CHAR DHAM
Nestling in the lofty peaks are the four most holy pilgrimages of India - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath, collectively referred as the Char Dham of Hinduism.

According to legend, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to support life on earth, hence Ganga is the most venerated deity in Hinduism. The four dhams receive its holy water in the form of four streams - Yamuna in Yamunotri ; Bhagirathi in Gangotri; Mandakini in Kedarnath & Alaknanda in Badrinath. 

The temple of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna in the Garhwal Himalayas , perched atop a flank of BandarPoonch peak (3,615m) & situated opposite to Gangotri. The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier located on the Kalindi mountain at 4421m above sea level, around 1 km further up is not frequented generally as it is not easily accessible and therefore shrine has been built on the foot of the hill. The tiny Yamuna has icy cold water and its absolute innocence & the infantile purity heightens that deep feeling of reverence, which Yamunotri has for the devout. 

The Yamunotri temple (3,235m) shrine is on the left bank of Yamuna constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. There are many hot water springs gushing out from the mountain cavities as well as Divya Shila, a rock pillar that is worshipped before entering the temple. A dip in the hot springs and cooking rice in its waters are part of the rituals. 

According to legend, King Bhagirath used to worship Lord Shiva at the sacred stone , near which the 18th century Gangotri temple (3,048m) is located. It was originally the source of the river, for glacier has melted and gradually retreated over the centuries to its present site, which is 18 kms upstream to Gaumukh. The temple is surrounded by peaks - the Shivling, Satopanth and Bhagirathi I & II

It is also believed that the legendary Pandavas performed the great `Deva Yagna' here to atone the death of their kinsmen in the battle of Mahabharata. 
The natural rock Shivling, where Lord Shiva is believed to have received the Ganga in his locks submerged in the river water and is visible in winter months when the water level recedes. The Bhagirathi flows swiftly flanked by forests of deodar, oak and pine till it joined by Alaknanda river at Deoprayag, from where the rivers flow together as the Ganga. 

Sri Kedarnath at a height of 3,581 m, is one of the 12 `Jyotirilingas, revered abodes of Lord Shiva. The temple built of solid grey stone stands on a wide plateau against the backdrop of the chisel textured, snow covered, majestic Kedarnath range. According to legend, the Pandavas came here to pray to Lord Shiva after their victory in the great battle of Kurukshetra to atone for killing their own kin in the course of the war. But Lord Shiva kept eluding them and sought refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being trailed, he plunged into the ground, leaving only the hump exposed on the earth, which is worshiped as a shrine. His arms are believed to have surfaced at Tungnath, his face at Rudranath, belly at Madmaheshwar, his locks and head at Kapaleshwar. 

The present temple terraces its origins to the 8th century, having been resurrected by Adi Guru Shankaracharya, a great philosopher who established a shrine and died here at the age of 32. The samadhi of Adi Guru Shankaracharya is behind the temple. 

Situated at a height of 3,133m , the Badridham temple stands in a beautiful valley on the bank of river Alaknanda and dedicated to Shri Badrinathji or Lord Vishnu - the Preserver. It is located in the Nar-Narayan range against the imposing Neelkanth peak (6,597m). It traces its origins to Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century though legends say that the temple stands on the site of earlier temple. The present temple is built 2 centuries ago by the Garhwal kings. The main idol in the temple is of black stone and represents 
Vishnu seated in meditative pose. The temple is divided into three parts, the garbha griha or sanctum sanctorum, the darshan mandap, where the orayers are held and the sabha mandapa where devotees assemble. Below the temple are the hot springs Tapta kund and Surya kund with waters at a 55 degree Celsius temperature. 

Traditionally, the pilgrimage is done from west to east and therefore one must visits Yamunotri first, then Gangotri, Kedarnath and finally Badridham. 

As all the char dhams are located in the Garhwal Himalayas that adorn the magnificent state of Uttarakhand , Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath are out of reach during winter every year from November to March. 

The temples and the places open every year for pilgrimage on the auspicious day of Akshya-Tritiya, which generally falls in the last week of April or in the early 1st week of May. The temple always closes on the sacred day of Deepawali (mid of Oct - 1st week of Nov). 

The best time for char dham yatra is from May to Jun and again from Sept to October. July & August being the monsoon months, roads are generally blocked due to land slides etc. 

Although Char dham yatra can be completed in 7 to 10 days, we have included some of the important temples located en route to Char Dham such as Lord Vishwanath temple in Uttarkashi, Kamleshwar Mahadev in Srinagar; Trijuginarayan temple near Soneprayag , Tunganath temple near Chopta, Koteshwar Mahadev near Rudarprayag etc for those who really wants to visit Dev Bhumi as a true pilgrimage. 

Pilgrims, who don't want to walk or has limited time, can also fly to & from Kedardham by Pawan Hans Helicopter Service. Pawan Hans operates helicopter service during season (May till Oct with break during rainy season) time from Agastya Muni near Rudraprayag (18 kms ) and back. The 1st flight departs from Agastya Muni daily at 6:30 am whereas the last flight leaves for Kedarnath at 11:10 am, by a 5-seater Bell 407 helicopter. The flying time is around 45 minutes for a round trip (Agatst Muni-Kedarnath-Agatst Muni). Those who want to visit Kedarnath on day visit, will get around one & half hours for darshan at the temple whereas passengers who would like to overnight in Kedardham, can take the last flight of the day at 11:10 am. 

Helicopter operation from Agastya Muni to Kedardham and back depends on the weather conditions. Many days, flight doesn't operate completely or operates few times in a day due to bad weather up in the mountains. 

Nevertheless, the suggested itinerary can be amended depending on your schedule etc.   
Day 01 Arrive Delhi

Arrive Delhi and transfer to hotel
Overnight in Delhi

Day 02 Delhi / Haridwar (292 m)
Leave Delhi for Haridwar by train at 0640 hrs
Arrive Haridwar at 1130 hrs and transfer to hotel
Haridwar is know as the Gateway to Heaven or gateway to four shrines/dhams of Uttarakhand. In the ancient scriptures & epic, Haridwar is also mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar , Mokshadawar etc. Haridwar always remained as a major Shaktipeeth for the devotees. 
Afternoon : Visit the Mansa Devi temple, Chamunda Devi temple & Maa Anandmayee Ashram etc. 
Evening : Attend Ganga aarti at Har-ki-Pauri 
Overnight in Haridwar 
Day 03 Haridwar / Rishikesh / Narender Nagar / Barkot (1,280 m)  
Transfer from Haridwar to Bargok by car (225 kms/6-7 hrs drive) .
Overnight in Barkot 
Day 04 Barkot / Janki chatti / Yamunotri (3,235 m) / Janki chatti / Barkot
Early morning, transfer to Janki chatti by road ( 50 kms one way/2 hrs drive) Later commence the trek to Yamunotri. The 5 kms walk from Janki Chatti to the temple is steep & continuous climb. At some places, the trail passes through hard & precipitious rocks, wdie enough for 02 horses or dandies to cross. Though the trek is rough & hard, it passes lush green valleys of rhododendron cacti & many other varieties of Himalayas shrubs. 

After offering puja and other rituals at the temple, walk down to Janki Chatti , where your car / jeep will be waiting to transfer you to Barkot for night stay. 

Overnight in Barkot
Day 05 Barkot / Uttarkashi (1,158 m) / Gangotri (3,048 m)
Transfer from Barkot to Gangotri by car (180 Kms/7-8 hrs drive) en route visiting Vishwanath temple in Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi (85 kms from Barkot) & 95 kms from Gangotri) is situated on the banks of Bhagirathi & surrounded by rivers Varuna & Assi. Shiva is the presiding deity of the town and is worshipped early morning, noon & evening in the ancient temple of Lord Vishwanath. Within the courtyard and opposite to the temple is the Shakti temple dedicated to Goddess of Energy. Later drive on to Gangotri by car (95 kms from Uttarkashi/3-4 hrs drive).
Evening : Attend the aarti in the temple.
Overnight in Gangotri 
Day 06 Gangotri / Uttarkashi / Tehri / Sri nagar (579 m)
After early morning ,puja/aarti at the Gangotri temple, transfer to Srinagar by car (300 kms / 8-9 hrs drive) visiting Tehri dham (subject to permission). 

Overnight in Srinagar 
Day 07 Srinagar / Sitapur (1,750 m)
Morning : Visit Kamleshwar Mahadev temple - Srinagar abounds with many ancient temples but Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple - dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the important temple. 

According to legends, once Lord Vishnu came to this place and seeing the beauty of the place, decided to worship Lord Shiva with 1000 Lotus (Kamal) as a token of his devotion. Therefore Lord Vishnu collected the 1000 Lotus (Kamal) flowers and started the prayer. Shiva to test his devotion secretly removed one of the lotus flowers. When Vishnu came to the end of his prayer, he realised that there was one flower missing. Now to leave the prayer without offering the 1000 lotus flowers as he had committed, would be a disrespect to Lord Shiva. Suddenly, he remembered that he is known as Kamal Nayan (one with beautiful lotus shaped eyes), hence he picked up his sword to pull out one of his eye to offer it to Lord Shiva as the missing lotus. But before, he could actually do it, Lord Shiva appeared before Lord Vishnu smiling with the lotus in his hand. Since that day, Shiva is as Kamaleshwer Mahadev. The temple is invested with divine power .

Every year on Vaikunth Chaturdashi, which falls in October/November, hundreds of childless couples pray throughout the night in the temple with a belief that their prayers would be full-filed by Shiva. On this day, a fair is organised in the town and the entire town is illuminated with lights. 

Later transfer from Srinagar to Sitapur by car (105 kms / 3-4 hrs drive)
Late afternoon : Visit Trijuginarayan temple- the legendary village of Trijuginarayan lies on the ancient pilgrimage trail that goes down from Kedarnath to Gangotri. According to the villages, Trijuginarayan was the capital of Himavat and is the scared place where Shiva wedded Parvati. The wedding attended by all the sages & devas of which, Vishnu himself was the master of ceremonies. The fire around which, the celestial couple repeated their vows to honour, to obey etc still burns as remnants. Pilgrims offer wood to the fire that has seen three yugas, hence it is called Trijuginarayan. The temple is built on the architectural lines of Kedarnath temple , dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Narayan. There are three kunds in the village - Rudra Kund, Vishnu Kund & Brahma Kund. It is believed that Gods bathed at these kund at the time of Shiva-Paravati's wedding. The water in these kunds flows from Saraswati kund which is said to have sprang from Vishnu's navel. 

Overnight in Sitapur
Day 08 Sitapur / Gaurikund (1,981 m) / Kedarnath (3,584 m)
Early morning , transfer to Gaurikund by car (7 kms), the last road head for Kedarnath.
It is believed that Paravati meditated in Gaurikund for hundreds of years to win as consort of the Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva agreed and the cosmic couple were wedded at Trijuginaran. An ancient temple dedicated to Gauri & Mahadev , housing a metallic idols of the couple. There are two kunds, one hot and the other cold water spring, known as Gaurikund. Half a kilometre from the Gaura Mai temple, is the temple of Sirkata (beheaded) Ganesha. 

After visiting the Gaura Mai temple, commence the trek to Kedardham via Rambara (2,591 m) & Garurchatti (3,262 m). The 14 kms long trail from Gaurikund to Kedardham is very steep but thrilling as you follow Mandakini rolling down from the mountains. The trail climbs slowly through dense forests and sparkling waterfalls. As one progresses upwards, the scenery changes dramatically to mountains , steep, stark and bare while small plants & flowers try to live up in the barrenness. 

The temple of Kedarnath ji is visible just after half a kilometre from Garurchatti (11 kms from Gaurikund). Now, the trek is an easy climb of 3 km till Kedarnath town.

Overnight in Kedarnath 
Day 09 Kedarnath / Ukhimath / Devaria tal / Chopta (2,700 m)
Early morning, attend puja and other rituals before walking down to Gaurikund (14 kms).

Later transfer from Gaurikund to Chopta by car (85 kms/3-4 hrs drive) via Okhimath. If time permits, visit the beautiful Devaria lake (Tal). 

The lake is located 14 kms from Ukhimath on Ukhimath-Chamba road. One can drive up to village Sari and then trek through the forest for about 2 km. Situated at an altitude of 2,438 m, this beautiful lake is surrounded all around by dense forest and gives a spectacular reflection of the mighty Chaukhamba peaks in the lake water. 

Later return to village Sari and drive on to Chopta / Dugal Bitta.

Overnight in Choptta 
Day 10 Chopta / Tungnath (3,680 m) Badrinath
Early morning, commence the walk from Chopta to Tunganath temple. The 4 kms trail from Chopta up to the temple is narrow but spectacular . The temple comes to sight only a few hundred yards before Tungnath. 

Tungnath has been one of the most important religious places from very old days. Ravana is said to have performed penance here to propitiate Shiva. Lord Shiva narrates the greatness of Tungnath to Parvati in the Kedar Khand of the Skanda Puran through the story of Dharmdatta & his son Karna. Karna, the son of a humble man, in spite of performing all bad things through out his life, got a place in the heaven of Shiva after he was killed by a tiger. A crow took away and dropped one of his bones from the skeleton in `Tung Kshetra' . The presence of a single bone in the holy land cleansed him of all his sins. 

The strong built and powerful looks of the temple, made with stone, symbolise the power and anger of Lord Shiva. Built in the middle of the stone paved platform under 3,680 m high summit of Chandrashila (4,090 m), the temple is a fine example of ancient temple architecture. The idols of Vyas and Kalbhairav stand along the Shivling inside the temple. The other four Kedar are beautifully engraved on silver plate. Facing the small, low height gate of the temple , sits Nandi-the divine bull, the vehicle of ord Shiva. 
After offering prayer at the temple, walk down to Chopta and later drive on to Badridham by car (150 kms/5-6 hrs drive) . 

Overnight in Badrinath
Day 11 In Badrinath 
Full day to attend ceremonies at the temple. 
Overnight in Badrinath
Day 12 Badrinath / Joshimath (1,980 m) / Rudraprayag (610 m)
Transfer to Rudraprayag by car (160 kms/5-6 hrs drive) visiting Joshimath (45 kms from Badrinath).
Joshimath or Jyotirmath is the winter seat of the Rawal Sahib of Badridham shrine. It is the place where Adi Guru Shankaracharya attained enlightenment while sitting under the mulberry tree near his cave. In the cave, he wrote his famous Shanker Bhasya, which started the reclaimaion of the Hindy religion. The 1st math was set up in Joshimath and a dham at Sri Badrinath , which was followed up later by three dhams in Dwarka, Puri & Rameshwaram. 

Rudraprayag is situated at the confluence of river Alaknanda originating from Badridham & river Mandakini, originating from Sri Kedarnath ji. According to legends, Narad, to master the mysteries of music worshipped Lord Shiva, who appeared in his Rudra incarnation to bless the sage, hence the place was called Rudraprayag. 
Later in the afternoon, visit the sangam and Rudranathji temple 

Overnight in Rudraprayag
Day 13 Rudraprayag / Rishikesh (340 m)
Morning,: Visit Koteshwar Mahadev temple, 3 kms from Rudraprayag. The temple is situated in a cave on the bank of river Alanknanda. Legend says that Lord Shiva meditated here before going to Kedarnath. There are many idols, which have been formed naturally . A big fair is organised on the day of Shivaratri, when thousands of devotees come & worship Shiva. 
Later drive on to Rishikesh by car (140 kms/3-4 hrs drive). 

Situated at 340 m above sea level on the bank of river Ganga and surrounded by Shivalik hills of Himalaya from three sides, Rishikesh is the spiritual town and is believed to be the meditating centre of sages & ascetics. According to legends, when Rishi Raibhya did penances, God appeared by the name of Hrishikesh and then onwards the area came to be known as Rishikesh.
Evening : Attend aarti at Shivananda Ashram / Triveni sangam

Overnight in Rishikesh
Day 14 Rishikesh / Haridwar - Haridwar / Delhi
Morning : Visit the Lakshman jhoola, Shivananda Ashram, the Divine Life Society , Swargashram etc, 
Later in the afternoon, transfer to Haridwar railway station to board train for Delhi at 1825 hrs

Arrive Delhi at 2245 hrs 
Day 15 Depart Delhi
Leave Delhi for onward destination 
Mt Kailash & Manasarovar Lake in Tibet
Char dham
Muktinath in Nepal