There are four directions, four Vedas and four Varnas. Like this, Hinduism defines four pilgrimage sites called Char Dham (Four Spiritual Abodes). These places are situated in four directions of the country hence named Char Dham.
It is a belief that one who pays a visit to all these four pilgrimage sites receives Moksha (Salvation). It is a wish for many to fulfill once in a lifetime.
According to Adi Guru Shankaracharya, the holy Indian subcontinent has four pilgrimage destinations of utmost importance situated in four regions.
The four sites have temples of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of life on earth.
- In east, we have Jagannath Temple in Puri.
- South there is Rameshwaram Temple in Tamil Nadu.
- In the West is Dwarkadhish Temple in Dwarka and,
- In North, Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand.
1. Jagannath Puri
Yes, this name is famous all over the country to denote the Jagannath Temple situated in Puri, Odisha. The term Jagannath means the ‘Lord of the World’ or ‘World Personified’. Jagannath is alias for Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple is around 1000 years old and is in Puri, one of the oldest cities in eastern India.
It is the only temple where goddess Subhadra is worship along with her brothers Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra (Balaram).The idols of the deities made of Sandalwood. It is a belief that Lord Brahma himself brought life to the idol of Lord Jagannath.
The site has Markandeya, Chandan, Parvati Talab(Pond), Shwetganga, and Indradyumn as small pilgrimage points.
The temple is in the south at the very tip of the Indian Peninsula. It is the place where
Lord Rama, along with Laksman, Hanuman, and his Vanar army built Ram Setu, to reach Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from Raavan.
The word Rameshwaram means ‘Lord of Rama’ which is Lord Shiva. Lord Rama while returning from Lanka worshiped the lingam here so that he can free himself from the sin of Brahmhatya after killing Raavan who was a Brahmin.
Ramanathanswamy temple is one of the most beautiful temples in India. It is the same place where Raavan’s brother Vibhishan devoted himself to Lord Rama. The temple is full of architectural amazements.
Dwarka or Dwarika is in the west in Gujarat. It is the westernmost part of India. The legendary Dwaraka Nagri is submerged in the sea now. The Dwarakadhish temple is devoted to the King Lord Krishna who after leaving Mathura settled here.
It is a belief that due to destruction by the sea, the present city is 7th settlement. Adi Guru Shankaracharya established Dwarkapeeth in the 8th century.
The Dwarakadheesh temple is also popular as Jagat mandir ‘Temple of the World’. According to traditions, the temple build by Lord Krishna’s grandson Vajranabha over the Harigriha, the house of Krishna.
Town Badri lies between the Nar and Narayan ranges in north. The town got its name after Badri or berry of Jujube tree found in the area. This place is famous for Lord Vishnu’s dual form Nar and Narayan. According to a legend, Adi Guru Shankaracharya found a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan in the Alaknanda river.
The place where the idol was found is Tapt Kund. Two hot water lakes named Narad Kund and Surya Kund are present here.
It is a belief that visiting these four pilgrimage sites once in a lifetime opens the gates of salvation by washing all the sins.