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About Char Dham holidays : Want to be closest to the presence of God?Where icy mountain peaks watch over you as you engage in a heartfelt conversation with yourself or your maker. Where the air is filled with sounds of soulful prayers. Char Dham is the ultimate destination for every pilgrim, no matter where you come from. Embark on a spiritual journey to Char Dham with Thomas Cook India’s Char Dham yatra packages. Let Thomas Cook India plan the ideal pilgrimage to Char Dham that promises you not just a holiday, but memories that will last a lifetime.
Our Char Dham yatra is not just an agenda but a meticulously designed experiential package that fulfils your spiritual needs and desires. Now that you have booked your tickets, let Thomas Cook India take care of all the nitty-gritties of your trip to Char Dham while you just focus on having a good time. Thomas Cook India’s team of travel experts chalk out every Char Dham yatra with a personal touch. We aim to ensure that your Char Dham yatra fits your needs like a glove. With Char Dham yatra packages available from all major cities such as Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi getting to Char Dham with Thomas Cook India is
convenient and hassle free.
Be it along the banks of the Ganga river in Rishikesh or amidst the hills in Badrinath, exhale all your stress as you inhale the crisp mountain air, with the light breeze blessing your face. With four heavenly abodes spread across Uttarakhand, Char Dham is every pilgrim’s paradise. These four holy sites include Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Uttarakhand is dotted with holy shrines set amidst the scenic backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. This scenic yet challenging journey to sanctity takes around 10 to 12 days. You can also visit Rishikesh and Haridwar while en route to Char Dham to engage in some adrenaline pumping activities such as rafting, camping and bungee jumping. Or perhaps awaken the adventure seeker in you as make your way through hair-raising mountain trails that lead you to hidden waterfalls amidst magical mountains!
Best time to visit Char Dham
Uttarakhand’s climate ranges from sun kissed mountains in the summer to playful snowball fights with your family in the winter. However, the best time to brave the challenging mountain trails leading to Char Dham is between the months of April and June. When vibrant blossoms accentuate narrow mountains trails and the summertime bodes the foothills well. However, we recommend you carry warm clothes and sunglasses, no matter how pleasant the weather. While this season is most suitable for visiting Kedarnath and Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri must be visited during the end of April since they are located at a much higher altitude. Temperatures fluctuate between 20-35 degrees during this time of the year. Visit the Thomas Cook India website to check out our Char Dham yatra packages and Uttarakhand tour packages during this period.
How to reach Char Dham
There are two domestic airports in Uttarakhand that are connected to major cities in the country. One of them is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun which is also the transit hub to most destinations in Uttarakhand. Dehradun lies at about 109kms from Kedarnath, 146kms from Badrinath, 114kms from Gangotri and 210kms from Yamunotri. It also provides you with direct flights to and from Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai. The fastest way to reach Dehradun is by taking a flight from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi which transports you to Dehradun in approximately 45 minutes to an hour. If you are travelling internationally, we advise you to take a direct flight to Delhi before journeying onwards.
Also, most tourists prefer travelling to Uttarakhand via Dehradun because of its proximity to popular tourist destinations such as Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie. Jolly Grant Airport is equipped with high-class facilities and amenities that will take care of all your needs while you are on the go. There are quite a few places to keep you entertained as you wait to board your flight. Be it shopping or eating, the airport has it all. Upon arrival, individuals can avail of the bus services that will take you to places such as Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun. Or else you could hire a private cab or taxi right outside the airport.
Another domestic airport in Uttarakhand is the Pantnagar Airport which connects you to nearby major hill stations in Kumaon such as Nainital, Bhimtal, Ranikhet, Almora, Jim Corbett National Park and Bareilly. The distance from Pantnagar Airport to Jim Corbett National Park is approximately 120 kilometres. It would be advisable to book your tickets well in advance, especially if you are travelling in the peak season. One can choose between SpiceJet, Air India and IndiGo to make your way to Uttarakhand.
Major cities are connected to Uttarakhand and some of its hill stations by rail. The railhead closest to Badrinath is at Ramnagar or Kotdwar, located 146 kms away. Whereas Dehradun is most viable to make your way to Gangotri. Trains to Dehradun make their way to and from Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Some of the major trains serving Uttarakhand are Jan Shatabdi Express, Dehradun Express, Doon Express and Nanda Devi Express. Some important junctions of this location are Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Nainital, Kotdwar, Kathgodam, Pauri and Udham Singh Nagar. As compared to other regions in India, travelling to Uttarakhand is easier when you are in the North and it takes around a day. The Uttarakhand Railway Department currently comprises almost 16 different stations connecting Uttarakhand with other important Indian cities. You will also be able to avail services of various buses and taxis lined up outside these stations.
Imagine catching sight of imposing mountain peaks, lumbering amidst coniferous forests, staring in awe at towering trees and making stops along the way to sip on tea and enjoy some hot local food. These are the experiences that travelling to Char Dham by road promise you. Approximately 1000 state buses run in and out of Uttarakhand facilitated by the Uttarakhand Transport Corporation. Some of the major tourist destinations such as Haridwar and Rishikesh are connected to Delhi by National Highway 34 and National Highway 7 passing through Dehradun with Badrinath on the way. While the easiest way to reach Yamunotri is via Dehradun and Barkot you can also get direct buses from Delhi to Rishikesh, from where your pilgrimage will commence. Buses are available till the last motorable road in Kedarnath called Gaurikund. From there, you must trek to the Kedarnath temple. Highways 309 and 109 link Nainital, Almora and Jim Corbett National Park. If you really wish to drive through the hilly terrain and overwhelming landscapes of Uttarakhand, travelling from the north would be rather convenient.
Places to visit in Char Dham
Where the mountains meet the Gods and where prayers are set afloat as flickering lights onto the holy rivers. This is Char Dham- where each one of the four abodes bring you closer to the presence of the almighty, one step at a time. Millions of worshippers brave the intense trails leading up to these four heavenly abodes. Be it the vividly painted Badrinath Temple in all its glory on the snow topped Nikantha or the Kedarnath temple set amidst its snow-covered surroundings.
The Char Dham yatra pivots around towns and temples such as Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Apart from that, you can also visit Haridwar and Rishikesh. To let you contemplate a little further, here are a few places to visit as a part of your Char Dham tourism package that spell spirituality and peace.
Ring the bell as you enter this temple with the crowd swarming behind you to worship Lord Vishnu and feel it resonate in your soul.Amidst the mountains nestles the Badrinath temple - one of the most sought-after holy sites. Badrinath temple with its grand entrance, is bathed with sheets of snow if you visit during the winter. This temple is home to Lord Vishnu and one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites. This sacred shrine has visiting hours from 4 am to 10 pm. Rumour also has it that each time a devotee opens the door to the temple; they find a lamp which has been burning continuously for the last six months. If you are interested in purchasing some sacred souvenirs, you must head to Salagram Sila - a sacred stone of Lord Vishnu. Here you will get religious books, ancient relics and holy threads.
Perched on the foothills of the Himalayas, Kedarnath is one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage centres in India. Situated amidst snow-covered mountains, the Kedarnath temple welcomes its devotees after an adventurous trek to Lord Shiva’s shrine. Moreover, the green meadows and lush forests located at the lower ranges of the Himalayas only enhance its charm. The 14-kilometre trek to the Kedarnath temple starts with Gauri Kund, another mythological location before snaking through the mountains with breath-taking vistas at every turn.
Resting along the banks of the Yamuna river, the Yamunotri temple is least visited of all the Char Dham temples. Take a rejuvenating dip and wash away all your inhibitions in several hot springs located at the Yamunotri Temple. Watch other pilgrims cook potatoes and steaming rice that are offered in religious ceremonies or choose to help them fulfill their duties. The hike to this stairway to heaven commences at the quaint hamlet of Janki Chatti. If you find the trek difficult you can always take a pony ride to the top.
Identified as one of the holiest sites in the country, this town is the starting point for the trek to the source of the mighty Ganga. Make your way to Gangotri Village to purchase some woolen clothes, souvenirs and mementos to take back home.
A yogic hub, this destination is a must visit on every pilgrim’s list. You hear it before you see it, with chanting from pandits lending serene background music to the surroundings. Watch devotees whisper prayers of hope under their breath, as they set afloat their diyas onto the holy river along Triveni Ghat. This holy hamlet feels divine. It is after all, one of the few places that will take you the closest to the presence of God.
If you cannot reach the stairway to heaven, don’t worry, you can take the gateway to the Gods in Haridwar instead. With pandits chanting holy words and priests holding large censers in their hands, you will be awe struck with the spirituality of this city. It is lit up with the piety of a thousand devotees and the sparkle in their eyes as they set their diyas adrift on the holy river in the hopes of having a conversation with God. Har ki Paudi is deemed to be the most historically significant temple in the city. This temple is famous for its Ganga aarti, with thousands of devotees attending every day. It is known to be the exact spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the planes.
What to eat in Char Dham
The food at Char Dham is simple and vegetarian, you will find an abundance of potatoes, cauliflowers and rice in the area. The food is also sattvic at most places, focusing on subtle flavours, nutrition and wholesomeness. However, since you will be in Uttarakhand, where comfort food is the norm- here are a few binge-worthy dishes to dig into!
Kafuli/Kapaa - Do not miss out on this bowl of piping, hot spinach curry if you are visiting during the winter season. This could probably be Popeye the sailor man’s favourite dish! You could savour this dish in a bowl, just like soup or maybe with some steamed jeera rice.
Chainsoo - If you are missing home and longing for simple ghar ki dal and roti, then you must try Chainsoo, a dish made of a variety of pulses with spices added to it. Local spices give this dish an earthy flavour and it tastes best with the Indian flat bread – roti.
Phaanu - If you are looking for a soupy meal that will warm your soul, do try Phaanu. Prepared from a variety of lentils and garnished with fresh coriander, this dish is best had with some steamed rice.
Things to do in Char Dham
On your Char Dham yatra, there are a range of things to do and see. Our Char Dham packages make sure they capture each experience, so you make the most out of your trip. Here are some things to do while you are in Char Dham. Make sure you add them to your Char Dham itinerary
Visit the Mata Murti temple in Badrinath
Another temple you could visit is the Mata Murti temple, which is 4 kms away from the Badrinath bus stand. Legend says that the namesake, Mata Murti, pleaded with Lord Vishnu to reincarnate himself by taking birth from her womb. He then came into this world as the twins Nar and Narayan, to kill a demon. The Mata Murti temple is visited during Ashtami and Chaturdashi. It is open from 6 am to 6 pm. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping in Badrinath, head to the Bheem Pul. Fierce waters gush beneath you, pounding the rocks as you stand on the natural stone bridge between the mountains, to cross the Saraswati River.
A spiritual retreat in Haridwar
It is no secret that Uttarakhand is the land of Gods. Where you can have a long due conversation with yourself as you destress and detox. Head to Haridwar, with pandits chanting holy words that seem like music to your ears. Har Ki Paudi is identified as the most historically prominent temple in the city. Attend the Ganga Aarti here, where thousands of devotees can be seen every day.
Discover Rishikesh’s vibrant shopping scene
The essence of Rishikesh lies in the Lakshman Jhulla market located in Tapovan. From here you can take home with you religious and historical antiques at reasonable prices. You will also find funky and trendy accessories and jewellery. Being a major centre for yoga, this hamlet also has yoga gear which you can purchase at unbelievable prices if you are a pro at bargaining! You will also get ayurvedic medicines, perhaps the only thing that could beat your nani ke nuskhe. Nostalgia might just hit you hard as you enter the music shop and look at a collection of CDs and cassettes stacked together. You can head to the Rishikesh main market if you are looking for clothes. This market is located near Triveni Ghat.
It is now no secret that there are a range of activities and things to do in Char Dham. This combination of soulful temples, overwhelming culinary experiences, exquisite mountain views and bustling markets is the reason you should try our Char Dham yatra packages. What are you waiting for? Head to the Thomas Cook India website and book your Char Dham yatra package as soon as possible!
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