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Holy Destinations of India

Gangotri

Gangotri, the source of the river Ganga and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Gangotri can be reached in one day's travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yamunotri, the first site in the Char Dham circuit. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus, meaning that it sees many more pilgrims than Yamunotri.

This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga, which was built by the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the late 18th or early 19th century. The temple is closed on Diwali day every year and is reopened in May. During this time, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, near Harsil.

Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of pujaris. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganga. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 18 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganga.

For a large number of tourists, Gangotri town serves as the starting point of the Gangotri-Gaumukh-Tapovan and Gangotri-Kedartal trekking routes.
 

Photos of Gangotri

gangotri   gangotri himalaya
Gangotri Temple   Gangotri Temple

Mythological Relation

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga - the daughter of heaven, took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagirath's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received Ganga into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall.

According to this legend, King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage in Ashwamegh Yagya as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asmanjas born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the 'Yagya' (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagar searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagar stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, 60,000 sons had perished by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagirath, grand son of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to bring down the Ganga to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha. The Bhagirathi 'Shila' is located near the temple of Ganga where the holy Ganga first descended on earth from heaven.

General Information :-

Altitude : 3042 mts.

Climate : Summer - Cool during the day and cold at night.

               Winter - Snow-bound. Touching sub-zero.

Clothing : Summer - Light woollen

               Winter   - Very heavy woollen.

Language : Hindi, Garhwali & English.

Season : April to November.

 

Attractions of Gangotri

Gangotri templeThe 18th century’s temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located near a sacred stone where Kind Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is believed to have touched earth at this spot. According to another legend, Pandavas performed the great ‘Deva Yagna’ here to atone the deaths of their kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharata.The temple is an exquisite 20 ft. high structure made of white granite.

Submerged Shivling

The natural rock Shivling, submerged in the river, is an amazing sight reinforcing the power of the divine. According to mythology, Lord Shiva sat at this spot to receive the Ganga in his matted locks. The shivling is visible in the early winters when the water level goes down.


Accessibility / How to reach
:-

Airport : Jolly Grant, Dehradun 226 kms.

Railhead : Rishikesh, 249 kms.

Road : Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi.

Important Road Distances :

Dharasu ( 129 Km.), Yamunotri (224 Km.) Mussoorie ( 247 Km.), Tehri ( 172 Km.)


Accommodation in Gangotri

A number of Ashrams along the banks of Bhagirathi, Tourist Rest House, PWD Inspection House, Forest Rest House are available. Dharamshalas, Guest Houses and Private Hotels also ensure convenient accommodation

Where to Eat in Gangotri

Only local eating places (dhabas) are available. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are prohibited in Gangotri.

 

ENROUTE

  • Agrakhal, Tehri-Rishikesh route.
  • Chinyalisaur, Uttarkashi-Chamba route
  • Naitala near Uttarkashi-Gangotri root
  • Ginoti, Dharasu-Yamunotri route.

 

EXCURSIONS

Nandavan Tapovan ( 6 kms. )

An arduous trek along the Gangotri Glacier leads to scenic Nandanvan - the base camp for the Bhagirathi peaks, that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Shivling peak. A trek across the snout of the Gangotri Glacier leads to Tapovan known for its beautiful meadows that encircle the base of the Shivling peak.

Uttarkashi ( 99 kms.)

An important pilgrimage centre, situated at an elevation of 1,150 mts. above sea level on the bank of river Bhagirathi. Some of the important temples worth visiting are - Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi Temple. Nearby is the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. Every year, during the ‘Magh Mela’ ( January 14 ), people visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in Bhagirathi along with the image of their village deity.

Kedar Tal ( 18 kms.)

An enchanting lake, 4425 mts. above sea level against the splendid backdrop of mighty Thalaiyasagar peak. Accessible through a rough mountain trail, it is the base camp for trekking to surrounding peaks. The trek to Kedartal needs a local guide.

Gaumukh ( 18 kms.)

The snout of the Gangotri Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi river. Pilgrims trek upto the sacred spot on foot or on ponies to take a holy dip in the ice-cold water.

Bhairon Ghati ( 10 kms.)

Situated towards Uttarkashi, it is known for the temple of Bhairav Nath, surrounded by thick forests.

Harsil ( 28 kms. )

Located in the mountain district of Uttarkashi is the sylvan hamlet ( 2620 mts. above sea level ), known for scenic landscapes and delicious apples. Sat Tal or seven lakes, nearby ( 2 kms.) are a not-to-be-missed attraction.

Gangnani ( 59 kms.)

Noted for its thermal springs, spectacular views and tranquil surroundings. A small upcoming town - Bhatwari, lying 12 kms from Gangnani is worth a visit.

Maneri ( 86 kms.)

The dam across the Bhagirathi and a surrounding lake are worth a visit.

Dayara Bugyal ( 93 kms.)

A breathtakingly beautiful meadow, situated at a height of 3,048 mts. above sea level. A motorable road connects Bhatwari ( 27 kms. from Uttarkashi ) with Raithal village, from where follows a 6 kms. long trek to Dayara. The famous Sheshnag Temple enroute is an attraction of the trek. From Dayara, one can also trek down to Dodi Tal ( 30 kms. ). During winters, Dayara provides excellent ski slopes over an area of 28 sq. kms.

Dodi Tal ( 123 kms.)

A sparkling lake at an elevation of 2286 mts. surrounded by dense forests. The famous Himalayan trouts are found in abundance in the lake. Permit for fishing can be obtained from the Divisional Forest Officer, Uttarkashi. A beautiful camping site, a Forest Rest House and a log cabin are seen along the lake.

Nachiketa Tal ( 131 kms.)

A pleasant trek through lush green forests leads to this peaceful retreat. A small temple along the lake and lovely surroundings are an attraction.

Tehri ( 173 kms.)

Lying at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers is the former capital of Tehri Garhwal principality. It is the site of a giant hydel project.

Narendranagar ( 239 kms.)

The new capital of erstwhile Tehri state, offers a magnificent view of the Ganga valley of Rishikesh and the plains of Haridwar.

       

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