The Chardham is an important Hindu pilgrimage circuit in the Indian Himalayas. Located in the Garhwal region of the state of Uttarakhand the circuit consists of four sites—Yamunotri Gangotri Kedarnath and Badrinath.Badrinath is also one of the four destinations (with each destination being in different corners of the country) of the longer Chardham from which the Chardham likely draws its name.
While each of these sites is unique in its own fashion,inclusion in the Char Dham has,over time,caused them be viewed together in popular imagination and in pilgrimage practice.
The origins of the Chardham are obscure.Originally,the appellation Chardham referred to a pilgrimage circuit encompassing four important temples—Puri, Rameshwaram, Dwarka, and Badrinath—located roughly at the four cardinal points of the subcontinent. An archetypal All-India pilgrimage circuit, the formation of the original Char Dham is credited to the great 8th century reformer and philosopher Shankaracharya (Adi Sankara). At some point, Badrinath, the last visited and the most important of the four sites in the original Char Dham, also became the cornerstone of a Himalayan pilgrimage circuit, which was dubbed the Char Dham to avoid confusion. In the original Char Dham, three of the four sites are Vaishnava (Puri,Dwarka and Badrinath) while one is Shaiva (Rameshwaram). The Chardham included representatives from all three major Hindu sectarian traditions, with two Shakta (goddess) sites, (Yamunotri and Gangotri), one Shaiva site (Kedarnath), and one Vaishnava site (Badrinath).