When I fail to walk on your directed path, O’ Lord of the world! Come and guide me When my soul is about to leave this mortal world let it rest thoust feet
Just like the depth of the relationship between a mother and her children is hard to explain in words, the connection of GOD with his children is also unfathomable. And every person defines his/her association with the divine entity in a distinctive way based on his belief system. Char Dham Yatra of India is associated with one such belief which is centred on Sagun Sakar rupa (meaning an all-virtuous personified form) of the supreme soul, Lord Vishnu. To celebrate the existence of the utterly blissful entity on this sacred land of India, Adi Shankara, the renowned preacher of Hinduism built four revered temples in four different corners of the country and united Hinduism in one bond which later constituted the circuit of actual Char Dham Tour. Every devoted Hindu wishes to complete this circuit at least once in a lifetime and prays to get rid of all sins committed throughout one’s life. Let’s find out why one should visit Char Dham and its spiritual significance here:
Badrinath in Uttarakhand (Northern India)
Legend: ‘Badri’ means berry and ‘nath’ means lord. So, the literal meaning of Badrinath is the lord of berry. There is an interesting story of penance and love associated with the name of this pilgrimage. When Vishnu, the saviour of earth was criticised by Narada for getting too much involved into earthly pleasures, Vishnu sat on meditation at Badrinath. Laxmi, his consort was worried about the scorching heat disturbing Lord Vishnu and she transformed herself into the form of a Berry Tree to provide shade to her husband.
About the Temple: The temple of Badrinath is located in Garhwal Himalaya in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu and a must-visit site for the Vaishnavites. Lord Vishnu is worshipped here in the form of a saligram stone which is considered by the believers as one of the eight self-manifested statues of Vishnu. One of the most stunning facts associated with this temple is the appointment of a head priest who should be always a Nambudiri Brahmin chosen from Kerala, the south Indian state. Lord Badrinarayan is worshipped here in different periods of the day with different upachars among which the most eye-catching part is the abhishek of the deity with the sandal wood paste. It takes place after the evening aarti when sandalwood paste is applied on the statue of Badrinarayan. The paste from the statue is later given to the devotees next day during Nirmalya Darshan.
How to Reach: The best way to reach Badrinath is by roadways which takes you to the Badrinath Market area. From here one needs to trek around 200m to reach the temple. The nearest rail head to Badrinath is Haridwar and the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport to Badrinath.
Rameshwaram in Tamilnadu (Southern India)
Legend: The original story of Ramanathaswamy Temple of Rameshwaram is associated with the Ramayana. It is said that Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, worshipped Shiva to get rid of the sin of Brahmahatya as he had killed Ravana. Rama asked Hanuman to bring the best Shiva Lingam from Shiva himself who was residing in Mount Kailash. Hanuman didn’t come back with the Shiva Lingam in time and as the holy timing was passing away Sita formed a Lingam of sand which is worshipped even today in Rameshwaram.
About the Temple: The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shiva who is believed to be the destroyer of all evils. Although the actual period of building Rameshwaram Temple is not known, yet it is sure that the temple is renovated by Adi Shankaracharya. Unlike other temples of Chardham Yatra, Rameshwaram is a all Hindu affair, as both the followers of Shaivism and Vaishnavism visit this temple with heartfelt devotion.
How to Reach: Rameshwaram is connected to the other parts of the country by all three modes of transport. The nearest airport to Rameshwaram is in Madurai which is around 163km from the temple. Rameswaram has its own railway station and the nearby cities are well connected with this temple town. Buses from nearby cities regularly ply to Rameshwaram.
Dwarka in Gujarat (Western India)
Legend: Dwar means door and ka means Brahma, thus the literal meaning of Dwarka is doorway to moksha. That is why it is also known as Mokshadham. Ancient Dwarka was the kingdom of Lord Krishna. According to mythology, Krishna decided to shift the capital of his kingdom from Mathura to Dwarka due to the avid disturbances created by Jarasandha and Kalayavana. When the Yadavas along with Sri Krishna reached Saurashtra, they requested Vishwakarma to build an exclusive palace. As there was no land, Vishwakarma advised Krishna to ask Samudradeva (Sea God) to spare some land. It is after the request of Lord Krishna, Samudradeva spared them 12 yojanas land where Vishwakarma built a golden city as the kingdom of Krishna. But, the actual city run by Lord Krishna submerged into the sea after he left for Baikuntha.
About the Temple: The temple found today in Dwarka is not the one run by Krishna. Today’s Dwarkadheesh or Jagatmandir Temple is a 52 m tall shrine where the unique idol of Lord Krishna, Sri Ranchhodrayji is worshipped here. Dwarka is one among the Sapt Puri and highly esteemed by the Hindus. These Sapta Puri are called Mokshada, meaning they liberate the souls from earthly bondage. The renovated temple of Dwarkadhish is located on the bank of river Gomti in Jamnagar district of Gujarat.
How to Reach: The nearest airport to Dwarkadhish is in Jamnagar which is around 137km from the temple city. Dwarka has its own railway station which is located on the Ahmedabad-Okha broad gauge railway line. Direct buses are available from Jamnagar and Ahmedabad.
Puri in Odisha (Eastern India)
Legend: One of the most spiritual places in India, Jagannath Puri remains in the wishlist of every devoted Hindu for its association with various mysterious tales and religious significance. The most intriguing fact about the temple of Lord Jagannath is related to the idols of the presiding deities, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Unlike the idols of most of the Hindu deities the idols of Jagannath Temple are incomplete as they do not have hands and feet. There is an interesting story behind the formation of these unique idols. It is said that Lord Jagannath was first worshipped in the form of Neel Madhava. Once the king Indradyumna wanted to have a look at his incarnation when Lord Jagannath appeared in his dreams and directed him to reach the seashore where the deity was hiding in the form of a woodlog. King Indradyumna then got the instruction from lord Nrisimha to make the idols as fourfold expansion i.e. Paramatma as Vasudeva, his Vyuha as Samkarshana, Yogamaya as Subhadra, and his Vibhava asSudarsana. Later, the king asked Vishwakarma to build a magnificent temple to enshrine the idols of the deities. Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of a carpenter and started making the idols behind closed doors and prohibited the king from opening the door before the work is finished. But, after a few days, the queen of Indradyumna got anxious as they were not hearing any sound from inside the rooms where the carpenter was working. So, they opened the door and all of a sudden Vishnu disappeared from the work place leaving the idols incomplete.
About the Temple: Today’s Jagannath Dham is one of the most revered Chardham Temples in India and bewitches the devotees with its heavenly aura. Till date the temple revolves around mysterious myths one of which is the working of Goddess Laxmi in kitchen. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi prepares the dishes of Lord Jagannath here in Puri. The prasadam obtained in Puri has no other rival in the world. The most fascinating part of Jagannath Puri is the Ratha Yatra Festival when people from all across the world assemble here to draw the chariot of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
How to Reach: The nearest airport to Puri is the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneshwar which is around 60km from the city. Puri is a major railway station of the Indian railway.