Perched magnificently at a whopping elevation of 3,100 metres above sea level, on the mighty Himalayan ranges Gangotri Dham is a gleaming representation of Hinduism and deep spiritualism. This seat of Goddess Ganga which is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand, is one of the most crucial pillars of the chota char dham yatra. Surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty and enchanting grace of the nature, Gangotri dham holds a special place in the hearts of all the Hindu yatris who make this journey. A Gangotri yatra package will take you to this stark white temple structure which radiates spirituality and positive energy.
Here are some of the most interesting and lesser known facts about Gangotri dham we bet you didn’t know:
- The legend of Jalmagna shivling
Apart from the main temple shrine of Gangotri, another tourist attraction here is the famous submerged shivling which is popularly known as Jalmagna shivling. As per mythological belief, Lord Shiva is said to have sat here and had received Goddess Ganga in his matted hair, after Goddess Ganga had agreed to flow onto the earthly realm from her heavenly abode. This was done after the severe penance which was performed by King Bhagirath. This is depicted in the form of a natural rock shivling which remains submerged inside the river water and is only visible during the winters, once the water level goes down.
- The mysterious oil lamp
When the mandir kapat is closed for darshan to the general public during the winter months of October to April, an oil lamp is kept burning alive inside the mandir. The akhand jyoti or eternal flame is lit inside a large oil container which is large enough to contain a huge amount of oil which lasts for 6 months of off season. Mystics and saints believe that this is the same fire which was created by King Bhagiratha during his yajna and it is Goddess Ganga’s energy keeps the lamp burning bright. So this flame keeps on burning inside the temple shrine even when there is no one present around to take care of the temple.
- Who built it?
The temple was constructed 250 years ago by Amar Singh Thapa. He was a Gorkha born Nepalese general and was one of the most loved general in the Garhwal region. This wonderful shrine is built by the bank of River Bhagirathi, which is the source of River Ganga. The primary source of River Ganga is located at Gaumukh which is a part of Gangotri glacier, is located at a trekking distance of 19 kms. Being a part of the char dham yatra of Uttarakhand, Gangotri dham is often visited right after Yamunotri dham since it is preferred by yatris and pilgrims to complete the dham yatra in a clockwise manner.
- Art and architecture of Gangotri shrine
The temple is constructed completely in white granite which stands out and is a stark contrast to the surrounding lush greenery of the valley. The temple building is constructed using a pyramid like towers attached with each other in the form of a trinity complete with a triangular roof right at the centre front. Each of these pyramidal towers has a bulbous kalash like feature crowned on top of it. The artistic carvings on the red sandstone base of the temple pull the entire temple look and feel together.
- Transfer of the presiding lord
The temple shrine shuts down for business during the winter months which pan from October to April when the entire area is blanketed in a thick covering of white snow. During these months the presiding deity of Lord Shiva is transferred to a village called Mukhba which is situated close to village Harsil. When the mandir kapat is re opened for darshan a huge procession is followed where the Lord and other co deities are adorned with beautiful new clothes, jewelery and seated in palanquins called dolis.
- Residence of Goddess Ganga
Gangotri dham is worshipped as the main seat of Goddess Ganga and is also believed to be her residence place. This holy destination is also situated near the Bhagirathi shila, which is an extremely sacred stone dedicated to Lord Shiva. Goddess Ganga’s idol is seated on top of a crocodile and is masked with a golden face. Apart from the main deity, the temple also holds the idols of Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Yamuna and Ganesha.
We hope that these interesting facts about Gangotri dham may have intrigued your interests. Plan your journey well and stay safe during your journey to this holy dham for Goddess ganga.