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Gangotri

Gangotri Yatra is part of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage of the ‘Char Dham’ which include Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

 

Gangotri Cleanses the Impurity of Body & Soul

Most of the Hindus dream of visiting Gangotri atleast once in a lifetime as it is believed that doing so cleanses all of one’s sins and washes away the impurity of both mind & soul

To undertake the rigorous and pain-staking journey to Gangotri, people find motivation in the magnificent view of breath-taking snow-covered Himalayan Mountains and the fascinating River Ganga emerging out from the Gangotri Glacier, which is popularly known as Gaumukh or Gangotri Gomukh.

Gangotri is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimages. Located in Uttarkashi district, in the state of Uttarakhand, on the banks of the River Bhagirathi which takes the form of sacred River Ganga, Gangotri is located on the greater Himalayan range at an altitude of 3,100 meters above the sea level.

 

Mythological Significance of Gangotri

According to the Hindu mythology, Gangotri is the place where Goddess Ganga descended from the locks of Lord Shiva.

Gangotri Temple is situated at the place from where the journey of River Ganga on earth begins. The devotees visit the temple at Gangotri and worship the Goddess Ganga. The holy River Ganga floats over the glaciers of Himalaya through the deep valleys which are full of green mountains covered with cider and pine forest.

In the ancient times the River Ganga was called as Bhagirathi River. Bhagirathi River meets Alaknanda at Devprayag and forms River Ganga. Many temples, shrines and ashramas are located on the bank of River Ganga.

 

Legend of Gangotri                                        

According to the Hindu mythology, one virtuous King Sagar had performed the Ashwamedha Yagna 99 times successfully, which Lord Indra found enviable.

So, when King Sagar went on to perform the Ashwamedha Yagna for the 100th time, Lord Indra played foul by capturing the horse and tying it in the premises of sage Kapila’s ashram.

King Sagar had 60,000 sons by one queen and a son by another queen by whom he had a grandson Anshumanth.

Now, when the Yagna’s horse, which was supposed to return to the point after completing a round of earth, went missing, the 60,000 sons of King Sagar went looking for it and found it in Kapil Muni’s ashram.

Misunderstanding that the sage had tied it there, the princes interrupted the sage’s meditation and misbehaved with him. Losing his temper Kapil muni baned them and burnt all 60,000 of them to ashes then and there!

When they did not return to King Sagar, the king sent his grandson Anshumanth to look for his uncles.

Following their footprints, Anshumanth reached the Kapil Muni’s cottage and saw a mound of ashes there. Humbly he enquired the sage who narrated the whole episode.

Anshumanth was naturally saddened by the event and humbly asked the sage as to how he could salvage the souls of his uncles.

Kapil Muni advised him to bring the holy River Ganga down to the earth to wash over their ashes which alone could salvage their souls.

Anshumanth served penance for good long years to placate Ganga into descending on earth.

Later, his son, King Dilip followed his father’s footsteps and spent his lifetime in efforts to please Ganga. However, this was not good enough for Ganga. But the clan did not give up!

King Dilip’s son, Bhagirath, under Lord Vishnu’s guidance, requested Lord Shiva to bear the weight of the Ganga, which otherwise, gushing with full force, would have destroyed the earth.

Lord Shiva agreed and bore the cascading Ganga, letting it trickle down slowly on earth meandering through the labyrinth of his dense matted hair. 

River Ganga then gently descended on Himalayas and meandered its way through to the place where the ashes of the princes lay. Washing over those, the pious Ganga salvaged their souls. It is after King Bhagiratha that the River Ganga is known as Bhagirathi.

The point at which the holy River Ganga descended on earth is the holy Hindu Pilgrimage of Gangotri which is visited by hordes of devotees every year.

 

Gangotri Temple

The temple at Gangotri was constructed by Gorkha Commander Amar Singh Thapa. The temple was constructed on the spot where lay once the Gangotri Glacier but over years, due to the effect of global warming the Gangotri Glacier which is also called Gomukh receded 18 km away from Gangotri.

The only way to reach Gomukh is by foot. You can go by horse riding to a certain extent but not till the end. To go by walk, the trek is not rough or steep and one can reach Gangotri in two days by making a halt at Bhojwasa which is 4 km away from Gomukh.

 

Best Time to Visit Gangotri

The best time to visit Gangotri is from April to June.

The summer season is the best season to visit the Himalayan range and to take a dip in the holy River Ganga.

The temperature at Gangotri remains around 30 degrees in the day time during the summer and falls down a little during the night.

Avoid visiting Gangotri from July to September, that is, during the rainfall, as the monsoon brings heavy rains and chances of landslides become high.

The entire region of Himalayan bound Gangotri remains inaccessible during the winter season due to heavy snowfall.

                    

Opening date of Gangotri 2017   

The temple at Gangotri is accessible during the period of April to October.

Gangotri temple opens almost every year on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. However, each year there is an announcement of the specific opening and closing dates of the Gangotri Temple.

This year also, in 2017, the Gangotri temple along with Yamunotri temple will open on 28th April coinciding with the day of Akshaya Tritiya.

The temple opens with a religious ceremony which takes place in the temple as well as across the banks of River Bhagirathi to worship the Goddess Ganga.

When the temple closes for the winter season after the festival of Diwali, the idol of Goddess Ganga is taken in a procession to a small village Mukhawa, near Harsil, which becomes the place of worship for the entire chilly winter season.

 

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How to Reach Gangotri

You can reach Gangotri from Dehradun (250 km) and Rishikesh (270 km) by road. You will find public transport as well as private taxis. You can even get the direct public transport from Haridwar to Uttarkashi too.

You can break your journey with a halt at Uttarkashi, from where you can also collect permit to Gomukh. Uttarkashi is 170 km away from Rishikesh.

Next day you can take a private vehicle to go to Gangotri. Stay the night there at Gangotri and then start trekking the next day.

 

Plan Your Journey Well to Gangotri

Going to Gangotri by road is a memorable experience. The road is in good condition and you will have a choice of vehicles ranging from public transport, private taxis, jeeps and Sumos.

While going uphill, the huge reflection of the dusk over the snowy mountain peaks and the transformation of scenic landscape into mesmerizing lush green valley encaptivates one and all.

You can plan to stay at Uttarkashi and visit Gangotri the next day or you can stay at Dharali, which is close to Gangotri and has decent GMVN accommodations. But yes you have to book the accommodation in advance. Details for the same can be collected from GMVN website.

You can even stay at Harsil which is an hour long drive from Gangotri or you can decide to stay at Gangotri itself which has a wide variety of stay-homes and Dharmashalas.

 

Permission for trekking to Gaumukh

The permission for trekking can be obtained either from Uttarkashi or from Gangotri itself, either early in the morning or late evening. 

Documents Required for Permit: To get the permit you would need to carry a photocopy of your personal ID.

Charges for Gangotri Permit: You will be charged 150 INR for two days and an extra 50 INR will be charged for every additional day.

For foreign nationals the charges for the permit are 600 INR for first two days and extra 150 INR for each additional day.

 

A Soulful Journey

The journey to Gangotri will bring you closer to your inner-self. One can soak in the absolute serenity of the pure and divine River Ganga flowing through Gangotri.

The solace one finds when he or she spends some time with nature at such a holy place is indescribable. The pilgrimage to Gangotri leaves its imprints on one’s heart forever.

 

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