Chhota char dham is a small circuit of four shrines, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. In India, a common belief is that Hindus should visit these shrines at least once in their lifetime. This is the path to salvation. Out of the four shrines, two, Gangotri and Yamunotri are representative of Goddess Shakti, while Kedarnath belongs to Lord Shiva and Badrinath to Lord Vishnu. All these sites have historical significance according to popular folklore.
Yamunotri dham is the first stop in this pilgrimage. It is where the second most holy river in India, the Yamuna takes birth. According to ancient legend, sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here and bathed in Ganges and Yamuna daily. During his old age, when he was unable to walk up to the Ganges, one stream of it appears near Yamunotri for him. Kalind parvat, mountain adjacent to the river is dedicated to her father, Sun. According to another folklore, Yamuna was the sister of Yamraj, promised her that whosoever will take a dip in the Yamuna River will not be taken to Yamlok.
Gaumukh, in Gangotri glacier, is the source of river Bhagirathi. It is the seat of goddess Ganga and acquires the name Ganges from Devprayag onwards where it meets the river Alaknanda. It is believed that King Bhagirath, meditated to please goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and liberate their souls. Ganga agreed to come down while flowing to earth, her speed was so high, that it would have created turbulence and swept whole earth so Lord Shiva holds the stream in his hair and let out in a small stream.
Kedarnath dham is a prominent pilgrimage for Hindus, as it is one of the 12 Jyotirling and most remote pilgrimage in Chhota char dham yatra. According to Indian mythology, after the battle of Mahabharata, the temple construction was done by Pandavas. It is said that the present structure was edified by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
Badrinath is considered one of the holiest places in Hindu religion. One of the 108 Divya Desam, Badrinath temple is part of char dham and Chhota char dham. According to Padam Puran, this place is sacred to Vishnu’s incarnation in dual form, Nar-Narayana. In the 7th century, Adi Sankaracharya found the idol of Lord Badri in Alaknanda river and put it up in a cave near the Tapt Kund. It is also mentioned in Mahabharata, Pandavas and Draupadi ascend to heaven through Badrinath.