According to the Hindu scriptures, the holy centres of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath - collectively called the Char dham (meaning the four sacred spots) - are the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Undertaking a journey to these places will not just wash away one's sins but ensure release from the cycle of birth and death. The honour conferred on these places is not surprising. For one, they are all in the icy Garhwal ranges and regarded as the most sacred of all Himalayan ranges. It is also said that heaven and earth converge in these holy spots, and to be born or die here is a boon only the very fortunate have. The Chardham must be visited from left to right -beginning with Yamunotri, going on to Gangotri, Kedarnath and culminating the journey at Badrinath. This route follows the Hindu tradition of parikrama or clockwise circumambulation.