain fresh even when kept for many years. The holy water of Udak Kund is used for purification rituals. Hans Kund, Bharo Nath, Navdurga Mandir, Shankaracharya Samadhi, Ishaneswar Mahadev Temple, Ret Kund, Panch Ganga Sangam, Chaurwari Taal now known as Gandhi Sarowar, Bashuki Taal are also places to visit here. There are several guest houses in Kedarnath with reasonable rates.
Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram (बदरिकाश्रम) in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu's dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Krishna, addressing Arjuna, says, "Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years.
One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga (Ganges) was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda one of them.
Another Legend explains both name and sitting posture as this place was full of Badri bushes and Vishnu meditating for, beloved Lakshmi stood next to him sheltering him from scorching sunlight turned into a Badri herself called 'BADRI VISHAL' and her lord(Nath) became the BadriNath.
The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas were said to have expired one by one, when ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini.(literal meaning - the 'Ascent to Heaven'). The Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.
The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs.
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