Winter Char Dham Circuit
Destinations Covered : Ukhimath (Kedarnath), Pandukeshwar (Badrinath), Kharsali (Yamunotri), Mukhwa (Gangotri)
The char dhams Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are believed to be the abode where one can wash all sins. However, the idols from these holy shrines are brought down in the hills to warmer places known as the Winter Char Dhams.
The idol of Lord Kedar/Lord Shiva is brought to Ukhimath. Ukhimath gets its name from Ushamath, named after demon Banasur’s daughter Usha who married Lord Krishna’s grandson Anirudh here. The idols of Lord Kedar and Lord Madhyameshwar are brought here in an elaborate procession every year and worshipped for six months during the winter season.
Pandukeshwar is where the Pandvas prayed to Vasudeva and where the Udhava idol, the emissary of Lord Badri is worshiped during winters. The holy procession for the opening of the temple starts from here and the idol of Udhava is carried along from here. This place is also known as Yogadhayana Badri. The temple each for the Lord Kuber and the khsetrapal Ghantakarn are also situated here.
Similar processions are carried out for the river goddesses Yamuna and Ganga who are brought to warmer regions nearby in the chilling winters of Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The winter home of Goddess Yamuna is at Kharsali. Just off Janki Chatti lies Kharsali, a lovely picnic spot sprinkled with a number of thermal springs, waterfalls and rolling meadows covered by Oaks and conifers. Alongwith Goddess Yamna, Lord Shiva in the Someshwar form inhabits an ancient 3-storied temple here with beautiful wood work and stone carvings.
While Yamuna lives at Kharsali in the winters, Goddess Ganga is brought to Mukhwa, a small village on the banks of Bhagirati near Harsil. Mukhwa is a place where Chaman Rishi took rest with Pandva prince Bheem when he was coming to light the holy fire at an Ashwamegha Yagna.