Sinchita Mitra

The Chota Char Dham Yatra is an extremely auspicious journey that pilgrims, tourists, and devotees undertake. This Yatra is not only soul-cleansing but also extremely scenic. You will be passing through serene rivulets, breathtaking views, valleys of vibrant flowers, mountains that will steal your breath away and forests that call out to you.

Every year thousands embark on this the Chota Char Dham Yatra and return with a bucket full of memories and devotion. However, if you are attempting this journey for the first time, then a lot of doubts and questions might be cropping up in your mind. The Yatra can be quite overwhelming for someone who is undertaking this for the first time.

To help you out, we have answered some of your FAQs:

When Should I Leave For My Journey

The Chota Char Dham Yatra starts from April and ends by October. The dates may vary. The dates will be announced soon, and you can look into it on the official website.

While you can go anytime between April to October, however, it is best to avoid the monsoon months. Even though the government has made quite a few developments to aid pilgrims during monsoon, the roads still get blacked and landslides are quite common. The only good thing about rising during the monsoon months is that the crowd is less.

Otherwise, if you do not mind a lot of crowds then come here between May to mid-June or in September.

Chota Char Dham Yatra: All Your FAQs Answered
source: IndiAirServices

How I Do I Book My Yatra?

If you don’t belong to India, then planning and booking for the journey can get a little hectic. You need to register yourself and you will also have to do complete a lot of formalities at every point. To avoid all this you can contact a travel agency like Dham Yatra Hospitality and get all of this sorted. This will look after your registrations and travel bookings, allowing you to only look after yourself for the trip.

How Should I Travel?

Once you are in Haridwar to begin your Yatra, there are two ways to travel. You can either travel by road or soar above the clouds in a helicopter. These are two different kinds of experiences, and both of them have their charm.

If you wish and can travel by road then there are a lot of public buses that ply during the Char Dham Yatra, and you can surely avail them. This is also extremely budget-friendly and will help you to cut costs.

If you wish to experience something different and unique then the helicopter is the way to go. It is also a great option for people who are unable to climb or are too old to climb. The journey, though expensive, is worth it. You will get a stunning view of the places and can avoid the arduous climb. The helipads are located at Sahastradhara in Dehradun, Harsil, Guptkashi, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.

What Should I Pack?

Backpack foods for chota char dham yatra

Medicines: You will be going through elevations, slippery roads, and narrow alleys. It is best to keep all the necessary medicines near you. The height change in the journey can also make you nauseous and dizzy. The average height of the journey is 10,500 feet, while Kedarnath is located at 11,755 feet. This can lead to breathing difficulties as well. So keep some basic medicines inside your backpack, since you might need it during your journey.

Food: The total journey is of 12 days, so you are bound to get tired. On some days you might be trekking for hours without any proper rest or proper meals, so it is best to be prepared. Always carry some dry food, chocolates, biscuits, fruits or some other snacks to keep yourself healthy. You can also carry instant food that only requires hot water to cook.

Try and avoid eating at a roadside cafe since it might lead to stomach problems. You should also carry light steel utensils instead of plastic plates or plastic cups. These are more environmentally friendly options since you can just wash and reuse the steel utensils rather than disposing of it after every use.

Clothes: The weather of Uttarakhand, can be extremely unpredictable, so always carry thermal body warmers, woolens, windcheaters, raincoats, blankets, sleeping bags, and tents.

You should also pack light summery clothes, just in case the weather gets too warm.

You should also carry an extra pair of walking boots.

Carry a walking stick if requires and a torch with extra batteries.

If you wish to get a camera then always carry extra batteries.

Should I carry cash or card?

The areas you will be visiting are quite remote, so you might not find a lot of places accepting cards. So while you should keep your cards handy, it is for the best that you carry cash as well.

Do I need to have a local sim card?

The Char Dham spots are located in remote regions, which hampers connectivity. Thus, you might have a WIFI or network. You can easily get an Indian sim card to stay connected.

However, the whole idea of the Char Dham Yatra is to reconnect with your soul, so it is best to keep the phone aside and complete this Yatra with full dedication.

Can I Consume Alcohol?

say no to alcohol

Please note that the Char Dham Yatra is one of the most pious and auspicious journeys that you will ever undertake. It is all about detoxing yourself and cleaning your soul. Thus, you cannot consume alcohol at all. It is prohibited by law if you are caught carrying or consuming alcohol during this journey. The Uttarakhand Police can levy heavy fines for the same.

Can I Drink Tap Water?

You must carry a bottle or bottled water which you can refill at the given spots. There are several water refilling spots at the Char Dham Yatra, so carry a bottle and keep refilling it. It is always better to carry mineral water. You should also drink a lot of water to stay hydrated on your journey.

How to prepare for the journey?

If you are planning on embarking on the Char Dham Yatra by road, then you need to make sure that you are at the epitome of your physical and mental health. You must get a medical check-up done to ascertain your physical fitness and only the attempt this Yatra.

To prepare for this Yatra, you should walk at least 4 to 5 km per day and also practice breathing exercises. This will help you to get acclimatized to the lack of oxygen as you reach higher altitudes.

The most important thing is, you need to keep an open mind, you need to have a great amount of determination and will power. There will avenues which will get too tiring and you will feel like giving up. Thus, you need to keep yourself motivated and determined to fulfill this journey, since it is truly magical and worth it and every sense.

What to avoid?

  • Do not carry excess jewelry.
  • You cannot eat non-vegetarian meals during this journey. You will also not find any non-veg restaurants.
  • There are some places where photography isn’t allowed. So make sure you respect that and be respectful of the culture and religion of the locals.
  • Do not bathe in water bodies until they are specified. Only bathe in places where it is specifically stated that it is for bathing.

Do I need a guide?

While you can certainly embark on the Char Dham Yatra by your own, it recommended taking a guided tour operator to make it easier. A tour guide will not only help you secure the best hotels but also guide you about the path. This will help you be at ease during your journey.

If you are undertaking this journey alone then make sure you do not take shortcuts and always follow the guided path. Try and walk with the pilgrims. This will not only keep you within a group but also walking with the pilgrims will install a magical sense of devotion in you.

Can I go alone on this Yatra?

While you certainly can embark on this beautiful journey all by yourself, but it is highly recommended to go with a group. The routes throughout this Yatra is quite rough and challenging, so you might need assistance from your near and dear ones.

If you are going alone then at least merge with fellow travellers or pilgrims for a safer and more enhanced experience.

Will I be affecting the environment during my Char Dham Yatra?

The Char Dham sites are located in areas that are quite environmentally vulnerable. Some years ago, Kedarnath was also hit by a devastating flood due to the excessive commercialization of the area. All of this can lead to serious damages. It is thus important to travel sustainably and to take care of the environment.

  • Avoid throwing waste here and there.
  • Do not carry plastic bags, and if you do then only dispose of them inside designated dustbins. Avoid plastic bottles, instead carry reusable/refillable bottles.
  • Do not pitch up your tent anywhere you feel like. There are special places for tents so make sure you find out where you can pitch your tent before doing so.
  • Do not disturb the animals. It is their home too, so you cannot go about disturbing or clicking their photos.
  • Do not throw waste in the river bodies as well.

Please note, that undertaking this journey is extremely spiritual, and that includes respecting nature. Respecting the environment is the highest kind of worship, so make sure you indulge in that first.

The most important thing to remember is that the Chota Char Dham Yatra can be life-changing for you if you are willing to put in the effort. You need to keep a determined will and let the journey do the rest. However, if you do feel uneasy in any part of the journey then get medical help and only then proceed further. While Chota Char Dham Yatra is truly magical and healing in all ways, it is most important to take care of your health first.

January 31, 2020
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