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Gangotri, (Ganga' + 'Uttari' which means descended) the picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga , the stream of life, touched earth for the first time.
Situated at 99 km from Uttrarkashi, at height of 3140 meters.A shrine dedicated to the Goddess was built some 250 years ago by Amar Bahadur Thapa, the Gorkha Commander.
According to mythology, Goddess Ganga - the daughter of heaven, manifested 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 source.
The physical source of the holy river is at Gaumukh, 18 kms. further uphill, along the Gangotri Glacier. Several pilgrims trek upto the source to offer prayers either on foot or on ponies.The verdant valleys, dense forests and towering peaks offer excellent trekking and mountaineering opportunities for adventure enthusiasts.
The Shrine of Gangotri opens during the last week of April or the first week of May, on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. The temples opening is preceded by a special Puja of Ganga both inside the temple as well as on the river bank. The temple closes on the day of Diwali followed by a formal closing ceremony amidst a row of oil lamps. It is believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhwa, her winter abode (12 km downstream).
In summer, Gangotri Temple is open for devotees from 6:15 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 9:30 pm As winter approaches the Gangotri Temple open from 6:45 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 7 pm
Mangalaarti is done by priests at 6 am behind the closed doors and it is not open for public. Sandhya Aarti is performed atGangotri at 7:45 pm during summer and at 7 pm as winter approaches. Special pooja is done on Janamshtami, Vijaydashmi and Diwali
Places to Visit Gangotri
This is the snout of the Gangotri glacier and the present source of the Bhagirathi river. It is held in high esteem by the devotees who do not miss the opportunity to have a holy dip in the bone chilling icy water. The 18 km distance from Gangotri has to be covered on foot by ponies. The trek is easy and many people come back to Gangotri the same day. Porters and ponies are available for excursions to Gaumukh and other trekking routes at Gangotri. There is a Tourist Bungalow at Bhojbasa, 14 km from Gangotri where lodging and other facilities are available.
Submerged in the river, this natural rock Shivling is the place where, according to mythology, Lord Shiva sat when he received the Ganga in his matted locks. It is visible in winter months when water level decreases.
These two spots are situated opposite the Gangotri glacier further up from Gaumukh, at a distance of 6 km from where visitors can have a superb view of the majestic Shivling peak.
A spectacular lake situated at a distance of about 18 km trek from Gangotri, negotiable through a rough mountain trail. The trek is very tring and testing even for a hardy trekker. There no facility of any kind on the way and one has to make all arrangements in advance.
Kedar Ganga Sangam
Around 100 yards from the Ganga temple, flows the river Kedar Ganga. Starting from the Kedar valley, this river meets the Bhagirathi river on its left bank.
10 km from Gangotri. Astride the to Uttarkashi and near the confluence of Jat Ganga and Bhagirathi rivers is situated, Bhagirathi. The temple of Bhairav Nath surrounded by thick forests is worth visiting
After traveling by road from Lanka to Bhaironghati one has to cross the Jahanvi river on foot. After crossing the Jahanvi river and moving uphill, the Bhairon temple can be seen.
55 km from Gangotri. Noted for its thermal springs and close-up views of famous mountain peaks, its peaceful and tranquilising environment provides an ideal setting for meditation.
92 km from Gangotri. It has lately emerged as a place of tourist interest as a result of the construction of a dam across the Bhagirathi river, from where the water is fed to the turbines through an 8 km long tunnel at Tiloth in Uttarkashi. The resultant lake at Maneri has added to the charm of the place.
Best Time to visit Gangotri
The best time to visit Gangotri is between May-June and September-November. Due to heavy rainfall in the area, visitors may face difficulty reaching the temple during monsoon season (late June to Aug). The temple usually remains open from last week of April to 2nd week of November.
CLIMATE (Weather) in Gangotri Summer: Cool during the day and cold at night.
Winter: Snow-bound. Touching sub-zero.
CLOTHING Summer: Light Woollens.
Winter: Very Heavy Woollens.
How to reach Gangotri
Gangotri is well connected through road. The National Highway (NH 58, total length 538 km) from Delhi to Mana is accessible throughout the year.
Air: Nearest airport is Jolly Grant (26 km from Rishikesh)
Rail: Nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 249 km.
Road: Gangotri is connected by road to Uttarkashi, Tehri Garhwal and Rishikesh and from there to other parts of the country. Important road distances are Uttarkashi 97 km, Tehri 167 km, Dharasu 125 km, Yamunotri 232 km, Mussoorie 250 km.
Bus: Bus services of Samyukt Rotaion Yatayat Vyawastha Samiti connect Gangotri with many centers in the region like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Tehri, Uttarkashi etc.