Badrinath and Kedarnath are two of the most notable pilgrimage destinations for the Hindus. Badrinath Dham is the abode of Lord Badrinarayan (Lord Vishnu) while Kedarnath Dham is the abode of Lord Kedareshwara (Lord Shiva). Badrinath Dham is the last of the Chardham in the Chota Chardham Pilgrimage Circuit while Kedarnath Dham precedes Badrinath Dham in the Chota Chardham Pilgrimage route. Kedarnath Dham is a Jyotirlingam shrine of Lord Kedara or Shiva while Badrinath Dham is one of the 108 revered Divya Deshams of the Vaishnavites.
Pilgrims who wish to visit the most revered destinations belonging to two major Gods of the Hindu pantheon can embark on the Do Dham Yatra of Badrinath & Kedarnath. Mysticism and unrestrained spirituality rules across the ambiance around the temples cradled in the lofty heights of the sacred Garhwal Himalayan mountains. If you are planning to set out for the Badrinath Kedarnath Yatra soon, this Badrinath Kedarnath travel guide will prove to be of help…Read on to learn more:
Location of Badrinath & Kedarnath
In the Chota Chardham Pilgrimage Circuit, Kedarnath Dhamcomes ahead of Badrinath Dham. Kedarnath is located in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag district at an elevation of 3584 meters above the sea level and along the banks of River Mandakini. Badrinath Dham is located in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli District at an elevation of 3133 meters above the sea level and along the banks of River Alaknanda.
Weather at Badrinath & Kedarnath
Badrinath and Kedarnath are high altitude Himalayan destinations. Thus it is freezing cold in the winter months. Traveling to these Dham beyond the month of November until late April is impossible as temperatures drop much below the freezing point and the entire region of Garhwal Himalayas is covered by thick layers of snow. Temperatures around the summer months starting from late April are around 15 degree centigrade. Day time is pleasant but the nights may be pretty cold even in the summer months. After mid June, the regions of the two Dham receive mild to medium showers occasionally as that marks the beginning of Monsoons in the Himalayas. The region becomes extremely landslides prone during the Monsoon months and may prove to be dangerous for travelers. The pre winters stretching across the months of September, October and mid November are again pleasant and bearable with average temperatures being around 8 degree centigrade to 10 degree centigrade. However, one will definitely feel a sharp sting in the air during these months. Beyond November, traveling to the Badrinath and Kedarnath is not at all possible due to intense cold. Thus, traveling to these shrines during the summer months and pre-winter months is ideal. It is best to avoid the Monsoon months and the pre-winter months.
Image Source: Chardham Yatra Deals
How to Reach Badrinath & Kedarnath
When you are planning to visit Badrinath and Kedarnath Dham, you’ll first visit Kedarnath Dham followed by Badrinath Dham, the last of the Chardham in the circuit. To reach Kedarnath, you’ll have to first travel to Haridwar or Rishikesh railway station by train. Rishikesh is located at a distance of nearly 102kms from Kedarnath Dham while Haridwar is located at a distance of nearly 123kms from Kedarnath Dham. Frequent trains to Rishikesh or Haridwar are available frequently from any part of the country.
After having reached any of these stations by train, you can hire a taxi or board a state bus to reach Gauri Kund; the base camp of Kedarnath Dham trek. After Gauri Kund, no motor-able roads exist. Thus, the only way to reach Kedarnath Shrine is by means of trekking. The earlier trek route via Rambara had been 14kms long but after the 2013 Flash Floods, a new route has been developed to make pilgrims reach Kedarnath shrine. The new route takes you via Rambara bridge and Linchauli to make you reach the Kedarnath shrine and it is an approximately 16kms long trek route. Pilgrims who wish to travel to Kedarnath Dham via air, will have to take a flight to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport which is located at about 239kms from the Kedarnath shrine. On reaching you will have to take a cab to Rishikesh from where you would again have to take a cab towards Joshimath. From Joshimath, you’ll have to drive towards Rudraprayag and from Rudraprayag to Gaurikund after which starts your Kedarnath Yatra trek.
Those who cannot walk up the mountainous route can hire ponies or Dolis to reach the shrine. After Kedarnath Darshan, the next Dham you are to visit is Badrinath Dham. To reach Badrinath, you have to trek back to Gaurikund. From Gaurikund you have to drive back to Rudraprayag and from Rudraprayag you again have to drive by road to reach the Badrinath shrine covering a distance of 165kms. If you wish to avoid the hassles of this Do Dham Yatra and wish to save time on your Yatra, you could avail the Badri Kedar Yatra by Helicopter. A Helicopter Yatra of these two Dhams will not only take you across panoramic vistas but will also let you complete your Yatra within just a single day.
Opening & Closing of Kedar-Badri
Both Badrinath & Kedarnath are high altitude shrines perched atop the Garhwal Himalayas. Thus, the shrines remain closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall and extreme weather conditions. The shrines remain open for visitors only for the six months of the year starting from the Akshaya Tritiya Day towards the end of the month of April until Kartik Purnima Day in the month of November
Places to Visit around Badrinath & Kedarnath
Apart from the main shrines, there are many other places to visit in and around the shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath. The top attractions around Kedarnath Dham include places like Vasuki Taal, Ratus Kund, Gandhi Sarovar, Bhairavnath temple and Shankaracharya samadhi. The top attractions around Badrinath Dham include places like Mana Village, Charan Paduka, Mata Murti Mandir, Narad Kund, Bheem pul, Ganesh gufa, Brahmakapal, Sheshnetra, Vyas Gufa, Satopanth Taal, Vasudhara falls, Surya kund, Pandukeshwar.
Image Source: YOUTUBE
Accommodation at Badrinath & Kedarnath
If you have expectations of luxury resorts or villas high up in the Himalayas, that’ll of course not be possible but there are some good hotels, GMVN Guest houses and Dharamshalas with decent facilities in and around the Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines. Some of the top hotels around Kedarnath shrine are Hotel Marwad House, Hotel Bikaner House, Hotel Himachal House, HotelAgarwal House. Some of the top hotels around the Badrinath shrine are Hotel Residency, Hotel Patliputra, Hotel Narayan Palace, HotelDwarikesh. Booking your hotel well in advance is always recommended as during the peak Yatra season, it may be difficult to get a suitable accommodation.
Cuisine of Badrinath & Kedarnath
Kedarnath and Badrinath Dham are much revered Hindu Pilgrimage destinations high up in the Himalayas. Therefore non-vegetarian food items and alcoholic beverages are a strict no-no in the area around the temples. There are few road side Dhabas where you could sample the typical Garhwali thali. Some of the dishes that should definitely find a place in the thali meal served to you are Gahatkidaal, Munduwaki roti, Chawal, AalookaJhol, Sisunaksaag, Jhangorekikheer. Also, there are few street vendors from whom you could sample the typical street foods of Uttarakhand.