Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand is known as a sacred pilgrimage undertaken by devout Hindus, but there is more to the journey. The Yatra to the holy shrines in the lap of the Himalayas is life-changing and grants, devotees, with divine blessings. While many embark upon this journey with absolute faith in the supreme powers, many are unaware of interesting facts related to the Chardham Yatra.
Know about these 10 facts on your Chardham Yatra in 2020
- The Char Dham Yatra is not just a journey but a ritual of ‘Parikrama’ of the four Hindu shrines
A Yatra is mostly a journey, but a Parikrama is the circumambulation of sacred places from left to right. The Char Dham Yatra is actually the holy ritual of circumambulation of the four pilgrimage sites which begins from Yamunotri Temple, then Gangotri Temple then to Kedarnath Temple and finally to Badrinath temple.
- A natural rock Shivalinga near the Gangotri shrine makes its appearance only in winters
Near the Gangotri shrine, the Jalamagna Shivalinga is a natural rock Shivalinga that can be seen only during winters. As the water freezes in winters, the level of water goes down and rock in the river is seen. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva held Ganga in his dreadlocks.
- The Prasada at Yamunotri Dham is cooked in the hot boiling water of Surya Kund
Surya Kund, a hot-water spring near the Yamunotri Dham holds religious significance for the Hindus. In Hindu mythology, Surya is referred to the Sun God- the father of Goddess Yamuna. Hot like the Sun, the temperature of Surya Kund remains around 88 degrees even in the lap of the snow-covered Himalayas, strengthening the belief in the divine. Rice grains, pulses, and other offerings are packed in cloth and dipped in the boiling water and the cooked food is given as the blessed Prasad.
- Gauri Kund, the place where Goddess Parvati attained Lord Shiva as her husband and Ganesha got his new head
Settled at an altitude of 6,500 feet above sea level, the Gauri Kund serves as a base for the pilgrims heading to Kedarnath. According to the legends, here Gauri, Goddess Parvati meditated for about 100 years to have Lord Shiva as her husband.
Another story about the holy shrine is also related to the story of how Ganesha was given the elephant head. According to the story, the Goddess Parvati was bathing in the Kund and had asked her son Ganesha to guard the door and not let anybody enter. The obedient son even prohibited his own father and in this anger, Lord Shiva beheaded Ganesha. On learning that it was his own son, Lord Shiva restored Ganesha with an elephant head and granted him the boon of being worshipped as the God of prosperity and happiness.
- Badrinath Temple was worshiped as a Buddhist shrine during King Asoka’s rule in India
According to the Skanda Purana, a holy Hindu text, the idol of Lord Badrinath was recovered by Adi Guru Shankaracharya from Narad Kund and established in the temple in the 8th century A.D. No historical records have been found about Badrinath temple’s origin. In some accounts, it is believed that Badrinath Temple was a Buddhist shrine and Adi Shankaracharya converted it into a Hindu shrine. Also strengthening the fact is, the architecture and brightly-painted façade of the Badrinath Temple are similar to a Buddhist Vihara (temple).
- Lord Vishnu’s name Badri has been derived from Lakshmi’s incarnation of a berry tree
A popular legend says that the Lord Vishnu went for a serious penance in the mountains. His consort Goddess Laxmi followed him and took the form of a berry tree known as ‘Badri’ tree and protected him from the scorching heat of the sun, harsh rains, and other elements. The tree was named as Badri Vishal and her consort Lord Vishnu became famous by the name of Badrinath.
- At Swargarohini, a Shivalinga is ensconced at the place where Yudhisthir finger fell
Swargarohini near Badrinath Temple is known among pilgrims as the celestial pathway to heaven. It is believed; the Pandavas commenced their journey towards heaven (Swarga) from here. The eldest Pandava, Yudhisthir was known as Dharmaraja for his good deeds. And, when he was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth, and at the same place, a Shivalinga was installed which is the size of Dharamraja’s thumb.
- Bhavishya Badrinath will be the future place of worship of Lord Badrinath and Kedarnath
As per Hindu mythology, the Badrinath and Kedarnath Temples will become inaccessible in the future. When the arms of Narsingh’s idol present at Joshimath will fall off, the two Brother Mountains, Jay, and Vijay near Vishnuprayag will become one. Therefore, the route to the Badrinath and Kedarnath Temples will disappear. When this happens, the Lord Vishnu will proceed towards Bhavishya Badri near Joshimath.
- Tapt Kund, a Sulphur water spring having medicinal properties
The Tapta Kund near Badrinath is the group of hot Sulphur water springs. Believed to be the home to the Agni God, the Hindu Lord of Fire, and the water possess medicinal properties. Before devotees pay obeisance at Badrinath temple, the pilgrims take a holy dip in this Kund to purify themselves. The temperature of Tapta Kund remains as hot as of 55 degrees almost all through the year.
- It is prohibited to blow conch/Shankh in Badrinath Temple
Although conch is one of the favorite instruments of Lord Vishnu, in the Badrinath Temple, the shrine of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu prohibits the blowing of the conch. According to legend, when sage Agasthya was slaying the demons of Kedarnath – Vatapi, and Atapi, Atapi took refuge in Mandakini River while Vatapi hid inside the conch to save his life. Since then, it is believed that the demon will be unleashed on blowing the conch. Another reason is that Badrinath Temple is surrounded by high snow-covered mountains and blowing conch might create deep reverberating sounds and echo that cause ecological disturbance, avalanches, and endanger human life.
Whether you embark on the holy Chardham Yatra by helicopter or road, you can verify the facts with stories from the locals.