Akshay Trij heralds the start of the Chardham yatra season that lasts till Bhai Duj when the temples close for winter. Every devout Hindu would like to undertake a Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand, Land of Gods, at least once in a lifetime and there is merit in it. The Char Dham Yatra involves physical hardship because one must trek several kilometres over steep mountainous passes to reach Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath in that order. It also involves travel by road from one place to another in a yatra that can last from a week to ten days. For those who wish to do it in a hurry or for the physically not so fit, a helicopter Char Dham Yatra is the best way to go, it being possible to complete the entire yatra in just two days or in four days.
A Typical Helicopter Char Dham Yatra
- Pilgrims wishing to undertake Char Dham Yatra by helicopter have several choices. One aviation company offers direct Delhi to Chardham helicopter services, a great time saver and enjoyable too. It may be expensive so a more affordable option is Chardham yatra helicopter services that lift off from Sahastradhara helipad in Dehradun. Here too one has options for a two days Chardham yatra or a four nights-five day’s yatra.
2 days-1 night helicopter Char Dham Yatra takes pilgrims from Sahastradhara to Kharsali from where they are transported on horseback or in palanquins to Yamunotri, return to the copter for the onward travel to Harsil and Gangotri and overnight stay at Harsil. The next day the copter flies off to Guptakashi where pilgrims get into another one that takes them to the helipad within walking distance of Kedarnath. Pilgrims complete their rituals and then they set off for Badrinath after when the helicopter returns them to Sahastradhara.
4 nights-5 days Char Dham Yatra helicopter follows the same route but the difference is that pilgrims get to stay overnight at each destination close to the helipad and have more time to explore nearby places of interest.
Best time to visit
The yatra by helicopter to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath is best undertaken in the summer months of April and May or during September. Flights do not operate during monsoon. September could be perfect because, after rains, the mountains and valleys are cloaked in green and the weather is just perfect but you do need to carry woolens because, at altitudes of 3000 meters (the nominal height at which these yatra dhams are located) it can be quite chilly at nights.
Things to keep in mind for helicopter yatra
- Plan at least 2 months in advance, fix your date and book the yatra with a suitable helicopter company for 2 days or 5 days and pay an advance amount to reserve your seat.
- Carry woolens including body wear, gloves, socks, and headgear.
- Wear sunglasses during the flight because at that height the glare of the sun reflecting from white snow-clad peaks can be quite bright and UV content is also high.
- Develop physical fitness by going for walks and climbing stairs.
- Travel light with minimum clothing. Keep a napkin with you to cover your head while entering shrines and include torch, muffler, and blanket in your travel bag. Keep a small bag/shoulder pack for helicopter travel and leave other belongings in a bigger bag you can leave behind at the hotel. Keep identity papers on you and also valuables.
- Pack dry fruits, chocolates, biscuits and nuts to snack on as well as a bottle of water.
- For those with breathing issues, it is advisable to inform the aviation people so they can keep an oxygen cylinder handy on the flight
- Pick an aviation company that offers lowest fares and includes the cost of the stay in resorts, food, surface transport and cost of VIP passes to temples. Check their refund and cancellation policy. There are inclusions and exclusions and it is worthwhile obtaining clarifications prior to booking your seat.
Even though it is expensive you will find a helicopter yatra so easy and convenient. The wonderful aerial view of the grand spread of the Himalayas below while flying is an added, priceless, bonus.