Char Dham: Religion, Travel and Beyond

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Badrinath Dham

Char Dham or Sidheshwar Dham was built by Sikkim government to promote religious tourism. It threw its doors open to the public on November 2011. Char Dham temple complex is on Solophok Hill, 5 km from Namchi in Sikkim. You can reach Namchi in 3 hours 25 minutes from Bagdogra airport. It is established at an altitude of 1,675 m (5,500 ft) above sea level.

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Mighty Sculpture of Lord Shiva

 Sculpture of Lord Shiva and the Char Dhams

A striking feature of the temple complex is the towering statue of Lord Shiva. The  87 feet tall statue is top of Solophok hill. Char Dham, the four most revered Dhams of Hindus, have been reproduced in the  complex for the benefit the devotees and tourists. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling began his dream project in the year 2005. For the consecration of the Dham, Shri Jagadguru Sankaryacharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati did the Pran Prastisha.

Replicas of the Dwadash Jyotirlingas (twelve jyothirlingas) surround the sculpture of Lord Shiva. There is a temple of Shirdi Sai Baba too. Visitors can view Mount Kanchenjunga, Darjeeling, sculpture of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse and such other locations from here.

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Guide Map of Temple Complex

Parking Facilities in Char Dham

Ample parking space is available in front of the reception area. Visitors must climb a few flights of stairs to get to the main Shiva temple on top of the hill. Around the Shiva temple are  replicas of twelve Jyotirlangas.

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Char Dham Pilgrimage Sites

Char Dham as represented in modern times are the four pilgrimage sites in India: Hindus consider it holy to visit Char Dham during one’s lifetime. Architects have created mirror images in the temple complex of the char dhams. These are Badrinath Dham, Jagannath Dham and Dwarka Dham which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The fourth is Rameshwar Dham where the principal deity is Lord Shiva.

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In front of the Shiva temple is a 16.5 feet tall statue of Kirateshwar who is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The locals worship Kirateshwar and believe that with his help one can get peace and prosperity.

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A huge Nandi Bull sits facing the main Shiva temple. Below the main temple is the Sai Mandir. The complex is spread over 29 hectares. You will need around two hours to go through it. A fair amount of walking is called for.  Please see the route map for directions.

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As you enter the main Shiva temple, you will see the Shiva lingam. Devotees may get an opportunity to perform dhara worship on the lingam. Then you go on to a huge hall with a stage at the centre. Religious programs take place here from time to time. There are many murals on the walls depicting the legends of Shiva.

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Getting There

Namchi has a helipad at a distance of 5 km from the town at an altitude of 5,000 ft. From here one can get sweeping view of Mount Kanchendzonga along with other Himalayan peaks. Parts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the rolling plains of Bengal also come into view. Yatri Nivas is a hotel within the temple complex. It has 96 rooms. Some rooms face the Shiva statue while the others have views of Mount Kanchenjunga. The restaurant in Yatri Nivas serves vegetarian food.

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The gardens have beautiful flowers which thrive in the mountain air.

The complex is open twelve hours daily. Entry fee is Rs 50 per person. Parking area near the reception centre is large and a fee of Rs. 30 per car is levied.  The morning hymns on loudspeakers start at 9 am. You can carry cameras and camcorders. However photography is prohibited inside any dham or temple.

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