Gangotri Temple, Uttaranchal
About Gangotri River
Gangotri is one of the Chardhams of the country or one amongst the
four pilgrimages which every Hindu must take once in his lifetime. At
a height of 3048 mts, Gangotri holds a mystic charm. Anyone who comes
up till here can not remain untouched by the holy aura that hangs in
the air of the place. Gangotri temple is of immense importance to Hindus
since it is the source of the holiest of the Hindu rivers, river
99 kilometres form Uttarkashi, blessed by mother nature, this picturesque pilgrimage is bound to be a lifetime experience for you. This is the place where the sacred water of Ganga touches earth for the first time. From here it begins its long journey of approximately 2500 kms, stretching across the Indian subcontinent, blessing people with its sacred water and fertile minerals in two countries, India and Bangladesh. It finally forms world's largest and most fertile delta, Sunderban delta in Bangladesh.
The Legend Behind Gangotri Origin
The mythological story that goes behind River Ganga is perhaps the
most interesting and powerful legend. It says that King Bhagirath
carried out severe penance for several centuries to please Goddess
Ganga to absolve the sins of his predecessors. Finally Goddess Ganga,
daughter of heaven, agreed to his wish and decided to take form of
river and flow on earth. But earth could not sustain the immense flow
of Ganga and soon it was water everywhere. Lord Shiva then took the
flowing Ganga in his hair locks to reduce the impact, henceforth, it
flowed down in 12 streams of water.
The stream at the source came to be known as Bhagirathi (named after Bhagirath), flowing like this since centuries, absolving the sins of mankind.
The Submerged Shivlinga
A submerged Shivling in water here stands reinforcing the legend that goes with River Bhagirathi here. It is said that the place where Shivlinga is submerged in water, Lord Shiva stood to receive Ganga in his locks. The Shivling submerged in water presents a mystical sight, though it is more visible in early winters when the water level goes down.
The Gangotri Temple
The Templa at Gangotri, a shrine dedicated to Goddess Ganga stands
on the banks of River Bhagirathi. The three century old temple was
made by Gorkhas here, their Commander Amar Singh Thapa, got it
constructed here in the 18th century. The temple is open for pilgrims
from October to May. In the months of winter when the area goes under
a cover of snow, it is believed that the goddess retreats to Mukhba,
12 kilometres down.
The main temple complex was renovated in early twentieth century. Made of white granite, the twenty feet tall temple stands beautifully reflecting in the sunshine and snow peaks in the backdrop( perfect to click the Gangotri pictures). Close to the temple is a stone, or it is said that the temple was built close to this stone purposely. This is known as 'Bhaigirath shila', shila meaning rock. This is believed to be the place where Bhagiratha meditated for penance and Ganga first touched earth here. Come here during evening aarti when the entire atmosphere is enchanted with the Gangotri songs or aarti and take away the image of Gangotri in your eyes and soul forever.
Excursions From Gangotri
The most famous of all excursions from Gangotri is Gomukh, meaning cow's mouth. At an altitude of 4200 metres above the sea level is Gangotri Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Himalayas and source of River Ganga 18 kilometres of uphill trek will bring you to Gaumukh. You can also have lots of Gangotri pics here if you want.
The place is at a distance of 6 kilometre long trekking route from the glacier. The place gives view of the Shivling. In case you plan to get adventurous a bit, there are places nearby. Harsil, Vasuki tal, sattal, Badrinath, these places around Gangotri glacier can be visited. Though transport is not available and one has to take a trek. Nandanvan is also the base camp for trek to Bhagirathi peaks. A short trek will bring you to a beautiful meadow called Tapovan which encircles Shivling peak.
The place is 99 kms from Gangotri. The place has some notable temples like Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi temple.
It is a beautiful lake 18 kilometres from Gangotri, 4425 mts above the sea level. A mountainous trail will lead you to Kedar tal, one might need a local guide also. Kedar tal also serves as a base camp for treks to surrounding peaks. For nature lovers this place is ideal for clicking for lots of Gangotri photos.
Another interesting excursion from Gangotri is Dayayra Bugyal. 93 kilometres from here at an altitude of 3048 kms. It is a beautiful meadow and the route to Dayara also offers equally beautiful sights. The place in winters is covered with snow and many skiers come here for skiing during that time. On route to Dayara lies the famous Sheshnag temple. You can also visit the Gangotri national park located nearby.
Nearest airport from Gangotri is Jolly Grant airport, Dehradun, 162 kms.
Nearest railhead from Gangotri is Rishikesh, 145 kms from here.
Regular buses ply from Haridwar, Rishikesh, Tehri, Uttarkashi and other important places in the region for Gangotri. Private taxis can also be hired from these places.