The word – Satchitananda (Sanskrit: सच्चिदानंद) is made up of three words – Sat-Chit-Ananda (Sanskrit: सत्-चित्-आनंद). Sat (सत्) means constant, Chit (चित्) implies the consciousness of self, and Anand (आनंद) means happiness. Spirituality is the quest for this eternal conscious, blissful existence by looking inward and finding the divine connection within & in other beings. It is to attain the blissful experience that comes with the realization of the unity and wholeness of all existence.
Most humans cannot imagine a dimension other than or higher than the world experienced with the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Our intellectual world, too, is conditioned by the world of sensory experiences. The spiritual journey starts when the alert intellect recognises the possibility of another dimension that cannot be reached by normal means of thought or sensory perception. You require other disciplined means and explorations to learn about the ultimate truth or reality and strive to understand what you do not know. You seek the beyond not for solace but liberation, to become free from everything you ‘think’ you are. The seekers want an understanding of the greater whole which is cosmic or divine, of which we are part.
Spirituality is not the same as following a religion. All religions will lead to spiritual awakening if practised right. For those looking for a spiritual awakening, there are hundreds of places in India to visit. A seeker can begin with an all-India pilgrimage circuit, the Char Dham Yatra. The formation of the original Char Dham is credited to the 8th-century reformer and Hindu philosopher Adi Guru Sankaracharya. It was Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s vision to have a flow of spiritual energy across India, and as a result, India has stayed firmly rooted & integrated with Spirituality.
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The Char Dham Yatra, why is it a Spiritual Journey?
The Char Dham Yatra consists of a pilgrimage to the four ancient temples in India, Badrinath in the north, Rameshwaram in the South, Dwarka in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. Geographically speaking, the Char Dham (the four temples) make a perfect cross. Vertically Badrinath in the North and Rameswaram in the South fall on the exact longitude. Horizontally Dwarka (old) is in the West, and Puri in the East on the same latitude (before the coastlines changed).
Ancient temples in India have many concealed secrets, such as hidden yantras (mystical diagrams) based on sacred geometry that are scientifically designed to be powerful energy centres. For example, the Badrinath temple has a Bhairav yantra, said to ‘create an explosion of energy’. It is believed that visiting these temple sites helps achieve moksha (salvation), but visiting these places is just a way to get close to these energy centres that can speed up your spiritual journey. As you travel to these four temples, you cover the entire length & breadth of India, allowing you to meet many people who are on a spiritual path. Deep conversations and interactions with them may enable insights into their spiritual journey.
In the original Char Dham, three of the four sites are Vaishnavaite (Puri, Dwarka and Badrinath), while one is Shaivate (Rameswaram). Each of these destinations has a different & unique charm. These temples and surrounding areas are also fantastic tourist places. For example, Puri is a beach town in Odisha, and Badrinath is located in the beautiful hill town of Uttarakhand. So it is a double bonanza for any traveller seeking Spirituality and discovering hidden facets of India.
Below is some information about these four temples and sacred destinations in India.
Before you embark on the Char Dham Yatra
An important tip before you visit these four important places of worship is to research in depth about these places before your visit. This way, you will gain a better understanding of the place when you get there. Also, get to know all the rituals in each because it is essential to maintain the sanctity of the place. Know all the do’s and dont’s and tread these places with great reverence. It is wise to research well and acquire all the information about them online or ask someone who has been there.
? First Dham – Badrinath
The ancient temple of Badrinath finds mention in ancient texts like the Vishnu Purana. It is located in the Garhwal hills in Uttarakhand. The main shrine here has a shaligram deity of Lord Badrinarayana. The temple is open for only six months annually – from the last week of April to the first week of November. Devotees have to undertake an arduous journey through the Himalayan range to reach this holy shrine. The Badrinath Temple is built to resemble a cone with a small cupola of a gilt bull and spire.
A well-known legend says that Lord Vishnu sat in meditation here and was blissfully oblivious to the cold weather. To protect him, Goddess Lakshmi took the form of a Badri Tree. The pleased Vishnu then named this place Badrika Ashram. Popular opinion suggests that Guru Adi Shankaracharya established it in the 9th century. It is said to be the last village in India and has a cave where Rishi Vyasa wrote the epic story of Mahabharata. There are many other legends associated with this temple.
Shree Vishnu or Lord Badrinarayana
Mata Murti ka Mela is held in September, and the Badri-Kedar festival is celebrated in June.
Morning: 4:30 am – 1:00 pm
Evening: 4 pm – 9:00 pm
? How to reach Badrinath
✈️ By Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grand Airport in Dehradun. It is well-connected to Delhi and other major Indian cities.
? Besides this, pilgrims can visit Badrinath by helicopter from Delhi and Dehradun.
?By Rail: The nearest railway station is the Rishikesh Railway Station which is well-connected by road to Badrinath.
? By Road: You can easily get intrastate and interstate buses that are good & affordable, running for Badrinath that are connected to different cities & states. One can reach here by road from Rishikesh, Haridwar, Srinagar, Dehradun, Delhi, Haryana, and Chandigarh.
? Second Dham – Dwarka
Dwarka is the second Dham in Gujarat, with the Dwarkadhish Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is also known as Jagat Mandir. It is believed that Lord Krishna came here from Braj in Uttar Pradesh to build the city. The temple sits by the Gomti River, and it is also believed that Meera Bai merged with this deity that resides in the temple. This five-storied limestone structure, located in the city’s heart with a height of 170 feet, is supported by 72 pillars. As per popular belief, the Dwarkadhish Temple stands over the original place of the home of Krishna, Hari–Graha.
The Dwarkadhish Temple, also known as Jagat Mandir, was originally built by Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna, on the banks of the Gomti river in 400 BC.
Morning: 6:30 am – 1 pm
Evening: 5 pm – 9:30 pm
?How to reach Dwarka
✈️ By Air: The nearest airport is Jamnagar, about 137 km away. The airport is well connected by flights from cities like Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Taxi services are available for Dwarka from the airport.
?By Rail: The Dwarka railway station is an important railhead connected to the Ahmedabad–Okha rail route. Trains from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru have stops at this station.
? By Road: Dwarka is well connected by road. Private and State-run buses regularly ply to Dwarka from several cities of Gujarat, such as Ahmedabad, Porbandar, Rajkot, Vadodara, Amerli and others.
? Third Dham – Puri
The third Dham, the Jagannath Puri temple in Puri, Odisha, is a sacred temple devoted to Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra. Lord Jagannath is considered to be a form of Lord Vishnu by Hindus. There are many inexplicable mysteries regarding this temple that will leave everyone intrigued.
According to legend, a temple with the Kalinga style architecture was first commissioned by King Indradyumna in 1161 CE.
Lord Jagannath, revered as a form of Lord Krishna
The spectacular Puri Rath Yatra, or chariot festival
??Darshan & Prasadam Timings
Morning: 05:30 am – 10:00 pm
Note: The afternoon break from darshan is from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and the timings for Prasadam are from 11:00 am to 01:00 pm.
?How To Reach Puri Jagannath Temple
✈️ By Air: There are direct flights from Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata to Bhubaneswar airport. You can take taxis or private vehicles from Bhubaneswar airport to reach the temple 53 km away from it.
?By Rail: There are trains connecting Puri with most major cities in India, including Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, and Lucknow.
? By Road: State-owned bus ply within Orissa state, including Bhubaneswar city and Puri town, where you can board buses bound for the temple complex.
Note: Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple as of today.
? Fouth Dham – Rameshwaram
The fourth Dham, the Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Tamil Nadu and is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples. Lord Shiva is worshipped here in the lingam form. This iconic temple has 64 holy water bodies surrounding it, and bathing here in these holy water bodies is an important ritual of the pilgrimage. This architectural marvel of a temple constructed in the Dravidian style has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. It was built by King Muthuramalinga Sethupathiy.
The religious importance of this temple can be seen from popular belief, according to which a visit to pilgrimage Kashi is incomplete without a visit to Rameshwaram temple.
It is said that the presiding deity, the Lingam of Ramanathaswamy (Shiva), was worshipped by Shree Ram before he crossed his bridge to reach Sri Lanka to fight King Ravan. The current form of the temple is believed to have been built during the 17th century. However, the small vimana in the west corridor belongs to the 11th or 12th century and was built by the Sethupathy rulers.
Ramanathaswamy or Lord Shiva in lingam form
Mahashivratri, or the ‘Great Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with great pomp and show at the Rameshwaram Temple.
Morning: 5.00 am to 1 pm,
Evening: 3.00 pm to 9.00 pm.
? How To Reach Rameshwaram
✈️ By Air: The nearest & busiest airport is Madurai. It is about 174 km from Rameswaram and is well connected by flights to many Indian cities like Chennai, Trichy, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Tuticorin Airport is close to it as well. Pre-paid taxi services are available from the airport.
?By Rail: The Rameswaram railway station is a significant railhead. Trains from Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Thanjavur, Palakkad and Bengaluru halt at the station. Taxi services are available from the station.
? By Road: Rameswaram is well connected by roads to other cities of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation buses ply regularly from Chennai, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Trichy and other cities to Rameswaram. Also, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation buses ply daily from Tirupati to Rameswaram.
Why seek Spirituality in India?
In India, Spirituality and religion are part of people’s everyday life. Personal devotional beliefs, rituals and temple worship have created a suitable soil for Spirituality to thrive. Spirituality is the backbone of Indian society and is the foundation on which the Indian national edifice has been built over thousands of centuries. The various belief systems in India, philosophies and wise Gurus give valuable guidance to spiritual seekers who are living their modern-day lives yet yearning for something that offers them everlasting happiness.
Is there a way to become Spiritual?
No university will give you knowledge on Spirituality or becoming spiritual. You have to be its seeker and move out of your comfort zone with earnestness to attain it. Swami Vivekanand, the celebrated Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, author, religious teacher, & chief disciple of the Indian mystic Ramakrishna, says, “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, and none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” If you are on a spiritual path, it doesn’t matter where it begins or ends; until you reach there, you simply must keep going. Unless a person has this attitude and strength within himself, the spiritual path is not for them. Nevertheless, the spiritual path becomes smoother if you are lucky to find the right Guru who will lead you to it, just like a GPS guides you to reach your destination without getting lost. It is believed that for a sincere follower, the right Guru will come forth automatically.
Knock, and the door to Spirituality will open for you
To become spiritual, you may need a Guru, but for everything related to your travel needs, visit Aertip. And stay tuned for more information on the spiritual centres in India.