Three ancient routes to Char Dham rediscovered by experts

The 25-member expert team returned to Rishikesh, after rediscovering three ancient routes to Char Dham and covering a distance of 1,158 km on foot.

In search of the lost trails to Char Dham, a team of trekking experts has returned after rediscovering three ancient routes. If revived, the three routes can bring the pilgrimage spirit and boost tourism in Uttarakhand.

The rediscovered treks include Rishikesh-Devprayag hiking trail, Gangotri to Kedarnath trek (via Bhatwari-Belak pass-Budha Kedar-Panwali Kantha), and Trijugi Narayan and Dharasu to Yamunotri (via Falacha Top).

Three ancient routes to char dham
Kedarnath is one of the pilgrimage sites on the Char Dham circuit. Image: Shutterstock/saiko3p.

In association with the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB), the 25-member team was led by Rakesh Pant, Project Manager and Founder, Trekking The Himalayas (TTH), and had embarked on the arduous journey in October this year. The team returned to Rishikesh recently after 50 days, covering approximately 1,158 km on foot and facing the vagaries of the extreme cold weather in the highly difficult terrain.

“The journey, though arduous and challenging, was highly rewarding and rich in experience. We had a rare opportunity to speak to nonagenarians, who are living witnesses to the good old times when the lost routes were alive and in use by pilgrims,” Pant said. The team discovered a plethora of places where weekend treks, day hikes, long treks, biking trails, and drive programs, can be developed, he added. Pant’s organisation, along with UTDB, is also working on a documentary and a book that will sum up the almost two-month-long experience.

Three ancient routes to char dham
Time to plan your long-due Char Dham yatra. Image: Shutterstock/shiv.mer.

Numerous routes to these Himalayan temples were lost due to the construction of the Tehri dam. The exploration was a part of the Uttarakhand government’s efforts to revive these ancient trek routes to the Char Dham circuit, which includes ancient pilgrimage sites Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.

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