Gangotri is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand India. It is the spiritual source of Goddess Ganga.
The holy place is one of the char dham holy sites and is a very popular pilgrim destination.
The pilgrims carry the holy water of Ganga to Kedarnath and Badrinath and offer it to Lord Shiva in Kedarnath and is used during the Shraddha ceremony in Badrinath. The water of Gangotri is then carried home and offered as Prasad to everyone. It is now scientifically proved that the water of Ganga remains pure and does not accumulate any deadly bacteria on storage for a few years.
The holy yatra attracts around 5 lakhs of pilgrims throughout the year.
The Ganga from Gangotri is approx 2500 kms long covering almost 5 states, and a lifeline with 40 crores dependants is still one of the most purest of the rivers in the world.
Legends believe that King Sagara once staged an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his victory on the world. The horse was to travel round the world uninterrupted and so all the other kings would accept his supremacy on their kingdom or would have to fight an army of his 60 thousand sons.
Lord Indra tied the horse to a tree in the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. They disturbed the meditating sage and asked him to fight with them. Sage Kapil was angry and opened his eyes and so burned the 60,000 sons of King Sagara to their death.
King Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, did severe penance to please the Goddess Ganga to come down to earth. Goddess Ganga was made to land on the head of Lord Shiva in order to prevent the earth from getting destroyed under the weight of the Ganga falling from heaven.
The Ganga so landed in Gangotri, travelled to Haridwar and cleansed the ashes of King Bhagiratha ancestors, and liberated their souls, granting them salvation.
The Gangotri Temple or Dham holds a lot of religious and spiritual significance in the Hindu religion. The temple is a 20ft high and made up of white granite. It is situated on the left bank of the Ganges River.
The morning aarti starts around 7.30 am after which the darshan of the goddess given a bath and the temple is opened for general public. Dry fruits are offered as prasad by the temple priests.
On the right of the temple is a small temple of Lord Shiva and in front is a small Bhairav temple. It is believed that Lord Bhairav takes care of the temple during the winters when the temple is covered with snow.
The Gangotri Temple closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct - Nov) and re-opens in Vaishakh ( Apr - May ) every year. The idol of Goddess Ganga is transferred from ( Markdandata Temple ) in the Mukhva Village to the holy Temple. The temple is then opened for the pilgrims of the Char Dham Yatra.
Heavy snowfall during winters and landslides during rainy season can disrupt your visit to this shrines so the summer season from May to June and September - November is the best time to visit Gangotri.
These are hot sulphur springs just halfway to Gangotri. Find time to have a break from the long drive and take a refreshing hot water bath here. It clearly removes all your tiredness of the trip.
This Bhairav Temple is located in the picturesque Bhairoghati. The temple lies near the confluence of Bhagirathi and Jat Ganga river around 10kms away from Gangotri. The temple is surrounded by dense forest but can be easily reached by road from Lanka to Bhairon Ghati and some bit of trek is required.
A submerged Shivaling can be seen in the ganga during the winter season when the water level is low here. Legends believe that is the same spot where the Goddess Ganga first came to earth.
The Gauri Kund and Surya Kund according to legends are the bathing kund of goddess Parvati. It can be reached by a 1km trek from the market after crossing the Gangotri river in the forest.
The Pandav Gufa according to legends is the places where the Pandavas used to stay during their banishment years. It can be reached by the same Gauri Kund and Surya Kund route 1km trek further in the forest.
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Gangotri spreads over an area of 2 sq km at an elevation of around 3200 mts above sea level. It surrounded by huge majestic mountains peaks of Gangotri I, II & III peaks of the Gangotri Group.
The population of Gangotri is not fixed as people from nearby such as Harsil, Mukhba come here and stay for 6months during the summer. Most of the people staying here are Gangotri Temple priest, merchants, shopkeepers and people who work in hotels and restaurants here.
The people leave Gangotri during the winters for their villages as it is covered by a snow blanket for nearly 6months during which the idol of Shiva is shifted to its winter residence in Mukhba village.
Hindus form the majority of people in Gangotri and Hindi and Garhwali and the major languages spoken by the people. Other languages spoken in the region are Kumaoni and English.
Gangotri has a cold climate so summers are cool and winters colder. Gangotri is covered with snow during the winter months during the months between November and April. Gangotri can be visited during the summer months and rainy seasons should be avoided.
Note:- Gangotri has no ATM or banks so any money requirements should be taken care of in Uttarkashi itself.
Gomukh is the physical source of goddess Ganga. The Gangotri - Gomukh Trek is also a medium grade trek starting from Gangotri that can be undertaken while your stay in Gangotri. The view during this trek is awesome.
Gangotri National Park is located within the upper catchment area of the Bhagirathi river offers a panoramic view of many waterfalls and beautiful snow capped Himalayas. It is a must visit place during your visit to Gangotri.
Gangotri has a lot of hotel and restaurants which serve good Indian foods on the way to the temple. The food joints usually open from 5am in the morning till late night around 12pm. No alcohol or non veg food is served here strictly.
Shopping in Gangotri is usually not a big affair, and can be done on the way to the temple. The Gangotri market has a lot of religious items, semi precious stones, rudraksh mala, ayurvedic herbs and so on.
Ornamental Brass items, hand made local woollens, temple prasad and offerings can also been seen in the shops around the temple.