There are several places on the way to Gangotri which are worth to see. We took almost two days to cover the following places along with Gangotri.
After our visit to Yamnotri , we came down to Jannki Chatti at 2.00 PM. We checked out our rooms & proceeded further towards Gangotri. Earlier we planned to stay at Barkot which is about 40 Kms from Jannki Chatti but as we had sufficient time , our driver suggested to stay at Bhramkhal which is 40 kms ahead Barkot. So next day we got sufficient time to explore the places on the way to Gangotri. From Barkot three of the roads go to Yamnotri , Gangotri & Dehradun via Kempty fall (Mussoorie) We turned to the left for the way to Gangotri. We took a small halt at Barkot for Tea and stretching our legs & body.
On the way we found a small guest house in a village Bharm khal before the main city starts. In Garhwal you will find a lot of names of places suffixed with Khal , Khal means Village . Location of the guest house was such that one can enjoy the scenic beauty & peace of the surrounding. We felt as if we were staying in some relative’s house. Food was as per our choice , what ever we liked to have they cooked it freshly for us. We experienced a homely ambiance. In the morning when I got up it was drizzling, After having my tea I went out alone for a walk to enjoy the natural beauty . We all had our breakfast & started our journey further , After half an hour we reached Dharasu band which is about 15 kms from Bhram Khal , At that point the road is divided. The left road goes to Gangotri Via Uttarkashi & right goes to Rishikesh / Dehradun via Chamba .
Our first halt was at Uttarkashi. It is 102 Km from Yamnotri & 26 Km from Dharasu band. Uttarkashi is a prosperous town with modern amenities and is the headquarter of the district of the same name. It is situated on the bank of river Ganga. There is no Petrol pump on the way to Gangotri which is about 100 Kms from Uttarkashi hence it’s suggested to get your tank full. We parked our vehicle & walked down towards temples mentioned below:-
Kashi Vishwnath Temple is the most famous and dedicated to Load Shiva. It is one of the prime pilgrimage attractions in Uttarkashi around 300 mts from the local bus stand. An ancient temple, it is said that it was first built by Parasuram. Later, it was renovated by Maharani Khaneti, wife of Sudarshan Shah in 1857. The temple has a Shivling, 60 cms high and 90 cms in circumference. No one misses this holy shrine on their trip to Uttarkashi.
This temple is just opposite to Vishwanath temple. A big Trishul in this temple is the centre of attraction. The trishul is 6 metres in height and 90 cms at the bottom. Different people hold different views about the trishul, it is widely believed that the trishul is made of iron in the upper part and copper in the lower part. The epics say that this trishul was thrown at devils by goddess Durga.
Other then these temples , there is a Nehru Mountaineering Institute or NIM this is the famous mountaineering training Institute in India. Trekkers and mountaineers can hire the different mountaineering gadgets and accessories from NIM for their adventure.
The climate here remains quite hot during summers, having visited both the temples we had some soft drinks and proceeded further towards Gangotri , 8 kms ahead there is a village called Nathahla. I suggest this is the best place to stay nearby Uttarkashi as the climate remains pleasant and one can find the economical hotels here, so while coming back from Gangotri we decided to stay here for one night. Nathala is situated on the bank of river Ganga, During our stay there we spent our evening near the river. We were so fascinated by the peaceful and spacious bank of the river that we could not come to know how our hours were passed out and we did not feel like going back to our hotel.
On our way we found out Maneri at a distance of about 10 km from Uttarkashi, Maneri has lately emerged as a place of tourist interest as a result of the construction of a Dam across the Bhagirathi river, from where the water is fed to the turbines through an 8-km-long tunnel at Tiloth in Uttarkashi. The resultant lake at Maneri has added to the charm of the place.
On our way next place was a small town Bhatwari which is 19 kms from Maneri . At the starting of the village Bhatwari there is a beautifully partially constructed Ashram known as “Pilot Baba Ashram” on the bank of river Bhagirathi.
Bhatwari is the only place where the condition of road is bad because of renovation & construction of a tunnel & new Road . There we stopped to have our lunch.
About 33 km from Maneri,there is a hot water spring at Gangnani, where one can have refreshing bath in the Hot spring Pool, There is a temple near the kund dedicated to the sage Parashar – father of Ved Vyas.
The next place after Gangnani is Army Cantonment area called Sukhi Top which is 18 Kms from Gangnani. It is situated at the height of 2744 meters above the sea level.This is the place from where Himalyas appear very near covered with snow.
The journey down to Jhala which is 7 kms from Sukhi Top is exciting as we were moving along with river Ganga and the road was also moving beside the Ganga.
Our next aimed destination was Harsil. It is 6 kms from Jhala . Most of the people prefer to stay in Harsil only before visiting Gangotri. But we were not able to stay there because of the non availability of rooms. We stayed in Village Dharali which is about 3 kms from Harsil.
It is said that Harsil got its name because the rivers Bhagirathi and the Jalandhari once had an argument about which was more important. Lord Vishnu, also known as Hari, was asked to intervene. He turned himself into a great stone, a shila, and absorbed their anger. And even today, after Hari-shila (or Harsil), the waters of the two rivers become a little less turbulent.
Harsil is famous for its Apple & Rajma (Red in Colour).
Ram Teri Ganga Mali was shot in Harsil and the famous Jharna (Fall) scene of actress – Mandakini was shot under this particular waterfall, which now bears her name. Harsil was popular for the legend of ‘Pahari’ Wilson, or Raja Wilson. Frederick E. Wilson, an adventurer, deserted the British Army just after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. He escaped into Garhwal and met the Raja of Tehri seeking refuge. But the Raja was faithful to the British and refused to accommodate Wilson. Wilson moved into the mountains to escape detection. Fate landed him in Harsil, a remote beautiful village on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, with dense deodar slopes on either side. Wilson married a very beautiful pahari girl by the name of Gulabi. Then Wilson entered into a contract with a London-based company and built a fortune out of the export of skins, fur and musk. This was the time the British were building the Railways in India and there was great demand for quality wooden sleepers for the rails. Wilson cashed in on this and sent huge cut deodar trees floating down the river to the plains.
Initially, Wilson had not taken permission from the Raja of Tehri-Garhwal for his logging business. But later, he acquired a lease from the Raja, giving him a share in the profits. It is said that the revenue of the Raja of Tehri went up tenfold. Little wonder that Wilson was a welcome guest. It is said that in course of time, Raja Wilson, as he was known by then, minted his own currency and as late as the 1930s, his coins were found with the local people. According to some historians, the timber trade had made Wilson so wealthy and powerful that the local Raja of Tehri-Garhwal was unable to protect his subjects, whom Wilson brutalised and used as slaves.
Raja Wilson seemed to have been a sort of architect and built, what is known today as Wilson’s Cottage, a huge mansion, now in ruins. He also built the Charlieville Hotel in the hill station of Mussoorie, which now houses the Government of India training institute for the Indian Administrative Service recruits
Next day morning we got up at 4.00 AM to start early for Gangotri. Dharali is a picturesque village, is situated 3 km away from Harsil. Ganges River flows close by and the village is surrounded by pine trees. Dharali offers a panoramic view of snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas.
On the way to Gangotri , we crossed Lanka Chatti which is about 10 kms from Dharali. There is Asia’s highest bridge at an elevation of 2789 meters of Sea level over the river Ganga. My nephew & I got down on the bridge & clicked few photographs.
Three kms ahead to Lanka is Bhairon Ghati . A temple of Bhairon Devta here is visited by scores of pilgrims.
The Tibet border “Nelong” is 08 km before Gangotri towards left.
Next Post will be on Gangotri. Till then Happy Ghumakkari!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!