Chardham Yatra Travel Guide | How to plan Chardham Yatra?

India is a land of numerous Hindu pilgrimages and temples. No matter which part of the country you are travelling in, you will find colourful temples everywhere in every city, town or village. So, be it the northern or southern part of India, the west or east, there are many temples and pilgrimage circuits in the country, which are visited by a countless number of pilgrims and tourists throughout the year. One such circuit is the Chardham Yatra.

The main Chardham circuit of India consists of the four shrines at the different corners of the country – Rameshwaram in South India, Dwarka in the West, Puri in the East and Badrinath in the North. It is believed that one should visit these four shrines once in a lifetime, to achieve moksha or salvation.

Apart from the main Char Dham, there is another small Chardham circuit in Uttarakhand, which is called the Chhota Char Dham. It comprises the four holy shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These pilgrimage sites are located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and remain open for six months a year, generally from May to October.

About Chardham Yatra

The four sacred shrines in Uttarakhand, collectively known as the Char Dham have their religious importance as per the Hindu mythology. It is believed that every Hindu must visit these pilgrimages at least once in a lifetime to attain moksha (freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth). Let’s discuss in detail each Dham and its importance.

Yamunotri – It is situated close to the source of India’s second most holy river – Yamuna. Located at a height of 3,293 mts. in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Yamunotri temple was built by the king of Tehri Garhwal – Naresh Sudarshan Shah in 1839. The shrine is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna who is believed to be the daughter of Surya (Sun) and the sister of Yamraj (the god of death). It is believed that a dip into the Yamuna River protects one from untimely death. To reach Yamunotri temple, one has to trek about 5 km from Jankichatti, the nearest road head of the shrine.

Gangotri – Perched at a height of 3,100 mts. above sea level, Gangotri Dham has an important place in Hinduism. Located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Gangotri, as per Hindu mythology, is believed to be a place where the most sacred river Ganga was released by Lord Shiva from his locks and the river descended from heaven to earth. The actual origin of the Ganga River is at Gaumukh, which is 19 km from Gangotri Dham and can be reached by trek only. Gangotri Temple was built in the 18th century by a Gorkha General, Amar Singh Thapa. Later, it was rebuilt by the Maharaja of Jaipur. The temple has been constructed with white marble stone and Goddess Ganga is worshipped here.

Kedarnath – Kedarnath is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages in India. People from different regions of India and the world visit Kedarnath to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Located at a height of 3,353 mts. and on the banks of Mandakini River, Kedarnath, apart from being a Dham, is also one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is believed that during Mahabharata, after defeating the Kauravas, the Pandavas felt guilty for killing so many people during the war, so, they wanted to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva for penance. Lord Shiva repeatedly escaped from them and took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. Later, the lord dived further leaving his humpback at Kedarnath. To reach Kedarnath, one has to trek around 14 km from the nearest road and head to Gaurikund.

Badrinath – The temple of Badrinath is situated between the Nar and Narayan Parvat in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Perched at a height of 3,133 mts., Badrinath is located near River Alaknanda. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is easily reachable as Badrinath town is well connected by road. Apart from being one of the Chhota Chardham, Badrinath is also a part of the Chardham of India.

Chardham Yatra

Best time to visit Chardham

More than 80% of the total geographical area of Uttarakhand is mountainous. The varied landscapes and climatic conditions in the state, especially, in the higher Himalayas remains challenging most of the time. All four shrines (Chardham) of Uttarakhand are located in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas, that is the reason why they remain open only for 6 months a year.

So, generally in the last of April or the first week of May, the portals of Chardham open for the devotees. At that time, India experiences the summer season, especially in the northern plains where the temperature goes beyond 40 degrees Celsius. But the weather in the Himalayas remains cool and pleasant. From May till the end of June, there remains a huge rush for the Chardham. Since the schools also get closed for summers at that time, so you will find many families taking a trip to these four shrines.

From July till September, India experiences monsoon season. In the Himalayas, there is an excess rainfall during that time, resulting in landslides and road blockages. Although it is not generally recommended to travel during this time, if someone makes a plan in these months, he/she will get good discounts from the hotels.

October is ideally the last month of the year for the Chardham yatra. Considering the climatic conditions and scenic visibility, this is the best month to travel the four abodes. A few years ago, hardly few people knew about the benefits of travelling during this month. But, with easy accessibility of information through the internet, now everyone knows the positive sides of travelling to the Chardham in October. Over the past 3-4 years (excluding the Covid interval), many tourists were found travelling to these shrines in October.

Travelling in the summers is just fine, especially for the families but you may face rush and traffic jams on your way. Also, you need to book your hotels well in advance to avoid last-minute chaos or unavailability at later stages. Visiting in monsoons could cost you a little less as compared to other months but the risk of heavy rainfalls, landslides and road blockages is always there. This period is not recommended for families at all. Autumn is the best season to visit Chardham and during this time you can enjoy nature to the fullest with far-sighted scenic views. However, it is recommended to book your accommodation in advance during this time as well.

Chardham Yatra Map

Chardham Yatra Routing Plan

Following is an ideal routing plan or itinerary that one can follow while visiting the Chardham. However, you can change the stay destinations a little bit as per your convenience.

Day 01:               Arrive in Haridwar 

Arrive at Haridwar Railway Station and check in at your hotel. Evening, attend the Ganga Aarti at Har-KiPauri.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Haridwar.

Day 02:               Haridwar – Barkot (Drive, 190 Km / Approx. 6 hrs)

Morning, drive to Barkot from Haridwar, via Dehradun. From Dehradun, take an alternate route to Yamuna Bridge via Selaqui and Dumet. Avoid going via Mussoorie during May and June as you may get stuck in the traffic jam at Mussoorie due to peak season time.

By late afternoon, you will reach Barkot. Check in at your hotel there.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Barkot.

Day 03:               Barkot – Jankichatti (Drive, 45 Km / Approx. 2 hrs)

                            Jankichatti – Yamunotri (Trek, 5 Km / Approx. 2.5 hrs)

                            Yamunotri – Jankichatti (Trek, 5 Km / Approx. 2.5 hrs)

                            Jankichatti – Barkot (Drive, 45 Km / Approx. 2 hrs)

This morning, proceed for the day visit to Yamunotri temple. Drive from Barkot to Jankichatti, from where you have to trek 5 km upwards to reach Yamunotri Dham. On reaching Yamunotri, visit the temple and offer prayers. Explore the surroundings, including Suryakund – a hot water spring. Thereafter, trek back to Jankichatti and on reaching there, drive back to your hotel in Barkot.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Barkot.

Day 04:               Barkot – Uttarkashi (Drive, 82 Km / Approx. 3.5 hrs)

This morning, check out from your hotel in Barkot and drive to Uttarkashi, via Radi Top and Dharasu Bend. On arrival at Uttarkashi, check in at your hotel. In the evening, you can visit Vishwanath Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Uttarkashi.

Day 05:              Uttarkashi – Gangotri – Uttarkashi (Drive, 100 Km / Approx. 4 hrs – ONE WAY)

This day, proceed for a day excursion to Gangotri. En route, visit the scenic village of Harsil. On arrival at Gangotri, offer prayers at Gangotri temple and after that, return to Uttarakashi.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Uttarkashi.

Day 06:               Uttarkashi – Guptkashi (Drive, 200 Km / Approx. 7 hrs)

In the morning, check out from your hotel in Uttarkashi and drive to Guptkashi via Ghansali and Tilwara. On arrival at Guptkashi, check in at your hotel.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Guptkashi.

Day 07:               Guptkashi – Sonprayag (Drive, 30 Km / Approx. 1.5 hrs)

                            Sonprayag – Gaurikund (Drive, 4 Km by local shared jeep / Approx. 15 min.)

                             Gaurikund – Kedarnath (Trek, 16 Km)

On this day, drive from Guptkashi to Sonprayag, where you have to do your biometric registration for Kedarnath. From Sonprayag, you will have to take a local shared jeep further till Gaurikund, which is the starting point of Kedarnath Trek. On reaching Gaurikund, start your trek towards Kedarnath Dham. You may also hire a Pony or a Palanquin to cover this 16 km distance.

On arrival at Kedarnath, check in at your pre-booked guest house/camp. In the evening, attend the evening aarti at Kedarnath temple.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Kedarnath.

Day 08:               Kedarnath – Gaurikund (Trek, 16 Km)

                            Gaurikund – Sonprayag (Drive, 4 Km by local shared jeep / Approx. 15 min.)

                             Sonprayag – Guptkashi (Drive, 30 Km / Approx. 1.5 hrs)

In the morning, visit the temple to offer prayers to Lord Kedarnath. Also, visit Bhairavnath Temple, which is 1 km upward from Kedarnath town. Thereafter, trek down back towards Gaurikund. On reaching Gaurikund, again take a shared jeep for Sonprayag from where you can board your vehicle to reach back to your hotel in Guptkashi.

Overnight at the hotel in Guptkashi.

Day 09:               Guptkashi – Badrinath (Drive, 200 Km / Approx. 7 hrs)

On this day, start a bit early and proceed to Badrinath Dham via Rudraprayag, Karnprayag and Joshimath. En route, you may visit the Narsingh Temple in Joshimath. Continue your drive to Badrinath and on arrival, check in at the hotel. In the evening, you may visit Mana village, the last Indian village towards the Indo-China border, which is 5 km ahead of Badrinath. Visit the temples and scenic attractions here.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Badrinath.

Day 10:               Badrinath – Rudraprayag (Drive, 155 Km / Approx. 5 hrs)

Get up early in the morning and visit the Badrinath temple to offer your prayers. Thereafter, drive to Rudraprayag and on arrival, check in at the hotel.

Overnight stay at your hotel in Rudraprayag.

Day 11:               Rudraprayag – Rishikesh (Drive, 140 Km / Approx. 4 hrs)

This morning, drive to Rishikesh. En route, visit Dhari Devi Temple, a Shaktipeeth dedicated to Goddess Kali. Also, stop at Devprayag and visit the Sangam (confluence) of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda River, from where the further river is known as Ganga.

Continue your drive to Rishikesh and on arrival, check in at the hotel.

Evening, attend the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Rishikesh.

Day 12:               Rishikesh – Haridwar (Drive, 25 Km / Approx. 1 hr) | DEPARTURE

This morning, check out from your hotel and proceed to Haridwar, from where you can catch your train further to your onward journey.

***End of the tour***

Chardham Yatra using public transport

Although it is highly recommended to book your private vehicles in advance for the Chardham yatra. But, in case you don’t want to go for a personal vehicle and would like to enjoy travelling with the locals, then using public transport could be an experiential and economical choice for you. But, you will have to take a little bit pain in finding the public transport for visiting the four shrines in the Garhwal Himalayas.

So first, you have to reach Dehradun, from where you can begin your Chardham Yatra. Dehradun is very well connected to other Indian cities by train and bus service. There are regular trains available to Dehradun from Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Patna, Kolkata, Kochi, etc. Also, Dehradun is well connected with state road transport buses from cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur, Lucknow and Jammu. Dehradun also has an airport (Jolly Grant Airport), which is connected with flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, etc.

For visiting Yamunotri Dham from Dehradun, you have to catch a bus for Barkot, which is at a distance of around 140 km from Dehradun. There are two state roadways buses available from Dehradun Hill Depot (outside Railway Station) to Barkot. One is at 5:30 in the morning and another one at 12 in the noon. So, once you board this bus, within 5 hrs you will reach Barkot. From Barkot, you will get a private bus or a shared jeep for Jankichatti (45 Km), the starting point of the Yamunotri Dham trek.

After visiting Gangotri, you again have to catch a bus/shared jeep from Jankichatti to Barkot. From Barkot, take another bus/shared jeep for Uttarkashi (82 Km). Once you reach Uttarkashi, look for a bus for Gangotri (100 Km). There are direct buses available from Uttarkashi to Gangotri Dham. Visit Gangotri Temple and return to Uttarkashi in the same way.

Now, for Kedarnath, you have to put in some extra efforts. Just look for a bus from Uttarkashi to Ghansali (100 Km) that lies on Tehri-Tilwara Road. From Ghansali, you will get a shared jeep for Tilwara (64 Km). As Tilwara lies on the main Rudraprayag-Kedarnath route, so from here you will get buses/shared jeeps for Sonprayag (62 Km), which is near the starting point of the Kedarnath trek.

At last, for visiting Badrinath, you have to take a shared jeep or a bus from Sonprayag to Rudraprayag (75 Km) and from Rudraprayag, you will easily get a bus for Badrinath Dham (155 Km).

For returning back to Haridwar, you will get an early morning direct bus from Badrinath to Haridwar (312 Km), via Rishikesh.

Your total travelling expense by a bus or a shared jeep, starting from Dehradun and ending at Haridwar will come somewhere between Rs. 3500 to Rs. 4500 per person, depending on the availability of vehicles.

Budget Escapes Gmou Bus

Accommodation at Chardham Yatra route

Starting from budget lodges to deluxe hotels and resorts, there are plenty of accommodation options available on Chardham routes in Uttarakhand. Your halts will be at Dehradun, Barkot, Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Sonprayag, Kedarnath, Rudraprayag, Badrinath and Haridwar. On average, with a basic budget guest house/lodge, you will get a room in these places (except Kedarnath) at around Rs. 1500 per room per night during the peak season that may go down to somewhere around Rs. 800-1000 per room per night during the lean season. At Kedarnath, there are camps and lodges available for which you may have to pay around Rs. 1500 per person per night.

Services available at Chardham shrines

You will get decent basic quality hotels and pure vegetarian meals at the Chardham and enroute stops. Since you are travelling in the Himalayas, so don’t expect a luxury kind of things there.

On Trekking routes

Gangotri and Badrinath are well-connected with proper roads from the major towns and cities of Uttarakhand and the vehicles drop you outside the parking of these Dham.

For Yamunotri and Kedarnath, you have to cover a few distances on foot, 5 km for Yamunotri from Jankichatti and 16 km for Kedarnath from Gaurikund. You may take a pony ride or palanquin to cover these walkable distances for which you can pay directly at the starting point of these treks. For Kedarnath, you may even take a helicopter service from Guptkashi (a popular town on Sonprayag – Rudraprayag Road).

Restaurants/Dhabas

You will get plenty of dhabas and restaurants for your meals and tea breaks. Most of them serve north Indian food. But there are a few restaurants near the major towns where you may get south Indian and local Garhwali food as well.

At high altitudes like Kedarnath, you may find the food items a bit expensive because the vendors had to arrange and pay heavily for the transportation of raw materials, rations and gas cylinders through ponies.

Hospitals

There are hospitals available in major towns on the Chardham route like Barkot, Uttarkashi, Guptkashi, Rudraprayag and Joshimath. So, for minor problems, you may visit the medical centres there. However, for major issues, you will have to approach the hospitals in Rishikesh, Dehradun and Haridwar.

Police Station

All major towns and cities in Uttarakhand have Police Stations that you can approach at the time of any unforeseen event. Apart from that, in all four Dham, you will find a police booth where you can seek help from the police officials.

Kedarnath Trek

Chardham Yatra Registration Link

In the past few years, the Chardham and the nearby towns and villages have seen natural disasters that caused huge loss of life, and many tourists missing.

To keep a track of the number of visitors in the state for the Chardham yatra, the Uttarakhand state government has made the registration of the Chardham tourists mandatory.

Pilgrims and tourists can  register themselves for the Chardham Yatra at the below given link.

https://registrationandtouristcare.uk.gov.in/

Chardham Yatra - Things to keep in mind

There are a few things that you should keep in mind before starting your Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Some of them are below:

  1. Start doing some exercises a few weeks before starting your Chardham Yatra. A brisk walk, light physical exercises, breathing exercises etc., will help you in maintaining your oxygen levels at high altitudes.
  2. Always keep an identity card with you (aadhar card, driving licence, passport etc.).
  3. Always keep a slip in your pocket that mentions your name, address and emergency contact number.
  4. Carry all your important and emergency medicines with you during the yatra.
  5. To prevent sunburn and tanning, use sunscreen lotions.
  6. Keep yourself hydrated at all times. Carry your water bottles and refill them at natural sources.
  7. Carry energy bars and dry fruits, as you may require them while hiking in the mountains.
  8. Respect the local culture and traditions. Wear decent clothes as you will be visiting the pilgrimage sites.
  9. Don’t throw the plastics or any other kind of waste here and there. Dispose of them in a proper dustbin provided by the local authorities.
  10. Carry good woollen clothes with you as during morning and evening hours, the temperature falls in most of the high-altitude regions.

Chardham Yatra Helpline Numbers

Toll Free Helpline Numbers

Ambulance

102 / 108

Police Helpline

100

Fire

101

Women Helpline

1090

Railway Enquiry

139

 

 

Char Dham Yatra Control Room

 

08 AM – 02 PM

+91–7060476060, 7830827804

02 PM – 08 PM

+91– 9870622046, 9458131333

Toll Free Number

1364

Disaster Management Control Room

0135-2710232, 0135-2710233

 

 

Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board

0135-2559898, 0135-2552628, 0135-2552627, 0135-2552626

 

Important contact numbers for Badrinath and Kedarnath Yatra

DM Rudraprayag

01364-233300 / 233376

SP Rudraprayag

01364-233210 / 233388

Badri-Kedar Temple Committee, Joshimath

01389-222124

DM Chamoli

01372-252102 / 252101

SP Chamoli

01372-252134 / 252133

Badri-Kedar Temple Commitee, Badrinath          

01381-222205

Tourist Information Centre, Gopeshwar       

01372-253185

Tourist Information (after office hours) 

0135-2624147

 

Important contact numbers for Yamunotri and Gangotri Yatra  

D.M. Uttarkashi

01374-222280 / 222101

S.P. Uttarkashi 

01374-222116 / 222102

Tourist Information Centre, Uttarkashi

01374-274761

Yatra Office Rishikesh   

0135-2431783 / 93 / 2432648

Watch a beautiful video on Badrinath Dham – https://youtu.be/saYLcxtHgJE

By Avdhesh