Gangotri is the highest and the most important temple of Goddess Ganga, making it one of the Char Dhams of Uttarakhand. Other three dhams are Badrinath, Kedarnath and Yamunotri. Gangotri is located amidst picturesque hills 18kms downstream from Gaumukh Glacier, the source of Bhagirathi River that merges with Alaknanda River at Devprayag to from the holy water of Ganges. Gangotri is a small town centered around the Gangotri Temple of Goddess Ganga. The temple was built by Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkha General in the early 18th century. Gaumukh glacier is 18kms from Gangotri and one must cover the distance on foot to reach the origin of Ganga River. Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3,048mts above sea level offering scenic splendors of rugged terrains, gushing water of Bhagirathi River and snow clad peaks. The place holds great importance amongst Hindus. Gangotri remains opened from May and get closed on the day of Diwali festival.
Location of Gangotri
Gangotri is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand state. Gangotri is located on the banks of the sacred Bhagirathi River at an elevation of 3048mts above sea level. Gangotri is situated in the northern most part of the Uttarakhand state. Gangotri is located 250km from Rishikesh and 101km from Uttarkashi.
Places to see in Gangotri
Gangotri Temple: The temple was constructed by the Gorkha General, Amar Singh Thapa in early 18th century. The temple was later reconstructed by Jaipur kings. Gangotri temple opens on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya which comes in April or early May and gets closed on Diwali festical. The region is prone to heavy snowfall making it tough to live during winters. Gangotri temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and it is believed that King Bhagirathi worshipped Lord Shiva at this holy place. Gangotri is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. Every day Mangal aarti and Sandhya aarti is performed early in the morning and in the evening respectively, of which only Sandhya aarti is opened for public.
Gaumukh Glacier: Gaumukh glacier is situated 18kms from Gangotri. ‘Gau’ means ‘cow’ and ‘mukh’ means ‘face’ hence the meaning of Gaumukh is cow’s face. The glacier resembles with a cow’s mouth if you carefully observe it. Gaumukh is the second largest glacier of India, first one being Siachen. Gaumukh is 30kms long and approximately 3 to 4km wide. It is source of the Bhagirathi River which is one of the most important tributary of the sacred Ganga River.
Submerged Shivling: There is a natural rock Shivling in Gangotri submerged under water which can be easily seen when winters are on their way as the water level decreases during that time. According to myths and legends this was the place where Lord Shiva sitting when he received Ganga in his matted locks.
Kedartal: Kedar Tal is a captivating sight offering crystal clear icy cold water. Kedar Tal can be reached after a difficult trek of 14kms. The maximum elevation en route Kedar Tal is astounding 4912mts above sea level. The lake is set at an elevation of 4,225mts above sea level with the majestic Thalaysagar Peak providing an enchanting backdrop.
Tapovan: If you are trekking to Gaumukh then you can extend yur trek by going further to Tapovan and Nandanvan from where you can see the astounding Shivling and other major peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas.
Harsil: Explore the unexplored beauty of Uttarkashi district at Harsil. Harsil is situated on the banks of Bhagirathi River 27kms before Gangotri at an elevation of 2,62mts above sea level. You can plan a short and easy trek to Sat tal from Harsil.
Gangnani: Gangnani is situated 53kms before Gangotri. Gangnani is popular for its natural hot water springs. This place is picturesque offering majestic views of the gigantic Himalayan range.
Uttarkashi: It is situated 101kms before Gangotri. Uttarkashi is a beautiful place which is well connected with motorable roads and you can easily get bus or taxi to Gangotri from here. Uttarkashi is located on the banks of the Bhagirathi River at an elevation of 1352mts above sea level. Uttarkashi is the home of one of the most reputed mountaineering institutes of India i.e. Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. Gangotri is just three hour drive away from Uttarkashi.
What to do in Gangotri
You can explore the beauty of Gangotri and nearby regions with your photography skills. Gangotri region offers several great places to trek which offers enchanting views. Trek from Gangotri varies from easy to difficult levels. Carry raincoats with yourself as the weather is unpredictable there. Do bring back all the polythene bags if you took some of them while trekking as throwing them anywhere would harm the beauty of such a heavenly place.
Accomodations Hotels in Gangotri
GMVN rest houses have earned good name because of its facilities even at the remotest area at reasonable prices. The Chardham camp is situated 23kms before Gangotri at Harsil. Ganga Niketan hotel, Forest Rest House, Spring dales, Ekant Resorts are some good places to stay at Gangotri.
Best time to visit Gangotri
Best time to visit Gangotri is April to October as the region remains closed during winters because of heavy snowfall. Try to avoid monsoon months if possible. Do carry woolens with you as the place is freezing during night.
How to reach Gangotri
By Road: Gangotri is well connected with Delhi, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haridwar and other hill stations of Garhwal. Gangotri is situated 456kms away from Delhi. There are regular buses and taxis operating upto Gangotri from Rishikesh, Tehri and Uttarkashi.
By Rail: Nearest Railway stations is Rishikesh situated 248kms away.
By Air: The nearest Airport is Jolly Grant near Dehradun situated 265kms away.