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.
WHAT TO SEE IN GANGOTRI DHAM?
A picture of serenity, the humble abode of Maa Ganga is situated by the side of Bhagirathi River. Located in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, the revered temple is one of the four pilgrimages in the Chota Char Dham circuit of Garhwal Himalayas. Mother Ganga is present in the premises of the white temple building in the form of a small silver idol. The amazing mountain range of Himalayas and the flowing Bhagirathi by the side makes for a perfect setting to behold the life-giving, gentle yet powerful deity. The pilgrims are required to bath in the crystal clear waters of the pious river before visiting the main shrine.
As the winter season gets ready to knock on the doors of the mountain region, Goddess Ganga gets ready to leave for Mukhyamath temple in Mukhba village, 20 km downstream. The transfer takes place on the auspicious day of Diwali (Oct/Nov) amid vedic chants and elaborate rituals. With greater joy and enthusiasm, the Goddess is brought back to the Gangotri temple on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya (April/May).
GAUMUKH AND TAPOVAN
To witness the holy birth of River Ganges at Gaumukh, one can take up a picturesque and exciting trek surrounded with peaks and soaring peaks. One can further trek to Tapovan which is about 4 km from Gaumukh. Tapovan has meadows, beautiful flowers, streams and incredible views of surrounding Himalayan Peaks such as Shivling and Bhagirathi. Tapovan is also a base camp initiating a number of mountaineering tours.
BHAIRON NATH TEMPLE IN BHAIRON GHATI
It is a flat platform by the banks of Alaknanda 100 meters north of the temple. Performing propitiating rites for the deceased family members, it is believed, would free them from the vicious circle of life and death.