Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath

Yamunotri, Gangotri, Uttarkashi, Kedarnath, Ukhimath, Badrinath and Joshimath

As far as I remember, it was 5th of May, 1996.

I was in my college at Dwarahat (Uttarakhand) and was getting inclination to visit Badrinath.

Urge was so strong that I had decided to go alone, if none of my friends agreed to accompany me.

Ripul and Vikas also showed interest and perhaps on 7th of May, we boarded the bus to Badrinath. 8th of May, we paid attendance to the merciful Lord of Lords.It was so nice to be there, snow clad peaks of Neelkanth, Swargarohini and Urvashi along with Nar and Narayana paying obeisance to Lord.

Alaknanda flowing next to temple, seems like touching the feet of Lord, before going ahead and forming Ganga along with Mandakini and Bhagirathi at DevPrayag.

Time just flies by. May 1996 turned into May 2012.....

Salutations to you, the Lord of Mountains, the residence of Gods
To be in Himalayas is always in my mind, and after a few aborted plans, finally the Gods blessed me.

I got oppertunity to visit the DevBhoomi (Land of Gods) in mid May, 2012 again.

I always admire the Himalayas, the serenity away from "civilizations", which has given refuse to so many sages to help find the ultimate truth.

It is said that so many enlightened sages live there in different caves away from humans.

Being there, brings a sense of fulfillment, if the mind is calm and devoted.

I planned to go along with my parents and in-laws. All, except my mother, were not much enthusiastic, owing to the "difficulties" during journey and the weather conditions, altitude sickness and so many reasons to convince oneself, not to travel.

I was adament.

Finally everybody gave up to my persuassion.

Wish of Venkateshwara!!

As my ageing parents and in-laws were travelling, I wanted them to take this journey in utmost possible comfort and so after some "research", decided to book the tour package of Uttarakhand Tourism for Chaar Dhaam (Four Abodes) of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath from Rishikesh to Rishikesh.

These four major abodes of eternal religion remain closed in winter seasons as the heavy snow fall engulfs the temple and surrounding areas. The temples open on "Akshaya Tritiya" day, which is around end of April or start of May and gets close on "Yama Dwitiya", the second day after "Diwali", which is around October end or start of November.

It is said that during winter times Devas/Yakshas pray in the temples.

Yamunotri is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas and Badrinath is the easternmost one. From west towards east, it is Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. And this order is followed for the pilgrimage, if one is going to all four shrines.

According to my plans, I booked the 10 day trip from Monday, 7th till Wednesday, 16th of May. This is the minimum time required to cover these four abodes. Helicopter service is also there from Dehradun, but I was not much interested. By going through that, one will not get the feeling of being in Himalayas.

I am thankful to Shri Anurag Dangwal, PRO, Uttarakhand Tourism at Bangalore for his help and guidance.

I was a bit worried for Kedarnath trip as there is trekking involved of 14 KMs one side and an ascent of about 1600 meters from Gauri Kund to Kedarnath. This sudden change in altitude causes sickness to many, particularly people with BP and heart ailments needs to be more cautious.

And so I was a bit worried about parents and in-laws.

Finally left everything to the Krishna..

"ananyas chintayanto mam ye janaha paryupasathe
thesham nithyabhiyukthanaam yogakshemam vahamyaham"
(Shri MadBhagwat Geeta 9.22)

Those who surrenders themselves to me alone, I take care of them.

We all reached Rishikesh on 5th of May. Actually Haridwar has better connectivity and options to stay and eat, but as the trip start point was Rishikesh, we decided to stay at Rishikesh.

To read more about my visit to Haridwar and adjacent areas, please go through my blog on Kumbha Mela at Haridwar.

My father-in-law, had secured a couple of rooms at Parmarth Niketan Ashram at Rishikesh. It is just next to Ganges and a wonderful place to stay in calm and meditative environment.

Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is Gateway to the Himalayas.

Distanced about 25 km north of Haridwar, this auspicious place is the world capital of Yoga.  It is here at Rishikesh, the Ganges leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of northern India.
Blissfull Morning @ Rishikesh
Rishikesh (or Hrishikesh) means Lord of Senses or Lord Vishnu. The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to 'Raibhya Rishi', as a result of his tapasya (austerities).

Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand' (the present day Garhwal).Lord Raam did penance here after killing Ravana, and Lakshmana, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present 'Lakshman Jhula' bridge stands, using a jute rope bridge. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889. This bridge was washed away in the 1924 floods and then was replaced by a stronger bridge, which stands today.

Geeta Ashram (belongs to Gita Press) stands next to Parmarth Niketan. I roamed the surrounding areas on the banks of Ganges. Access to these ashrams can be done easily through "Raam Jhoola".

In Geeta Ashram, the room, used by Legendary Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar is still there. On the opposite banks, there is Divine Life Society Ashram and the room of Legendary Swami Shivananda.

Weather was quite hot and a bit humid, but the excitement to visit the DevBhoomi prevailed.

Evening at Rishikesh
Evenings were wonderful and I enjoied attending the evening Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan. Weather used to be excellent at that time, with cool breeze, serene flow of Ganges and so the blissful environment...

At Parmarth Ashram, I met Nandiniji and Saadhviji and also the charming couple Dipen and Jaanki. I was pleasently suprised to meet these young energetic souls, who have devoted themselves to the cause of Ganga. They are working to save Ganga against human encroachments in the form of Dams and pollution. Krishna bless them for their noble goal.....

6th May, Sunday late morning, around 10 AM, we took a taxi with help from Nandiniji, to make a visit to sacred shrine of Neelkanth Mahadev.

It was a "rehersal" of our Himalayan Sojourn, starting the next day.

Neelkanth Mahadev
The temple is situated at a height of about 1500 meters and surrounded by dense forests. It is located about 22 km from Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh and the taxi took almost 2 hours to reach the temple, through curvy and tiring roads. Temperature was soaring, so those zigzag roads were even more uneasy. The taxi, had to stopped about 1 KM before the temple and we need to walk. This is because to avoid congestion as roads are narrow, parking space is limited and being holiday season, there was quite a good rush.

There was a long queue, and we have to wait for about 45 minutes to be in presence of Mahadev.

It is said that this is the place where Lord Shiva consumed the poison "Halahala" that originated from the sea when Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) churned the sea. The poison made his throat blue in color. Thus, Lord Shiva is also known as Nilkanth - The Blue throated one.

Neelkanth Mahadev in the form of Shivalinga is the presiding deity of the temple. The temple complex also has a natural spring, where devotees usually take a holy bath.

Getting blessed, we returned back to Parmarth Niketan Ashram and took our late lunch.

That evening, after Ganga Aarti and then dinner, we moved to Ganga Resort of Uttarakhand Tourism (GMVN - Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam). This resort is located on the right banks of Ganges downstream opposite to Parmarth Niketan.

The state of Uttarakhand is divided in two zones, Garhwal and Kumaon. All these four major pligrimage places are in Garhwal region.

Till late night, I just roamed on the banks of Ganges, felt peace and tranquailty. Being there is meditation, mind becomes calm, a sense of joy and happiness comes on its own.......

Our itinery as formulated by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) (Uttarakhand Tourism) was as follows. This included Vehicle as well as stay at GMVN tourist rest houses (TRH).

7th May (Day 1)
249 KMs drive from Rishikesh to Janki Chatti (Night halt)

8th May (Day 2)
10 km trek to and fro to Yamunotri
Then 50 KMs to Barkot (Night halt)

9th May (Day 3)
180 KMs drive to Gangotri (Night halt)

10th May (Day 4)
Darshan and then 100 KMs drive to Uttarkashi (Night halt)

11th May (Day 5)
265 KMs drive to Chandrapuri (Night halt)

12th May (Day 6)
50 KMs drive to Gaurikund and then 14 KKMs Trek to Kedarnath (Night halt)

13th May (Day 7)
Darshan and then 14 KMs trek down & 60 KMs drive to Ukhimath (Night halt)

14th May (Day 8)
200 KMs drive to Badrinath (Night halt)

15th May (Day 9)
Darshan and then 45 KMs drive to Joshimath (Night halt)

16th May (Day 10)
256 KMs drive to Rishikesh

The Trip Starts

Day-1, Monday, 7th of May

Monday, 7th May, at around 7:30 AM, we started for Yamunotri. It was via GMVN Tata Sumo Cab. Vehicle was in excellent condition. Driver Shyam Singh Pawar was quite experienced hill driver, being on such treacherous roads for more than 25 years.

There are two routes one is via Tehri, Dharasu, Barkot. Another is via Dehradun, Mussoorie, Barkot.

The latter route was taken. Road was good till Mussoorie, but after that it was very bad. Though after Mussoorie, it is along the banks of Yamuna, and hence giving solace of bad road.

We halted at Kempty Falls, Mussoorie for some tea break. The surrounding view was excellent. I was busy with my new Canon SX40 HS camera.

It was quite hot, but the gentle wind that was blowing gave us respite. After tackling bad raods, we rached Barkot in afternoon. Here at GMVN TRH, we had our lunch. The lunch was hygenic and decent.

After taking lunch and some rest, we started for Janki Chatti, which is about 50 KMs from Barkot.

The road became bad to worse and to add trouble, clouds gathered and a little drizzling started. By this time the temperature has dipped sharply. As we reached our destination of today, Janki Chatti, it was raining a bit moderately and we all were shivering with cold.

Chatti means a place to stay. In old days, there were small dwellings established by philantropists to help the pilgrims. There are many such Chattis on way to Yamunotri. Rana Chatti, Sayan Chatti, Hanuman Chatti etc are before Janki Chatti. Janki Chatti is the place, from where the trek of 5 KMs to Yamunotri starts.

Janki Chatti is a small town and the GMVN Tourist Rest house (GMVN TRH) was about half KMs away from the motorable road. We took the help of porters to carry our luggage as this distance was of constant ascent. Only satisfying thing was that it was enroute to Yamunotri, means we need to travel 1/2 Km less for Yamunotri.

We took the small but comfortable room at GMVN TRH and a cup of hot tea gave some strength against the shiverings.

The majestic view of "Bandar Poonch" peak was just amazing. Bandar Poonch hill holds the Champasar Glaciar and the SaptRishi Kund, which is the origin of river Yamuna. This place is 1 Km further up from Yamunotri. Very few but highly experienced trekkers dare to take this.

As the night approached the rains stopped and sky got clear, but it was almost freezing now, the TRH guys told me that if it rained again in late hours, snow fall may follow.

So with some apprehensions in mind, we took rest for the night after a good dinner. Needless to say again, it was very very cold, mercury was nearing zero, from morning till evening, we reached from 40 degrees to below zero!!!

Day-2, Tuesday, 8th of May

We woke up early and refreshed ourselves with a hot cup of tea. As there was plans to take bath at hot spring of Surya Kund at Yamunotri, we did not took bath at tourist rest house (TRH).

Four "Paalki" or palanquins were required for parents and in-laws. The District Panchayat regulates the porters. I booked four palnquins. They were expecting something more than the prescribed govenment rates, I was a bit angry, and threatened the porters to take to nearby police station. But my father-in-law handled the situation well and after some negotiation a compromise was settled. Parents and in-laws started for Yamunotri through palanquins. I realised my folly, anger does not solve any issue, it only complicates the matter.

Janki Chatti is about 2575 meters above sea and Yamunotri temple is about 3235 meters. So in next about 5 KMs, we need to take an ascent of about 700 meters.

Besides "Paalki", there were "Kandi" or basket to carry the elderly. The Paalki is carried by four people, while "Kandi" by one single fellow.

I felt this to be a bit inhuman, but as this is a good source of income for these poor villagers of nearby area and this also facilitates the pilgrims, who can't take the arduous trek on their own, I consoled my agitated mind.

Besides Kandi and Paalki, there are horses and ponies available. They take less time to reach, but I felt pit on these voiceless creatures, they carry pilgrims to get some food and shelter from their owner.

God is great!

The trek to Yamunotri is not very wide and has to accomodate Horses/Paalki/Kandi as well as trekkers like me. It was very dirty with horse waste and the rain of yesterday had made the things bad as a lot of mud mixed with horse waste was all over the path at many places, but the devotion and excitement to be at Temple took over all such feelings and me along with my brother and sister started the trek.

The valley around here is known as Rawaai. It is as charming for pilgrims as to the nature lovers.

I heard that state Government of Uttarakhand is planning to have ropeway from Janki Chatti till Yamunotri. It is good as it will facilitate the pilgrims. It is bad as the poor villagers will deprived of their income.
Trek to Yamunotri
With the name of merciful mother in mind, slowly we inched closer to the temple. The path is quite steep at a few places and we, the urban animals have forgotten the importance of physical endurance.

In between, there is a Bhairon Temple. We paid obeisance and moved further.

Trek was tough but it gave relaxation to mind and soul. Yamuna flowing gently on one side of route, numerous waterfalls rushing towards it, lush greenry and vegetation all helped us to keep the physical tiredness away.

One thing, I did not liked is that the solid waste of plastic bottles, fruit juices, cups etc being thrown in valley. Valley ecology is very fragile. I dont know why people dont have this sense of environment protection.

Krishna give us wisdom!

It took almost 3 hours to cover that distance of about 5 KMs. The sight of temple from far, made us fresh and relaxed.

Yamunotri Temple
 Oh destroyer of fear, Oh destroyer of Sorrow, make me pure, Oh Yamuna,
Who flows through Madhu forest, Who is daughter of Sun, Who merges with Ganges,
Who is the daughter of the sea, who considers Krishna as her ornament,
Who makes Lord Krishna happy, who removes fear from Gokula,
Who removes the sins of people, who grants wisdom, ,
And who has pattern of flow suitable to Krishna's play.
(Yamuna Ashtakam Shloka 2)

 It was quite a rush over that small place. Parents had reached already.

Immediately after reaching there, I rushed to take bath at the hot spring of Surya Kund. There are separate places to bath for men and women.

The temple of Yamuna, on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble.

The temple also has the deity of mother Ganga, made of white marble. It is said that she appeared with the penance of sage Asit, who wanted to take bath in both Yamuna and Ganga daily.

Close to the temple are hot water springs emanating from the mountain cavities. Near the Surya Kund there is a rock called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes, tied in cloth, to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs. Rice and potatoes, so cooked is taken back home as prasadam. The pujaris of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsaali near Janki Chatti. They are the administrators of the sacred place and perform religious rites.

Yamuna descending to earth

O Sri Yamuna, daughter of the Sun God ! Oh svamini or devotional ideal
who passionately draws the mind of Lord Krishna !
O compassionate one, shower your grace!
O charming and affectionate one !
(Sri Yamuna Stuti by Bhaktimati Usha Bahenji)

In winter, when the temple is closed, the "Vigraha" of divine mother is taken to village of Kharsaali near Janki Chatti on the other side of river. Till temple gets open in summer, she is worshipped at Kharsaali.

Yamuna is daughter of Sun, sister of Yamraj and Shani Dev and wife of Krishna.

I spend quite good time in the hot waters.

Then with the help of a priest, we performed pooja at Divya Shila, paid obesisnace to the small flow of a spring nearby, it is known as Yamuna Mukh, which perhaps symbolises Ganga.

Then we proceeded towards the temple and offered prayesr to the divine mothers of Yamuna and Ganga.

My parents took rice and potato, tied in a cloth and put it down in the hot waters. After some time, as it got half cooked was taken out and packed to be taken away as prasadam.
Bandar Poonch Peak (Behind Yamunotri)
After Pooja and Darshan, me and my brother headed towards the river bank to fill a small can of water to be taken to home. I also tasted the sweet icy waters flowing down from Kalind mountain.

Welcome Mother to the earth!

Please give us wisdom and strength, take away our sorrow and misdeeds.

We started back from Yamunotri in the afternoon. Ascent was tough but descent was not easy either. It put a lot of pressure on knees and toes. We took almost 2-1/2 hours to trek down.

It was late afternoon, we took lunch and started for Barkot, 50 KMs away. Challenging the bad roads in more than 2 hours, we reached there by late evening. A hot tea cup followed by a good dinner and nice sleep fulfilled the fantastic day!

Day-3, Wednesday, 9th of May

Morning, we started for second Dhaam on our itinery, Gangotri.

The route is Barkot - Dharasu - Uttarkashi - Bhatwari - Gangnani - Harsil - Gangotri.

The road was bad but better than Barkot - Yamunotri route.

We took lunch at Bhatwari, but it was not that great.

From Bhatwari, there is a trek route to Dyara Bugyal. It is a beautiful meadow witnessing the beauty of snow clad mountains around it.

After lunch, we proceeded reaching Gangotri by late afternoon.

The road is very bad after Gangnani. At some places in between, it is quite dangerous also, a new driver must be very cautious on this route.

The route was all along Bhagirathi.

After Harsil, the route is extremely scenic and beautiful. It started raining as we passed Harsil, mercury dipped to freezing level, but surroundings were more beautiful now.

After Lanka, the valley is known as Bhairon Ghaati. Here there is a temple of Bhairon Devta, who is said to be the guardian deity of Gangotri. We stopped there and visited the poerful shrine to take blessings.

I was feeling a bit sick here, some state of dizziness. Perhaps lack of proper sleep or tiredness or altitude or may be mix of all.

Later I felt, this sickness may be due to the energy at that place, perhaps I was not able to withstrand that!!

I tried to divert my attention to beautiful nature, consisting of pine and cedar trees.

It all gave solace to eyes and mind, and I felt better.

Gangotri is origin of Bhagirathi. It acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda (combined waters of Mandakini and Alaknanda).

Greed of humans can be seen everywhere. Multiple dams are example of it...restricting the free flow of river, putting it into tunnels, taking away through canals, free flow of sewage into it.... we are killing our rivers!

O merciful mother, give us wisdom!!

The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.

Gangotri Temple
Fortunate are my existance, my birth, my deeds, and my tough penance.
Fortunate are my eyes that I am seeing You, Who is revered by the Trilocana Śiva. Fortunate are my two hands which have touched Your water, and
Fortunate is my body which was associated with Your water for a short while.
(Sage Jahnu in Ganga Stuti Shloka 3)

As we approached Gangotri, it staretd drizzling. The GMVN TRH is on the other side of Bhagirathi, in between Surya Kund and Gauri Kund. Again with help of porters we carried our luggage.

Needless to say, GMVN TRH is an excellent place to stay.

After taking some rest and gulping perhaps two cups of tea, we decided to visit the temple. My in-laws were very tired so me, my siblings and parents, approached towards the holy shrine in mist a little drizzle.

Crowd was not much there, because of rain and freezing temperature, but this gave us wonderful oppertunity to be in shrine for good time.

Then we visited the banks of Mother Bhagirathi and paid respect to her life giving waters. We also paid respect to King Bhagirath at Bhagirath Shila, where the Sage King did his penance.

Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors, following his severe penance.

It is said that, King Sagar decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yagya. The horse, which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's sixty thousand sons. In my view sons means his army as in those days, king is assumed to be the father of the kingdom.

Indra, king of the Gods, feared that his throne may be lost to Sagar, if the Yagya succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil. The sons of the King Sagar searched for the horse and found it tied near the meditating sage. Angry sons of King Sagar stormed the ashram. When the sage opened his eyes, all were perished.

Bhagiratha, the great grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated at Gangotri, to please the Goddess Ganga to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation.

The rock on which he meditated is famous as Bhagirath Shila, it is near the bank, close to Gangotri temple.

It was Ganga Aarti time.

There is a Ganesh Temple on the banks and there the aarti happened, in rain, in mist, those words of devotion to the divine mother from her children was a wonderful environment to be in.

Feeling great, we traversed back to TRH, now it has started raining a bit heavily, shadowing ourselves with umbrella and with a cheap and useless polythene rain gear, we covered the distance slowly in dim light back to TRH.

It was a bitter cold night, remembering the divine mother, we slept in her lap.

Day-4, Thursday, 10th of May

We woke up earfly and getting started to visit the holy shrines again. One idea was to take bath at comfirtable hot waters at TRH, another option was to take bath at Icy cold waters of Bhagirathi.

Latter option was opposed by elders and so we all took bath at TRH. I am not that obedient to my elders, but to save myself from taking bath into cold waters of Bhagirathi, I showed great respect to thoughts of parents!

It was bright sunny morning and as others were getting ready I raomed outside TRH and took a few snaps of Surya Kund and Gauri Kund. There were rooms for many Sadhus near Gauri Kund. These "Kund" are deep gorges where the Bhaigarthi fells into. At surya Kund the rocks have been smoothened by her waters, just like smooth wood by chisel!!

We again visited The sacred temple, Bhaigarth Shila, Ganesh Temple and sat for a few minute near the waters of divine mother.

Infront of temple, there are idols of Shiva and mother and a sage. Shiva is trying to bind Ganges in his hair locks to save earth from destruction!!

Who is more savior that Shiva!!

Hail to you the God of Gods!! Salutations to you Mahadev!!

Protect me always from my enemies, including bad thoughts and misdeeds.

Like Yamunotri, here also, we all decided to have a pooja done. Brahmin priests from village of Mukhba, do the rites.
Bhagirathi at Gangotri @ morning
O Goddess, Who destroys sins,
and Who is situated in the tresses of Śiva! Salutations to You.
O Goddess, Who has come down on earth for the benefit of the world!
Salutations to You.
(Sage Jahnu in Ganga Stuti Shloka 4)

We did the pooja along with two priests and paid our respect to the mother divine.

I enquired about the route to Gaumukh. Only a max of 150 people per day are allowed to go there. Every traveller has to get registered at Police Post at Gangotri. I sought permission from parents there itself to visit Gaumukh coming year. With some question marks, they agreed.

It was now time to start journey to Uttarkashi.

There was a big jam on the road towards Gangotri. Weather was quite pleasant today with Lord Anshumaan helping all pilgrims with his warmth and light. We were stuck in that jam for quite some time, but it gave me oppertunity to fully use my new camera.

Play Ground of Gods, the Bhagirathi Peaks @ Gangotri
Again we took the same route that we took from Uttarkashi a day before to reach Gangotri. That is Gangotri - Harsil - Gangnani - Bhatwari - Uttarkashi.

As we crossed Harsil, we stopped in between to take some snaps around of the beautiful road amidst mountains and Bhagirathi. My father was not interested to stop there but my mother is always in my favor.

We also stopped at a place with very old temple of "Kalp Kedareshwar". It is a very old temple in the background of "Mukhba" village. This is the village, where the "Vigraha" of mother Ganga is brought from Gangotri during winter, when the temple gets closed.

Going further, we took some refreshment at Gangnani.

This place is famous for its hot spring. It is said that in ancient times, Rishi Parashar used to live here.

Many people were taking bath in the hot spring. I just touched it and paid my respect to the divinity.

After Bhatwari, as we appraoched Uttarkashi, there is an upcoming ashram of Mahaygi Pilot Baba. It can be easily recognised from far as it has a huge Shiva idol into its premises. Loacted on the banks of Bhagirathi, its a wonderful place to be. It is still under construction, but when it will be completed, it will be a worth visiting place and will provide solace to innumerable souls!!

Bhagirathi @ Uttarkashi Gangotri route
It was late afternoon as we entered the town of Uttarkashi.

Uttarkashi is an ancient place and as the name suggests isit the Kashi of north (Uttara). This place is held in same high veneration as Kashi (Varanasi). Both the Kashi are situated on the banks of the river Ganga (Bhagirathi). Uttarkashi, lies between the rivers Syalam Gad also known as the Varuna and Kaligad also known as the Asi. The Varuna and the Asi are also the names of the rivers between which the Kashi (Varanasi) lies. One of the holiest Ghats in Uttarkashi is Manikarnika so is the one by the same same in Varanasi. Both have temples dedicated to Vishwanath.

First of all we visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The Vishwanath Temple is Uttarkashi’s most venerated temple and draws a huge number of devotees from across India. The Shivling here is said to be swayambhu, that is, it  emerged from the earth on its own. The fact that the huge black stone shivling leans to the left is considered proof that it was not established by human and that it has existed since time immemorial. It is bathed and decorated every day with fresh dhatura and other seasonal flowers.

We paid our prayers to the Deva-dhi-dev Mahaadev!!

Shakti Temple and Kashi Vishwanath Temple @ Uttarkashi
I worship Shankara, Bhavani's husband,
The fierce, exalted, luminous supreme Lord.
Indivisible, unborn and radiant with the glory of a million suns;
Who, holding a trident, tears out the root of the three-fold suffering,
And who is reached only through Love.
(Rudraashtakam Shloka 5)

Located right opposite the Vishwanath temple, within the same compound, the Shakti temple is dedicated to the mother goddess of power in her reincarnation as Goddess Parvati. At the pride of place at this temple stands a magnificent about 8 m high trishul or trident, 1 m in circumference. Each prong is said to be about 2 m in length. One amazing feature of the trishul is said to be that it cannot be moved with force but it vibrates the moment you apply pressure with one of your fingers!

We salute to the auspicious one, the giver of auspiciousness.
The consort of Lord Shiva, who fulfils all our spiritual and material desires.
Our salutations to the three-eyed Divine Goddess Parvati or Narayani.
(Shri Durga Saptashati)

It was evening time and we reached GMVN TRH (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam - Tourist Rest House) at Uttarkashi. 

After taking some rest at TRH, I along with my father went out in search of an ATM and cyber-cafe. I was a bit suprised to see that charges were 1 rupee per minute, or 60 Rs per hour!! Normally at other big cities across India, it is no more than 10-15 Rs. per hour.

We also saw Kandar Devta Mandir and Parashuram mandir, close to Vishwanath Temple. Though we did not went inside. Kandar Devta Temple has Tibbetan architecture and it looked very beautiful. We took a good dinner and a good night sleep made us fresh for the journey forward.

Day-5, Friday, 11th of May

Early beautiful morning, after a good breakfast, we started for Chandrapuri. It was our that day's night halt place. It is enroute to Kedarnath about 65 Kms before it. Gaurikund is about 50 Kms from Chandrapuri. From Gaurikund, the 14 KMs terk to Kedarnath starts.

The route is Uttarkashi - Dharasu - Tehri - Srinagar - Rudraprayag - Chandrapuri.

As the day progressed, it became hot and humid, soon we were crossing the Tehri. The original Tehri have been submerged now into the depths of Tehri Dam. Many of us know that Dams provide us with electricity. But most of us dont know the associated cost. We have Dammed the Bhagirathi (and so many other rivers), we stopped her natural flow, reducing the quality and quantity of water downwards. Her waters are sipping through fragile mountains, make them even more fragile. I dont know, God help us, what will happen, if any natural disaster hit this area. This is under very high seismic zone.

Why government agencies pushed for this big dam at the cost of nature and uprooting and ancient city?

We spent some time, with my environmentalist father-in-law inspecting the zone closely. Worry was evident on his face, at this damage that we humans are doing to nature.

Ultimately it is going to cost us very dear.

Before Srinagar, we passed through the temple of Madho Singh Bhandari. It is said that, he was a brave soldier in the royal court of Srinagar. His village Muletha was dry and villagers were facing a lot of hardship, because of lack of water. Madho Singh decided to burrow a tunnel through mountain to divert the waters of Chandrabhaga river. But he was not successful.

It is said that, in his dreams, the mother Goddess came and asked him to sacrifice something which is most dear to him. Next day Madho Singh sacrificed his young son. It is said that water immediately start flowing through canal.

Today that village Muletha is green and prosperous. This sacrifice of Madho Singh Bhandari is a legend in folk tales and songs.

Villagers made him immortal through a temple dedicated to this brave.

Afternoon, we reached Srinagar (Garhwal) and took the lunch at GMVN TRH.

Located on the banks of Alaknanda is the town of Srinagar (Garhwal). It is said that Srinagar received its name from Shri Yantra, so powerful that whoever set their eyes on it would immediately die. It is believed to have taken many lives before Aadi Guru Shankaracharya visited Srinagar and turned the Shri Yantra upside down and hurled it into the nearby river Alaknanda. To this day, this is believed to be lying deep inside the river. That area is now known as Shri Yantra Tapu.

Taking some rest after lunch at Srinagar, we proceeded towards Chandrapuri, reaching there by evening. I want to halt at Rudraprayag, which is Sangam (confluence) of Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers. But then we proceeded and decide to halt at this place, while returning from Badrinath.

From Rudraprayag till Kedarnath, the route is along the Mandakini river. Mandakini originates from Charabari Glaciar behind Kedarnath.

We also crossed through Agastyamuni. It is about 20 kilometers from Rudraprayag along the banks of the beautiful Mandakini. The place is so named after the sage Agastya who is believed to have meditated here for long.

Temple of Agasteshwar Mahadev is consecrated to sage Agastya is located here. But it was not part of our itinery so we just proceeded further to Chandrapuri a few KMs ahead. 

Mandakini @ Chandrapuri
 Situated on the banks of Mandakini river, Chandrapuri is a small town. The GMVN TRH is ideally loacted, with rooms just next to the flowing crystal clear waters of Mandakini.

It is very beautiful and calm place surrounded by dense green mountains and we enjoied our evening sitting on the banks, taking snaps and gulping tea after tea. Then went down up to the river bed and jumped around the boulders on the river while enjoing the sunset sitting over a boulder.

Some environmental activists, met my father-in-law and narrated the plight of rivers due to human greed.

I just roamed along the banks, watched the flowing river, snow clad Kedar peaks, sunset and then stars lit sky. The breeze was cold but quite soothing to the soul, here one forgets about everything materialistic... things get merged into one, only one reality.

Ekam Bramha dvitiyo Na-asti..
(Everything is only one Bramha, nothing is besides him)

Even after dinner, when everybody slept, I was just sitting there, trying to access, how much I am close to reality, why my mind drags me away from it. Why? Is it what the ascetics say "Maya".

Why I feel seperate from all this divine...

Krishna help me, realise you!!

It was mid-night.. I just walked to my room and tried to sleep. Next day was a trek to Kedarnath, the arduous way to get the most benevolent God of Gods Mahadev.

Day - 6, Saturday, 12th of May

Initial plan was that we will start early, take the breakfast at GMVN TRH at Rampur and then will proceed to Gaurikund.

We decided otherwise, we took breakfast at Chandrapuri GMVN TRH itself and then took the road to Gaurikund. Still we stopped at Rampur GMVN TRH, to offload some of the luggage and kept with only that we need to carry to Kedarnath.

We passed through GuptaKashi, where there is an ancient temple of Shiva. It is said that Shiva resided here to be away from the Pandav brothers, who had slayed their own kith and kin in Mahabharat war.

Shiva was not willing to meet them since he was annoyed with them for the war. He, therefore, avoided meeting them at Kashi and came to Guptakashi and took the form of a Bull. Pandavas pursued him to Guptakashi and recognized him in the disguised form of Bull. When Bhima, tried to hold the bull by its tail and hind legs, Shiva in the form of Bull vanished into the ground, but reappeared later as Shiva in five different forms namely, hump at Kedarnath, face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks at Kalpeshwar. The vanishing act of Shiva gave the name Guptakashi (hidden Kashi) to this place.

It is also believed that the fore portions of Shiva appeared at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu

These five places are known as Panch Kedar.

As we proceeded further, after SonPrayag there was big Jam. SonPrayag is the place where SonGanga (Basuki) meets Mandakini. Triyuginarayan, which is said to be the marriage place of Lord Shiva and Parvati, is at a distance of 14 kms. by bus and then 5 KMs. on foot from here.

The main reason of traffic jam is that from SonPrayag till Gaurikund (about 15 Kms), it is single road and hence the autorities have to pass vehicles from one direction and then stop movement in that direction so that vehicle from other direction can proceed.

We were there waiting for more than an hour and then proceeded to Gaurikund.

Legend say that Gauri Kund is the spot where Gauri lived while carrying out penance and it was here that Shiva finally agreed to marry her.

They were married at Triyugi Narayan, near SonPrayag. It is said that the fire, used as testimony to marriage is still lit there.

There is a natural hot spring, where people take bath. Some people also do "Pind-Daan" for their ancestors here.

It was already about 11 AM, so we were in ahurry as to path to Kedarnath will take atleast 6-8 hours. I wanted to reach there before dark to avoid the evening and night chillness and also try to have a darshan in evening/night itself.

So we did not stopped at Gaurikund. I went to Panchayat office to arrange four palanquins for parents and in-laws. Helicopetr is also an option and is not very costly, if you compare the cost with respect to Palanquin cost, but to feel the place, one need to take the trek route.

Like Yamunotri, me, my brother and sister decided to trek.

The route is wider here as compared to Yamunotri, but quite tough. This 14 Kms trek takes you an ascent of about 1600 meters.

I did a mistake here, perhaps I over-estimated my capabilities.

I carried a bag of perhaps 8-10 Kg with me. I should have given this to one of our parents. Initial 2-3 KMs was fine but soon I feeling exhausted, my siblings were also in same situation, so I asked them to take a horse each. They were not agreed to leave me behind, but I forced them. In this way I also got releived of my luggage and so was more agile now.

A few KMs further, about 6 KMs from Gaurikund, I was badly tired and exhausted. Even in that rush, I was able to hear only one sound, the rapid pumping of my heart, which was trying its best to supply oxygen, to make me moving. I had another concern that I wanted to reach there with sufficient time in hand to do darshan this evening itself.

Finally I gave up, I bowed down to merciful Shiva and decided to take a horse for me as well.
Trek to Kedarnath
So for me about 6 KMs on foot and rest about 8 on horse back.

This was my first experience on horseback and felt quite uncomfortable initially but slowly got hold of it. Many people are very scared on being on horseback and a few people try to jump as the horse become close to the edges of path. Remember, one side is always a deep vally with Mandakini flowing through it. Jumping off horse is a dangerous thing to do and as the people did this, they injure themselves.

A person has to be physically and mentally fit to take Kedarnath yatra. Please get the medical test done for heart etc. and take doctor advice, if one is above 50.

Oxygen cylinders may be required by some as at Kedarnath, particularly at night, oxygen levels are very less and so some people feel breathlessness. These cylinders are very light weight, may be 250 Gms. and can be hired and if not used, can be returned with some minimal deduction in money.

There is a place called Raambara, about 7 KMs from Gaurikund, where one can take lunch etc. Though throughout the route, there are shops selling refreshments, at almost double the prices.

These mid-way shops are doing good service but are responsible for all the solid waste pollution around the valley. Neither the people nor government have any concern about it.

My advice, if one wants to trek, dont carry any luggage with you, but keep some woolen cloths, cap and umbrella with you. Carrying anything else will drain you off soon and so will be difficult to trek.

Another thing is try to start from Gaurikund as early as possible. Afternoons, the weather is highly unpredictable.

If you bare with kids, with they being carried through Palnquin/Kandi/Horse, make sure to keep pace with them, otherwise all will get seperated on this arduos long trek.

The route is very scenic and beautiful, we passed through Rudra Falls and Mahadev Falls, water falling down like pearls in shadow of mists and rushing to meet the Mandakini flowing gracefully in the valley below.

There was a few places, huge boulders of snow, some people trying to stand on it, but I felt it to be dangerous. People sometimes becomes over-thrilled after seeing snow and try to do all kind of non-sense things which could be potentially dangerous.

Another thing, go via the prescribed route, dont try to take any short cut route, it can be a disaster!! Short cuts are not for us, they are for local people, how are well versed with those paths and conditions.

With grace of almighty Shiva, things went fine for me. My horse was very agile and I was first to reach, among all my family members, the Kedarnath at about 4:45 PM.

I waited for sometime for all to come. Everybody was overwhelmed with joy of being at Kedarnath, It was bitter cold evening but all hearts were filled with joy. We were at the royal courts of Shiv Shambhu!!


Kedarnath Temple
 I worship Shankara, whose form is white as the Himalyan snow,
Radiant with the beauty of countless Cupids,
Whose head sparkles with the Ganga,
With crescent moon adorning his brow and snakes coiling his neck

(Rusdraashtakam Shloka 3)

We crossed mandakini and went to GMVN TRH. After taking some rest, we proceeded to temple.

It was a bit long queue, but with bliss everywhere, we did not felt any physical discomfort.

There are two darshan there. Morning darshan is called "Nirvaan Darshan", when one can see the hump shaped natural rock shivling. Evening darshan is "Shringaar Darshan", when the lingam is decorated with flowers.

We did the "Evening Shringaar Darshan". The lingam is decorated with flowers. With all humblness in heart, we bowed down to merciful almighty lord of lords.

We had decided to do morning darshan as well, but my father-in-law enquired about special pooja and we took the ticket for "Shodashopchar Pooja" scheduled be at 1130 PM (night).

We went back to TRH and took the dinner and some time later again came back.

I saw many Sadhus there, with minimal cloths, but well built body and glowing faces. They are happy always, they dont have anything materialistic, no money, no belongings not even cloths in that bitter sub zero temperatures.

Why we are not happy always!

Peak @ Kedarnath
The temple is surrounded by snow cald high HImalayan peaks. They seems like offering silently their prayers to Lord always.

There was a small queue, we went in the sanctum and waited for our turn. Inside temple, one can see the idols of Pandava brothers, their mother Kunti and Krishna. The original temple is said to be constructed by Pandav brothers.

A priest assisted us with pooja. Ghee and Ganga jal was offered with our hands to presiding dity in form of a hump shivlingam. It was amazing experience.

I was feeling a bit suffocation there. Temple is closed from all side and as there were many people inside, oxygen levels must have got reduced, in already depleted oxygen atmosphere.

With mercy of kind Lord, things went fine and happily we came out bowing head to the lotus feet of Lord.

With bliss in mind and joy in heart, we returned back to our rooms. It was very very cold and with full winter clothings and two balnkets and a "Razai" made us sleep.

Day - 7, Sunday, 13th of May

Morning, I wanted to visit Bhairon Temple, which is on left side of Kedarnath temple at a trek of about half an hour. But we were a bit late in getting ready, so I dropped the plan and instead again visited the main temple premises and also the Shankaracharya Samadhi.
There is also a small temple, inside main temple complex. It is Ishaan Dev temple.

Bowing myself there, I proceeded towards aadi guru Shankara samadhi. It is towards right side, behind the main temple.

Aadi Shankara took samadhi here at the age of just 32 years. He was single handedly responsible for reviving the Sanatan (Eternal) Dharma.

Aadi Shankaracharya Samaadhi @ Kedarnath
I was there for some time and bowed my head to master.

Please bless me Aadi Guru, a single dust particle from your lotus feet will giving me everlasting bliss and enlightenment!

I just roamed there for some time, trying to capture the nature as much as possible through my lenses, then went back to hotel to take breakfast.

It was time to depart to Gaurikund.

Parents started with palanquins. Me, my brother and sister, had another round of temple complex and also Aadi Shanakar Samadhi.

Then we started trek back. We were determind to walk now. Luggage was offloaded to Palanquins. So we were free of carrying anything and filled with bliss and joy in mind and heart, were ready to accept the challenge.

Peak @ Kedarnath

As I mentioed earlier also, descending is as difficult as ascending. Knees and toes starts paining and it seems that legs have become so heavy.

Plus point was the beauty of nature, which is just superb. It sotths the soul, a person getting mesmerised just moves into meditation... which the sages called as Turiya stage. Fully awake to senses but deep in meditation!!!
Peak @ Kedarnath
That is the stage of Shiva. As as Aadi Guru Shankar says in Nirvaan Shatakam..

Mano budhya ahankara chithaa ninaham,
Na cha srothra jihwe na cha graana nethrer,
Na cha vyoma bhoomir na thejo na vayu,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham.
(Shloka 1)

Neither am I mind, nor intelligence,
Nor ego, nor thought,
Nor am I ears or the tongue or the nose or the eyes,
Nor am I earth or sky or air or the light,
Indeed am I auspiciousness, pure bliss,
That shiva alone am I

It took us about 5-1/2 hours to reach Gaurikund at around 2 PM. Parents and in-laws had reached already and were waiting for us.

I returned the unused oxygen cylinders and then visited the ancient Gauri Temple and the "Gauri Kund", a testimony of mother's penance.

Peak @ Kedarnath
 It started raining as we reached Gaurikund. We took some rest taking tea and snacks. Medanwhile the rains gave way to beautiful sunlight. Shyam Singh appeared with Sumo and we were on way to Rampur to take our luggage.After taking tea and some rest at Ramput GMVN TRH, we were on our way to Ukhimath.

The route is via Rampur - GuptKashi - Kund - Ukhimath

From Kund, one road goes to Rudraprayag, another to Chamoli via Ukhimath, Chopta and Gopeshwar.

It was late afternoon that we reached the ancient sacred town of Ukhimath.

During the winters, the idols from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped here at the Omkareshwar Temple for six months.

Ukhimath can be used as center point for visiting different places located nearby, i.e. Madhmaheshwar (Second Kedar) and Tungnath (Third Kedar).

Ukhimath is mainly inhabited by the Rawal’s who are the head priests of Kedarnath. They ar Lingayat Swamy from north Karnataka.

Legend says that, Ukhimath name is derived after the daughter of Banasur, Usha. Next to temple, there is mutt, with seat of rawal. It also has the marriage compund of Aniruddh, grand son of Krishna and usha, daughter of Banasur.

It also has temple dedicated to Usha, Aniruddha, Lord Shiva, Mother Parvati and sage Mandhata.

Behind temple there is a "Panch Kedar" temple, with five Lingas symbolising "Panch Kedar" and also a "Vaarahi Devi" Temple.

After visiting Omkareshwar temple and all other shrines in the compound, we proceeded towards GMVn TRH. It was late evening. A cup of hot tea and comfortable sitting in the lawns overlooking the Himalayan beauty, helped overcome our tiredness.

We took dinner and a comfortable sleep made us ready to our last "Dhaam" of our itinery, the Badri Vishaal.

Day - 8, Monday, 14th of May

At Ukhimath GMVN TRH, we met with Mr. Robert Luck, a British national, who with his BMW bike was on a trip to Himalayas.

Morning after a good breakfast, we started for Badrinath.

The route is via Chopta - Gopeshwar - Chamoli - Joshimath - Badrinath.

Interestingly the passenger buses plying on this route are known as "Bhookh Hartaal Bus Seva" (Hunger Strike Bus Service). Earlier there was no buses plying on this route, perhaps not many passengers were there or some other reason, I dont know. The local people were forced to do hunger strike, when the authorities did not heard their plight.

Finally the bus service started on thos route and so its still famous as "Bhookh Hartaal bus Seva".

The route is full of scenic beauty. The forests of Pine, Cidar and Rhododendron, are just captivating. Very few vehicles were there and the atmosphere was very calm, quite and serene.

Overlooking the great Himalayan peaks and passing through the dense forests amid sound of birds, we reached Chopta.

We stopped there for some time and took tea.

Chopta is commencement point to 3rd of Panch Kedar, Tungnath, which is About 3-1/2 KMs trek from here.

Chopta offers amazing views of the Himalayan range of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba. It is said to be one of the most picturesque spot of Uttarakhand state.

Soothing our eyes and soul, we marched ahead and reached Gopeshwar by noon, which is 40 KMs further.

Gopeshwar is famous for its weather, which is pleasant most of the year, though very cold in December and January. An ancient temple of Lord Shiva is the main attraction of the town.

As we crossed Gopeshwar and approached Chamoli, we were greeted by Alaknanda. From now onwards till Badrinath, the route is along Alaknanda.

At around noon we reached Birahi and took some refreshment at GMVN TRH there. Here the Birahi Ganga meets with Alaknanda.

We proceeded further through that zigzag roads and as we were about 25 KMs from Joshimath, suddenly with a big sound, something went wrong with engine of Sumo cab. Engine sound increased considerably and it was not able to take the load. We got worried. Shyam Singh stopped the cab and inspected. The problem was beyond his capabilities to be corrected so after some discussion, we decided to drive somehow till Joshimath. There some help was expected.

Moving slowly and carefully, we appraoched Joshimath and were releived to reach there. Badrinath is further 45 KMs from here.

Shyam Singh took it to a machanic, who was his old friend, while we just roamed in the town and took some tea and snacks. Finally after spending about 2 hours or so, to our delight, the meachanic declared, cab is fine now.

We boarded immediately. There is travel restriction in between Joshimath and Badrinath as road is quite narrow. When I had visited this sacred place, last time, it was single road on this route and hence vehicle movement was in one direction only at a time till they are halted at Pandukeshwar in between.

Now things have become better. Border Road Organisation (BRO) is working to make road wider.

We saw a lot of army movement. Badrinath is very clsoe to Tibet border and hence is reason.

Slowly we moved along the banks of Alaknanda.

At Pandukeshwar, there is a road which leads to Hemkund Sahib, a place sacred to Sikhs. Also nearby is world famous the Valley of flowers.

I have plans to visit these place one day....by grace of Krishna!!

As we approached Badrinath, the weather became a bit violent, with lightening and a bit drizzling. Temperature fell down drastically as we gained height and Lord Anshumaan was overlapped by the dark clouds.

"There in Badrikashram the supreme being (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities."
(Shri Mad Bhagavata Purana 3.4.22)

It is said that Budhists had thrown the Vishnu Idol into Alaknanda. When Aadi Guru Shankara came here and knew about this, he jumped into the icy cold waters of Alaknanda and retrieved the idol from Narad Kund. He enshrined this black Shaligram idol in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved it to the present temple. The temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches and restored by the royal houses of Scindia & Holkar. The main entrance gate is colourful & imposing and seems to be influenced by tibbetan architecture.

Shri Badri Vishaal
Lord Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the Universe.
He is always quiet and rests on the great serpent bed.
The lotus of the creative power springs from the navel of Lord Vishnu.
He is the Ultimate Power, who supports the entire universe.
The divine Lord Vishnu is all-pervading as the sky and dark like the clouds.
Vishnu, the lotus-eyed one, is the Lord of Lakshmi.
The ascetics observe Lord Vishnu through meditation.
Lord Vishnu is the destroyer of the fear of Samsar.
We surrender to such great lord.

At an elevation of 3,133 meters, Badrinath is situated in the valley of Nar and Narayan Parvat. The majestic Neelkanth peak (6,597mts.) is in the background. Neelkanth can be beautifully seen when weather is good otherwise its always covered with mist.

To revive the Sanatan Dharma and to unite the country, Aadi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four pilgrimage centres in four corners of Badrikashram in the north, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east.

It is said that this revered spot was once covered with forest of berries, which gave it the name 'Badri Van'. Legend has it that Goddess Lakshmi took the form of the berries to protect Lord Vishnu from the harsh climate during his long penance.

As we reached "Devlok" the GMVN TRH, the weather was a bit ok, in the sense that it was not raining.

Immediately after unloading our luggage and dumping it in our roooms, we rushed to have darshan of the Lord of Lords.

I remember the great hymn of HiranyaGarbha Sukta of RigVeda...

In the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha,
born Only Lord of all created beings.
He fixed and holdeth up this earth and heaven.
What God shall we adore with our oblation?
(Shloka 1)

By him the heavens are strong and earth is steadfast,
by him light's realm and sky-vault are supported:
By him the regions in mid-air were measured.
What God shall we adore with our oblation?
(Shloka 5)

Prajapati! thou only comprehend all these created things,
and none beside thee.
Grant us our hearts' desire when we invoke thee,
may we have store of riches in possession.
(Shloka 10)

My father-in-law had arranged the darshan ticket and so we went straight to temple and in the "Sabha Mandap".

It was so nice to be there... here was the King God, the omnicient, the omnipotent,

....I dont have words to explain
....To him Vedas say "Neti" ... nothing beyond him.

How I can explain him?

Vishnu Sahastra Naam Chanting was in progress, with folded hand and tearful eyes, I bowed down to the supreme Lord.

The Temple sanctum has 15 idols, most attractive being the idol of Lord Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents Lord Vishnu seated in a "Padmasan" mudra (pose).

Standing to the right side of Lord Badri is Uddhava. To the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Narada Muni is kneeling in front on the right side. On the left side are Kubera, the god of wealth, and Ganesh. Garuda is kneeling in front, to the left of Badrinarayana.

We were there till chanting was over and then we came out.

Right side of main temple is the shrine of Goddess Lakshmi. It is said that, who once visits Badrinath, Mother Lakshmi always bless him.

We paid our reverance to the supreme mother.

Left side of temple has shrines of Hanuman, Nar-Narayan and Lokpal Ghantakaran. It is said that Ghantakaran was an ardent devotee of Shiva and he had put ghanta (bell) near his ears, so that he shoudl not even hear the name of anyone except Shiva.

Shiva got pleased with his penance but asked him to get rid of falkse pride and worship Vishnu.

It is said that:

The heart of Vishnu is Shiva,
the heart of Shiva is Vishnu!!

Ghantakaran did severe penance for Lord Vishnu. Being happy with him, the lord made him the deity here.

It started drizzling now. The evening sky was filled with dark clouds. The God of rain and clouds were offering what all they have to the merciful Lord!

And the Lord accept what all his devotees offer him, for him only the love matters!

There are famous "Panch Shila" (Five Rocks) near the temple. These are Narad, Narasinh, Vaarah, Garud and Markandey. These are asscoiated with the Lords as the name suggests. Some guide/priest is required to help identify these. 

We took the early morning "Geeta Paath" (Geeta Recitation) ticket from the counter at right hand side of main temple.

Now we returned back to GMVN TRH and took rest after a good dinner. It was raining heavily by now.

Rain God was worshipping the great Lord!!

Day - 9, Tuesday, 15th of May

Morning the weather was good, we all got ready for the early morning pooja. As per the tradition, we should take bath at "Tapt Kund" but in a hurry, we took bath at our room and proceeded to temple. But I rushed to Tapt Kund, before entering into temple and bowed down to the hot waters, putting it on my head and carrying some for my parents, in-laws and siblings.

There was a good rush for special Pooja, The authorities were allowing that many number of peole, who can be accomodated in the "Sabha Mandapam". We patiently waited for our turn.

Meanwhile I tried to take a few snaps of snow clad peaks, but one priest objected. I had some arguments with him, finally elders interfered and the matter closed.

As our turn came, we went inside and sat infront of the Lord. With devotion in heart, I just listened the hymns and felt humbled.

How great you are my Lord... How merciful you are!!

Lord Anshumaan was filling sky with his rays, as we came out of temple.

We headed towards "BramhaKapal". My parents and in-laws had decided to do "Pind-daan" for ancestors here.

This place is said to be most auspicious to do "Pind-Daan". It is said that "Pind-Daan" here is eight times more auspicious than that done at Gaya.

It is said that Lord Shiva had cut one head of Bramha to punish him and here he got rid of this sin.

First we did Pooja with the help of a priest and then headed towards Bramhakapaal. It is on the left side of the main shrine.

Parents and in-laws got involved into "Pind-Daan" pooja and we roamed in the area, soothing our eyes with snow clad peaks and rapidly flowing Alaknanda. After the rites done, we walked through the small market, infront of temple and did some shopping and then a breakfast of samosas. I had taken these after a while and were delicious.

We took the cab and headed towards the ancient village of Maana.

We also stopped at a place called "Shesha Netra" (Shesha Eye). It is huge rock with carving of a big eye. It is not very far from temple on Maana road and is next to Shankaracharya Ashram on Maana road.

There was a rush of vehicle at Maana. So we had to walk some distance. My father and father-in-law also accompanied me, my brother and sister for some distance but they gave up soon and stopped to take rest and then returned back to vehicle.

We three siblings, first went towards "Bheem Shila".

This path along Alaknanda goes towards Vasudhara and Satopanth Galciar. This is the origin of Alaknanda, about 7 KMs from here.

Swarga-Aarohini Peak, Visible in between @ Maana
Further there is "Swarga-Aarohini Parvat", it can be seen from Maana, at your left side along Alaknanda river, if weather is good. It is said that Pandavas took this route for salvation. One by one Draupadi and all brothers died in between, only Yudhishitir reached there. Then at "Swarga-Aarohini Parvat", Gods greeted him and he attained the heavens.

To cross the river, Bheem put the rock and so its called as "Bheem Shila" or "Bheem Pul" (Bheem Bridge).

Last time, when I had came here, it was the rock, which we were able to see and cross the river through that. It was clearly evident from that view that someone has put that rock, on the river stream. Now the authorities have constructed a proper bridge over it and the original shila (rock) is below it and hence no more visible.

Saraswati River emanting near Bheem Shila @ Maana
Next to Bheem Shila, on the right side, is the origin of River Saraswati. The water is gushing out through a small cave. It flows down a further may be 100 meters and merges with Alaknanda.

The surrounding areas are dotted with lot of caves and ascetics.

We reurned back towards maana and ascended to Ganesh Gufa (Ganesh Cave) and Vyas Gufa (Vyas Cave).

First is Ganesh Gufa. It is said that here Lord Vinayaka wrote "Mahabhart" as requested by Sage Ved Vyas. After paying our obeisance, we ascended further for Vyas Gufa.

This is the place where sage Ved Vyas stayed and wrote all the "Puraans", including "Shri Mad-Bhagwat Puraan".

Shri Mad-Bhagwat recitation was in progress inside the cave. We sat down for few minutes. Being there is just amazing. A flow of peace and tranquality covered me. I felt so joyful.

Time to head back!

We joined our waiting parents about 5oo meters down Maana and proceeded towards Shankaracharya Ashram. The authorities had invited my father-in-law and all of us for lunch at ashram.

There is also a Shiva temple, with Sphatik Shivalinga at Shankaracharya Ashram. Sphatik Shivalinga is said to be very auspicious.

We took the prasadam and returned to "Devlok",the GMVN TRH.

Now we had to start for Joshimath.

Bowing to the Lord, we started back to Joshimath. It took around 2-1/2 hours to reach Joshimath GMVN TRH.

Our "Chaar Dhaam" (Four Abodes) trip was highly rewarding and joyful.

Before reaching Joshimath, we stopped briefly at Vishnu Prayag.

Road to Badrinath @ Vishnu Prayag
Vishnuprayag is confluence of the Dhauliganga (right) with the Alaknanda (left). The Alaknanda River, which originates in the eastern slopes of glacier fields of Chaukhamba at Satopanth, is joined by the Saraswathi River near Maana (KeshavaPrayag) and then meets the Dhauli Ganges River, whose origin is from the Niti Pass, after traveling a distance of 25 KMs from its source to form the Vishnu Prayag. This stretch of the Alaknanda River is called the Vishnu Ganga.

Legend narrates the worship offered by sage Narada to god Vishnu at this confluence. An octagonal shaped temple, located near the confluence is said to be constructed by Maharani Ahilya Bai of Indore. We visited the temple and then took the stairway from behind the temple to the Vishnu kund. There is a hanging bridge over here and we spend some good time with nature.

Once at Joshimath GMVN TRH, we took some rest and then we siblings, went out to explore the town.

This place was known as Jyotirmath, which later became as Joshimath. In 8th centrury AD Aadi Guru Shankara came here and got enlightenment here in a cave.

The Shankaracharya math is close to GMVN TRH. As we started for it, first we visited "Bhavishya Kedar" Temple, which is on the way and paid obeisance to the Lord.

There is continuos ascend for these places, though distance is not much.

Going further, there are two Shankaracharya Maths and then there is small Shiva temple below a Mulberry (Shah-toot in hindi) tree. We went inside, there is a lingam and a flame, said be glowing since the times of Aadi Guru. This ShivaLingam is said to be worshipped by Aadi Guru himself.

A few naga sadhus stay there.

Shankaracharya Cave @ Joshimath
Below that tree, and a bit adjacent to it, there is a cave with idol of Aadi Guru Shankaraacharya. Here he used to stay and got the enlightenment.

On the other side of the road, there is "Poornagiri Temple", and entrance to one of the two Shankara Math.

The lineage of Shankaracharya was established by Aadi Guru himself. Till 1833 AD, there were Shankaracharya, responsible for all religious activities at Badrinath. In 1833 AD, after the demise of then Shankaracharya, as he had not declared his next in line, the post remained vacant till 1998 AD.

In 1998 AD, there was a big debate to have Shankaracharya. Many "Shankaracharya" claimed to be eligible. Even today, we have more than one claimant.

Hence the two Shankaracharya Math here and we visited both.

First one, and which I felt is older one, is next to Poornagiri Temple. It has the Shankaracharya Gaddi (seat). It also has an ancient temple of Hanuman, in lying pose. Also there are idols of lying Bheeshma as well as Shiva blessing all.

Then we went to the second math.

It has beautiful temples of Shri Lakshminarayan and Mother Raj-Rajeshwari. It also has a cave, where "Totakacharya" did penance. He was the disciple of Aadi Guru Shankaracharya. He was nominated by Aadi Guru to be the first Shankaracharya of Badrinath.

After getting blessed with serene environment there, we proceeded towards ancient Narasimha temple.

This was a bit far (may be about 1 KMs from here) and tired we were already, so were a bit unwilling, but mind gained over body and we proceeded.

It is a complex of temples with many shrines. We paid our obeisance and were blessed to be there. Infront of the shrine is a shrine of mother goddess lakshmi.

Infront of these shrines, in same complex, there are temples of Hanuman, Vasudev, Shiva, Bhairav, Ganesh with eight hands, Nav Durga, Kaali and Garuda.

It is said that the arm of Lord Narasimha is very thin. The day, it will break, the route to Shri Badri Vishaal, will get closed. Further pooja will happen at "Bhavishya Badri", near Joshimath.

After Badrinath temple gets closed in winter around Diwali, the "Vigraha" of Lord Vishnu is taken to Narasimha temple here at Joshimath.

Daily pooja happens here then till temple at Badrinath open in summer on "Akshaya Tritiya" day.

It is said that the lamp lit, while temple getting closed, remains lit, when the temple is opened about 6 months later. Many people come to Badrinath to see the openeing ceremony here.

Auli is located around 16 KMs, from Joshimath. This is famous for winter sports. There is a cable car from Joshimath to Auli. But it was not functional at that time. Anyway we were short of time.

It was a bit dark, when we were back to GMVN TRH. Badly tired, we got a good sleep after a good dinner.

Day - 10, Wednesday, 16th of May

Wednesday morning, we woke up with some luxury, it was about 6 AM.

It was last day of our this itinery and hence we all were happy and satisfied with it.

After breakfast, we started for Rishikesh.

The route is Joshimath - NandaPrayag - KarnaPrayag - RudraPrayag - Srinagar (Garhwal) - DevPrayag - Rishikesh

In between, we stopped briefly at all the "Prayag"

Prayag is the confluence place of two rivers.

There are famous "Panch Prayag" in Himalayas. These are VishnuPrayag, NandaPrayag, KarnaPrayag, RudraPrayag and DevPrayag.

VishnuPrayag is in between Joshimath and Badrinath and that we had already visited yesterday.

About 2 hours from Joshimath and at around 60 KMs from Joshimath is NandaPrayag.

The Nandakini River meets the Alaknanda River in Nandprayag is the second Prayag. According to one tale, King Nanda performed Yagnya here and hence the confluence is named after him. It is also said that wedding of King Dushyant and Shakuntala took place at this place.

The place is very serene and perfect for meditation.

Next step was KarnaPrayag, about 20 KMs from NandaPrayag.

Here Alaknanda River is joined by the Pindar River that originates from the Pindar glacier, below the Nanda Devi hill range. As per Mahabharata, the great archer Karna did penance here and earned the protective gear of Kavacha (armour) and Kundala (ear rings) from his father, the Sun God,which made him indestructible.

We visited the Karna Temple and offered our reverence.

There is the stone where Karna is said to have did the penance. A temple is there of Mother Goddess Uma, the daughter of the Himalayas. Also in the shrine, there are images of goddesss Parvati, Shiva and Ganesha are installed, next to that of Uma Devi, apart from Karna’s image.

A steep row of steps from the temple leads to the confluence point.

KarnaPrayag is a junction point in a manner that a road from here connects this region to Kumaon areas of Nainital, Almora etc. In my last trip to Badrinath from Dwarahat, I had taken this route to reach KarnaPrayag and then proceeded towards Badrinath.

The next stop was RudraPrayag. It is about 35 KMs from KarnaPrayag.

Rudraprayag is the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Mandakini rivers. The confluence is named after Lord Shiva.

According to legend, Shiva performed the Tandava here. Shiva also played his favourite musical instrument the Rudra Veena here.

It is also said that sage Narada had penance here and got the playing skills of Rudra Veena through Shiva. Temples dedicated to Rudranath (Shiva) and goddess Chamunda are located here. We stepped down to confluence and then took steps to ascend to Ganga Temple and then the Rudra and Chamunda temples.

The priest asked me. "Are you coming from Bangalore"? I was stunned to hear this. Was it a pure guess or he had some powers,I dont know. Though I replied that I am from Lucknow. Hearing this he just smiled and we took the route to the road, where our cab was waiting for us.

RudraPrayag is also became world famous during 1920s because of a man eating leopard. JIm Corbett killed him but by the time he had killed many humans. "Man eating Lepopard of RudraPrayag" by Jim Corbett is a quite interesting book to read.

Now we were on way to Devprayag, the last of the Prayags. It is about 70 KMs from RudraPrayag.

When we reached DevPrayag, it was quite hot and humid, we all were sweating in our winter gears, so after cab stopped we offloaded ourselves from winter clothings.

Devprayag is the confluence of the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda. Beyond this confluence, the river is known as Ganges, as it moves to plains at Rishikesh. The holiness of this place is considered equal to the famous Triveni Sangam confluence at Allahabad.

The confluence got the name DevPrayag from a poor Brahmin called Deva Sharma who performed “rigorous religious austerities” here and was blessed by Lord Raam.

There are two Kunds or Ponds on the banks of the rivers, these are: the Vasistha Kund on the Bhagirathi and the Brahma Kund on the bank of the Alakananda. Legend also mentions about this site being Vishnu’s navel and that Brahma meditated here.

Other Legends say that Lord Raam also did penance here to atone for his sin of killing the Ravana. Legend also states that Vishnu entreated the demon-king Bali for 3 steps of land here.

A Temple dedicated to Lord Raam called the Raghunath Math is located above the confluence. It is said to have A 15 ft black granite image of Raam. I wanted to visit the temple, but as we were on the other side of the bank and also everybody was badly tired, we could not go there.

Now we were on the last lef of the way to Rishikesh.

We saw a lot of rafting boats and enthusiastic people, playing with waters of Ganges as we approached the village of Kaudiyala.

This place is famous for rafting.

In next hour, we were at Rishikesh.

Badly tired but equally happy and satisfied....

My in-laws had to stay at Rishikesh for 2 more days on the invitation of Swamy Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan. He wanted to discuss a few things with my father-in-law, who is a authority on environmental sciences, regarding what all should be done to save Ganga from pollution.

Rest all of us, took an auto to Haridwar (25 KMs from Rishikesh) and directly headed to railway station. We had sufficient time, so I roamed in the city, while others took rest on the benches at platform.

Train to Lucknow was at 1015 PM. It was a bit rush there and as usual I had some arguments with some of the co-passengers but nothing major.

At around 8:30 AM, Thursday, 17th of May, we alighted at Lucknow, shaking hands with those, whom I had heated arguments the last night.

In next 45 minutes we were at home sweet home....the best place on earth!

PS: Appendix

Some important information:
1. Hill roads are curvy and tiresome. Keep some medicine to avoid Vomit tendency and stomach upset.
2. Average speed of private vehicles will be around 30-40 KMPH and for public transport it will be 20-30 KMPH.
3. One can take bus from Haridwar for these holy abodes. A plenty of government and private buses are available. Otherwise if you are a large family or group, you can hire a jeep or tempo travller also.
4. Always carry good woollen clothes for chaar dhaam yatra, if you want to do night stay there at these four places.
5. It is good to be in good physical condition or consult with physician before starting the yatra. Special care is requiredr for elderly and the people with heart disease, asthama and BP. At Gaurikund, portable oxygen cyliners are avaialable, which can be hired before you start trek for Kedarnath. They are very light, and can be taken easily.
6. 5 KMs trek for Yamunotri from JaankiChatti and 14 KMs trek from GauriKUnd to Kedarnath has to be done. Vehicles go till Gangotri and Badrinath.
7. Helicopter Service is avaialable for Chaar Dhaam from Dehradun. For KedarNath, a helicopter can be hired from GuptaKashi and other few nearby places.
8. Paalki/Horses etc can be hired for Yamunotri and Kedarnath.
9. Care for environment while on yatra. Himalayan ecology is very fragile.
10. Preferred route is Haridwar - Yamunotri - Gangotri - Kedarnath - Badrinath - Haridwar. Otherwise one can travel Haridwar - Gangotri - Kedarnath - Badrinath - Haridwar, Haridwar - Kedarnath - Badrinath - Haridwar or Haridwar - Badrinath - Haridwar.
11. It is advised to cover all the above four abodes, if three then skip Yamunotri, if two then skip Yamunotri and Gangotri and if you want to visit only one shrine, then visit Badrinath.

Height from sea level

Janki Chatti: 2585 Meters
Yamunotri: 3235 Meters

Gangotri: 3048 Meters

GauriKund: 1981 Meters
Kedarnath: 3585 Meters

Joshimath: 1890 Meters
Badrinath: 3133 Meters

Approx. distance from Haridwar/Rishikesh and between Chaar Dhaam

Haridwar - Rishikesh: 24 Kms

Haridwar - Yamunotri (Via Rishikesh, Mussoorie): 274 KMs (Jaanki Chatti) + 5 KMs Trek

Jaanki Chatti - Gangotri: 230 KMs (Via Uttarkashi)

Haridwar - Gangotri (Via Rishikesh): 268 KMs

Haridwar - Kedarnath(Via Rishikesh, RudraPrayag): 238 KMs (GauriKund) + 14 KMs Trek ascend

Gangotri - Kedarnath: 415 KMs (Via UttarKashi, Srinagar, RudraPrayag)

Haridwar - Badrinath (Via Rishikesh): 325 KMs

Kedarnath - Badrinath (Via Ukhimath): 14 KMs Trek descend + 260 KMs

Sapta Badri, Panch Kedar and Panch Prayag @ A Glance

Some information, that I collected is as below:

Panch Kedar

As I mentioned earlier also, when Shiva in the form of Bull vanished into the ground to avoied meeting Pandav brothers, he reappeared in five different forms namely, hump at Kedarnath, face at Rudranath, arms at Tungnath, navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar and the locks at Kalpeshwar.

Tunganath (Lord of the peaks) temple at 3680 meters above sea level, is said to be the highest shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Legend say that Lord Rama, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath.

Tungnath is at a distance of about 4 KMs ascend from Chopta. Chopta is 63 KMs from Rudraprayag towards Kund and Ukhimath.

Rudranath (2286 meters) can be reached through trekking from Gopeshwar. A motorable road is present up to the village Sagar (5 KMs) from Gopeshwar, beyond which a 20 KMs trek has to be undergone to reach Rudranath. The trek path is said to be very tough. Another trek route from Gopeshwar to Rudranath passes is through Mandal (13 KMs) and then additional 6 KMs to the Anusuya Devi temple and then further 3 KMs to Rudranath. 

Rudranath is considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach.

Madhyamaheshwar (3289 meters) is about 30 KMs from Guptkashi. Kalimath is about 6 KMs through road and then about 24 Kms of trek will take one to this sacred shrine.

Another popular trek route is via Uniyana which is 18 KMs away from Ukhimath. From there the trekking starts through Ransi (3 KMs) then Gaundhar (9 KMs), Bantoli (1 KM) and further 9 KMs climb to reach the temple.

Gaundhar and Kalimath are two important places on the route to Madhyamaheshwar. Kalimath is famous for the temples to Mahakali and Mahalakshmi, and Shiva and Bhairava.

Gaundhar, the last settlement on the trek route and close to the temple, is at the confluence of Madhyamaheshwar Ganga and Markanga Ganga.

Kalpeshwar (2200 meters) can be accessed by road up to Urgam enroute to Joshimath. A road is there from Helang to Urgam (10 KMs) and from here it's 2 KMs trek to reach Kalpeshwar.

Panch Badri or Sapta Badri

There are five famous temples of Lord Vishnu known as "Panch Badri". Some Saints list two more and hence its "Sapta Badri". This includes the Temple at Badrinath, which is famous as Badri Vishaal.

Brief information about them is as below:

Aadi Badri (3133 Meters) is the first temple among the Sapta Badri temples. It is about 17 kilometres from Karnaprayag. Aadi Guru Shri Shankara is attributed as builder of the temple.

In ancient times, when approach to the main shrine of Badrinath was closed due to weather conditions, pilgrims worshipped Vishnu at this temple.

Vridha Badri (1380 Meters) is located in the Animath village 7 KMs, from Joshimath on the Joshimath-Badrinath road.

The legend says that Vishnu appeared in the form of a Vridha or old man before sage Narada who performed penance here. Thus the idol installed at this temple is in the form of an old man. It is said that the image of Badrinath was carved by the Vishwakarma and worshipped here. The temple is open throughout the year.

Bhavishya Badri (2,744 metres) is located in a village called Subhain at a distance of 17 KMs from Joshimath, beyond Tapovan and approach is through dense forest, by trekking. It is situated on the way from Tapovan to Lata in the Niti valley. Bhavishya Badri is connected by a motorable road to Saldhar, 19 KMs, from Joshimath, beyond which a 6 kilometres trek is undertaken to reach the shrine.

Legend says that when Kaliyuga will transcends the world, the mountains of Nara and Narayana would block up the route to Badrinath and the sacred shrine of Shri Badri Vishaal would become inaccessible.Then the worship of Lord Badrinath will happen here.

Yogadhyan Badri (1,829 Meters) is also called Yoga Badri, is located at Pandukeshwar (Joshimath - Badrinath route) close to Govind Ghat. Legend has it that King Pandu, father of the five Pandavas, meditated here to god Vishnu to cleanse him of the sins of killing of two deer, who were ascetics in their previous lives. The Pandavas were said to be born here and Pandu attained salvation here. Pandu is believed to have installed the bronze image of Vishnu in the Yogadhyan Badri shrine.

It is said that the Pandavas, after defeating and killing their cousins Kauravas in the Mahabharata war, came here to repent. They handed their kingdom of Hastinapur to their grandson Parikshit and went to perform penance in the Himalayas.

The below two Badri Temples togeather with five temples above aren famous as Sapta Badri.

Dhyan Badri (2,135 metres) is located in the Urgam valley, close to Kalpeshwar Shiva on the banks of river Alaknanda. It can be accessed through Helang, which is before Joshimath from Rishikesh at a distance of 14 KMs. There is also a temple to god Shiva built by Adi Shankara.

Kalpeshwar, one of the Panch Kedar sacred temple of Shiva, is situated 2 KMs, away.

Ardha Badri, located on the Joshimath-Tapovan road is in a remote village and can be approached only by trekking along a steep bridle path. As the size of the idol is small, the temple is called Ardha Badri (literal meaning half Badri).

Narasingh Badri temple at Joshimath is not one of the famous Panch Badri or Sapta Badri. Sometimes, it may be included in the Sapta-Badri list instead of Ardha-Badri or Panch-Badri list instead of Dhyan Badri.

Panch Prayag

Panch Prayag are Vishnu Prayag, NandaPrayag, KarnaPrauag, RudraPrayag and DevPrayag. Kindly refer to description of Day 9 and 10 for more information about them.

37 comments:

  1. Amazing Alok , On one can beat your geographical & history knowledge and I still remember our trip to Srishila !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found the blog inspiring.
    The whole terrain is surrounded by somekind of powerful aura. It attracts people for right reasons. I seriously feel that travelling to these places or less visited places in this region for religious purpose or exploration, impacts a traveller's life in a powerful way.

    I am very pleased that your parents and in-laws accompanied you in this trip. This is an inspiring example of taking care of parents and fulfilling their wishes.

    A reader of this blog will get benefitted by the wealth of information provided here. The most important information which may get missed out is doing Bhakti of Parents. Serving parents is serving God. It's a message to the mass.

    "Do serve (sewa) your parents. Though we swear that by tradition we do that but this is more of a belief. A belief which is running in our blood but not getting acted upon the way it should be.
    Please do the sewa of your parents in whatever way you can do. However bad situations are with you, whatever troubles you may have to take in serving them never mind. They are real God in fornt of us, please treat them with grace and with care in life. If we unite our mind with seva dharam as the foremost thing in life, we go one step forward to understand life." Many other things will follow once this sense is triggered.

    Writing a travel blog is a tough exercise. It has to be written the earliest to provide the best possible details. Thank you for carrying this extra pain with the hope that going through a pain ultimately gives way to joy.

    The details and suggestions captured in this blog will be of high importance to people planning such trip.

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  3. Very nice blog brother. i have also visited 4dham 2 times. i like them very much.

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  4. Dear Alok, very informative blog. This will certainly help all of us who are planning to travel devbhoomi.
    Thanks
    Anuarag

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  6. Excellent, thanks brother.

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  7. covered almost every details, while reading thought i am a part of it, surely visit,
    Excellent experience & knowledge sharing, pls keep writing and share your experience.
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  8. These are renowned sacred places . Thanks for sharing this amazing trip with us .

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