Yamunotri is a temple-town around the shrine which is first of the four dhams of Dev Bhoomi or Uttarakhand. The temple itself stands on the western flank of the magnificent Banderpunch peak, four miles below the actual source of the river Yamuna to which it is dedicated. Snow capped peaks, rolling green vistas, and the gushing Yamuna present a breathtaking visual treat en route this ancient temple venerated for centuries.
The pilgrimage to Gangotri, the temple dedicated to the Goddess Ganga near the source of the river, and one of the Char Dhams of Uttarakhand, is among the most sanctifying experiences of a Hindu’s life; and as uplifting and inspiring for the traveller. Millions of pilgrims and travellers have undertaken the yatra to Gangotri for centuries in search of salvation and the sacred river has provided them succour and hope.
Kedarnath, the remotest and the most magnificent of the char dhams, is located in Lord Shiv’s own country. The sheer majesty of the shrine’s natural setting – the towering mountains mantled in snow, the tumbling streams and rivers, and green meadows and forests – and the arduous trek that gets you to it, serve to further cement the deep-rooted faith that this temple inspires in the devout.
Badrinath – and its route – is, for the newcomer, like a bagful of surprises, a journey of initiation. For those who are visiting the shrine again, the landmarks and vistas forever provide a newer view, a different emotion, a further nuance to an experience in memory. The journey from Rishikesh to Badrinath can sometimes be unforgiving, but only to a closed mind.