The revered shrine of Gangotri is situated at an altitude of 3,200 mts.
above sea-level amidst a narrow glacial valley covered by a Pine and Cider forest! The visit to the shrine of Gangotri is one of the most important things to do, for the devout Hindu. So important is this sacred river that it is a religious duty to touch the lips of a dying Hindu with the water from this river (called Ganga Jal – or water from the Ganga)
Visited by hundreds of thousands pilgrims every year, the 18th century Gangotri temple constructed by Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa , is located near the spot where the goddess Ganga is said to have first descended on earth from heaven, as an answer to the prayers of King Bhagriath! Lord Shiva received Ganga into his matted locks to break the great force of her fall, and gently uncurled a tassel of his hair thereby freeing her! From there the Ganga emerged into many streams and the one which started from Gangotri was called Bhagirathi. The Pandavas, it is said, came here to perform the great 'Deva Yajna' to atone for the death of their kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharat. The temple is situated on the bank of the Bhagirathi and there are a number of Ashrams on the far side of the river, many of which provide accommodation facilities to the traveller.
Places of Interest
Gangotri glacier : The true source of the sacred river Ganges, this spot attracts tourists in large numbers every year during the Yatra season. Discover the out of the world natural beauty which are rare to find elsewhere. Along with the thrill of exploring nature the outside world one might well discover one's own inner self in this magical land of spirituality.
Goddess Ganga temple : The Goddess Ganga temle is a short distance away from the sacred stone where Raja Bhagirath is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva. Submerged in the river here is the natural rock Shivalinga where Lord Shiva is believed to have received the Ganges in his matted locks and is known by the name- the Jalamagna Shivalinga (underwater Shivlinga) visible only in the in the winter months when the water level recedes, revealing the Shivlinga. The shrine of Gangotri is around 300 years old, and renovated in the 20th century , consists of a 20-feet high white Granite structure. During the winter months, the statue is taken to Ukhimath village where it is worshipped and is only replaced the following summer months.
Gangotri Bazaar : The hustle and bustle of a small town, that owes its existence to the visitors, is replete with a wide array of religious artifacts, ranging from Pooja samagri, Brassware and Copperware, used for the various religious ceremonies, pictures depicting Gods and Goddesses, and a wide variety of small eateries serving dishes from all the corners of the country! The shops are a delight to watch and for a foreigner, present a golden opportunity to film this fascinating aspect, that exists nowhere else on earth except India!
Gaumukh Glacier : Although, Gangotri is a destination in itself, it also acts as a stopover for the famed Gaumukh glacier located at an altitude of 4200 m above sea level. The glacier is the geographical origin of the Ganges located at a distance of 18 km from Gangotri, following a steady uphill track. Here Ganges is known as the Bhagirathi. The sourse of the Bhagrithi for a dip in its icy waters is dip in almost a must for pilgrims; and to the temple of Bhairavanth at Bhaironghati, (10 km.). GMVN Tourilst Bungalow is located at Bhojbasa, about 14 km., from Gangotrli, on the road to Uttarkashi, at thle confluence of the Jat Ganga and Bhagirathi rivers.Pilgrlims also trek to Nandanvan (6km) and Kedartal (18km) from Gangotri.
Cheedvasa & Bhojvasa :
From Gangotri is Cheedvasa at a distance of 28 kms. Bhojvasa, is at a distance of 22 km, both are an ideal camping site.
Nandanvan is a 6 kms trekking route along the glacier and gives a spectacular glimpse of the Shivalinga. Across the Gangotri glacier is the Sylvan Tapovan, which is known for its greenness encircling the base of the Shivalinga peak. From here, one can go to Vasuki Tal, Kalindikhal, at a height of 5590 m to reach Badrinath.