“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. The spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, H.H. The Dalai Lama once uttered these ornamented words in one of his preaching that truly brings greater significance to almost all the religions.
When the pilgrims especially the Hindus are on the spiritual expedition to the Char Dham Yatra, they realize the difference between pain and sufferings. The Char Dham Yatra is actually based on the belief of Hindu religion (which is also believed in Christianity) about the burdens of life and the bearing of the sufferings- “the more you suffer the more kindness you will receive from the God.” Although human suffering is terrible but it will result in something that far outweighs the pain.
A glorious trip to Chardham justifies this belief and makes the whole journey energetic with the same feeling and expectation of God’s rewards to mankind.
We were among those fortunate pilgrims who got a chance to catch the glimpses of the glorious shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath Dham at the majestic peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas at the Uttarakhand state of India. These famous four abodes of Gods together form the Chardham tour- a journey towards salvation.
Each of these shrines is unique in its own fashion and has its own cultural and legendary importance. Most of the pilgrims embark their sacred trip from the famous temple town of Haridwar. Some people also leave from Rishikesh or from Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand and from these places there is a traditional to visit these shrines in the following order:
Yamunotri Dham- the source of the River Yamuna and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna.
Gangotri Dham- the source in the form of Gangotri glacier of Ganges and the shrine of Goddess Ganga
Kedarnath Dham- dedicated to Lord Shiva and is venerated as one of the twelve jyotirlingas.
Badrinath Dham- a famous shrine of Lord Vishnu in the form of meditative pose of Lord Badrinarayan made of Shaligram stone.
A visit to all these major shrines at their respective location brings a spiritual rejuvenation and a sin-free attitude towards life. The Yamunotri and Gangotri Dham are located at the Uttarkashi district where the shrines can be visited at the banks of the respective rivers. Devotees immerse their body and soul to the holy streams believing their sins to be washed away in the holy rivers and seek blessings by worshipping the idols of the Goddess of Power (Shakti).
Our troop then proceeded to the favorite home of Lord Shiva on earth at Kedar hills and as named Kedarnath Dham. The outstanding temple built by Adi Shanakaracharya thousands years ago really mesmerized us to find the grand architectural wonders. The whole temple is built of grey rock and is situated along the Mandakini River. The Panch Kedar along the temple is the most captivating part of Kedarnath Dham where lord Shiva’s other body parts are being worshipped in different temples. The temples at Panch Kedar including Kedarnath are Tungnath, Rudranth, Madhymaheswar and Kalpeshwar.
Now the most importantly, moving towards the Alaknanda River, we found the most captivating and inspirational image of Lord Badrinarayan. The one meter tall meditative pose of Lord Vishnu in the form of Shaligram stone can be found at Badrinath temple where thousands of pilgrimages mark their presence to seek blessings and to learn the value of humanity. People say that Lord Vishnu meditated here for thousand years under the Badri tree for the welfare of mankind. The temple is located in Chamoli district, the town that lies between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges. The ‘Darshan’ of Lord Vishnu and a holy bath before performing the Puja at the Tapt Kund near the temple really enthralled us.
Lastly the Chardham tour can be made more fascinating by visiting the famous confluences in the form of “Panch Prayag”. These confluences are Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag.
Thus a sacred trip to Chardham Yatra is really a fantastic event where we not only celebrated the devotional way of life but also found many exciting activities welcoming our way. The treks towards all the shrines were much tougher which were made easy by the excitements of the devotees. In this way we all realized the importance of sufferings that consequently lead to ultimate happiness and spiritual satisfaction.