Being an avid traveller had covered Multiple Continents across the globe, can assure that travel in India has its own uniqueness. The most tourist destinations in India have cultural or religious places to visit they may be temples, churches, Gurudwaras, Mosque, Monastery etc. You find any place any tourist destination with “things to do”, more than 90% chances you will find religious places.
Our Indian Gods are well settled in Hills, may it be Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh or Jammu & Kashmir. These states are also called “Dev-Bhoomi” (land of Gods). As per Hindu mythology the whole Himalaya range is sacred place for worship, sages at all ages go there in search of austerity. Henceforth tourist destinations of Himalaya are full of religious places.
My travel across these hills is always a wowsome experience, especially when I drive my SUV to Uttarakhand for the Char Dham Yatra as a Destination both with religious and tourist mind set.
Importance of Char-Dham Yatra
Char Dham Yatra in India is one the most Favourite tourist destination in India. People across country visit the Dhaam both for religious and tourist mind set. As per our Indian Mythology, Pandavas travel in search of austerity to get rid of their sins during wars of Kurukshetra, and for the reason stated above they chose to go to the Himalaya range. They travelled to the Char Dham (Four Abodes/Seats – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri). These Dhams are situated in today’s state of Uttarakhand.
Later on Char-Dham are defined as four pilgrimage sites situated at four directions in India. These are Badrinath (North), Dwarka (West), Puri (East) and Rameshwaram (South), while ancient Char Dham is also known as Chota (Small) Char Dhaam.
Due to small circuit of Chota Char Dham, it is becoming more popular and now also referred as “Char Daam Yatra – Journey”.
Char Dham Yatra
Char Dham located in the picturesque Garhwal region of Uttarakhand surrounded by Himalaya’s lofty peaks. The journey including all four Dhams, with Scenic drive of more than 1400 Km of hilly track, apart from this, Yamunotri has a pedestrian trek of ~ 7 Km, while Kedarnath trekking is ~25 Km. The Yatra Starts in peak of summers other than hills ie: in first week of May. So apart from religious value the journey also offers a respite from severe heat.
The Yatra is little bit difficult on account of two major factors, hilly terrain and northwest monsoon which arrive in state around mid of June that makes the weather and road unpredictable.
Monsoon rains in the hills may cause small landslides and block the roads for some time but simultaneously the monsoon covers the mountains with lush green beauty.
Drive to Char Dham
During summers of year 2006, I travelled to Badrinath – my first visit to any of the Char Dhams. It was a family travel (including parents, and one of my grandparents too). Considering the difficult journey vis-à-vis age-factor of individuals, we limited the journey only to one Dham – “Badrinath”.
Google Map showed the distance to from our place (at Ghaziabad near Delhi) to Badrinath is ~500 Km. Distance does not seems too much even after considering age of parents. But thing which was making us a bit worried is the fact that that out of 500 Km, hilly terrain is ~300 Km. None of us had experience of this much distance in hills and also couple of people were also prone to motion sickness.
We started the journey from our place early morning, took couple of small stop overs in-between and reached Rishikesh around noon, after having couple of stop overs in-between. From here the hilly terrain of ~300 Km starts. Road conditions from Rishikesh started as smooth, but soon deteriorated after a 25-30 Km. But on the other hand wind temperature started getting towards down, and after couple of more hours it was a perfect weather to drive with open windows. Also two individuals started getting nausea due to motion sickness and were given medications.
It was exciting to drive along the side of river Ganga, with multiple towns in between like Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag. We made a night halt at Rudraprayag at GMVN tourist rest house – one of the best locations (right on the bank of river Ganga). During night, weather got changed and it started raining, which continued first half of next day morning. Next day drive was disruptive because of traffic & road blocks at multiple places due to rains & mudslides. But the scenic beauty on the way was awesome to enjoy the Himalayas. We reached Badrinath city in the evening.
Badrinath is the beautiful place, between two mountains with snow, with river Alaknanda flowing with full force. On the way back also we faced landslide and had to take a detour.
Following years, we have travelled to other Dhams (one at a time), and each journey has been wonderful and experience by itself.
What I learnt from Char-Dham Yatra – A Co-relation with Real Life –
- Before starting the Char-Daam journey, hilly travel of ~1400 Km along with trek of ~30 Km seems like a huge and tiring journey. Similarly every big task looks difficult, very complex and un-achievable before starting.
- Break the big tasks into smaller pieces and put a focus approached on one piece at a time makes the things easier, enjoyable
- Every task whether big or small always starts with a small step. Keeping focus on two steps (Existing step and next step) will cover the entire journey
- Journey itself may have multiple pleasant and unpleasant surprises – weather, traffic , queues, but be calm, don’t lose patience nor get over excited. Enjoy the journey. Similarly there are always ups & downs, rough times in life, one need to stay calm.
- For a better journey, one needs to be prepared with right information and tools. Similarly in life, one needs to be trained with proper skills and get prepared for the job
- Always keep an eye on your surroundings, get updated about possible alerts, warnings and indications. Have enough tools with you like ExploreOuting to get timely updates. Similarly for life one needs to be aware of its environment and people surrounding him/her.
- The kind of scenic beauty and you will get after a tough journey is really awesome. This is also true for real life, the kind of internal satisfaction one gets after going through life’s toughness is unmatched.
- Always try to appreciate the hard work behind-the-scene of every wonderful thing in life. Best things in life usually have a lot of hard work attached to it