Gangotri - The Eternal Gift Of Bhagirath's Penance
Be it man's urge to placate the Gods above or to quench his desire
for adventure, Gangotri is an ideal location. Gangotri, the origin of
the sacred river Ganges, attracts tourists in large numbers every year.
The confrontation with the daunting rivers and attempts to unravel the
mysteries of the supernatural world are ubiquitous sights here. Along
with the thrill of conquering nature, what one experiences here is the
mystical aura that India is so famous for.
Couched in the magnificent Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of
3048 meters above sea level. It is on the northernmost part of the state
of Uttar Pradesh and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. It is
approximately 300 km from Dehradun, 250 km from Rishikesh and 105 km
from Uttarkashi. The summers are relatively cool and winters are
freezing cold, with rains in the months of May and June. For the
devotees and tourists, the gates of the temple are open only in the
months of May to November.
According to an old legend, Lord Shiva rewarded King Bhagirath after his
penance and Ganga came down to earth. However, due to her pride, and the
fact that the earth would be devastated if Ganga came down in her full
force, Lord Shiva caught her in his locks. It was then proclaimed that
Goddess Uma or Parvati, Shiva's consort, would bathe in the Ganges daily
and only then would she descend on the earth. The sacred stone near the
temple denotes the place where Ganga first came down to earth. This is
why Ganga is also called by the name of Bhagirathi.
Unique Pilgrimage Attraction
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 Ganaga in his matted locks. The
shivling is visible in the early winters when the water level goes down.
The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the
most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the
According to mythology, Goddess Ganga- the daughter of heaven,
manigested herself in the form of a river to absolve the sins of King
Bhagirath's predecessors, following his
severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted
locks to minimise the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called
Bhagirathi at her legendary
A long the right bank of Bhagirathi stands the shrine of Gangotri
dedicated to the Goddess. Perched at a height of 3042 mts., it was
constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh
Thapa. Every year, lakhs of pilgrims throng the sacred temple between
May and October. By November, Gangotri is covered by snow. It is
believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode.
Prime Pilgrimage Attraction
The 18th century's temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located near
a sacred stone where King 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.
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 Shivaling 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'
people visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in Bhagirathi along with the
image of their village deity.
Kedar Tal (18 kms.)
An enhancing 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
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.
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.
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
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
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