Gangotri - The Abode of Goddess Ganga

Gangotri is a small town centered around the temple of Gangotri temple and is one of the holy places among the four Char Dhams. It is cuddled in the heart of Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and is located close to the Indo-Tibetan border.  It is the highest and the most important temple of river Ganga which is worshiped as a Goddess in India.

The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri glacier that can be accessed by a short 19 km trek from Gangotri. But according to Hindu mythology, Gangotri is the place where river Ganga descended from heaven when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from his luscious locks.

Why Visit Gangotri?

Gangotri is a perfect place to enrapture in the serenity and sanctity as the place has a picturesque landscape. With the snow-clad Himalayas located in the vicinity and the Bhagirathi River flowing in eternity at this heavenly place, one can feel close to God in the blissful aura of Gangotri. One can pay obeisance at the Gangotri temple which stands at an altitude of 3,415 metres above sea level.  Gangotri offers scenic vistas of rugged terrains, gushing water of Bhagirathi River and snow clad peaks. 

Gangotri is also the starting points for some trek routes like Tapovan, Bhojwasa, Gaumukh, Gangotri glacier, Gangotri national park, Shivling peak etc. Some of the popular tourist attractions in and around Gangotri town are the Gangotri temple, Bhagirath Shila, Pandava Gufa, Tapovan, Bhairon Ghati, the Gaumukh glacier and the submerged Shivalinga.  

Gangotri Opening and Closing Dates 2016

Gangotri remains opened from May and gets closed on the occasion of Diwali festival. Gangotri temple remains closed during winters as the region is prone to heavy snowfall.

Gangotri Kapat Opening: The kapat of Gangotri Temple will be opened on 09 May 2016.

Gangotri Closing Date: Gangotri Temple Closing date will updated soon.

Gaumukh Glacier

Gaumukh glacier is the source of Bhagirathi River which is also known as Ganga River before the confluence with Alaknanda at Devprayag. The Glacier is situated 18kms from Gangotri. 'Gau' means Cow and 'Mukh' means face hence the combined meaning of Gaumukh is cow's face. If you carefully observe the cave from where the water gushes out it will resemble as a cow's face. Gaumukh is the second largest glacier of India, only after the Siachen glacier.

Gaumukh is 30 kms in length and approximately 3 to 4 km wide. It is a source of the Bhagirathi River which is one of the most important tributary of the sacred Ganga River. The trek to Gaumukh glacier is easy but it goes through a rocky surface as it goes through Bhojbasa offering splendors of nature en route.

Submerged Shivling

There is a natural rock Shivling in Gangotri, submerged under water which can be easily seen when winters are on their way as the water level decreases during that time. According to myths and legends this was the place where Lord Shiva sat when Ganga ascended in his matted locks.

More About Gangotri

Gangotri along with the Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath forms the Chota Char Dham which is an important pilgrimage place of the Hindus. Like other Chota Char Dhams, Gangotri temple also closes during the winter season. During which the idol of the goddess is shifted to Ma Ganga temple in Mukhba village, about 20 km downstream. The town Gangotri remains open from May and gets closed on the occasion of Diwali festival. 

  • Maintain the sanctity of the place by refraining from alcohol and non-vegetarian food. 
  • The weather at Gangotri remains chilly throughout the year. Carry ample woolens when visiting he region.
  • Travelling to Uttarakhand in monsoons is little risky as the region witness road blockages due to frequent landslides. Best time to visit Gangotri is from May-April and September-October.

History of Gangotri

The sacred Gangotri town is built around the holy Gangotri shrine, having it as the epicentre. The aboriginal Gangotri temple was built in the early 18th century by the mighty Gorkha General, Amar Singh Thapa and was later re-built by the Maharaja of Jaipur.

Mythology of Gangotri

There are two mythological tales associated with Gangotri, the first one state that King Sagar, the great grandfather of King Bhagirath wanted to extend his empire, for which he performed the 'Ashwamedha Yagya'. When he was busy in performing the yagya, his horse was let loose to roam freely across the empire. When the soldiers were unable to locate the horse, the 60,000 sons of King Sagar were asked to find it. While searching for the horse, the sons of King Sagar came across a place where sage Kapila was meditating and noticed that the horse was tied next to him. They interrupted sage Kapila's meditation and accused him of stealing the horse. 

Sage Kapila who was pot boiled turned all the 60,000 sons of King Sagar into ashes, cursing them to attain heaven only when the ashes will come in contact with the holy water of river Ganga, (which used to flow only in the heaven). Therefore, King Bhagirath did a serious penance to please river Ganga so that his ancestors could achieve ‘moksha’ or salvation. The penance lasted for more than 1,000 years and King Bhagirath was able to appease the holy river Ganga, to come down to Earth from the heavens above. 

While the other legend states that responding to the King Bhagirath’s prayers, Ganga agreed to come down to Earth, also warning that her rapid downpour will annihilate the Earth. Therefore, Lord Shiva held the soaring river Ganga in his luscious locks to save the entire mankind. It is believed that the site where Jalmagna Shivlinga lies is the place where Lord Shiva received the Goddess Ganga in his locks. When river Ganga started flowing on Earth, the Gangotri temple was erected to shelter her. 

Staying in Gangotri

Being a revered pilgrimage for Hindus, Gangotri has various types of accommodations – ranging from luxury hotels to budget guesthouses to dharmashalas. In addition to that, they also have camping accommodations for tourists and pilgrims. The government has also set up GMVN guesthouses. During the peak season, Gangotri is flocked with pilgrims and finding a place to stay is difficult.

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Activities in Gangotri

Trekking: Perched at an elevation of 3,000 meters, Gangotri shrine is nestled amidst the imposing lush green hills as the river Ganges flows beside the shrine. There are many places in the vicinity where one could trek and enjoy the mesmerizing Himalayan views.

Pilgrimage: Gangotri shrine is one of the four revered Char Dham in Uttarakhand and is dedicated to Goddess Ganga. Every year, thousand of devotees visit Gangotri temple to seek blessings from the Goddess Ganga for a happy and fulfilling life.

Shopping: Since Gangotri is a revered place, there are many shops which sell religious idols of deities and other devotional items. One can buy local handicrafts such as shawls, woolens, religious paintings and Tibetan artifacts at Gangotri.

Gangotri Food Guide

There are plenty of restaurants and roadside food stalls in Gangotri where north Indian vegetarian food is served along with few popular Chinese dishes. Since Gangotri hold deep religious values for devotees, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is banned in and around Gangotri. Apart from that, one can find eating options at the hotels which have an in-house restaurants.

Gangotri is famous for?

Gangotri is famous among tourist as Gangotri Temple and Popular Treks.

Gangotri is recommended destination for Family and Kids, Foreigners, Groups, Solo.

Gangotri is popular destination for following activities/ interests - Adventure, Base Camp (Trek), Char Dham, Pilgrimage, Temples.

PHOTO BY: Mayank Verma

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