and is erected where she is believed to have been
descended on earth for the first time. This temple is
visited by lakhs of pilgrims between May and October,
every year. By November, Gangotri is covered by snow and
it is believed that the goddess retreats to Mukhba, her
winter abode. The physical source of the holy river is
at Gaumukh, 18 kms. further uphill, along the Gangotri
glacier. In summers, the temperature is very cool during
the day and cold at night and in winters, it is covered
by snow and remains below zero. The best season to visit
Gangotri is from April to November. Hindi, Garhwali and
English are the main languages which are spoken here.
History of Gangotri
According to Indian mythology, the King Sagar had 60,000
sons. He defeated all the demons in the earth and wanted
to stage a Ashwamedha Yagya to declare his supremacy.
For this, he sent his horse across the earth accompanied
by his sons. The King of Heaven, Lord Indra feared the
power of King Sagar and to stop him, he stole the horse
and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil. When the 60,000
sons saw the horse in Kapil's ashram they got furious
and started to attack the hermitage. Sage Kapil was in
deep meditation and on hearing the disturbance he opened
his eyes in anger and all the 60,000 sons of King Sagar
were reduced to ashes, except for prince Asamanjas.
Anshuman, the grandson of King Sagar brought the horse
back from the Sage and asked for his forgiveness. Sage
Kapil told him that the sons can be brought to life only
if Ganga is brought from heaven to earth. So, Bhagirath
meditated intesely for several years and finally, the
goddess Ganga got pleased and came down to earth and
manifested herself in the form of river. To prevent the
earth from floods, the Lord Shiva received Ganga into
his matted locks to minimise the immense effect of her
fall. King Bhagirath then worshipped Lord Shiva and
Shiva blessed him and released Ganga from his locks in
seven streams. The water of Ganga touched the ashes of
Sagar sons who rose to the their eternal rest in heaven.
These seven streams of Ganga were Bhagirathi, Jahnvi,
Bhilangana, Mandakini, Rishiganga, Saraswati and
Alaknanda which merge into Ganga at Devprayag. The
Goddess Ganga later came to be called as Bhagirathi at
her legendary source in Gangotri. The Gangotri Temple is
situated on the right banks of the Bhagirathi river. The
rock on which King Bhagirath is believed to have
meditated, is called Bhagirath Shila and is located near
the temple of Ganga.
Tourist Attractions in Gangotri
The main tourist attraction in Gangotri is the Gangotri
Temple. The other tourist attraction in Gangotri is the
Ganga river and the submerged Shivalinga and Gaumukh.
of ashrams and dharamshalas are located on the other
side. It is believed that the rock or Bhagirath Shila on
which the Raja Bhagirath used to worship Shiva is
situated near the temple. The Gaurikund waterfall, one
of the most beautiful in the Himalaya, the rocks
resembling giant stone chip tools, is nearby.
There is a natural rock Shivling which is submerged in
the river and an amazing place to visit. According to
mythology, the Lord Shiva sat at this place to receive
the Goddess Ganga in his matted locks. This Shivlinga is
visible in the early winters when the water level goes
The Gaumukh (Cow's Mouth) is the snout of the Gangotri
Glacier and the source of the Bhagirathi river. The trek
to the Gangotri glacier starts from Chaukhamba cluster
of snow peaks near Badrinath and extends to Gaumukh, the
source of the river. The Gangotri glacier is situated at
a height of 4255 meters and 18 kms away. Several
pilgrims trek upto the source to offer the prayers and
take a holy dip in the ice-cold water either on foot or
Excursion from Gangotri
panoramic view of the surrounding Shivling peak. A trek
across the snout of the Gangotri glacier leads to
Tapovan known for the beautiful meadows that encircle
the base of the Shivling peak.
Bhairon Ghati (about 10 kms.)
Bhairon Ghati is situated towards Uttarkashi. It is
known for the temple of Bhairav Nath, surrounded by the
Harsil (about 28 kms.)
The sylvan hamlet of Harsil is located in the mountain
district of Uttarkashi. Harsil is known for the scenic
landscapes and delicious apples. Sat Tal or seven lakes
is situated nearby and is a famous attraction.
How to reach Gangotri
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant in Dehradun, situated
about 226 kms. from Gangotri.
The nearest railway station is located in Rishikesh,
about 249 kms.
Gangotri is well connected by road to Rishikesh, Dehra
Dun, Haridwar and Delhi.