Monday, July 4, 2022

Gangotri Dham – History, Timings, and Other Travel Details

In the middle of your noisy, polluted city existence, the surreal tranquility of the inner spirit you seek is impossible to be discovered. Soul purifying energies that reconnect the human body with its soul can only be found where Gods reside. But where do they live on Earth? Are there any such places in our vicinity? Yes, we do have such places, and one of them is Gangotri town in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district.

The Chota Char Dham Yatra, which holds immense importance in Hinduism, includes this little Nagar Panchayat city. This hallowed wonderland is an incredible spot to observe the Bhagirathi River descending from the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayan peaks.

But, before you plan your excursion to Gangotri, learn more about the weather, the best time to visit, what to see and do in the area, and more. We are sure that by the end of this article you will have a clear mind on how to plan your trip to Gangotri accordingly.

Table 01: Gangotri at a Glance

District: Uttarkashi

State: Uttrakhand

Gangotri Height: 3048 meters from sea level

Temperature: -8 to 15 degrees Celsius

Wind Speed: 07 Kilometer per hour

Humidity: 43%

Coordinates: 30.9947° N, 78.9398° E

Famous for: Gangotri Temple

Best months to visit: April, May, June, September, and October

Closest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport

Closest Railway Station: Rishikesh

Things to do: Pilgrimage, Trekking, camping, and Sightseeing

Pin Code: 249135

Vehicle Registration: UK 10

Population: 606 in 2001

Literacy Rate: 99.1 Percent

Gangotri: Overview

At an altitude of 3048 meters, Gangotri, a small hamlet, is located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The place is known for its namesake temple dedicated to the Ganga River, which is revered by Hindus as a deity. The temple has the maximum elevation among all Ganga temples and its religious significance is also unrivaled.

Gaumukh, located in the Gangotri glacier and accessible through a short 19-kilometer journey from Gangotri, is the source of the holy river. It is one of India’s holiest pilgrimage sites, nestled among majestic Garhwal Himalayan ranges, glaciers, and dense woods. Many ashrams, minor temples, and shrines can be found in Gangotri, Uttarakhand.

The Gangotri Temple is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River and close to the Bhagiratha Shila, a holy rock where King Bhagirathi worshiped Shiva. Lord Shiva was offered Ganga water to comfort his throat after he consumed Halahal, a deadly poison.

The Himalayas and the young River Ganga can be seen from the temple complex and its surroundings. There are numerous pilgrimage and tourist sites near the Gangotri Dham, including elevated lakes, glaciers, and hiking opportunities. The place has always intrigued trekkers since it offers challenging adventures and soul-satisfying locales to admire. Gaumukh, Kedar Tal, and Tapovan are among the sought-after hiking sites.

Location

Where is Gangotri? Well, it’s nestled in the Himalayas in the Uttarakhand state of India at an altitude of about 3048 meters above sea level. Gangotri is located in Uttarkashi District’s northern portion, near the Indo-Tibetan border. It is located at 30.9947° N and 78.9398° E. The place is about 300 km from Dehradun, 105 km from Uttarkashi, and 250 km from Rishikesh.

Gangotri Weather

Being at such an altitude, Gangotri remains cold for most of the year. The average temperature is between 9 and 16 degrees Celsius. Almost all year round, warm and woolen clothing is a must. The average minimum temperature is much below 0 degree Celsius.

Summers

The Summers in Gangotri are marked by the commencement of the Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra. The temperatures are usually cool with requirements for woolen clothing. April, May, and June months witness the highest temperatures, up to 15 degrees celsius. This is usually the best time to visit this paradise and indulge in activities like trekking and camping.

Monsoon

July, August, and early September are the months most prone to rain. Monsoons are unpredictable in the region. Landslides and flash floods due to cloudbursts are common during this season. The weather is moist, cold, and chilly during these times. It is best advised to avoid traveling to these regions during these months. Trekking and other excursion activities are banned during this period. The temperature ranges from 8 degrees to 14 degrees during this time.

Autumn

The pre-onset of winter brings in the Autumn season. This is a pleasant period for you to visit the temple and indulge in other activities like trekking and camping, one last time before the end of the year. The temperature ranges from 3 degrees to 11 degrees celsius during this period. October is the time when you can see the maximum footfall of the pilgrims and other adventure geeks.

Winters

Winters witness heavy snowfall as the temperatures dip below the freezing point and become unbearable for travelers and tourists. The temperatures dip below -5 degrees celsius and everything around freezes. The town blankets itself with snow and becomes a ghost town. All activities are halted during November, December, January, and early February.

History and Legends Associated with Gangotri

Amar Singh Thapa, who was a Gurkha leader, is credited with the building of the Gangotri Dham temple. He observed that the path leading to the temple was extremely steep and difficult to navigate, so he had it fixed. He is also in charge of repairing the Bhairon Valley’s Jhula Pal or ropeway bridge. There existed no temple at the mouth of the Bhagirathi River. Amar Singh Thapa then offered to donate 400 rupees of his hard-earned money to help build the temple.

The Khas Budhere of Dharali was the assigned priests here before Amar Singh Thapa’s arrival. He later handed over this priesthood to the Kedar Dutts, the ancestors of the current Panda family which houses its priests there.

There’s an array of legends associated with Gangotri.

1. Story of River Ganga

A popular legend states that when the Holy Ganges agreed to come down to Earth in response to Bhagirath’s request, the intensity of its flow was such that the entire world would have been immersed. Lord Shiva subjugated the River Ganga to save Earth from destruction.

Bhagirath meditated for a long time again to appease Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was pleased when he saw Bhagirath’s enormous devotion and liberated River Ganga into three streams, one of which descended to earth and became known as the Bhagirathi River. The 60,000 offspring rose from eternal sleep as soon as Ganga’s waters touched the ashes of Bhagirath’s ancestors. The Bhagirath Shila, near the Gangotri Shrine, is where Bhagirath is said to have pondered.

According to another mythological legend, Ganga was a vibrant and wonderful girl who was born out of Lord Brahma’s Kamandalu. There are two versions of her birth story. After Lord Vishnu had rescued the cosmos from the devil Bali in his reincarnation as Vaman, one asserts that Lord Brahma gathered this water in his Kamandalu while cleaning Lord Vishnu’s foot.

According to another mythology, Ganga came down to earth in the form of a human and wedded King Shantanu, a progenitor of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. She is thought to have given birth to seven sons, all of whom were tossed into the stream for unknown reasons. Because of King Shantanu’s intervention, her eighth child, Bheeshma, was rescued. Ganga had abandoned him. Bheeshma is the one who goes on to play a pivotal role in the Mahabharata, the great epic.

2. Penance of Bhagirath

According to tradition, King Sagara, King Bhagirath’s great grandfather, slew all of the monsters on Earth. He decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yagna to proclaim his sovereignty. During the yagna, a horse was intended to be released loose to travel across kingdoms without stopping. Indra, the ultimate monarch, believed that if the yagna was not completed, he would lose his celestial seat. He grabbed the horse and quietly tethered it in the monastery of Sage Kapila, who was reclining in deep meditation, using his supernatural powers.

When King Sagara’s officials realized they lost track of the horse, he assigned the responsibility of tracking the horse to his 60,000 boys. While searching for the missing horse, the king’s sons came to find the place where Rishi Kapila was meditating. They raided the ashram and charged the yogi with robbing the horse after discovering the horse tied close to him. When Sage Kapila’s meditation was disturbed, he became enraged and transformed his 60,000 sons into flames with a single tremendous glance. He also cursed them, saying that their spirits would only be able to achieve moksha if their ashes were cleansed in the sacred waters of the Ganga, which had been a river situated in paradise.

It is stated that Bhagirath, King Sagara’s grandson, undertook arduous penance for 1000 years to release his forefathers and persuade Ganga to descend to Earth. Finally, his endeavors paid off, and River Ganga was happy with his devotion and ready to flow to the land.

3. Gangotri Temple and its Architecture

The Gangotri temple is one of the sites of the Chota Char Dham Uttarakhand Yatra. Built by the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century, this beautiful temple is a sight to behold, thanks to its unique architecture. It is designed in the Nagara style, with five little apexes measuring 20 feet in height. The temple’s exquisite appearance is due to intrinsic sculptures on the exteriors, which are unheard of in Hindu temple complexes. The temple was built in the Katyuri architectural style, which is popular in Nepal.

The temple’s interiors, on the other hand, follow a standard temple architectural plan. After entering the building, pilgrims are guided to the assembly hall, or Sabha Griha, of the shrine. This assembly hall winds its way upward to the Garbha Griha, or inner sanctuary of the temple, where the reigning deity’s idol is housed. The inner sanctuary has a raised platform with the Ganga idol and statues of several deities such as Yamuna, Annapurna, Saraswati, and others. This temple is constructed in such a manner that the reigning idol faces east and receives the first light from the sun.

4. Gangotri Temple Opening and Closing Dates 2022

After consultation with the priest, the Chardham Shrine Committee determines the dates of opening and closing the gateways. A religious ritual is held, followed by the Hindu Panchang, which determines the start and end periods of the Char Dham Yatra.

The timings of the shrines’ openings vary due to astrological factors, although they are usually closed on the third lunar day of the month of Baisakh, that is on Akshaya Tritiya which falls in the Shukla Paksha of Baisakh. For Hindus, this date is considered sacred. The term Akshay means ‘Eternal’, implying an endless supply of good fortune, and Tritiya signifies three. It is said that opening the doors on this day brings good fortune and that the beauty of the holy sites will enhance. The Gangotri temple will open on the 3rd of May 2022 and the gates will close again on the 26th of October 2022.

Gangotri Temple and Char Dham Opening and Closing Dates 2022

Opening Date Closing Date
Gangotri Temple 03 May 2022 26 October 2022
Badrinath Temple 08 May 2022 26 October 2022
Yamunotri Temple 03 May 2022 26 October 2022
Kedarnath Temple 07 May 2022 26 October 2022

Places to Visit

Apart from the magnificent temple, there are wonderful locations around the Gangotri town where one can go after attending the aarti of the temple.

1. Bhojbasa

BhojbasaLocated at a height of about 3,775 meters above sea level, Bhojbasa is a scenic place in harsh terrains. A 14-kilometer journey begins in Gangotri and leads to Bhojbasa. Along the Bhagirathi River, the walk passes through difficult terrain. On the trip to the sacred Gaumukh Glacier, Bhojwasa is perhaps the final place to stay. It is located 5 kilometers from Gaumukh Glacier, the Ganges’ origin or source. This magnificent spot offers breathtaking views of the Bhagirathi peaks.

Highlights

Elevation: 3775 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 14 km
Best months to visit: March, April, May, and June

2. Gangnani

Gangnani

On the way to Gangotri, Gangnani is a little settlement 47 kilometers away from Uttarkashi. Gangnani is a great place to visit if you’re looking for spirituality or calmness. Gangnani is a fantastic area for meditation and serves as an ideal getaway for nature enthusiasts visiting Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district. Near Gangotri, Gangnani offers breathtaking mountain vistas.

Highlights

Elevation: 2324 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 52 km
Best months to visit: February, March, April, May, and June

3. Bhaironghati

BhaironghatiBhaironghati is a small village in the north Indian highlands at the confluence of the Jadh Ganga and Bhagirathi streams. It is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India. While sipping tea at a dhaba, you can watch the two rivers converge.

Highlights

Elevation: 2806 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 6 km
Best months to visit: March, April, May, June, September, and October

4. Jalmagna Shivlinga

Jalmagna Shivlinga

A natural Jalmagna Shivling, or rock Shivlinga, submerged underwater in Gangotri, Uttarakhand, is a popular tourist attraction that can be seen during the winter months when the water level drops. Lord Shiva is said to have sat here while absorbing the Ganga in his matted locks, as per legend. For those unfamiliar with Indian mythology, Lord Shiva got the Ganges in his knotted locks after Goddess Ganga promised to flow down on the Earth from her celestial dwelling in exchange for King Bhagirath’s devotion. The submerged Shivlinga currently stands where Lord Shiva took Ganga into his locks to lessen the effect of her fall. This natural rock Shivlinga is immersed in the river and during the winter season when the level of water drops it becomes visible.

Highlights

Elevation: 4812 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 1 km
Best months to visit: March, April, May, June, September, and October

5. Harsil

HarsilHarsil is an untouched and hidden gem of Uttarakhand, giving plenty of opportunities for those seeking peace and tranquility in the Himalayan foothills. It is located at an elevation of 2621 meters above sea level on the margins of the Bhagirathi River. This charming hamlet has gained popularity among travelers and environment lovers in recent times.

In the neighborhood of Harsil, there are various exciting trekking paths to choose from. Harsil is a relaxing retreat where you may practice yoga and meditation.

Highlights

Elevation: 2621 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 25 km
Best months to visit: February, March, April, May, June, September, October, and November

6. Dharali

DharaliThe calm village of Dharali, tucked amidst the pure natural environment of the majestic Himalayas and on the banks of the holy Ganga River, is so gorgeous that it looks like something out of a fairy tale. The village is well-known for its gleaming apple trees and for being among Uttarakhand’s most secluded and unspoiled places. It is almost identical in appearance to the picturesque village of Harsil, which is only 7 kilometers away. Visiting this location will provide you with the ideal opportunities for yourself and a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The atmosphere here is imbued with a deep sense of faith that merges gently and flawlessly with the magnificent terrain, providing tourists with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Highlights

Elevation: 2680 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 18 km
Best months to visit: March, April, May, June, September, and October

7. Surya Kund Gangotri

Surya Kund Gangotri

Surya Kund is located 500 meters from Gangotri Temple along one side of an iron bridge opposite the GMVN Tourist Guesthouse in Gangotri. Surya Kund is the most picturesque section of Gangotri, renowned for the Surya Kund waterfalls. The Bhagirathi River thunders down through deep gorges into the valley below. To get a decent glimpse of the majestic falls, one must cross the iron bridge. Surya Kund’s waterfall provides a magnificent sight with dynamic sounds. The waterfalls are accessible by a boardwalk that runs past the Dandi Kshetra and Tapovan Kuti temples.

Highlights

Elevation: 3775 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: 0.5 km
Best months to visit: March, April, May, June, September, and October

8. Gangotri Glacier

Gangotri GlacierThe Gangotri glacier is located in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi region, nestled in the picturesque Garhwal Himalayas. This glacier emerges on the Chaukhamba range’s north side. This glacier is the largest in the Himalayan mountains, with an aggregate capacity of 27 cubic kilometers, and serves as a significant source of the River Ganges.

The Gangotri Glacier, one of the largest in the Himalayas, is the principal source of the Ganga, India’s biggest river. The glacier stretches for around 30 kilometers and is 4 kilometers wide. Various trekking activities are organized for trekkers to visit the source.

Highlights

Elevation: 6104 meters
Entry Fees: Free
Distance from Gangotri Temple: N/A
Best months to visit: April, May, June, September, and October

Things to Do in Gangotri

Apart from visiting the Gangotri temple and its attractions, you may also embark on an exciting journey with a variety of sporting activities. The following are a few of these activities:

1. Trekking

One of Gangotri’s most thrilling activities is trekking the winding pathways of the glaciers and Himalayan foothills. The small hill village, surrounded by thick trees, offers plenty of opportunities for climbing and trekking up the slopes. You can also build a campfire and sleep in the woods. There are numerous camping options available. If you don’t have one, you can make one yourself. Camping in a serene setting will be one of your most memorable experiences.

2. Shopping

You can explore the nearby temple areas and the town for shopping and collecting local items as a memento for your loved ones. Apart from idols of deities, local Garhwali items can be bought from the local shops.

How to Reach Gangotri

You can visit Gangotri via rail, road, and air transport.

Air: The closest airport to Gangotri is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun which is about 240 kilometers away. From the airport, taxis, state-run, and private buses are available for Gangotri.

Rail: Gangotri is 230 kilometers from Rishikesh, the closest railway station. To reach Gangotri, one can hire a taxi from the railway station. Every day, trains run between major cities to Rishikesh.

Road: Gangotri is well connected to Uttarakhand’s major tourist sites. UTC (Uttarakhand Tourism Corporation) buses run to all parts of the state and even other states, and taxis are readily available in this region. The highways are scenic and ideal for a memorable road trip with friends and family.

Hotels

Mukteshwar has a wide variety of hotels, guest homes, and motels to suit all budgets. Some good options include:

Hotels Price range (in INR) Google Rating
Hotel Manisha 2500-3500 3.9/5
Mountain Village Stay- Dharali 5000-6000 4.2/5
Prakriti The Retreat 7000-8200 4.4/5
Himalaya Sedan 4200-4800 4.8/5
Himalaya Vista 8500-9500 4.9/5

Food

Garhwali delicacies such as Baadi, Bhatwani, Jafuli, Dubuk, Bhang ki Chutney, and others abound in this little town’s cuisine. Small cafés and restaurants with beautiful views offer a multi-cuisine menu where one can relish their favorite foods with their loved ones.

Best Times to Visit

Gangotri is only accessible and best suitable to visit during summers and autumn. The pleasant weather around this time makes trekking and sightseeing much more enjoyable. Winters are extremely cold and temperatures dip below freezing point with heavy snowfall. Monsoons can wreak havoc on your vacation due to random landslides and flash floods. Besides, you are welcome to explore this lovely town at any time.

Conclusion

Gangotri has a lot to offer to every variety of travelers and pilgrimage seekers. From the calm soothing atmosphere of the Gangotri temple for the solitude lovers to the hard, adventurous, adrenaline-inducing activities like trekking along with the glaciers for adventure seekers, you can binge on any activity you want.

We hope this has piqued your interest in scheduling your next trip to Gangotri and calming your soul where Gods reside. Pack your belongings and get in your vehicle to begin your journey to Gangotri, where paradise awaits you for a wonderful escapade.

People are also reading:

FAQs

1. When does Gangotri Temple open & close?

Gangotri is one of India’s most respected shrines and a holy place that attracts a large number of people each year. Every year on the holy day of Akshay Tritya, the Gangotri temple opens its doors to pilgrims for worship. On Bhai Dooj, the holy shrine is shut following the Diwali festivities. During winters, the Gangotri temple is closed for six months for the public.

2. What is the importance of Gangotri Dham for the Hindus?

Gangotri is the source of the sacred River Ganges among Hindus. The Ganga River runs through the heart of the country, providing vitality to all who live there. Gangotri Dham is the most respected temple in the country due to the mythical and theological significance of the Ganges River. River Ganga is referred to as Maa Ganga, Goddess Ganga, in Hindu holy texts. According to tradition, it rushes through Lord Shiva’s hair and contains various healing powers in its holy water.

3. Can you please let us know about the darshan timings at Gangotri temple?

Gangotri temple darshan timings are from 06:15 AM to 02:00 PM and from 03:00 PM to 09:30 PM.

4. What are the best months to visit Gangotri Temple?

Gangotri Dham is only open from April to November, and large crowds of devotees can be seen throughout this time. Gangotri is best visited in May, June, September, and October. During the monsoon season, visitors should avoid visiting Gangotri.

5. Is any registration needed to visit Gangotri?

Registration is required to visit Gangotri or any of Uttarakhand’s Chardham Yatras. Every pilgrim is now required to register, either online or at one of the many counters located throughout the city. It is possible to register for free. Haridwar, Uttarkashi, Rishikesh, and Gangotri all have registration booths. It is recommended that you register as soon as possible, whether online or at the counter.

6. Is it safe to visit Gangotri?

Yes, Gangotri Dham can be reached from Uttarkashi securely. It is well linked by road and attracts a significant number of visitors each year during the yatra season. Although, due to harsh weather conditions during the monsoon, pilgrims turnout decreases.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles