A pilgrimage at least once in one’s lifetime is a Hindu’s sacred duty. Of the many pilgrimage places dotting the Indian landscape, Chardham or four destinations comprised of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are much favored due to the merit one acquires by a pilgrimage to these places. Since all these pilgrimage spots are located high in the mountains of Uttarakhand they can be snowbound during winter and be negotiating the narrow passes becomes impossible. The temples here have a rule of opening only around Akshay Treej in April/May and close for winter around Diwali time. Therefore one must pick the best time to visit Chardham and plan well in advance. Picking the right time is important because all four temples are located high up in the mountains, with Kedarnath being the highest, and you need to travel across steep inclines and rocky paths to reach the sacred temples.
Weather plays an important role in deciding a suitable time to visit these four pilgrimage spots. Your convenience is another factor. High up in the mountains, it is cool and pleasant during the day during April-May-June. Nights can be cold so one must have woollens at hand. The rains start around July and last till early September. Travel could be tough with possibilities of landslides and be waterlogging at places. September after rains becomes relatively cooler and the countryside is green, which is probably the best time for the yatra. By October the temperature drops and you could even see early snowfall. Consider the weather with all due seriousness when you plan a Chardham yatra.
Akshay Treej, the opening day, can see huge crowds because people believe that a pilgrimage on this auspicious day confers special merit. The crowds last all through May and June. With rains on the horizon the crowd tapers off in July and August. As rains vanish the influx of people increases in September and lasts until the closing time of the temples, which is just after Diwali day.
Accommodation and Travel Costs
A yatra is costly and one must plan for accommodation and travel costs. As the number of pilgrims rises, so does the cost of travel and accommodation as well as food. May and June are expensive on all these counts so if you are on a budget, pick some other time like July and August. If you can put up with rains, then you will find plenty of low priced hotels and cheaper travel. Just be prepared to spend more time inside if rains make travel impossible. Prices during September and October are moderate, which makes these two months a good time to undertake the Chardham yatra.
May and June could be good for you if you plan about 3 months in advance, register for the yatra and book hotels and vehicles. If everything is in place then you need not worry about finding hotels or guest houses or transport. It could be enjoyable too since the temperature is around 20 to 35 deg. C whereas it dips below 20 in subsequent months.