Why do Hindus aspire to go on the Char Dham Yatra?
Char means four. Dham denotes the abode of a deity and yatra refers to a pilgrimage. Therefore, Char Dham Yatra means pilgrimage to offer obeisance to the four important abodes of Hindu gods. It is noteworthy that the four dhams are situated at four different ends of the country. Jagannath Puri is alongside the sea on the east, Dwarka is on the seaside in the west, Badrinath is deep in the hills in the north and Rameswaram is on the seaside in the south.
It is the secret desire of every Hindu to visit all the four dhams in his lifetime. That would qualify him for a place in heaven. Earlier, with thousands of kilometers between one dham and another it was a very difficult task. Few had the time and wherewithal to do it. It is still not easy now either. But with many swift forms of travel and more conveniences, it is not as difficult. It is said that in the Hindu traditions just as there are four Vedas, four castes and four directions, there are four important places of pilgrimage.
Perhaps these four places of pilgrimage are recommended to Hindus to make them aware of the extent of influence of Hindu deities. Visiting these places is also a test of one's devotion. Travelling such long distances is not always easy. Therefore it is a challenge to all those who undertake to visit all the four dhams. Besides the spiritual influence of a visit to each of these four powerful deities, one cannot ignore the experience or gains through such long travel and interaction with people who look, eat and speak differently.
Jagannath Purl has been described as a heavenly pilgrimage. Lord Krishna spent some time here. jagannath literally means master of the universe, that is, Lord Vishnu. The deity in the temple is that of Vishnu/Krishna. Alongside the main deity the idols of Balram and Subhadra are also present. The idols are made of - sandalwood. It is believed that Brahma presented the eyes of the principal deity and Lord Vishnu conducted the pran pratishtha ceremony. It is believed that within the deity there is a casket containing a portion of Krishna's ashes. Every 12 years the casket is transferred into a new idol and the old one is replaced. Within Jagannath Puri there are five sacred places - Markandya, Chandan, Parvati Talab, Shwetganga and Inderghuman.
The prasad distributed at Jagannath Puri is renowned worldwide as extremely pure and wholesome. It can be consumed even when one is on fast. Interestingly, people of all religions sit together and eat. A visit to this site is particularly virtuous.
Dwarka has ancient, historic and religious importance. After leaving Mathura Lord Krishna, his brother Balram and the Yadavs moved to Dwarka to establish it as a capital city. Dwarkapeeth was established here in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya to promote Sanatan Dharm. Since then Hindus have accepted it as one of the four dhams. Vajranath, son of Anirudh, constructed the abode of the deity in Dwarkadheesh temple. Here an idol of Lord Krishna reigns supreme. Dwarkapeeth Math holds special significance for all Hindus. A temple dedicated to Rukmani, one of Krishna's queens, is famous for its unique architecture.