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Pilgrimages In Uttarakhand

Pilgrimages In Uttarakhand – Ancient temples Representation of Uttaranchal

Uttarakhand is the 'abode of gods' because of the uncountable ancient temples situated here. Every mountain, every rock and every stream of Uttarakhand is somewhat associated with the mythological background of India. It is not as though Uttarakhand is a pilgimage destination exclusively for Hindus – there are several important shrines related to other religions too, keeping in line with the secular traditions of our country. These include Piran Kaliyar Sharif near Roorkee, Hemkund Sahib, Nanak Matta Sahib, Ritha Metha Sahib, the Mind Rolling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa in Dehradun.

Main Attraction: The Char Dhams ( Gangotri , Yamunotri , Badrinath , Kedarnath ), Panch Badri , Panch Kedar , Kumbh Mela and Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra .

Nestled among the serene heights of the great Himalayas are four pilgrim-destinations namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, known collectively as Char Dham. These pilgrimage centres draw the maximum numbers of pilgrims each year, thus becoming the most important hubs of religious travel in whole of Northern India. Traditionally, the pilgimage is begins from West and ends in the East. Thus, the Char Dham Yatra commences from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath. In accordance with the Hindu conventions, thousands of devotees take up this pious pilgrimage in the hope to experience bliss and successfully purge their souls of all worldly demons.

The Char Dhams Char Dham are the names of four pilgrimage sites in India that is considered highly sacred by Hindus to visit during one's lifetime. It comprises of Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram.

The Panch Badri Panch means five. The Panch Badri constitutes a group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Vishnu which are located in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. At Panch Badri Lord Vishnu is worshipped at five different places and under five different names. The five temples of lord Vishnu settled at five different places starting from the height of 1,380 meters to 3,133 meters, have the idols of lord Vishnu in different forms. They are Adi Badri, Badrinath, Bhavishya Badri, Vridh Badri and Yogdhyan Badri

  • Adi Badri It is believed that these temples, dating to the Gupta age(5th century to 8th century), were sanctioned by Adi Shankaracharya who wanted to spread the tenets of Hinduism to every remote corner of the country.
  • Badrinath Badrinath was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. It is said that Shankara discovered the image of Badrinarayan in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund (Hot Spring). Later the King of Garhwal moved that image to the present temple. Since then the temple has undergone several major renovations by many people.
  • Bhavishya Badri The Bhavishya Badri is at a distance of about 17 kms. east of Joshimath on Joshimath-Lata-Malari route, amidst the thick forests surrounding Tapovan. Pilgrims trek beyond Tapovan up the Dhauliganga River to reach this holy place. The idol of Narsimha (the god with the head of lion) is enshrined here. Visitors pass the serene Tapovan a place known for its hot water springs en route to the banks of the Dhauliganga, and on to the shrine.
  • Vridh Badri Vridha Badri is situated at Animath in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand state of India. It is 1,380 meters above the sea level and 7Kms from Joshimath in Joshimath-Badrinath road. Vridha Badri lies on the way to Kalpeshwar Mahadev Temple and can be reached before Helang. Vridha Badri is dedicated to lord Vishnu, enshrines the statue of Badri as an old man. This is why Vridha Badri gets its name where the word Vridha means old and Badri is the name of lord Vishnu in Badrikshetra.
  • Yogdhyan Badri The Yogdhyan Badari temple is located at Pandukeshwar at an altitude of 1920 m. It is 24 km short of Badrinath on Rishikesh -Badrinath highway. The idol, depiciting a meditative posture of the Lord, is worshipped here.

Adi Badri


Bhavishya Badri

Vridh Badri

Yogdhyan Badri

The Panch Kedars According to the legend, after the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas went to sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins. But Lord Shiva, who din't want to meet them finally eluded. When the Pandavas came to know where Lord Shiva is, the Lord took the form of a bull to hide himself.

The Pandavas were not ready to accept it. One of the Pandava, Bhima tried his best to pick up the bull (Lord Shiva) but failed and the bull sacattered into pieces. The pieces sank into the earth but however Bhima managed to retain the hump of the bull (Lord Shiva)

Impressed by the determination of Pandavas, Lord Shiva finally blessed them and freed them from their sins. The lord then asked them to worship his hump at Kedarnath. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol in the shrine.

The other parts of bull's (Lord Shiva's) body went as Arms (Bahu) at Tunganath, Face (mukh) at Rudranath, Navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and Hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar. These four shrines along with Kedarnath are worshipped as Panch Kedar. They are as follows :

  • Kedarnath Kedarnath is situated in the Rudra Himalaya range in Rudraprayag District of the northern state of Uttarakhand at an elevation of 3581 mts above the sea level. In Kedarnath lord Shiva is worshipped as one of the twelve Jyotirling (linga of light). This conical protrusion about five feet by four feet or 'Jyothirlingam' is worshipped as the idol in the Kedarnath temple. Other parts emerged at four other places: arms at Tunganath , face at Rudranath , belly at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks of hair with head at Kalpeshwar . All the five shrines are worshipped as Panch Kedar. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.
  • Tunganath Tunganath, the 2nd Panch Kedar is set on the crest of a hill. It is the highest shrine on the inner Himalayan range. 3 kms. uphill from Chopta, Tunganath is reached through a path that wends through alpine meadows and rhododendron thickets. It lies just below the Chandrashila peak. At this temple at 3,886 mts, Shiva's arm is worshipped. The high altitude temple is a Seat of Swyambhu Linga or the Lord Shiva Incarnate.
  • Rudranath Rudranath the 3rd Pancha Kedar is situated amid thick forest at a height of 2286 m. This shrine is 23 kms from Gopeshwer. In this natural rock temple the Mukh or face of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Neelkantha Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Neelkantha. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face, a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful indeed to behold.
  • Madmaheshwar Madhyamaheshwar, the 4th Pancha Kedar. It is located at the base of Chaukhamba peak at an altitude of 3289 mts. above the sea level , 30 kms northeast of Guptakashi.. Shiva is worshipped at Madhyamaheshwar in the form of navel - shaped lingum. This classic temple architecture belongs to the North-Indian style.

    From here Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks are also visible. These peaks are said to be the entire ring of mountains associated with the life and times of shiva. The confluences of two streams at Gaundar just short of the temple, is one of the prettiest spots in the region. The temple can also be approached by a trek through the famous Sidha Peeth of Kalimath.
  • Kalpeshwar Kalpeshwar, the 5th Pancha Kedar is a small rock temple and a favorite location of meditating sages. This shrine is located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. above sea level. Here the locks (hair) and head, of Lord Shiva are worshipped as Jatadhar.

    Rishi Durvasa is also believed to have meditated here under the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha. It is also said that Rishi Durvasa when, along with several disciples visited here. He told Draupadi that he and his disciples are hungry and thus expect some food from her. There was not a grain to cook for them at that time. This made Draupadi puzzled and sad. Scared with Rishi Durvasas anger she started praying Lord Krishna.






The Panch Prayags Prayag meaning "confluence" in Sanskrit, constitutes a group of five sacred river confluences in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, India. These five river confluences, are Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag.

  • Vishnuprayag This confluence is dark and mostly in the shadows. To make this confluence the river Alaknanda, the main tributary of the Ganga, rises near Badrinath and flows down to meet the Dhauli Ganga River, 10 kms north of Joshimath at VishnuPrayag. It cuts a deep gorge into the mountains. Vishnu Prayag, 1372 m, has an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu which stands here next to a pool called Vishnu Kund.
  • Nandprayag 20 km from Karna Prayag, at this confluence in Nandprayag, there is a temple dedicated to Gopalji, Lord Krishna. At Nandprayag which is 190 kms short of Rishikesh on the Uttarkashi road, the River Nandakini joins with Alaknanda. The place Nandprayag derives its name from Raja Nanda. According to one legend, the king Nanda was promised the boon (aashirwaad) that Vishnu will be his son. Unfortunately Devki got the same boon (aashirwaad) and got Krishna (Vishnu) as his son. To find the solution for this Vishnu took birth from Devki but was brought up by Yashodha, Raja Nanda's wife .
  • Karnprayag Situated at 12 km from Gauchar and 31 km from Rudraprayag, Karnprayag has two temples in this confluence, one dedicated to Goddess Durga (Uma) and other dedicated Karna (the tragic hero of the Mahabharata). At KarnPrayag Alaknanda meets with Pindar river which flows out of the Nanda Devi glacier to form this confluence. It is believed that the hills surrounding Karnaprayag were the meeting ground for Shakuntala & Raja Dushyanta. The place KarnPrayag derives its name from Karna, the son of the Queen Kunti and Lord Surya (sun).
  • Rudraprayag Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), RudraPrayag has a Rudranath and Chamunda Devi temple at this confluence. At RudraPrayag, which is 137 kms from Rishikesh, the Alaknanda meets with the streams of Mandakini river. This place is also an important commercial place. It is believed that here Narad worshipped Lord Shiva to master the mysteries of music. Lord Shiva then appeared in his Rudra incarnation to bless him. It is also believed Sati, Lord Shava's wife and King Himalayas daughter, was reborn here to ask the boon of Shiva as a husband once again. The ancient temple of Rudranathji is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • Devprayag The most spectacular among all the confluences is the Devprayag Confluence, which is in Devprayag. 68 kms north of Rishikesh this place is the point where Alaknanda meets the Bhagirathi, coming from Gomukh, to form the mighty Ganga. This is the final Confluence from where Ganga starts. It comprises the oldest route to Badrinath and Gangotri. The famous Raghunath Math (another name for Lord Rama's Temple) is situated here. The beautiful view of Devprayag from the raod leading to Pauri is both scenic and picturesque.






Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra

The Nanda Devi Raj Jat is a pilgrimage and festival of Uttarakhand in India. People from the entire Garhwal and Kumaon division as well as from other parts of India and the world come and participate in this. The Yatra or pilgrimage starts from Nauti village (25 km from Karnprayag) and goes up to the heights of Roopkund and Hemkund with a four horned sheep. In Chamoli, Nanda Devi Raj Jaat is organized once in 12 years. In some villages people celebrates the Nanda Devi Jaat (journey) every year. The Raj Jaat procession goes through villages, where there is a recognized Nanda Devi temple. This is considered to be one of the Asia's longest hike of 290 kms. of which 60 Kms can be covered by the bus transport. This journey is a difficult one because of the difficult terrain it goes through. The yatra also depicts the problems faced by the newly married girls of Uttarakhand and their love for their Husband and in laws.

The goddess Nanda Devi is considered to be the wife of Lord Shiva and Kailash is the home of Lord Shiva. The legend is that Nanda Devi was living with her parents in her father's house and due to some unavoidable situations for 12 years she was not able to return to Kailash. Later on she was sent to Kailash with grand celebration.

Uttarakhand Himalaya

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