Gangotri Dham Travel Guide

About the Temple

Located at an elevation of 3,100 metres above sea level by the banks of the holy river Ganges and Bhagirathi this stunning white temple marks the origin point of the holiest river of India, river Ganga. The entire region is set against a magnificent backdrop of the greater Himalayas that present the perfect combination of spiritualism and scenic wonder. Perched among the lush greenery in the district of Uttarkashi, Gangotri Dham is visited by a throng of pilgrims from all over the world. As the name suggests this place is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and represents the glories of this heavenly river. The temple is made out of stark, pure and clean white marble which evokes a deep sensibility of spiritualism.

Gangotri Temple
Gangotri Temple

Origin story:

There are several mythological accounts pertaining to the origin of this holy and heavenly river. One story involves around King Bhagirath who is said to have been performing penance for numerous ages in order to please the goddess Ganga and appeal to her to come down from its heavenly realm to the earthly realm. He did so in order to provide his ancestors with much needed moksha and grant them salvation so that their souls finally achieve peace. Looking at his penance Goddess Ganga was convinced and decided to absolve all the sins of his predecessors who were cursed by a sage that they had unknowingly disturbed during his deep meditation.
The temple was constructed by the ‘lion of Nepal’ a Nepalese general, Amar Singh Thapa, who had attained a respectable name among the local population. This temple was built after the creator of the Char Dham Yatra, Adi Shankaracharya had set up this holy Yatra as a way of propagating and encouraging people to revive a deep feeling of Hinduism among the local population.

Opening and Closing Dates:

The temple opens up once the snow here clears out by the months of either late April or early may when during the auspicious eve of Akshaya Tritiya. The functioning of the temple briefly halts during the monsoon months of July to September when the entire region is engulfed in unpredictable weather changes. By September the Yatra commences once again and carries on till the winter months of November. The temple Kapat shuts down for Darshan during the holy eve of BhaiDooj and remains closed for the rest of the months until its next opening dates.

Winter Abode:

The winter abode or the winter home of Gangotri Dham is located at a mere distance of just 25 mins. During these winter months the presiding deity of goddess Ganga is then shifted among great zeal and enthusiasm to its winter home which is this quaint hamlet. This is done with the purpose of providing the devotees and pilgrims with an option to offer their prayers to the goddess even after the closing of the temple Kapat. The village of Mukhba is known for its incredible serenity, tranquility and spiritualism along with this temple.

Best Time to Visit:

Being located at an incredible height the temple and the entire region of Badrinath is prone to some unexpected weather changes. During the winter months the whole region of Badrinath gets covered in a thick blanket of fresh white snow making accessibility to the temple impossible. Other than that the monsoon months of July and august are considered to be extremely difficult due to unexpected landslides and torrential rains. The best time to go on Badrinath Dham Yatra is during the summer months of May to June and from September to October. During these months the Yatra is only possible since the weather conditions become more bearable and pleasant with some nice sunshine to accompany you. Although these months are considered to be extremely comfortable you are still required to carry along with you some winter wear like jackets, mufflers, ear muffs etc.

Route Map / Driving Direction:

Given below are the route maps for Gangotri from different cities:
From Delhi – Delhi – Rishikesh – Tehri – Uttarkashi – Harsil – Gangotri
From Dehradun – Rishikesh – Chamba – Tehri – Uttarkashi – Harsil – Gangotri
From Nainital – Rishikesh – Tehri – Uttarkashi – Gangnani – Harsil – Dharali – Gangotri

How to Reach:

Leh Manali Highway

By Road – There are frequent state run bus services that can be availed from Rishikesh till the mainDham of Gangotri. You can also take your private car there for a more convenient option.

By Train – The closest rail head is located in the holy city of Rishikesh from where people have the option of hiring a bus or a cab service heading up till the main Dham of Gangotri.

By Air – The closest airport to the Dham of Gangotri is located in Dehradun i.e. jolly grant which caters to domestic flights from various parts of India. There are regular cab and taxi services available from outside of the airport which will transfer you to Gangotri Dham.

By Helicopter – If you choose to complete your GangotriYatrain minimum time and that too in a hassle free and comfortable manner the going on a GangotriYatra by helicopter is advisable for you.
Accommodation:

Being a holy pilgrimage destination, GangotriDham is visited by devotees and pilgrims from various backgrounds in life. There is a range of stay and accommodation options available in GangotriDham and you can choose from them as per your budget. Do not expect any luxury hotel or premium resort. There are a number of budget hotels, hostels and guest houses set up by GMVN with an aim of accommodating as many pilgrims as possible. Lodges and homestay options are also made available for the pilgrims with most of the basic amenities made available depending on the type of the hotel.

Excursion Places:

Pandava Gufa

Situated at a distance of 1.5 km from the main temple of Gangotri this ancient naturally occurring cave is located on the Uttarkashi – Gangotri road that is said to be the place where the Pandavas had rested and performed penance for a while before heading for Satopanth Swargarohini.

Pandava Gufa Gangotri

Tapovan

Sitting at a distance of 23 kms from Gangotri the name of this place translates into a meadow for meditation and it was also frequented by various sages and saints looking to meditate among nature and peace. This place is also the base camp for a number of different mountaineering expeditions.

Tapovan Gangotri

Harsil

Located at a distance of 24 kms from Gangotri the scenic hill destination of Harsil serves as a rest stop for people going on their Yatra to Badrinath. With snowcapped mountain peaks surrounding the village and carpeted with a thick green cover Harsil is a fairytale hamlet straight out of a story book.

Harshil Valley Uttarkashi

Gangotri National Park

Situated at a comfortable distance of 1.5 kms from Gangotri this national park is deemed for being one of the most beautiful and scenic high altitude national parks in India. The following species can be encountered there – Ibex, Himalayan barbet, snow leopard, tiger etc.

Gangotri National Park

Kedartal

Located at a distance of 17 kms from Gangotri Dham and reached after trekking for 3 full days, Kedartal is one of the most mesmerizingly scenic high altitude glacial lake. Sitting at an elevation of 4,192 metres above sea level the place gives some of the most majestic and astounding views of peaks like ThalaySagar and Bhrigupanth.

Kedartal Lake

Bhojbasa

The scenic village hamlet of Bhojwasa can be reached after covering a trekking distance of 145 kms from Gangotri. Situated along the holy river of Bhagirathi this place serves as the base camp and the last accommodation point for treks up to Gaumukh glacier. The landscape here is vast and expansive with loose rocks and rich greenery.

Bhojbasa, way to Gaumukh, Tapovan

Things to Remember:

Being located at an incredible height even if the best time to visit Gangotri is between May and June, you will still be required to carry along with you heavy woolen clothes and accessories like sweaters, jumpers, thermals, mufflers, beanies, woolen gloves etc. the place will be pleasant for trekking in the morning but extremely cold and freezing by nightfall.
Carry along relevant and necessary medicines like pain killers, anti-fever, anti-diarrhea etc. since you may encounter some altitude sickness. Also be sure to carry along with you a first aid kit that may be needed during the time of unseen emergencies.
Be physically ready, since the journey to Gangotri which you will be embarking on is treacherous and dizzying. It is advised for you to start your workout sessions 3 months prior to the commencement of your Yatra journey. Doctors suggest you to perform pranayama and yoga in order to curb altitude sickness, vertigo and other related problems.
Get yourself a knowledgeable tour guide orChar Dham operator so thatyour journey is hassle free. These companies make sure that your Yatra is done completely and properly in a comfortable manner.

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