- Uttarakhand's Encyclopedia /
Pilgrimage of Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is also called ‘devbhoomi’ which means, the land of gods. The state is home to some of the holiest and the most revered pilgrimage destinations in the country. Often called the abode of Gods, Uttarakhand is a state that offers to captivate tourists with its mystic charm. Home to countless holy sites – temples, shrines, rivers and lakes, every year Uttarakhand attracts visitors in huge numbers for pilgrimage.
Uttarakhand, with its numerous sacred shrines, is the most preferred destination of every devout Hindu. A visit to holy places like the Char Dham, Haridwar and Rishikesh is considered a must for every Hindu. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, a visit to the Char Dham leads one to salvation. This abode of Gods is dotted with ancient temples and shrines made thousands of years ago giving testimony to the rich religious heritage. Visitors from all over the world come to Uttarakhand for pilgrimage.
Uttarakhand is a state that is completely enveloped by spiritual air. It is not surprising to find a holy site or temple every few meters in this enchanting state. While in terms of natural treasure, Uttarakhand is blessed with the best – deep cut valleys, virgin sylvan surrounds, snow capped Himalayan peaks, beautiful meadows, icy glaciers, shimmering lakes, springs and waterfalls and so on, in terms of spiritualism and religiosity, the state is home to some of the holiest shrines, temples and rivers.
What makes the pilgrimage a lifetime experience for any pilgrim is the presence of numerous hot water springs, virgin forests, snow capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and gushing waters of holy rivers that surround the holy shrines and temples here. No soul comes back untouched from this mystic land where the faith runs strong, the spirituality is unfaltering and whose aura is pure and divine.
The Char Dham (four abodes) which is considered the most important Hindu pilgrimage includes the holy shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Badrinath, considered to be the holiest, is located between the mountains of Nar and Narayan with River Alaknanda flowing peacefully beside it. It is known as Badrinath since the entire region is covered with Badri trees. Kedarnath shrine, situated at a high altitude of 3580 meters above the sea level is another revered pilgrim destination which was set up by Hindu Guru Adi Shankaracharya in early 8th century. It is one of the twelve ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva.
Gangotri which is believed to be the earthly throne of Goddess Ganga is a revered pilgrim destination near which the holy river Ganga originates (at Gaumukh). Yamunotri, the starting point of the holy river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal range of the Himalayas. The main attraction for the pilgrims to this sacred place is the temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna.
Other temples frequently visited by pilgrims include Neel Kanth Mahadev (Rishikesh), hill top shrines of Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi (Haridwar), Vishwanath (Almora) and Binsar Mahadev (Near Almora). Hemkund Sahib is an important pilgrimage destination for people belonging to Sikh faith.
The four most holy pilgrimages of India – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, collectively referred to as the Char Dham. For centuries, saints and pilgrims, in their search for the divine, have walked these mystical vales known in the ancient Hindu scriptures as ” Kedarkhand”. Traditionally, the yatra is done from the west to the east – starting from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Yamunotri is the starting point of the holy River Yamuna. It is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal range of the Himalayas, balanced on the borders of Bandar-Poonch Parvat. The main attraction at Yamunotri is the temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal Sulphur springs, almost 7 km away at Jankichatti. Read More
Gangotri is the place of the origin of the holy River Ganges, drawing thousands of pilgrims every year. Gangotri is the earthly throne of Goddess Ganga and is one of the four sites of the sacred Char Dham circuit. It is situated at an altitude of 3,753 m (about 12,313 ft). Read More
Kedarnath Temple is one of the most revered and most visited pilgrimage places in India. This centre of pilgrimage was established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya in early 8th century. Situated at an altitude of 3,580 m (11,750 ft), this renowned Hindu pilgrimage spot in the high Himalaya Mountains is devoted to Lord Shiva. Read More
Badrinath Temple is considered the holiest of the Char Dham Hindu pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. It is delicately placed between the mountains of Nar and Narayan with River Alaknanda flowing peacefully beside it. Read More