kedarnath temple
India

An Ideal Guide To Char Dham Yatra: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath

Read this ideal Char Dham Yatra blog and plan your trip better. How to travel Kedarnath to Badrinath. How to reach Gangotri from Yamunotri. Gangotri to Gaurikund distance. Get all your answers to a self-planned trip, here!

It is said in Hinduism, that no act can be more righteous and religiously pious than taking your parents on a pilgrimage to Char Dham. And I ended up living that statement, earlier this year when I finally took my mother for the Char Dham Yatra — the four holy sites for Hindus: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath — in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

It happened when my mother kept requesting me to a point where any repeated denial felt like a hopeless try.

char dham pilgrims

The deal was, however, we were not going to book any of those lame Char Dham yatra tours that cover every experience possible — from fighting for the front seat in the tour-bus, to sight-seeing tourist places on the way — but nothing spiritually uplifting.

So taking no risk of that sort and regretting in the end, we agreed upon following my way — of literally backpacking to all the four sites of Char Dham. For a period of nearly 10 days, we experienced uncountable rickety public buses, waited for shared taxis, worked and reworked on our itinerary (though still following the agenda of starting the pilgrimage with Yumnotri and ending at Badrinath) and booked our own hotels, while on the go.

And if you’re planning something similar — of completing the Char Dham Yatra in one go, without booking a special tour, this travel guide is for you.

Char Dham Yatra Route: The Chronology

char dham yatra routemap

Not many people are privy to the fact that the Char Dham Yatra follows a pattern and end up visiting the four holy places the way they fancy. From what is believed, the pilgrims should first visit Yumnotri, then Yamunotri to Gangotri, Gangotri to Kedarnath, in the end, Kedarnath to Badrinath.

Please note that the temples at four Char Dham sites open only between a limited period of April to October/November, with every year having a different opening and closing date based on the Hindu tradition of parikrama or clockwise circumambulation.

One can check the exact date of the opening of Char Dham Yatra on the official Uttarakhand Tourism website.

Though people allowed to visit the four pilgrimage sites throughout the year (if the roads are not blocked already due to heavy snowfall in winter) the temples remain locked from outside. It is moreover quite impossible to find public bus connections once the Yatra has been officially announced as discontinued for the season!

yamunotri trek

A self-planned trip may take a few days extra, as you may end up spending a little more time in finding accommodation or waiting for public transport, but rest assured, there’s going to be much more freedom and peace of mind throughout the journey. The entire trip may also just feel a lot cheaper than booking a per-pax, all paid for the tour — particularly if you’re two or more people and hence sharing hotel rooms.

There will be enough regular buses and shared taxis moving along the route between the official opening time of the yatra. When the yatra is officially discontinued, finding transport can be a problem. So plan accordingly.

Char Dham Yatra Routemap

char dham yatra routemap

Despite the four sites of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath being located pretty close to each other, the higher mountain regions here makes it pretty impossible to have any direct road connection between them — forcing travellers to take longer detours and thus travelling longer distances. Consider a full day drive (7-14 hours) from one destination to the other.

Day 1: Rishikesh to Janki Chatti

Rishikesh to yamunotri

It is not possible to do Rishikesh to Yamunotri in a day, as you need to trek to get there. So the first day includes getting to the basecamp of Yamunotri trek.

Morning buses from Rishikesh leave around 4 am and take nearly 10 or 11 hours to reach Janki Chatti. Buses can be booked in advance at the bus station in Rishikesh or right on time. Those who have missed the bus should have no problem in finding shared taxis. Shared taxis charge a little more than buses. The route takes you from less than 500m to a whopping 2,800m altitude above the sea level.

Please note that the road concludes at Janki Chatti from where you need to trek to Yamunotri. And since the trek may take around 4-5 hours and then another hour to enter the temple (if it’s crowded) it’s a good idea not to do it the same day. There are enough budget hotels to stay at Janki Chatti. A few guest houses can also be found at Yamunotri, but in peak season, it may be possible that they’re all fully booked.

Day 2: Yamunotri Trek. And Back To Jani Chatti

yamunotri trek

Yamunotri is the source of river Yamuna, which, according to Hindu belief, is considered pure and bathing in its waters is believed to absolve people of their sins.

The Janki Chatti to Yamunotri trek is pretty much a wide concrete path, with almost no chance of someone losing it. A GMVN rest house lies a kilometre from the starting point to the left. As soon as you leave Janki Chatti, the trek gets slightly steeper.

There are three temples along the route and the first (Ram temple) lies to your right just after the town ends. You will be treated to a hot spring at Yamunotri.

Depending on how fast you walk and how busy the temple at Yamunotri was, it can take 4 to 5 (or even) hours to complete Yamunotri trek. Relax at Janki Chatti.

Day 3: Janki Chatti to Gangotri

yamunotri to gangotri

If you’re Google searching for Yamunotri to Gangotri distance, you are doing it wrong, because it should rather be Janki Chatti to Gangotri.

Reaching Gangotri can feel another long journey, though still not as brutal as coming from Rishikesh. Even if you catch a bus at 6 or 7 in the morning, you should reach the town of Gangotri before it gets dark.

Now, the Gangotri temple is located in the town of Gangotri itself, confusing many about whether or not to trek to Gomukh (the source of river Ganga) and pay the tribute there. You don’t ideally need to visit Gomukh, from Gangotri if you don’t want to. It’s an extended part of the journey. You can visit Gangotri temple and leave. The Gangotri to Gomukh trek takes at least two days and requires to complete an 18+18 km trail.

If you wish to skip the trek, skip Day 4 & Day 5 below.

Day 4: Gangotri to Bhojbasa

Gangotri to Bhojbasa: gomukh trek

The Gangotri to Gomukh journey takes two days, with the first destination being a place called Bhojbasa. The trek to Bhojbasa — 14 km from Gangotri, starts at the front courtyard of the Gangotri temple — following a steep climb of around 100 steps which leaving you pretty much exhausted before you even start. But once you’re done with it, there’s only a gentle uphill climb throughout.

It may take 6 to 8 hours to complete the trek, depending upon the fitness level. Regular ongoing pilgrims will keep you on track. However, if you’re visiting Char Dham when the chances of finding regular pilgrims are less, it’s advised to hire a guide or walk in a group.

Bhojbasa has a GMVN government guesthouse or a much cheaper Lal Baba Ashram where you can stay for 250 Rupees a night, including your food and stay.

Day 5: Bhojbasa to Gomukh to Gangotri

gangotri to gomukh trek

Since Bhojbasa has located 4 km from Gomukh, continue your journey early next day and reach Gomukh in an hour and a half. Gomukh is the source of river Ganga (or the Ganges) that completes your pilgrim to Gangotri.

Spend some time at Gomukh and walk back to Bhojbasa. Have another cup of tea at Bhojbasa if you fancy or continue your walk back to Gangotri. Since Bhojbasa to Gangotri is pretty much a gentle downhill walk, there should be no problem in completing in nearly 4 hours. Find a place in Gangotri and stay for the night.

Day 6: Gangotri to Gauri Kund

Gangotri to Kedarnath

Just like I mentioned above, if you’re searching for Gangotri to Kedarnath, you’re doing the wrong search. Rather, search for Gangotri to Guri Kund. The journey to Kedarnath starts from there.

Now, Gangotri to Gauri Kund is the longest journey during your entire Char Dham trip — a whopping 310 km and can take as long as 14 hours to complete it. Buses leave between 4 am to 7 am after which there are no direct buses, and you may have to break the journey (Gangotri to Uttarkashi to Gauri Kund).

Gauri Kund is where the road concludes itself. From here, you need to trek to Kedarnath.

Now, please note that for Kedarnath yatra you need to obtain a medical fitness certificate. This certificate can be obtained from the medical centres at Sonprayag. They check your blood pressure and your medical history. If you couldn’t prove yourself fit to walk, you won’t be allowed to do Kedarnath by trek. In this case, you will have to go to Kedarnath by helicopter. Your bus will drop you at Sonprayag, from where you’ll get the medical certificate and take a shared taxi to Gauri Kund (a 10-minute journey).

Day 7: Gaurikund To Rambara

Gaurikund To Rambara char dham trek

After the June’13 flood in Uttarakhand, people think that the trekking route from Gauri Kund to the Kedarnath route is very risky and unsafe. But this is not true. The trek has become safer now, perhaps as safe as the trek to Vaishno Devi — with around 8 ft to 10 ft wide trail and a temporary iron railing on the edges.

Some people complete the Gauri Kund to Kedarnath trek and return in one day. But if you don’t mind sparing an extra day, two days make for an easy and enjoyable walk to Kedarnath. Located around 11 km from Gauri Kund, Rambara has a GMVN tent accommodation, with fresh food and hot shower.

Day 8: Rambara to Kedarnath to Gauri Kund

kedarnath tremple

From Rambara, Kedarnath temple is only a 3 km or an hour’s walk away. As you reach Kedarnath, the first thing you notice is the big commercial helipad. Next, to the helipad, there are camps and cottages made by NIM for overnight stay of tourists, but since they go full during the season time, it’s always a good idea to stay at Rambara, unless you have a booking.

It may moreover take up to two or three hours to get into the temple at Kedarnath, so start early.

Once done, walk back to Gauri Kund and stay there for the night. If you’ve time, you can also consider taking the shared taxi to Sonprayag (the town where you got off earlier to obtain the medical certificate) and stay in Sonprayag. This may make it easier for you to catch the morning bus to Badrinath the next day.

Day 9: Gaurikund to Badrinath

kedarnath to badrinath

Gauri Kund or Sonprayag to Badrinath is a 300km long stretch and can take 10-12 hours to complete the journey. Buses leave from the same point in Sonprayag where you got off earlier to obtain the medical certificate and can be booked in advance to confirm a seat.

If you’re planning to leave for Rishikesh and take the early morning bus, visit the temple in the night and book a bus ticket for the next day. Buses leave as early as 4 Am.

Useful Travel Tips

  • Consider paying 500-800 Rupees per person for every bus journey. A shared taxi, which is quicker, may charge 200-300 Rs extra than a bus.
  • You can find a twin sharing room for 500 or 600 Rupees at most places, except for the GMVN tent accommodation on the way to Kedarnath. They’re quite expensive for a price of 800 Rupees per person in a 6-8 mixed-dorm tent.
  • Make sure to carry at least one photo ID card with you.
  • Avoid visiting Char Dham between May and June because of the peak tourist season.

If you’re looking for a reason to travel and need motivation, read these Travel Quotes I’ve handpicked for you.

About

I am Dev, and I've been travelling full-time since 2016. I was a journalism student & started my corporate career as a documentary film-maker in England, before moving to India & becoming a full-time nomad. 25+countries. 50+ Brand Partnerships. And the adventure continues...

  1. Wow, a great blog for people who want to visit the char Dham. Especially the detailed description of the routine map was an amazing way of explaining the routines. The way you explained about the fare details sounds very budget-friendly anyone can afford. Overall great info.

  2. Hi dev,

    nice information about Chardham. Me nd my friends plan to visit char dham on Bike. Starting date 25th April of this year. can it happen?

  3. Yes, all the temples will be closed. Yamunotri opens on the 27th of April, Gangotri on 26th, Badrinath on 29th and Kedarnath on 28th (for this year 2020). So it is advisable for you to visit in the month of May because once when I was in Badrinath (and not knowing it was opening for the season), I had to wait upward of 8 hours to get a darshan. (even the locals from nearby districts come to visit- not just devotees from other parts of our country). Although the month of March-April is a lean season in Uttarakhand, you won’t be able to visit of any of the dhams and have to settle for Haridwar and Rishikesh.

  4. Shwetank Goswami

    Will I miss out if I go there in March- April, as the temple gates are closed?

    • U Need to check with jarkaad tourism site when will open it on April or may month..

    • Yes, all the temples will be closed. Yamunotri opens on the 27th of April, Gangotri on 26th, Badrinath on 29th and Kedarnath on 28th (for this year 2020). So it is advisable for you to visit in the month of May because once when I was in Badrinath (and not knowing it was opening for the season), I had to wait upward of 8 hours to get a darshan. (even the locals from nearby districts come to visit- not just devotees from other parts of our country). Although the month of March-April is a lean season in Uttarakhand, you won’t be able to visit of any of the dhams and have to settle for Haridwar and Rishikesh.

  5. Hi Dev,
    I am planning to visit Char Dham in April with my 65 year old mother. Any pre health clearance or precaution that is suggested?

  6. Such a helpful and awesome article this gonna be helpful for those who wanna visit chardham yatra…

  7. Asha Chheda

    Very helpful and detailed naration.
    Useful for independent teavellers.
    Thanks a lot Dev.

  8. Anonymous

    Hi thanks for the nice information, I am Planning to go alone in Chardham yatra on 12 Jun, could you please tell me the tracking details and the short route of chardham

  9. Very detailed and crisp information. Thankyou for this article and helping me plan my trip to char dham. Taking print out of your article with me.

  10. Chitransh Sinha

    Hey Dev .. we are leaving for char dham from Haridwar on 24th June with a personal taxi from Haridwar to all char dham nd back..
    I just wanted to know how many days will take for us. Am sure the driver must be experience with the routes nd time to be taken but still I’ve two 50-55yrs old guardians with me.. can u tell by what date we will be back to Haridwar so that I can book my return tickets..
    And ya we planned to go only char dham temples.. nothing like your 4th nd 5th points.. it will be very helpful if you reply soon!

  11. Ankur Mahajan

    Hello

    I am planning to go to chardham from delhi from 2 June 2019 night. since I am short of days and cash crunch too I want to plan on my own with 2 more guys instead of going with groups. i am starting from 2 June 2019 night and reach dehradun early morning and take another bus to reach janki chatti or hanuman chatti. Visit Yamnotri then leave for uttarkashi then to harsil and gangotri. come back to uttarkashi to guptkashi then to kedarnath. then back to guptkashi. guptkashi to badrinath and back to dehradun/rishikesh.

    can you help me draw the number of days it will take to plan like this and approximate budget it will take such trip.
    thanks

  12. Shivang

    Hi Dev. Really good work by you. i am planning to take my parents for the Yatra in May 19. However i have not done any hotel bookings as i prefer to book on spot. However, i will prefer to use helicopter service from nearby spots due to my mothers back issues so please advise suggestions for the same

    • No idea about the helicopter service I am afraid, as I did not try it myself and neither did I enquire about. Sorry, couldn’t help.

      • sumit mehta

        hello, firstly I would recommend you to book the hotels in advance since May is a very busy month for Chardham and since you will be traveling with your mother it will be a huge hassle to book your hotel on the spot. helicopter ride for Chardham yatra is the best option for you, keeping in mind your mother’s back problems, it will guarantee a safe and tension free yatra. you can share your contact details with us so that we can discuss this further or you can give us a call on 9911884413 and out tour manager will get back to you ASAP with all the details you need from us.

    • Anonymous

      Have you done the helicopter booking? Plz guide me. I m not getting any link for the same.

      • sumit mehta

        hi,
        please share your contact details so that i explain you in detail or you may contact us at
        9911884413.
        thanks

    • I know that this response is a year late, but I hope it is at least useful for others who read this reply. For Yamunotri, there are no helicopter service. One has to trek for 3kms or take a Doli/Pony. I have found that Ponies are much safer in Himalayas and the trekking route to Yamunotri is pretty easy ; it is more like walking. Gangotri and Badrinath are well connected by roads and involves very less walking.
      The only place where your mother might require a helicopter is to Kedarnath (although Ponies are available, helicopter is much comfortable). A few years ago, I had sent my Father, Mother, Grandmother and her sister to Badri and Kedar and they took the Heli to Kedar as 3 of them are Sr.Citizens . It costs about 7k (for a round trip). I had booked the entire trip through GMVN (Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam – Govt. of Uttarakhand’s Tourism Dept.) (Car, Hotel and Helicopter) and I found that their prices are very reasonable. One more reason to book through GMVN is that you are guaranteed rooms in their guest houses and they are well maintained, hygienic and comes with attached restaurant for food. It saves the hassle to search for hotels with kids or old parents around.
      The first time we went to Badrinath, we spend hours searching for hotels because May is the peak season for Char Dham and finally got a place to stay in Shankara Joshi Math for a night.
      While travelling with kids and oldies, always plan ahead because any inconveniences later will ruin your yatra/holiday. At least search for hotels, call them and make a reservation.

  13. Hello
    Many thanks for the information on your blog.
    I have a rather peculiar problem I suppose – I am not up to speed with Hindi Is that likely to make it more difficult for me to do the chardham by myself? I am planning to do it solo. And any other tips?
    Best
    Ram

    • sumit mehta

      hey, going for Chardham solo will be a very unique experience and a lot of people opt for the same. there won’t be any problem in communication since people from all over the world make this journey and people offering their services over there understand English and can help you out in case of need. it won’t be an issue. for any further information, you can share your contact details with us or call us on 9911884413 and our tour manager will get back to you.

  14. Hi Dev,
    I am planning to go for char dham yatra from 22nd Jun, 19. Please suggest whether I would be able to get accomodations and hire bus/cabs without pre-booking.

    • hey there, June is a busy month. June and July both are. But I am sure you will still (with a little difficulty or hike in prices) be able to find accommodation while on the go. Even if you pre-book things are going to be expensive during the two months.

      • sumit mehta

        the months of May, June till mid-july are the peak yatra months where these places experience the most number of pilgrim footfall, so to be on a safer side and to avoid any unexpected turn of events, you should do your bookings way beforehand, be it taxi or a hotel services. for bookings and other related questions, you can feel free to call us on 9911884413 or share with us your contact details so that our tour manager is able to get back to you with all the information you need.

        • VAIBHAV

          What is the point in leaving your contact number? I called you on 22/05/19.. ad you didnt even listen to me and disconnected the call ?

          You really wana help people or rather interested in doing business or not?

    • Hey planning to travel by June 20 or June 22. Can u plz let me know will you be providing a service for a solo traveler or will you be wrapping me up with other solo traveler ? can you plz highlight the cost and other details like number of traveler along with me ??? So that I can book my flight tickets..

  15. Venkant Bhavsar

    Great place to be in. Very few lucky ones get a chance to visit these.

    • sumit mehta

      yes! it is. but if you want to go then i can help you to make proper planning. let me know if you are interested to go.
      thanks,
      sumit mehta

  16. The Pandavas started their journey from Badrinath and went towards the Swargarohini peak which is close to Yamunotri.
    But we people are just doing the opposite of what Pandavas did.
    I will follow the Pandavas way. Will start with the Badrinath and head towards the Heavens of Yamunotri. 😉
    Thanks for your Guide.

  17. Hi Dev,
    I padmaja your blog is very informative .
    we are planning to do chardhaam yatra with my family on september month ending probably from 23 rd to 30 th .
    i did not find any information regarding how can we reach badrinath temple ( i.e do we have transport facility till the temple or do we need to go by walk .)
    if you provide this information it would be very helpful for mee to plan the travel perfectly.

    • Hi Padmaja, Badrinath temple is located right in the town of Badrinath, and buses ago all the way there. Say, from the bus station, you may have to walk a little inside the town and you will reach the Badrinath temple.

  18. KIRAN KUMAR

    The route to Gangotri to Gauri Kund is the longest distance between any two Char Dham locations — a whopping 310 km and can take as long as 14 hours to complete it. The buses leave around 4, with the first light, until 7 after which there are no direct buses between the two locations and one may have to break the journey (Gangotri to Uttarkashi to Gauri Kund) and reach Gauri Kund if they apparently even could.
    IS THAT 7 AM OR PM????
    CAN WE TRAVEL IN NIGHTS RATHER THAN STAYING IN SOME PLACES AND REDUCE THE TIME? PLS TELL THE PLACES FROM WHERE WE CAN CONSIDER NIGHT JOURNEYS…..

    • Hi Kiran, sorry for the confusion. It’s all AM in Uttarakhand. No night buses. They start at 4 in the morning and reach at 7 in the evening. Even shared taxis are hard to find in Uttarakhand in the night. Hope it helps 🙂

  19. Anand Rao

    A very interesting, useful post with great pics!
    I am planning to do Kedarnath-vasuki tal and Gangotri – Gaumukh in end_Sept. There’s only one UTC bus from Haridwar to Gangotri, at 6 AM.
    I am not comfortable with taking very early morning buses. I am considering GMOU buses and shared cabs.
    Can you share your feedback about which is better – private / GMOU bus or shared cab?
    Thanks
    Anand

  20. Dhananjay

    Hi,
    I am Dhananjay from Pune.
    I am going with my Wife on Bike ( Bajaj Avenger 220) from 17th Sept to 5th Oct 18 on Chardham Yatra along with Hemkund Saheb & Vally of Flowers.
    I am travelling on Bike from Delhi to Delhi.
    Dev, I request you to guide for Max travel per day possible on Bike & stay possible locations. I hv kept 2-3 day extra.

  21. Debjyoti Chakraborty

    Hii guys
    I’m planning to visit char dham on 15th october, 2018.
    Doj from haridwar – 17th october, 18 & return to haridwar on 26th of October , 2018 with my parents, one is 64 & another is 60. Pl. guide me should I plan it with no worries or will there be any risk ?
    Also, what necessary precaution should I take?

    • Dhananjay

      Pl check the Mandir Door close date of Shri Badrinathji. I hope its Dassra the last day of Navratri.. 18th Oct 18.
      U may miss this mandir..
      Regards

      • Badrinath gate closing date will be annnoused on the dushara, so effectively it will close by 2 weeks later.

  22. Jatin Jhunjhunwala

    Hi Dev,
    I am From Maharashtra,our plan is 11th May reach rishikesh after up to 19th May midnight our train is from Haridwar,our plan is to visit gngotri +gaumukh & badrinath,we are 2 people,kindly some suggestion for private taxi or share taxi + gaumukh darshan guide etc

  23. Really helpful information. I am planning to go chardham yatra in coming months.

    Would like to know bus availability and timings from

    janakichatti to gangothri and
    from gangothri to gaurikund

    Also let me know if we need proper trekking equipments to trek to goumukh

  24. Buy Contact Lenses

    I certainly agree to some points that you have discussed on this post. I appreciate that you have shared some reliable tips on this review.

  25. Yes sonny, you take your maa on pilgrimage and Sri Hari/My Krishna will definitely take note,as it is written in our shastras that taking your parents to the Tirthas is a good deed (but when they wrote it times were different ) No pun intended, it was really a nice thing to do, every parent loves to travel with his child, I don’t know why but we somehow feel whole and contented with our children.

  26. mayuri patel

    very useful guide and some helpful information here in the post..I am planning for May month for Do dham visit.Will I get accommodation easily or have to pre book as it will be peak season.

    • Through May, June and July are indeed the peak seasons, it’s still possible to book the hotels while on the go. Forget about prebooking. I also advise not to visit during the peak season, as all four sites can be quite crowded. Consider the beginning of May, if you can.

  27. Indeed a very useful guide Dev. I followed a different route from Kedarnath to Badrinath and reduced almost 3 hours of useless journey all the way back to rudraprayag . N the beautiful hill stations on the way were the additional surprises.

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