GANGOTRI – The Origin of Holy River Ganga

August 27, 2010 By:

Krishna said in Bhagavat-Gita: “Amongst rivers I am Ganges” and all over the world you will hardly find a river more worshiped and more sacred than Ganges.

In the Morning we checked out from Hotel Shivalik – Dharali & left for Gangotri at 6.00 AM.

Gangotri Temple



Ganga —— The Ganga, our National river is the largest river of Indian subcontinent , flowing east through the Gangetic plains of northern India into Bangladesh. The 2510 Kms river rises in the western Himalayas in the Uttrakhand . The average depth of the river is 52 feet & the Maximum is 100 feet.

Gangotri (River bank)

Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the river Ganga, including Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi. During the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand, candlelit floats are released into waterways in honouring the Buddha and the goddess Ganga for good fortune and washing away sins.

River Bhagirathi

Ganges is the ultimate adventure point as far as river rafting in India is concerned. And the major rafting site from where any experienced rafter as well as an amateur one would love to start of his rafting trip in India is Rishikesh.

Gangotri

Gangotri ——– It is situated at the bank of river Bhagirathi in Uttarkashi District of Uttrakhand located at a height of 3042 meters from the sea level.

Gangotri is the origin of River Ganga and one of the four sites in the Chardham Yatra. Here, Ganga is known as Bhagirathi, named after the ancient king Bhagirath, who performed penance to bring her down from the heavens. It is believed that bathing in her waters brings deliverance from sins committed in the present and past births. Onwards Devprayag It acquires the name GANGA where Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda. This temple was made with white stone by Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkha captain in the early 18th century . After Diwali the door of the temple are closed & reopened in May. During winters when Temple is closed due to the heavy snow fall , the idol of the Goddess is kept at Village Mukhab village near Harsil.

Chanting Shlokas

The actual source of Holy river Ganga is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glaciers and is a 19 Kms trek from Gangotri.

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga – the daughter of heaven, took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagirath’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received Ganga into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall.

According to legend, a Suryavanshi king Sagar decided to perform the Ashwamedh Yagna (horse sacrifice). His 60,000 sons conquered the territories that the horse crossed. Indra felt threatened by their success. He stole the horse and tied it in Kapil Muni’s ashram. Sagar’s sons followed the horse into the ashram and were disrespectful to the seer, who cursed them. All 60,000 of them were turned into ashes. The king beseeched the seer for forgiveness, but the curse could not be reversed. However, Kapil Muni suggested that if the holy Ganga, the river of heaven, were to come down to the earth, the touch of her waters would ensure the deliverance of the princes. Many descendants of Sagar failed in their efforts to bring the holy Ganga to earth, until Bhagirath was born. He persevered in his prayers until Ganga agreed to come down to the earth from the heavens. But such was her power that her descent was sure to cause havoc. Thus Bha¬gi¬rath prayed to Lord Shiva, who agreed to contain Ganga in his locks, from where he released a few drops of her celes¬tial waters. The river thus flowed on earth, cleansing all that was impure in her path and delivering the sons of Sagar from their curse.

It is believed that shraadh and pind daan can be done on any day of the year, and once performed on the banks of Bhagirathi for their ancestors. Most of the pilgrims collected Water (Ganga Jal ) for use during auspicious occasions at home

The temple opens on the day of Akshay Tritiya (May) and closes down on Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Duj . It is better to check timings before reaching the temple remain close for the public during utthan (awakening) and Shringar at 4.00 Am , Priests perform a mangalaarti at 6 am, also behind closed doors. At 9 am, the temple is closed for 10 mins for rajbhog; at 6.30 pm for 10 mins for Shringar; at 8 pm for 5 mins again for rajbhog.

A special shringar puja is performed on Ganga Saptami in Vaishakh (April), when Ganga is said to have descended to earth. Ganga Dussehra, which celebrates the birth of Ganga as the day on which Lord Shiva offered Bhagirathi to Bhagirath, is in Jyeshtha (May). Village deities are brought in palanquins from around the region to participate in a procession, in which the golden crown of the deity at the Gangotri Temple is taken, led by a statue of Bhagirath. A havan is performed near the riverbank.

After visiting the main temple , we reached Bhagirath Shila , it is the rock on which King Bhagirath had meditated, is located near the temple of Ganga. Even today it is widely believed that water of holy Ganga is believed to have nectar in it. Even scientists have concluded after research that the water from Ganga at its origin is in a pure state and remains uncontaminated even after being kept for several years on end. Secretions of herbs and mineral content from the Glacier which mix with the water, give Ganga Jal.

Bhagirath Shila

On the Bank of river we offered prayer to Holy river Ganga & collected Ganga Jal in a container purchased especially for it.

Offering Puja to Holy Ganga

There is a Shivling which is submerged in the river, this natural rock Shivling is the place where, according to mythology Lord Shiva sat when he received the Ganga in his matted lock. It is visible in winter months when water level decreases.

Half a kilometer ahead on the left side while going back from main temple there is an iron bridge to cross where one side of it is Gauri Kund & other side is Surya Kund.

Gori Kund

Surya Kund is one of the main attractions at Gangotri , there is a picturesque Surya Kund waterfalls. The waterfall at Surya Kund is a spectacular sight with two main falls. The vibrant sound of the river was a breathtaking experience.

Surya Kund

After enjoying the beauty of Surya Kund we proceeded towards Pandava Gufa (cave) , where Pandavas are told to have meditated on thier way to kailash. It is around 1.5 – 2.00 Kms from Gangotri. The surrounding near the Gufa (Cave) was very so peaceful and mesmerizing. We met one sadhu inside the cave who told us about his half year stay inside that cave as due to the heavy snow fall there during winters he is forced to leave the place and move to the nearby village. Whole Gangotri is covered with snow .

On our way to Pandav cave

Relaxing Moments

Mesmerizing beauty near Pandav Cave

Entry to Pandav Cave

Sadhu inside the Pandav Cave

Sadhu Preaching

Exit - Pandav cave

Coming back from Pandav Cave

After visiting Pandav Gufa we came back to Gangotri & purchased some souvenirs from the street market of Gangotri.

From Gangotri we reached Nathala in the evening where we spent our last night of the trip.

Next day morning we checked out from Hotel & proceeded further towards Dehradun. My last post of this trip about some of the spots on the way to Dehradun like Tehri / Chamba / Surkanda / Dhanaulty will be coming soon.

Happy Ghumakkari !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sun rays on the peak of Himalyas , touching my nose too

About Mahesh Semwal

Mahesh Semwal has written 54 posts at Ghumakkar.

By profession a AGM - sales dealing with Molecular Diagnostics Products. Passionate for exploring the interiors of Hills , Beaches , desert.. Seeing the diversity of Indian geographical conditions ,culture , climate, people , I feel that one single life is short to explore all these.

28 Responses to “GANGOTRI – The Origin of Holy River Ganga”


  1. Sahil says:

    Dear Mr. Mahesh , I am just back after driving to Dehradun , Mussoorie and Haridwar. This time we left Delhi with the plan of going to Gangotri , but due to heavy rainfall we could not go further. There were large no. of lanslides even till Mussoorie. Also the roads condition were really horrible.

    Sahil

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      Dear Sahil,

      The best time to visit the Chardham is Sep. – Oct. Most of us think that Climate is better in May-June than Sep.- Oct. Actually it rains heavily during May-June that makes the climate colder than Sep.- Oct.

      Generally most of us prefer to go out during School vacation. If you can manage to take off during Sep.- Oct , it is suggested that this is the best time to visit Chardham.

      • Sanjay Kaushik says:

        महेश जी हम आपकी बात से पूरी तरह सहमत हैं.. और इस बात का पालन भी करते हैं.
        आज तक हम जब भी बद्रीनाथ या केदारनाथ गए हैं सितम्बर या अक्टूबर मैं हे गए हैं…
        खुल्ले दर्शन होने हैं.. कोई “आगे बढ़ो ” कहने वाला नहीं होता..
        होटल वाले भी “आओ जी आओ जी” कहते हैं..

        एक बार बद्रीनाथ जी का ध्यान आ रहा है , हमने होटल वाले से ‘परांठे’ का रेट पूछ लिया, हाथ जोड़ के खड़ा हो गया, कहने लगा ” साहब आ के खा तो लो, जो मन हो दे देना, तीन दिन से कोई ग्राहक नहीं आया है… :)

        जय बद्री विशाल…..

  2. aurojit says:

    Hi Mahesh,

    This Gangotri travelogue has been very interesting, which will immensely benefit any ghumakkar planning a trip in that direction.

    Pandava Gufa was an engaging element in this part. Snap of sadhu inside the gupha is quite fascinating.

    Thanks for educating readers on travel to Yamnotri/Gangotri.

    Keep roaming – keep writing

    Auro.

  3. mesmerizing pictures…………..

  4. Manish Khamesra says:

    Mahesh,

    Reading about Sagar reminded me of the times when I used to read “Nandan”. It is among one of the best magazines to educate/entertain kids with the mythological stories. The story of Sagar and his sons is still so fresh in my mind. Mythology behind Ganga dropping from Bhagwan Shiv’s locks is also very interesting.

    I enjoyed looking at the pictures of sadhu, chanting shlokas on a rock and in Pandav caves. Pictures of Pandav caves are among the most beautiful ones.

    Thanks Mahesh for taking us along with you to the Gangotri, look even Sun-God is blessing and kissing on the tip of the nose :-)

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      Dear Manish,

      I am glad to know that you like the post. Getting appreciation from you is matters a lot for me. I have a regret that I was not able to go to Goumukh.

      Thanks for going through the post & liking it.

  5. nandanjha says:

    Thanks Mahesh for the enriching post. I agree with Auro that it would be very useful for folks who are planing to travel to Gangotri.

    Somehow I felt that this post has less information than your previous posts :-), probably it didn’t need to have. May be you have spoilt us :-)

    I put the Surya Kund video.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      Dear Nandan,

      You might be feeling less information in this post because most of the things were covered in my last post. This post was only on Gangotri. Road conditions, some of the spots on the way to Gangotri etc were covered in last post.

      I am sorry if you felt that this post was having less information. :-(

      Your Comments are always encouraging the upcoming writers like me. :-)

      Once again thanks for going through the post & liking it.

  6. manisha rawat says:

    good work mahesh keep it up …………..jai badri vishal

  7. Mahesh Semwal says:

    Thanks for your kind words.

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    Central Himalayan Adventure are a Rafting Tour Operator conducting Rafting and Camping in Rishikesh.

  9. http://www.raftinginrishikesh4u.com- Rishikesh has become a main hub of river rafting in Rishikesh, North India. It’s an adventure sport best enjoyed at a white sand beach next to the river. Rafting in Rishikesh, River Rafting in Rishikesh, white water rafting in rishikesh, riverside camping, camping in rishikesh and rishikesh rafting camps.

  10. raushni says:

    I am planning for gangotri in mid october.Please tell me whether it will be better to stay in Dharali or Harsil enroute to Gangotri and if you can please suggest some good place to stay in at both the places in affordable budget range.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      Location wise GMVN hotel – Harsil is a good choice , Dharali is hardly a km away from Harsil but the numbers of hotels in Dharali is more. If you are looking for budgetary hotel than Dharali will be the best option.

  11. raushni says:

    Thanks Mahesh.

    If you can please provide me the tel numbers of few good hotels in Harsil and Dharali.Read about hotel
    Springdale hotel near a stream on the river bank in Dharali in outlook traveller.Phone number given is not working .If you can please provide the phone number if available.Thanks again.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      I am really very sorry for not having the phone nos. of Hotels , usually when we go to a hill station where every night in a different city we don’t book our room in advance because of unexpected road blocks due to climate/ landsliding / accident.

      In Dharali on the main road only there are many hotels , Harsil has limited options.

  12. raushni says:

    where are the apple orchards and rajma farms more in number Harsil or Dharali

  13. Dear Mahesh jee

    First of All congrats on becoming ghumakkar pf the year
    Secondly mein to fida ho gayaa yeh post dekh kar…………………..

    As and when i get time i will read all your posts ……………………………….

    I might also do chardham yatra in near future . At that time i will require info from you……………

    Any way keep travelling keep posting…………………………..

  14. raushni says:

    Can anyone throw some light on saat taal trek from dhardali/harsil.I mean how far,how is the climb/road etc.how long does it take to reach there from dharali/harsil.

    Thanks

  15. raushni says:

    yamunotri,gangotri,harsil and saat taal trk

    ——————————————————————————–

    Went to yamunotri then to Gangotri via Harsil/Dharali from 12th to 17th Oct 2011.It was a wonderful tour ,stay at Dharali along with saat taal trek was mesmerising.Stayed at Shivalik Hotel in Dharali.Went up till two taals on saat taal trek along with guide Preetam from our Hotel.2nd taal was dry.Apple orchards were loaded with apples. It was a wonderful view- apple orchards with apples alongside a beautiful Bhagirathi river .Kalp Kedar temple.It was a very beautiful and memorable tour.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      We too stayed in Hotel shivalik – Dharali.

      We will be great if you could write your experience on Ghumakkar.

  16. avitash singh says:

    It is a good that we can have some idea about that.so i can go for a trip

  17. MAHESH SEMWAL says:

    Glad to know that this post will be helpful in planning your Trip for Gangotri.



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