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The four pilgrimage destinations of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath situated in the mighty Himalayas are altogether popularly known by the name of Chota Chardham. These pilgrimage sites attract a great number of pilgrims each year, making them the most important religious travel places in Northern India. The Yatra traditionally moves from the west to the east. As a result, the Char Dham Yatra begins in Yamunotri and continues to Gangotri, Kedarnath, and ends in Badrinath. Each of these four sites is dedicated to a different god.
Yamunotri is devoted to the Goddess Yamuna who is believed to be the daughter of Sun and the twin sister of Yama- the God of death. Being in the higher ranks of the divine in Hindu mythology, it is believed that a bath in the Yamuna's waters can cleanse all the sins and also preserve the devotee from an untimely death.
Gangotri is a Hindu pilgrimage site devoted to the Goddess Ganga who is considered the most sacred and purest river in India. The shrine stands on the banks of the River Bhagirathi, another name for the Ganga, which gets its name from the legend of ancient King Bhagirath's penance, which brought her down from heaven.
Kedarnath located near the origin of the Mandakini River is not only one of the Chota Char Dham but also the northernmost Jyotirlinga. It is also a part of the Panch Kedar. The ancient name of Kedarnath is ‘Kedar Khand’. Kedarnath, located at an altitude of 3,580 meters near the Chorabari glacier, the source of the Mandakini river with a backdrop of Kedarnath peak, Kedar Dome, and other Himalayan peaks, is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Badrinath is located on the Alaknanda River's bank where Lord Vishnu is worshipped. According to mythology, Lord Vishnu meditated here, while his spouse Goddess Lakshmi took the form of a berry (Badri) tree to provide him with shade. Lord Vishnu was so moved by this deed of love that he named the location Badrikashram after Goddess Laxmi.
Hemkund Sahib is another important pilgrimage site among the Hindus and the Sikhs. It is the highest Gurudwara in India which opens in May and closes at end of October. The word Hemkund is referred to as “lake of snow”. According to the Hindu Mythology, Laxman, the younger brother of the legend Ram meditated here after the war of Lanka to heal himself hence this place also holds the Lokpal Temple.
It is said that sighting Hemkund Sahib even from a significant distance will give immense satisfaction that will ultimately enhance your Chardham Yatra experience. These pilgrimage sites are altogether known as Panch Dham.
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