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Gangotri


Resting on the banks of the holy River Bhagirathi, Gangotri is a Hindu pilgrimage town in Uttarakhand. The town has great religious significance owing to its Gangotri Temple, where Goddess Ganga is worshipped. Gangotri Glacier (also known as Gaumukh Glacier) located in this region marks the beginning of the River Ganga. Along with Badrinath, Kedarnath and Yamunotri, Gangotri forms the popular pilgrimage circuit called char dham in India and across the globe. Each of these four destinations is located in Uttarakhand which is referred to as Devbhoomi (land of Gods). Gangotri is couched in the Greater Himalayan Range at the height of 3,048 m. above the sea level and is visited by thousands of devout pilgrims from all faiths every year.

Gangotri Temple - Legend and History
King Bhagirath, after performing penance for hundreds of years at Gangotri, managed to please Goddess Ganga to descend from the heaven to earth and bless his ancestors with salvation. However, it was feared that the earth would not be able to withstand the fierce flow of the river. It was then that Lord Shiva agreed to catch the river in his locks to reduce its impact.

However, the present day Gangotri Temple is no older than the 18th century when an army general undertook its construction task. The temple is a beautiful structure boasting of mesmerizing natural charm and soothing ambience. Near to the temple are Bhagirath Shila (where the king is believed to have performed penance) and a rock Shiva Lingam (where Lord Shiva is believed to have gathered the river in his matted locks) submerged in the waters. Gangotri Temple is open only for six months, from late April to early November and remains inaccessible due to heavy snow for the remaining year.

Places and Excursions Nearby
Gangotri, though mainly revered for its religious significance, is not exclusively meant for pilgrims only. The town and the region have enthralling beauty in abundance and some great trekking opportunities as well.
  • Submerged Rock Shivling: If you visit the place in the winter months, you can easily locate the shivalingam due to reduced water levels. Strolling across the banks of the river is completely enchanting, while enjoying the spiritual feel of Uttrakhand chardham yatra.
  • Bhairon Ghati: Surrounded by dense forest, Bhairon Ghati (valley) is considered as the residence of Bhairav or Bhairon, Shiva's guard appointed by the lord to protect the area. Because of its location near the confluence of River Bhagirathi with River Jat Ganga, the valley has spellbinding natural glory.
  • Dodi Tal: Accessible through a trek of around 18 km., this pristine lake is one of the must-visit places on Gangotri tour. Believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ganesha, the lake is also home to golden Himalayan trout. The forests of rhododendrons and oaks enhance the place's beauty.
  • Kedar Tal: Another lake with glistening waters, it is accessible by a challenging trek of around 15 km. Surrounded by surreal beauty of lofty mountain peaks, the lake is lovely with crustal clear and extremely chilled water. Worth admiring is the unbound beauty of Thalaysagar Peak and other natural marvels around the lake.
  • Harsil: A tiny hamlet offering perfect concoction of bliss and serenity, Harsil is ideal for nature-lovers to savour the amazing beauty of tranquil environs. Chirping birds, gushing rivers and apple orchards stretching over miles are the highlights of the place. Yoga, meditation and trekking are the activities you would love to pursue here.
  • Gangnani: With purity in air and spirituality in the environment, Gangnani is a suitable place for those who seek peace. Natural thermal springs are the highlights of this small town on the way to Gangotri yatra and it also boasts of some enticing views of Himalayan peaks.
  • Gaumukh Glacier: Also known as Ganges Glacier or Gangotri Glacier, it serves as the source of River Ganga. You can enjoy an easy trek to reach this unearthly place to view the nature at its best.
  • Tapovan: Another popular trekking route takes the tourists to Tapovan, an exquisite meadow carpeted with variety of flowers. From this place, you can have the marvellous views of Shivling peaks.
  • Uttarkashi: A significant pilgrimage destination, Uttarkashi is a treasure trove of popular temples like Vishwanath Temple and Gyaneshwar Temple.
Accessing Gangotri
You may visit Gangotri alone or as a part of Uttaranchal chardham yatra from Delhi. For travelling by air, you need to book flights to Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun and cover the remaining distance by road. By rail, you can board the train from Delhi to Rishikesh and continue further by road. By road, Gangotri is well-connected to Delhi and the topmost destinations of Uttarakhand. A popular option is to pursue char dham yatra by helicopter from Phata, Dehradun or Delhi. Hiring a tempo traveller for chardham or public transport buses offering service from each of these destinations is also a good option. You may also choose a private tour operator offering tour buses, fixed departure tours, family tours and helicopter ticketing services. It is advisable to book hotels at Gangotri in advance since the six months when this pilgrimage is accessible is the peak season. No matter whether you are a pilgrim, a nature lover or an adventurer, Gangotri can give you the best dose of satisfaction and amusement.




 

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