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Char Dham

Char Dham

"Dham" means "Abode". There are four dhams in four directions of India which are believed to be the abodes of Hindu gods, and the holiest places of pilgrimage. The four dhams at the four corners of India symbolize the essential unity of India's spiritual traditions and values. To the north is Badrinath, to the west Dwarka, to the south Rameshwaram and to the east is Puri.
 
History
 
The Char Dham defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of two Vaishnavite, one Shaivite, and one mixed site. Adi Shankaracharya-The great 8th century reformer and philosopher was prominently involved in reviving the Hindu Dharma in India. He travelled throughout the country and grouped the four sacred places Badrinath, Rameshwaram, Puri and Dwarka as the Char Dham which are dedicated to the Vishnu Avatars (incarnations). The Char Dhams are often considered the most revered sites for Hindus that have to be visited in one's lifetime
 
Badrinath
 
 
Badrinath is at a height of 10,400 feet above sea-level in the Garhwal Mountains a part of the larger Himalayas, in the state of Uttaranchal, on the banks of the Alaknanda River. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m).
 
Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath means Lord. The legend goes that Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.
 
Dwarka 
 
 
Dwarka, situated on the west coast of Gujarat on the shore of the Arabian Sea, was the seat of Sri Krishna after He quit Mathura. The city lies in the westernmost part of India. The temple dates back to 2,500 years. Sixty columns support the roof of the audience hall of the Jagat Mandir. The main temple is five-storey high with the lavishly carved conical spire rising to a height of 157 feet.
 
The story behind this temple is that one day, Durvasa Muni, who was known as a saint who could be easily angered, was invited by Lord Krishna and his wife, Rukmini, to dinner. When a person is invited to dinner, etiquette dictates that the host should not eat until the guest has beensatisfied. On the way to dinner, Rukmini became thirsty and asked Krishna for help. Krishna then put his foot in the ground and the Ganges water flowed forth from the earth. As Rukmini was drinking the water, however, Durvasa turned and saw her drinking without his permission. He became angry and cursed her to live apart from Lord Krishna. That is why Krishna's temple is in the town and hers is located outside the town.
 
Best time to visit: Throughout the year
 
Puri
 
 
Puri is a small coastal town of Orissa, situated on the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal, about sixty kilometers from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. The resident deity at the main temple of this dham is Shri Krishna, celebrated as Lord Jagannath. He is present together with His elder brother Balabhadra and His sister Subhadra.
 
The temple, dating back to the twelfth century, was built by an Oriya king Chodagangadeva but legend has it that it has been there since time immemorial. The temple is a huge tall structure and dominates the seaside town. Legend has it that Vishwakarma Himself carved the idols out of wood. When the time came to make the idols Vishwakarma ordered for special wood and went into the temple. He stipulated that He would close the doors of the temple and would remain inside till the idols were ready. Before that time no one was to enter the temple. Unfortunately, moved by the impatience of his queen, the king had the doors opened before Vishwakarma came out. When they went in they found that the God had carved all the idols up to their elbows. He was about to put on the hands but this was not to be as Vishwakarma angrily went away from there and was never seen again! So the unfinished idols had to be set in the temple and worshipped. So Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are handless.
 
Best time to visit: October to April.
 
Rameshwaram
 
  
 
Rameshwaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on an island separated from mainland by the Pamban channel and is less than 40 kilometers from the Jaffna Peninsula of Sri Lanka.
 
According to legends the lingam built on Rama’s return from Lanka after slaying Ravana. Ravana was a Brahmin and it was a sin to kill him even in war. Hence Rama decided to atone for this sin at the place from where he began his battle march. Hanuman was dispatched to Varanasi to bring the image of the lingam from the Kashi temple there. However he was delayed and the auspicious moment was about to pass. Therefore Sita built a lingam of sand and the prayers were conducted. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam. When Hanuman returned with the lingam from Varanasi he was peeved to find that the prayers were completed. To placate him Sita also installed the Kashilingam and decreed that this lingam should be worshipped before the Ramalinga