One of the four sites in Chota Char Dham, Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand. Elevated at 3753 metres (12,313 ft) on the Greater Himalayan Range and situated on the Banks of the river Bhagirathi, it is 105 km from Uttarkashi. Devotees from all parts of India seeking redemption, and forgiveness of sins make this pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime. It obtains the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards, where it meets the Alaknanda River. Nearby it is Gaumukh Glacier situated at a height of 4200 metres above sea level. It is at a distance of 18 km from Gangotri uphill, and is also the source of Ganga origin. Whosoever visits this site during char Dham Yatra awakes spiritually, and takes back peace at home?
Built in the 18th century by Gorkhas commander Amar Singh, the 20 feet tall temple's major portion was revamped in early twentieth century. Snow-capped mountains in the backdrop and the white granite of the temple captivates everyone, especially when the sunlight falls directly over it.
According to ancient legend, Lord Shiva was very pleased with King Bhagiratha’s penance of several centuries and it is believed that the King have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha. Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of his predecessors. Lord Shiva then took Ganga in his matted hair so that humanity doesn't suffer before she came down to earth, breaking her pride of being a celestial river and instilled a sense of helping humanity in her. It was then negotiated that Goddess Uma or Parvati, Shiva's wife, would have her daily bath in the Ganges and only then would she descend on the earth.
Close to this temple is a stone 'Bhaigirath shila' where Bhagiratha meditated and Ganga first touched earth here. Since it was due to the efforts of Bhagiratha that Ganga came down to earth, she spiritually became his daughter. Hence the river is also called by the name of Bhagirathi (Bhagiratha’s daughter).
Best Time to Visit:
Travel to Gangotri is best from May to September. It's better to avoid during monsoon season from June to August, as the region is prone to landslides. In the pilgrimage journey of Chota Char Dham, Gangotri is often visited after Yamunotri.
Pilgrims have to trek upto the sacred spot on foot or they have the option of going on ponies to take a holy dip in the ice-cold water.
The Bhavishya Badri Temple is another must visit in Gangotri. The statue of Narasingha (the Lion headed God), an avatar of Lord Vishnu, is worshipped here. It is Located at a distance of approximately 17 km east of Joshimath. There's a prediction that one day all the routes to the present Badrinath will be unapproachable and then Lord Badrinath will be worshipped at this place. This is the reason why the place is called Bhavishya or future Badri.
How to Reach:
Pandava Gufa is another place which interests tourists. It is 1.5 km away from Gangotri, and the Pandavas are believed to have meditated and rested en route Kailash. Pilgrims have to trek up to the Pandava Gufa. Don't miss out Submerged Shivling, Cheedvasa and Bhojvasa and Nandanvan, for more peace and adventure in this spiritual journey.
By road, it is 247 km away from Mussoorie, 129 km from Dharasu, 224 km from Yamunotri, 99 km from Uttarkashi and 172 km from Tehri.