Char Dham
Uttarkashi (U’khand): The annual Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand began on Wednesday on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya, with the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines thrown open to devotees amid elaborate rituals and chanting of Vedic hymns.
 After being closed for nearly six months during winter, the gates of the Gangotri shrine were reopened at 1:15 PM and that of Yamunotri shrine were thrown open at 12:15 PM, officials of the temple committees concerned said.

The palanquin carrying the idol of Goddess Ganga reached the Gangotri temple at around 10 am from her winter abode in Bhairav Ghati.

Special prayers were conducted by the priests for over three hours before the formal opening of the portals, secretary of Gangotri temple committee Suresh Semwal said.

A similar ceremony was held at Yamunotri, secretary of the temple committee Kriteshwar Uniyal said.

The portals of Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines, the other two major temples of the Chardham Yatra, are scheduled to be reopened on 29 April and 30 April respectively.

All these Himalayan temples in Uttarakhand are visited by lakhs of pilgrims from across the country and abroad every year.

Four pious spots of Garhwal Himalayas find mention in many great Hindu texts such as Vedas and Puranas and assume a very important position in Hindu religion.

According to Hindu Dharma, Badrinath became prominent when Nar-Narayan, an avatar of Vishnu, did Tapasya there. At that time that place was filled with berry trees. In Sanskrit language berries are called “Badri”, so the place was named Badrika-Van, i.e. the forest of berries. The particular spot where the Nar-Narayan did Tapasya, a large berry tree formed covering Him to save Him from the rain and the sun.

The temples of Chota Char Dham are located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Yamunotri and Gangotri are located in Uttarkashi district, Kedarnath is in Rudraprayag district and Badrinath is in Chamoli district.

Land of Uttarakhand is also known as Dev Bhumi (Land of Gods) because of the various tales of divine beings finding its permanent home in the ever-flowing rivers, river confluences, shrines, rocks, caves and, most importantly, in people’s faith.