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Hemkund Sahib Kedarnath
|Gangotri, the name brings an image of solitude, tranquillity, mystery, adventure, and reverence. It is the ultimate destination to fulfil all your wishes—be it the urge to placate the gods above, the thirst for adventure, or just to seek the tranquillity of the Himalayas. Nevertheless, Gangotri, more than anything else, is known as the origin of the sacred river Ganga and attracts tourists in large numbers every year. Legend has it that the Ganga came down to earth after prolonged penance by King Bhagirath to Lord Shiva. However, since the earth would be devastated if the Ganga
|came down in her full force and pride, Lord Shiva caught her in his locks. It was proclaimed that Shiva/’s consort Parvati would bathe in the Ganga daily.
Ganga has remained in the Indian psyche as the ultimate source of attaining nirvana and every important place along the Ganga has become major pilgrimage centres for millions of Hindus. Gangotri is the place where the Ganga is believed to have descended on earth. Two notable attractions in Gangotri are the Gangotri Temple and Submerged Shivling (Jalmagna Shivling).
The entire Himalayan region is considered as the abode of gods by the Hindus. The tranquillity and serenity combined with the majestic charm and mystery behind the high hills of the Himalayas have always been a matter of curiosity. Each step along Gangotri is a revered place and that makes hundreds of pilgrimages. Some of the famous ones are Gaumukh, Nandanvan, Tapovan, Bhairon Ghati, Uttarkashi, Gangnani, Kedartal, and Harsil
The most important attraction in Gangotri is its temple believed to have been built in the 18th century by a Gorkha commander, Amar Singh Thapa. The temple was renovated in the 20th century by the Maharaja of Jaipur. It is a white marble structure with a height of 20 feet. The statue is taken to Mukhimath village for six months every year during the winters and worshipped there.
SUBMERGED SHIVLING (JALMAGNA SHIVLING)
Situated near the main temple, this natural Shivling (Shivling is the phallic form of Lord Shiva) is said to be the place where Ganga was received by Lord Shiva in his locks. The Shivling is visible in the winters only when the water is clear.
Excursions for Gangotri
Bhairon Ghati or Bhairon Valley is located en route Uttarkashi, at a distance of 9 km from Gangotri. The valley is situated at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Jat Ganga rivers. It is known for its Bhairavnath Temple.
Situated at an altitude of 1,855 metres above sea level, Gangnani is a place famous for its hot water springs called Gaurikund. It is located on the road to Uttarkashi at a distance of around 53 km from Gangotri. Apart from the springs, Gangnani also has a 15th-century temple
Perched at an altitude of 4,200 metres above sea level, Gaumukh (literally, cow/’s mouth) Glacier is the geographical origin of the Ganga. The Ganga is known as Bhagirathi here and it is situated at a distance of 18 km uphill from Gangotri.
Situated at a distance of 25 km from Gangotri, Harsil is one of the most beautiful hill stations in the Garhwal Himalayas. It/’s an off-the-beaten-track destination still unexplored by the tourists. It is perched at an altitude of 2,620 metres above sea level. The main attraction at Harsil is the Wilson Cottage built in 1864. A seven-kilometre trek from Harsil would take you to Sat Tal (Seven Lakes) near the village of Dharali.
Kedartal is a spectacular and enchanting lake situated at a distance of 18 km from Gangotri. With the Thalaiyasagar Peak forming the backdrop, the lake looks amazingly beautiful. The trek to Kedartal (4,000 metres above sea level) from Gangotri is arduous and needs professional help for the amateurs. Kedartal also serves as the base for further trek to Thaliyasagar, Jogin, Bhrigupanth, and other peaks.
Nandanvan and Tapovan
||A tough 6-km trek along the Gangotri glacier would take you to Nandanvan, the base camp for the Bhagirathi peaks. There are some excellent views of the Shivling peak from Nandanvan. Tapovan is situated across the snout of the Gangotri Glacier and is known for its exquisite verdure encircling the base of the Shivling Peak. From Tapovan you can go to Vasuki Tal, Kalindikhal, and Badrinath.
Situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi, Uttarkashi is the headquarters of the district by the same name. Uttarkashi is located at a distance of 97 km from Gangotri and is known for its Vishwanath and Kuteti Devi temples. It is also the last important place from where you can stock up on your supplies to the treks up in the north.
• Area 0.14 sq. km
• Population 129 (1991)
• Altitude 3,140 metres above sea level
• Languages Hindi, Garhwali
• Best time to visit May to September
• STD Code 01374 (Uttarkashi)