Char Dham, or Chaar Dhaams, are the sacred temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu or his incarnations (avatars). The four sacred places are Badrinath, Rameshwaram, Puri, and Dwarka. The Char Dhams are located in the North, South, East and West of India. Since the four sacred places are spread across the country, the Char Dham ‘thirthyatra’ is known as the Mahaparikrama.
It must be noted here that there is another famous Char Dham yatra that is the Char Dham in the
Himalayas. Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri located in Uttarakhand. These temple remains only for six months.
The Char Dham of Vishnu are the four pilgrim sites that most Hindus wish to go when they decide upon a tirtha yatra.
North India, in Badrinath in Uttarakhand, Narayana is worshipped in the form of Lord Vishnu.
In West, in Dwarka in
Gujarat, Vishnu is worshipped in the form of Lord Krishna.
In South, in Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Vishnu is worshipped in the form of Lord Rama.
In East, in Puri in Orissa, Vishnu is worshipped in the form of Jagannath.
There is a popular belief that the Char Dhams are the favorite abodes of Lord Vishnu on earth. It is said that Lord Vishnu bathes in the
at Badrinath, dresses at Dwarka, eats meal at Puri and rests at Rameshwaram after completing his duty of preservation. Alakananda River
It must be noted here that several other famous pilgrim centers are also referred as ‘dham.’ But the most sacred and ancient dhams are the four Vishnu Dhams.
Among the Chaar Dhams, Dwarka is also a Saptapuri – the seven sacred places associated with Hinduism.