Badrinath Temple


Kedarnath Temple


Gangotri Temple


Yamnotri Temple

   Chardham Yatra
The Char Dham ("four abodes") is the most important pilgrimage circuit in the Indian Himalayas. Located in the Garhwal section of the state of Uttaranchal (formerly the northwestern section of Uttar Pradesh), the circuit consists of four sites: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

While each site in the circuit has an autonomous history and significance that predates and remains distinct from their status as a circuit, inclusion in the Char Dham has, over time, caused them be viewed together in popular imagination and actual pilgrimage practice.

At some point, Badrinath, the last visited and the most important of the four sites in the original Char Dham, also became the cornerstone site of a Himalayan pilgrimage circuit dubbed the Chota (little) Char Dham. Unlike the original Char Dham, the sites of the Chota Char Dham do not share a single sectarian affiliation. Instead, the three major sectarian movements in modern devotional Hinduism all have representation, with the Vaisnava site Badrinath joined by one Saiva site (Kedarnath) and two Devi sites (Yamunotri and Gangotri).

As late as the mid-twentieth century, the "Chota" designation was still used consistently to delineate the Himalayan version of the Char Dham. This usage probably reflects the relative importance of the circuit for most of its history. Accessible until recent times only after a two-month trek that repeatedly exceeds 4000 meters, the Chota Char Dham was long dominated by wandering ascetics and religious professionals, along with a handful of devoted retirees and wealthy patrons (who could afford an entourage).
While the individual sites and the circuit as a whole were important to Hindus on the plains below, they were not a particularly visible aspect of yearly religious culture.
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