THE ETERNAL GIFT OF BHAGIRATHS PENANCE
The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot
where Ganga , the stream of life, touched earth for the first time.
According to mythology, Goddess Ganga - the daughter of heaven, manifested herself in
the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiraths predecessors, following
his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to
minimise the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary
Along the right bank of Bhagirathi stands the shrine of Gangotri dedicated to the
Goddess. Perched at a height of 3042 mts., it was constructed in the early 18th
century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh Thapa. Every year, lakhs of pilgrims throng the
sacred temple between May and October.By November, Gangotri is covered by snow. It is believed that the Goddess
retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode ( 12 kms downstream ).
The physical source of the holy river is at Gaumukh, 18 kms. further uphill, along the
Gangotri Glacier. Several pilgrims trek upto the source to offer prayers either on foot or
on ponies.The verdant valleys, dense forests and towering peaks offer excellent trekking
and mountaineering opportunities for adventure enthusiasts. Guidance and assistance can be
obtained from - the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi or the Tourist Office (
Tel.: 2290) and OSD ( Adventure Tourism ), Uttatkashi or Indian Mountaineering Foundation,
Benito Juarez Road, Anand Niketan, New Delh - 110 021 Tel.: 671211.
Altitude : 3042 mts.
Climate : Summer - Cool during the day and cold at night.
Winter - Snow-bound. Touching sub-zero.
Clothing : Summer-Light woollen
Winter - Very heavy woollen.
Language : Hindi, Garhwali & English.
Season : April to November.
Airport : Jolly Grant, Dehradun 226 kms.
Railhead : Rishikesh, 249 kms.
Road : Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi.
Important Road Distances :
Dharasu ( 129 Km.), Yamunotri (224 Km.) Mussoorie ( 247 Km.), Tehri ( 172 Km.)
A number of Ashrams along the banks of Bhagirathi, Tourist Rest House, PWD
Inspection House, Forest Rest House are available. Dharamshalas, Guest Houses and Private
Hotels also ensure convenient accommodation.
Only local eating places (dhabas) are available. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic
drinks are prohibited in Gangotri.
FAST FOOD CENTRES
- Agrakhal, Tehri-Rishikesh route.
- Chinyalisaur, Uttarkashi-Chamba route
- Naitala near Uttarkashi-Gangotri root
- Ginoti, Dharasu-Yamunotri route.
Gangotri templeThe 18th centurys temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga
is located near a sacred stone where Kind Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is
believed to have touched earth at this spot. According to another legend, Pandavas
performed the great Deva Yagna here to atone the deaths of their kinsmen in
the epic battle of Mahabharata.The temple is an exquisite 20 ft. high structure made of
The natural rock Shivling, submerged in the river, is an amazing sight reinforcing the
power of the divine. According to mythology, Lord Shiva sat at this spot to receive the
Ganga in his matted locks. The shivling is visible in the early winters when the water
level goes down.
Nandavan Tapovan ( 6 kms. )
An arduous trek along the Gangotri Glacier leads to scenic Nandanvan - the base camp
for the Bhagirathi peaks, that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Shivling peak. A
trek across the snout of the Gangotri Glacier leads to Tapovan known for its beautiful
meadows that encircle the base of the Shivling peak.
Uttarkashi ( 99 kms.)
An important pilgrimage centre, situated at an elevation of 1,150 mts. above sea level
on the bank of river Bhagirathi. Some of the important temples worth visiting are -
Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi Temple. Nearby
is the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. Every year, during the Magh Mela (
January 14 ), people visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in Bhagirathi along with the
image of their village deity.
Kedar Tal ( 18 kms.)
An enchanting lake, 4425 mts. above sea level against the splendid backdrop of mighty
Thalaiyasagar peak. Accessible through a rough mountain trail, it is the base camp for
trekking to surrounding peaks. The trek to Kedartal needs a local guide.
Gaumukh ( 18 kms.)
The snout of the Gangotri Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi river. Pilgrims trek
upto the sacred spot on foot or on ponies to take a holy dip in the ice-cold water.
Bhairon Ghati ( 10 kms.)
Situated towards Uttarkashi, it is known for the temple of Bhairav Nath, surrounded by
Harsil ( 28 kms. )
Located in the mountain district of Uttarkashi is the sylvan hamlet ( 2620 mts. above
sea level ), known for scenic landscapes and delicious apples. Sat Tal or seven lakes,
nearby ( 2 kms.) are a not-to-be-missed attraction.
Gangnani ( 59 kms.)
Noted for its thermal springs, spectacular views and tranquil surroundings. A small
upcoming town - Bhatwari, lying 12 kms from Gangnani is worth a visit.
Maneri ( 86 kms.)
The dam across the Bhagirathi and a surrounding lake are worth a visit.
Dayara Bugyal ( 93 kms.)
A breathtakingly beautiful meadow, situated at a height of 3,048 mts. above sea level.
A motorable road connects Bhatwari ( 27 kms. from Uttarkashi ) with Raithal village, from
where follows a 6 kms. long trek to Dayara. The famous Sheshnag Temple enroute is an
attraction of the trek. From Dayara, one can also trek down to Dodi Tal ( 30 kms. ).
During winters, Dayara provides excellent ski slopes over an area of 28 sq. kms.
Dodi Tal ( 123 kms.)
A sparkling lake at an elevation of 2286 mts. surrounded by dense forests. The famous
Himalayan trouts are found in abundance in the lake. Permit for fishing can be obtained
from the Divisional Forest Officer, Uttarkashi. A beautiful camping site, a Forest Rest
House and a log cabin are seen along the lake.
Nachiketa Tal ( 131 kms.)
A pleasant trek through lush green forests leads to this peaceful retreat. A small
temple along the lake and lovely surroundings are an attraction.
Tehri ( 173 kms.)
Lying at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers is the former capital of
Tehri Garhwal principality. It is the site of a giant hydel project.
Narendranagar ( 239 kms.)
The new capital of erstwhile Tehri state, offers a magnificent view of the Ganga valley
of Rishikesh and the plains of Haridwar.