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''How about visiting the Himalayan hinterland where the Ganga kissed the earth for the first time?''

LOCATION : About 460 km from Delhi. In Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.

WHY GO THE DISTANCE : Well, brace yourself for a breathtaking and memorable experience in the lap of snow-capped Himalayas, deep gorges and gushing waters of Bhagirathi.

Intense serenity topped by magical surroundings makes Gangotri a destination worth visiting - at least once in a lifetime.

One of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit, Gangtori is a spiritual source of the powerful river Ganga. It’s a Hindu pilgrim town located in a region bordering China, where devotees consider bathing in icy waters of Ganga’s tributary Bhagirathi a holy ritual. But hang on! Even if you are not the 'ideal pilgrimage type', it is a must do destination for its sheer beauty. The sounds of nature - the gushing waters is just magical.

Walk along the temple road, which goes through the colourful market selling pictures and accessories of god and goddesses, toys for kids besides variety of woollen stuff. Nothing like taking a stroll along the bridge at night when the waters get aggressive and noisy. Cool breeze blowing on the face provide a much needed warmth in the day time.

WHEN TO VISIT : The temple opens on the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya (May) and closes down on Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Duj (November) and remains closed for the rest of the six months every year. During that time, the idol is taken to the nearby Mukhyamath temple at Mukhba village in a traditional procession.

WHERE TO STAY : Garhwal Mangal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) Bhaironghati tourist rest house
Contact: 0135-2740896, 2746817, 2749308, 2748478

GMVN Gangotri tourist rest house
Contact: 0135-2740896, 2746817, 2749308, 2748478

Hotel Bhagirathi Sadan
Contact: 9540712002, 9313512002

Ganga Niketan Hotel
Contact: 9999030436, 09911549039

Besides, the place also has dharamshalas and ashrams for tourists

The highest temple of Goddess Ganga and according to Hindu mythology the place where the Ganges originally began. The temple believed to have been consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya was built by the the Gorkha captain Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century. However, the temple was renovated in 1935 by the Maharaja ofJaipur Madhosingh. In the centre is the main deity Goddess Ganga draped in a beautiful white embellished sari surrounded by Lord Ganesha, Mother Yamuna, Lord Shiva, Mother Saraswati, Bhaghirath and Goddess Durga. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.

Gaumukh (cow’s face), the snout of the Gangotri Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi river, is situated near the base of Shivling. It is a 19 km trek from Gangotri, which can be done on foot or ponies. One can also take help of a walking pole. Once there, do take a holy dip in the ice-cold water as per Hindu ritual. This trek route is through the Gangotri National Park. Travel light and carry plenty of water.

Close to Gaumukh glacier, astounding views of Shivling and other major peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas are distinctly visible from Tapovan. This is a difficult trek and it is advisable to take a guide along. There is also a route from Tapovan across the Gangotri glacier to Nandanvan. From Nandanvan, one can trek further along the Kalindi Khal to Badrinath, which is a extremely difficult trek and has to be done with sufficient preparation. Three days are required to complete the return trek, with around six hours of trekking a day.

The place houses ancient Bhairon temple, which is 10 kms from Gangotri, and surrounded by thick forests.

A natural rock Shivling submerged under water is an attractive tourist spot of Gangotri. It can be easily seen when winters when water level decreases.

It’s about an hour’s walk from Gangotri. According to Hindu mythology, it’s the cave where Pandavas of Mahabharata stayed during their exile.

An enchanting lake against the splendid backdrop of mighty Thalaiyasagar peak. Accessible through a rough mountain trail, it is the base camp for trekking to surrounding peaks. A beautiful camping site and a forest rest house can be seen along the lake.

HOW TO REACH : By Road :
Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-New Tehri-Uttarkashi-Gangnani-Gangotri

By Air:
Nearest Airport : Jolly Grant in Dehradun. Hire a cab or hop on to a bus from Rishikesh, close to the airport.

By Rail:
Nearest railway station is Haridwar. Hire a cab or get on to a bus from here.

TIPS : Properly check your car tyres, battery, horn and headlights while driving in the hills.

Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal


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