Chota Char Dham Yatra (Complete Travel Plan)

All you need to know about Chota Char Dham Yatra at Uttarakhand, India. An Elaborate blog post with all our travel experiences.

Chota Char Dham Yatra (Complete Travel Plan)

Are you planning a Chota Char Dham Yatra (trip) in India? This post will help you plan your entire trip with travel itinerary, do’s and don’ts, things to pack etc which will enrich your travel experience.

About Chota Char Dham Yatra

  • Chota Char Dham Comprises of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri
  • All these 4 locations are based in Uttarakhand State of India.
  • Nearest Airport – Delhi and then onward journey by road to all the 4 locations.
  • First is Yamunotri followed by Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Best time to plan Yatra

  • Yatra season starts in May. Ideal time to visit is May, June when there is occasional rainfall.
  • July and August it rains very heavily making your trip slightly tedious with delays as there is land sliding in the hills that causes road blockages for hours together.
  • September and October are good months to travel. The temperature is slightly cold in both these months, so pack woolen clothes accordingly.

Our Trip Experience and Some Tips if you are planning one!

  • We planned a trip for Chota Char Dham in the month of May 2019, when the weather was much clear in the hills (read no snow fall or heavy rains).
  • The entire trip or yatra was planned by my husband. We did the hotel bookings via website and just hired a car that would pick us from Delhi Airport, be with us during the yatra (highly recommended).
  • Hotel bookings were done from Bookings.com Website (Not Sponsored).
  • We suggest you hire a good sturdy vehicle for your entire journey as the roads in Uttarakhand (mountainous terrain) demands your vehicle to be in good condition.
  • We hired an Innova even for the 2 of us. It helped us in all our treks as we had to keep our luggage too.
  • We hiked / trekked the temples as we wanted to. In case you plan to take family members who are not capable of walking etc (senior citizens or kids) Palki or Doli is available. There are baskets also especially for small kids.
  • However, request you to pre-book Palki or Doli. All the temples have websites with contact numbers. Please inquire before your visit.
  • Charges depends on the weight of the person. There are Mules (Khacchar) or Ponies available to reach on top. Again, rates are based on weight.
  • Chota Char Dham Yatra can also be done entirely via helicopter. Check out the website and find further details / rates for the same.
  • The cost per seat, (though a certain amount is mentioned in website) is entirely dependent on your body weight.
  • Your weight is measured while boarding and extra charges if any, needs to be paid while boarding. Please carry cash accordingly.
  • There are many chopper agencies or service providers who have taken up the responsibility for safe transit.
  • They issue boarding passes, tickets etc and the whole thing is done very systematically / professionally and based on climate conditions.
  • However, be ready for delays and cancellations too (if weather is bad, they do not fly)
  • Please note during the entire trip, we did not have to face any issues with regards to Public Toilets.
  • We highly commend the Uttarakhand Government and our Prime Minister for the clean toilet facilities and drinking water taps that have been built at all locations.

Now that we are sure of the trip or yatra, let us check out the essentials to pack and the entire travel itinerary below.

Essentials to Pack for Chota Char Dham Yatra

  • Pack light clothes that can easily dry since it rains at few places.
  • If you are planning to wear jeans – Please carry couple of them. They are bound to get extremely dirty due to muck, water, and rain (especially for Kedarnath and Yamunotri)
  • Absolutely No Shorts! It is pretty cold.
  • Carry extra pair of woolen socks etc as it gets wet when it rains.
  • Please carry basic Medicines for Cold, Cough, Fever, Stomach discomfort, First Aid Kit, a can of Relispray for muscle cramps, Scissors and/or pocket knife, mobile battery charger and small pocket Torch (MUST FOR ALL TREKS)
  • Also carry spare plastic bags that can store your dirty shoes from trek and/or wet clothes.
  • Warm Clothes (Jacket, Cap, Sweater, Scarf or Muffler, Shawl, Gloves and Socks)
  • Good Quality, Sturdy Walking Shoes. Highly recommended!
  • Dry snacks in small packets – Makhana, Dry fruits, Peanuts, Dates etc.
  • Back pack (Waterproof) or a one that has cover.
  • Ideally not recommended to carry a DSLR camera especially at Yamunotri and Kedarnath. These places are steep (if you plan to trek) and carrying excess weight or expensive camera would lead to damage.

Travel plan for Chota Char Dham Yatra

Day 1 Mumbai To Delhi by Air

  • Land at Delhi and drive down to Rishikesh (Halt recommended). It is a 7 hours drive from Delhi. 230 kms

Day 2 Things to explore at Rishikesh

  • Visit Tatva Cafe / Beatles Cafe for some lovely food. They are in close vicinity to the famous Lakshman Jhula or the suspension bridge (pic below)
  • Experience Ganga Aarti in the evening.
  • The Aarti starts between 6 to 6.30 pm so make sure you reach by 5.30 pm to get the best seats especially if you wish to photograph or video record the event. (like we did below)
Lakshman Jhula at Rishikesh
Lakshman Jhula or Suspension Bridge at Rishikesh
Ganga Aarti at Rishikesh
Ganga Aarti
Ganga Aarti at Rishikesh
Magical Experience of Ganga Aarti one shouldn’t miss at Rishikesh

Day 3 Travel to Barkot (7 hour drive) Recommended to start your journey at 6 am to avoid traffic

  • Check into the hotel and rest, prep for the next day hike / trek to Yamunotri – The First of the Chota Char Dham.

Day 4 Travel time from Barkot to Yamunotri (base camp) is around 2 hours. Ensure you start as early as 4 or 5 am to avoid traffic.

Things to pack for Yamunotri Trek (would be similar for Kedarnath with some modifications)

  • A back pack is recommended, preferably water proof.
  • A good pair of walking shoes (sturdy shoes and not canvas ones)
  • Raincoat
  • Torch
  • Walking stick (you can buy it from the base camp – Costs around 50 bucks or less but highly recommended for support)
  • A Jacket with gloves and cap. It gets quite cold after 4 pm and hence recommended.
  • A bottle of water, basic medicines plus first aid kit.
  • Carry dry snacks like biscuits, peanuts, chana or dry fruits that fit in your jacket pouches. Easy to feel tired and lethargic during the hike.
  • You don’t get elaborate food while hiking but best kind of Maggi and Aloo Parathas. Enjoy the much needed carbs.
  • Do Not carry DSLR camera unless you are able to handle it. It suddenly rains up there making it difficult to manage your camera.
  • There are no staying arrangements on top so you have to walk back down after the Darshan. A pocket torch comes in handy as it gets pretty dark.

Travel back to Barkot (stay can be booked at hotels). The hotels provide basic facilities so do not expect anything fancy.

It does provide hot water, food, first aid kits and laundry facility too which is much needed as clothes get dirty with the unexpected rain etc.

View from Yamunotri Trek
Trek to Yamunotri is extremely calming with the River Yamuna gushing in all her glory
View of Himalayas during Yamunotri trek
Steep terrain and narrow trail makes Yamunotri trek quite challenging. It is 7 kms one way

Day 5 Travel from Barkot to Uttarkashi (approximately 4 hours drive) (Book a hotel for stay)

Reach and rest as trek to Yamunotri is quite exhausting and a day break is required.

Day 6 Travel from Uttarkashi to Gangotri (approximately 4 hour drive and recommended to start at 5 am) due to heavy traffic in the hills especially during the season.

Ganges flowing in the background
View of the Ganges flowing in the background

Dip in the Ganges, Collect and pack fresh Ganga Water back home for friends and family (small bottles available near the temple) and visit the temple (picture below).

Gangotri is easily walk-able. However, there are wheel chairs available for senior citizens who cannot walk (rates apply based on weight).

Gangotri Temple one of the Chota Chaar Dham
Clear Blue skies – Jai Ganga Ma!

Return back to Uttarkashi, rest.

Day 7 – Start early towards Guptakashi for Kedarnath Yatra (start at 5 am). An 8 hour drive that usually takes couple more hours if there is traffic especially during peak season

You will reach by evening, rest well as you will have to wake up early at 3 am the next day to start journey towards Kedarnath.

Day 8 – To reach Kedarnath Base Camp – Start at 3 am, drive around 1.5 hours to Sonprayag and then take a Jeep for Gaurikund (base camp).

The trek starts from Gaurikund basecamp and should begin by around 9 am to reach on top by evening / late night.

PS – You can return back the same day too if you plan Horseback or Helicopter.

For Bookings via Helicopter, plan in advance and book slots. The cost depends on your weight. Helicopter plans can be cancelled in case the weather is not suitable, kindly be prepared for that (extend hotel stay) in advance.

Day 9 – Stay at Kedarnath and early morning visit to Temple. Plan your ascend and reach back to base by late evening.

There are 2 scenarious – Some people reach by afternoon if weather conditions are good (no rain / snow) and the pathway is clear (snow melting leads to muck which makes the walk slightly difficult and slow as its slippery)

If the path is clear, you might reach by 7 to 8 hours depending from the time you start.

Read this for Planning a Kedarnath Trek

  • If you plan to stay after trekking. Recommended for that gorgeous view of Himalayas, please carry an extra set of clothes in your back pack.
  • Also Pre-book a room on GMVN website. There are bunk beds with basic facilities. Hot water, warm blankets etc is available. They also have a buffet dinner / breakfast which needs to be paid separately for.
  • There are small hotels that sell basic stuff like Maggi, Paratha, tea, coffee, mineral water, juice box etc which can be purchased. They are great in quality and taste both.
  • Public Toilets, drinking water available at all locations and in excellent condition.
  • Carry warm clothes like gloves and caps, muffler and woolen socks. The temperature at night drops and warm clothes are recommended.

Please read rest of the points covered above in the Yamunotri Trek (essentials to carry for trek)

Himalayas
Snow Capped Himalays
Snow capped Himalayan mountains
Mighty Himalayas at Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple is located at a high altitude - Chota Char dham
Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple
Side view of Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath temple, one of the Chota Char Dham yatra
The Rock that saved the temple – 2013 floods

Day 10 – Travel to Joshimath (start by 7 am) Drive is around 7 hours. Suggest you to take the day off and rest completely to recover from the body pain (if you have hiked to and fro Kedarnath, like we did)

Day 11 – Travel to Badrinath. Drive is around 3 hours. There is no climbing involved except few stair cases to the temple.

The temple closes around 12 noon and reopens at 3 pm. The day we visited the temple had huge queue so they kept the temple open until 2 pm to ease the crowd.

There is a hot spring here where you can have a dip or wash. Bring extra pair of clothes.

Badrinath Temple - Last stop of the Chota Char Dham Yatra
Badrinath Temple

After darshan around 3 pm travel to Mana (the last village of India). It is around 15 minute drive from Badrinath Temple. Take some pictures and return back to the hotel at Joshimath

Mana Village
Mana village – India’s last village

Now that the Chota Char Dham Yatra is over, we can begin our Journey back to Delhi to board the flight back to Mumbai.

Since the journey is long and tedious, try taking halts at various locations, as we did. It does not tire you of the long journey which is entirely spent sitting.

Day 12 Joshimath to Rudraprayag – You can see the sangam or confluence of 2 rivers. The drive is 4 hours

Halt, rest and explore around Rudraprayag. Frankly, we just slept.

Day 13 – Rudraprayag to Haridwar or Rishikesh (Since we stayed in Rishikesh while starting the journey, we chose to stay in Haridwar)

Day 14 – Start journey to Delhi. Takes around 7 hours by road. Travel back to Mumbai or stay (we did the latter)

I have tried my best to compile all the details and put forth the minutest information for your convenience. We had a lovely yatra experience and hope with all the information shared here, you shall experience the same.

Faith is the foundation stone of a successful yatra. Have faith in the Almighty and yourself, the Yatra would be a breeze!

In case you need any more details about the yatra, do not hesitate to send me an email on vidya.masalachilli@gmail.com. Shall be happy to help.

Do give us a shout out or tag us when you plan a visit to Chota Char Dham on our social media handles – INSTAGRAMTWITTERFACEBOOK PAGE AND PINTEREST.

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Thank you for visiting.

Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Beautiful, serene pics !! . you have captured the whole yatra so well, through your pics and words.. all the details are it very helpful for those planning to go for it!!

    1. Thank you so much Swati. I hope people find this information useful while planning. A humble attempt.

  2. Wonderful .. read in one breathe .. remembering my trips. I always travel end October , not many people then

    1. Thank you Dada for stopping by and for your kind words as well. Well, we had planned October but then festivals made us plan ahead in May. The locals did mention September and October months are convenient and less crowded too.

  3. Beautiful clicks, can relate a few as have been to Haridwar and Rishikesh. Loved the way you have summarized the details about bookings, what to pack, essentials etc. and you special tips.

    1. Thanks Renu, wish we had something like this to refer when we planned our trip. So I tried my best to collate the details which would be useful to all who plan.

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