Gangotri – The origin of Sacred River Ganga

Ganga, the sacred river for the Hindu’s is believed to be the embodiment of Goddess Ganga, the daughter of Heaven and Gangotri is the spot where this river comes into contact with the earth. The heavenly presence of the tall mountains and gushing streams make the ethereal beauty of this small town a very special experience.  Situated in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Gangotri is one of the four holy spots of Char dham Yatra that covers four of the holiest spots in the Devbhumi (Land of God).  Mythological connection speaks of a beautiful story of Ganga who manifested herself in the form of a river in order to wash away the sins of King Bhagirath and his ancestors and to reduce the destructive power of her divine fall into the earth; Lord Shiva received her into his tresses.

This connection surely explains the fact that the whole Himalayan region in this part of Uttarakhand is scattered with many significant shrines of Lord Shiva. Bhagirath, grand son of King Sagar is believed to have performed sever penance to bring down Ganga so that she could cleanse away the ashes of his ancestors who were killed by sage Kapil’s rage.  Thus, Ganga and the land blessed by its presence is said to possess cleansing prowess.

The temples worth visiting near the area are Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi Temple. Every year, during the ‘Magh Mela’ during Makar Sankranti (January) Uttarkashi is flooded with devotees who toil on to take a holy dip in Ganga.

Besides its religious importance, Gangotri is famous for its challenging Gangotri glacier that is a rafter’s ultimate challenge. The road up to the glacier is also trekked by hikers. The trek ends at a scenic spot called Nandanvan known for its serene meadows. However, the trek is a challenging task because of the high altitude. But, for the enthusiastic hikers there is an option to polish trekking skills in the form of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.

For nature lovers, Gangotri has many interesting spots carefully tuck away from the concrete life.  Kedar Tal just 18 kilometers away is a magnificent lake and the mighty Thalaiyasagar peak peepes out of its abode at its backdrop. Often used as base camp for trekkers, this lake area is Gangotri’s most beautiful spot. At the same distance there also lies Gaumukh, the muzzle of the Gangotri Glacier, the exact source of the Ganges. This spot is also considered sacred by the Hindus.

The religious importance of the place however demands expansion of this small town and accommodation facilities are gradually increasing. This has made travelling to Gangotri much easier now a day.  The small town does not have much entertainment to offer since the tranquility of the hills is supposed to sooth our minds the most uncomplicated way. One can collect ancient coins from the local market which is the best souvenir. This sacred town does not permit alcoholic indulgences and non vegetarian food is also not allowed inside the town premises. The best season to visit Gangotri is the summer months.

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