Resting amid the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is nothing short of a beautiful dream for a pilgrim. Its map is dotted with ancient temples nestled in a scenic snow-capped landscape. Take a trip through the charming and winding mountains to reach destinations that imbibe spirituality with beauty so spectacular, it will take your breath away. By Manya Saini

Set in a landscape of sprawling mountain peaks, Uttarakhand is home to ancient splendour guaranteed to charm any pilgrim. The fascinating landscape promises devotees a transformative experience which will satiate all their religious and spiritual desires. If the last few months have taken a toll on your mental and physical health, unwind in the lap of nature in Uttarakhand. While planning your travel, be sure to include these destinations in the itinerary without which a pilgrimage through Uttarakhand will be incomplete.

1. Badrinath, Chamoli

If any pilgrim were to name the place which they would like to visit once in their life in India, many if not all, will mention Badrinath in Uttarakhand. One of the ‘char dhams’ of Hindu faith, the temple will leave you spellbound with its ancient grace and stunning beauty. It is set in the backdrop of the Neelkanth mountain peak, with an otherworldly aura. Myths and legends believe that the site was the abode of Lord Vishnu, where he sat for meditation. The god before beginning his prayer was unaware of the cold weather, and his consort Goddess Lakshmi protected him in the form of a Badri (jujube) tree. Lord Vishnu so pleased by her devotion deemed the place, Badrika Ashram. A stone statue of Vishnu is worshipped in the temple and is believed to be one among the eight swarm vyakta kshetras or self-manifested statues of the deity.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by STAY CHILL [✖⏸✖] (@5hu8ham_gu5a1n) on

Getting There

When planning your trip to Badrinath avoid the winter months to dodge the bitter cold, instead choose to spend a few days here between May to June. Book your stay at the Sarovar Portico Badrinath to enjoy a comfortable and seamless experience. If you want to travel by air then the closest airport is located about 314 kilometres away — the Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun. The nearest train station is located in Rishikesh about 295 kilometres away. Train, road, and air are all well connected through Delhi, the closest metropolitan city.

2. Kedarnath, Rudraprayag

The holy Kedarnath Mandir, located near the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand, is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. Legend believes that the temple was constructed by the Pandavas for the god as a form of penance for their sins. Today, devotees make a difficult 22-kilometre trek from Gaurikund to reach the revered shrine to atone for their sins. The shrine occupies the highest position among the 12 Jyotirlingas, the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. The sanctum of the temple carries the deity in the form of a lingam, along with images of his consort Goddess Parvati and the Pandava princes in the pillared hall. There are revered five temples around the area together known as ‘Punch Kedar’ which are the most sacred sites of Shaivism in Uttarakhand, these are Madhmaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpnath and the principal shrine Kedarnath.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kedarnath Temple (@kedarnathdham.in) on

Getting There

The trekking point to reach the five sacred temples can be undertaken by road from Rishikesh, Dehradun, and Haridwar with ease. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant located about 239 kilometres away in Dehradun while the closest train station is in Rishikesh. Book your stay at the Kedar River Retreat to enjoy your pilgrimage to the fullest.

3. Yamunotri, Uttarkashi

Yamunotri lies amid the Garhwal Himalayas surrounded by nature at a height of 3,293 metres. It is one of the most revered sites of Hinduism in the country. A Hindu pilgrim’s journey through Uttarakhand would be incomplete without seeing the glaciers that mark the beginnings of the holy river Yamuna. The local legend of the site is that a dip in the waters at Yamunotri will secure the pilgrim a peaceful and painless death. In Hindu mythology, Goddess Yamuna is depicted as the sister of Yama, the god of death. The spiritual allures of the site are endless with the spectacular scenery of ancient snow-clad mountains and gushing streams of the most pristine and sacred water.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Visit uttarakhand🏔🌲 (@uttarakhand_darshan_) on

Getting There

The best time to make the journey is between April to October when the weather allows the pilgrims to trek up to the mountains. The nearest airport and railway station are located in Dehradun; and, a scenic road journey to Hanuman Chatti will take you to Uttarkashi. Book your stay at the Yamunotri Cottages for an experience of a lifetime in the state.

4. Har Ki Pauri Ghat, Haridwar

Haridwar in the Hindu scriptures is counted as one among the seven holy places in the Hindu faith. The Puranas regard these sites as the gateway to moksha or salvation after death. Every year thousands of pilgrims come together to celebrate the Kumbha Mela at Har Ki Pauri. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu both descended the steps of the ghat in the Vedic age. The sacred Brahmakund, Ganga aarti takes places every evening at the spot where the legend believes that drops of amrit fell during the Samudra Manthan from the vessel carried by the celestial bird, Garuda. Millions of pilgrims visit the city every year to wash away their sins with a dip in the holy water of the Ganga.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gopesh Dhamija (@haridwar_tourism) on

Getting There

The right time to visit Haridwar is between July to October especially during the festival of Saavan. Diwali is also celebrated in the city with much fanfare. The closest airport located about 45 kilometres away is the Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun. It is also well-connected to major cities in India by road and train. Stay at the Radisson Blu, Haridwar to have a comfortable and luxurious experience in the city.

5. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Rishikesh

The pilgrimage town of Rishikesh is dotted with sacred shrines and sites which are revered by Hindu pilgrims across the country. The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is foremost among these, the local legend believes that Lord Shiva drank the poison, which emerged after the Samudra Manthan at the site where the shrine stands. The poison turned his throat blue, that signifies the name of the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Surrounded by dense forests and valleys, the experience of visiting the shrine is nothing short of magic. Rishikesh has the Triveni Ghat, where a Maha Aarti is performed daily on the banks of River Ganga, following which devotees take a dip in the sacred river. The spiritual experience and aura of the town are so immersive that a person any faith can feel the divine energy rush through their veins amid the chanting and fervour.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by uttarakhand devbhoomi🔵 (@uttarakhand_devbhoomi.109) on

Getting There

The fastest route to reach Rishikesh by air is through Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, while the nearest railway station is located 24 kilometres away. You can also choose to take a bus or a cab, as the town is well connected by road. Book your accommodation at the Aloha On The Ganges Hotel to experience the town at its very best. The best time to visit the town is between September to November.

Related: #SomeGoodNews: Pilgrims In Uttarakhand Can Now Visit The Kedarnath Temple