About Gangotri Dham
Gangotri Dham, located at the height of 3,100 meters (approx.) on the Himalayan range in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, holds a very special place in the hearts of Hindus. It is one of the four sacred and important pilgrimage sites of Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Amid all the natural beauty and grace which the mountains and altitude of the place affords, what makes Gangotri one of the holiest places is its intimate connection with River Ganga (the Ganges).
Ganga Maa (mother), the much revered deity of Hindus, originates from the Gangotri glacier at Gaumukh which is some 18 km from the Gangotri town. It is said that Goddess Ganga came to earth in order to wash away the sins of King Bhagirathi's ancestors. From the folds of mythology till the present time, Ganga River has always been a sacred source of purity for the mankind. Coming to Gangotri for a religious tour is not only a religious duty but a spiritual calling too.
Surya Kund are waterfalls on river Bhagirathi, located around 500 metres away from Gangotri temple. It is the most spectacular part of Gangotri. The power and strength with which the waterfalls on the rocks is simply fantastic. Surya Kund is a place where pilgrims offer their prayers to the Hindu Sun God.
The waterfall at Surya Kund is a spectacular sight with two main falls. The rock structure here has been polished to a mirror finish with interesting shapes, giving the feel of a garden for rock sculptures. It is believed that bath at this holy site showers blessings of God for one's wellbeing. Pandav cave is two and a half kilometres in kind. This cave had been used by Pandavas as a shelter for some days.
Gomukh is one of the primary sources of the Ganges River. The sight of Gaumukh is incredible with Bhagirathi emerging out of an enormous cavern. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. From Devprayag, the river flows 2,480 km to meet Bay of Bengal.
Gaumukh is a popular Hindu pilgrimage site as well as trekking destination. The Gomukh snout, due to the excessive visits of the tourists is rapidly moving backwards. According to the modern research the snout has moved 1 km in just 70 years. The trail to Gomukh begins from Gangotri, about 19 km from Gomukh.
Tapovan is an area consisting of beautiful meadows at the feet of Mt. Shivling in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It lies at an altitude of 4460 m in Garhwal Himalayas beyond Gomukh. Tapovan area is full of meadows, streams and flowers. It is one of the most visited trails in Uttarakhand trekking. These meadows are considered as one of the best high altitude meadow in India.
The trek to Tapovan begins from Gangotri and the trek is considered as moderate to difficult. It is a 4 day trek from Gangotri to Tapovan and back. Tapovan can be reached by two routes; the first one is the classic route which goes via Gaumukh Glacier. One has to trek 15 km to reach Bhojbasa from Gangotri. Gaumukh is 4 km from Bhojbasa and Tapovan is 5 km beyond Gaumukh. After reaching Gaumukh Glacier one need to traverse the glacier and climb a rugged track to reach Tapovan. The Tapovan trek is done as a four day trip from Gangotri.
Bhairon Ghati is situated close to the confluence of Jadh Ganga and Bhagirathi River. The colorful Bhagirathi (Ganga) is seen at the Bhairon Ghati where it is joined by a blue river Jahnavi or Jadh Ganga coming from Neelong range. There is a Bhairav Nath Temple surrounded by dense forests at Bhairon Ghati which is worth visiting. This place is easily accessible by road.
According to mythology, Ganga left the matted hair of Lord Shiva and followed King Bhagiratha. On the way to Gangotri, it disturbed the sage Jahnu who was at the middle of the penance. Due to this, the sage was annoyed and took in the water flow with his thighs. On request of King Bhagiratha, he allowed to leave Ganga through his ears. It is also believed that Lord Shiva appointed Bhairon to safeguard this place and hence Bhairon temple exists nearby and the place is known as Bhairon Ghati.
This beautiful village is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, dense deodar and coniferous forests. Harsil is inhabited by a small number of Jadhs, an ethnic group of the Bhutiyas whose language bares a close resemblance to Tibetan.
It is a trekker's paradise, known to offer spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks and for its local apple orchards. Gangotri, Mukhba, Gangotri National Park and the Defense Agricultural Research Laboratory (DARL) are the important tourist attractions near Harsil. The idol of Goddess Ganga is brought down from Gangotri after Diwali and kept at Mukhba village near Harsil. It remains there throughout the winter when Gangotri is snowbound and inaccessible. Tourists also visit the village of Dharali located on the banks of the River Ganga which is widely known for its beautiful apple orchards.
The valley was reopened for tourists in May 2015 after a gap of 53 years. The valley had been closed to civilians since the 1962 Indo-China war, but before the war, it was the major corridor for Indo -Tibetan trade. The valley still contains some of the earlier infrastructure such as the Gartang Galion wooden bridge and the Lal Devta temple. The valley offers a panoramic view of the Tibetan plateau. Apart from the charming landscapes, Nelong Valley is also home to some of the important wildlife species like snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep and musk deer.
The valley can be approached from Bhaironghati, located about 90 km away from Uttarkashi town. From Bhaironghati, One can take a 25 km ride in a forest department vehicle to reach the valley. The state forest department has decided to allow six forest department vehicles carrying four people each.
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