Char Dham refers to the four religious abodes or seats that are widely revered by Hindus. Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram are the four religious places making up Char Dham. A visit to Char Dham during their lifetime is considered sacred by all the religious Hindus out there. It is believed that a Hindu can wash away his sins and give himself a change to open the doors of Moksha for himself here.
There are millions of Hindus taking part in the Char Dham Yatra every year – for a period of 10- 11 days at a stretch. The Chota Char Dhaams are situated in Uttarakhand – which, again, is believed to be the “Land of God.” Here’s a look at the historical details of the places.
Char Dham Yatra: All about its historical and mythological significance
As per Hindu mythology, Badrinath assumed significance when Nar-Narayan, one of the most revered reincarnations of Vishnu did his Tapasya here. The place where he had completed his Tapasya was full of berry trees and the forest of berry came to be known as Badrika Van (i.e. forest). When he was doing his Tapasya a large berry tree had assumed a form of cover shielding him from heat and rain. Once again, according to the local people it was Mata Lakshmi who assumed this shape to protect him. Narayan had later said that the name of Lakshmi will always be uttered before Narayan—which of course explains why we call our revered deity couple “Lakshmi-Narayan” unlike “Shiva-Parvati”. Badri-Nath refers to the Lord of Berry Forest. The entire episode took place during Satyug. As such, Badrinath was known as the first Dham. It is regarded as such till to this day. It is located in Uttarakhand.
Rameswaram is the second dham, which derives its significance from the TretaYug when Lord Rama had built a Shiv-ling here and worshipped it in order to secure His blessings. Lord Rama is the reincarnation of Vishnu as well. Rameswaram – the place itself derives its name from Lord Rama. Rameswaram is situated in Tamil Nadu
Dwarka is the third dhaam which has earned its significance in Dwapar Yug, when Lord Krishna decided to make Dwarka his residence instead of Mathura (it was his birth place). It derives its name from the Sanskrit word dvar or “door”. Dwarka is in Gujarat.
Puri, situated in Odisha makes for one of the oldest cities in the eastern part of the country. Shri Krishna is main deity here. He is primarily known as Lord Jagannatha here and worshipped along with sister Subhadra and brother Balaram. Puri, in fact, remains the only place where Lord Krishna is worshipped along with his brother and sister. The main temple of this city is a thousand years old – erected by Raja Choda Ganga Deva and Raja Tritiya Ananga Bhima Deva.
The four smaller or associated dhams are known as the Chota Char Dhams so that they can be differentiated from the bigger Char Dhaams. And, these smaller dhaams comprise Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Yamunotri, of course, is the origin of the scared river and home to the Temple of Goddess Yamuna as well. Gangotri is origin of Ganga and her temple is also located here. Kedarnath is the shrine of Lord Shiva and one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (Panch Kedar).
It gets a tad easier to realize the significance of Char Dham Yatra by acquainting yourself with the history of these places or dhams. Hope we have been able to offer you sufficient insights here.
Make sure you’re reading this before embarking on your first trip to Char Dham.