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Anupriya Bedi May 06 2014

Unknown facts about Char Dham

Debangana Sen May 06 2014
6 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The Char Dham Yatra is an annual pilgrimage to India’s 4 holiest Hindu shrines located at the 4 corners of the country. Below are the 10 secrets of Char Dham we bet most of you didn’t know.

Photo of the four Char Dham shrines (by Shruti Gandhi)

The Order of the Holy Fours

The Char Dham is supposed to be visited in a pre-decided order. The journey should ideally begin from Jagannath Puri in the east and then proceed clockwise from there. We have followed the same pattern to address the unknown facts about each of these Char Dham shrines.

EASTERN SHRINE: Jagannath Temple in Puri

The Garuda Sevakas

They are a highly revered class of temple servants whose only job is to climb atop the 214 feet high temple at sunset and tie the flags offered by the pilgrims onto the Neela Chakra at the temple apex. This task is usually accomplished within 20 minutes without using any special gear, but with some truly unconventional manoeuvres on their parts. This everyday ritual is a huge crowd puller.

Photo of flags tied to the Neela Chakra at the temple apex (by Wikidas)

Kitchen Miracles

The quantity of food cooked in the temple’s kitchen remains exactly the same throughout the year. The same amount of food that feeds a few thousand pilgrims daily is adequate when the number of pilgrims swells to lakhs during festivities.

Photo of the three holy chariots during the Rath Festival

Tearing Down of the Chariots after the Rath Festival

Another secret of the Char Dham can be found here. Not many are aware of this but a ritualistic breaking apart of the three holy chariots takes place after the annual festival of the Rath Yatra. The huge chariots are built anew each year by thousands of carpenters by sourcing Saal wood from the forests of Dashpalla and Ranpur. A mega annual tree plantation event is held in these parts to compensate for the huge number of trees felled.

SOUTHERN SHRINE: Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram

Longest temple corridor in the world

The Ramanathaswamy Temple holds the record of having the longest corridor in the world, measuring more than 1.2 km. The corridor is bracketed by 1200 giant pillars with detailed carvings and sculptures depicting various scenes from Hindu mythology. These pillars are a true testament to the architectural prowess of the Pandya Dynasty as they are built with such precision that not a single one is out of line.

Photo of the famous temple corridor (by Vensatry)

Mystery of the Wells

The holy tanks or the wells surrounding the temple are believed to contain water, each with a characteristic taste and temperature. Because of their individual essence, each of these wells has been attributed to have a specific healing or purifying power. For example, one will cleanse you of all sins, the other will give you enlightenment, and yet another will make you rich and so on.

WESTERN SHRINE: Dwarkadhish Temple in Dwarka

Reminiscent of Khajuraho

Another unknown fact about Char Dham shrines is that the Dwarkadhish Temple is covered in daring displays of erotic art throughout its external walls.

Photo of Dwarkadhish Temple (by Scalebelow)

The Lost City of Dwarka

Recent archaeological studies has reported many interesting findings about the submerged holy town of Dwarka that seem to corroborate with the writings in the Hindu scriptures. Like the discovery of the fort that would stop the waters from flooding into the city, or finding the seal that matched the descriptions in scriptures about the seal possessed by every citizen of Dwarka, or unearthing utensils with inscriptions in Vedic Sanskrit from the sea bed.

NORTHERN SHRINE: Badrinath Temple

An ancient Buddhist shrine

Owing to its conspicuous Buddhist architecture, the current site of the Badrinath Temple is believed to have been a Buddhist shrine before the 8th century.

Photo of Badrinath Temple (by Neilsatyam)

Original shrine

The original Badrinath idol was discovered by Adi Shankaracharya in the Alaknanda River and the shrine was built in the Garud Caves near the hot springs of Tapt Kund. Centuries later, it was moved to its present spot by the Garhwal kings.

You can plan an itinerary and also check out some IRCTC Char Dham Yatra and other pilgrimages and book a train accordingly. You can also book a train to a specific pilgrimage for your whole family.

So these were some of the secrets of the Char Dham shrines. Let us know any more such facts that you think we have missed.
Ramesh Kumar Saini May 08 2014
3 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes
Really useful. Thanks for such a Holly knowledge. 
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