Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gangotri - Gomukh Char Dham Pilgrimages | Gangotri Temple - Gomukh - Gangotri Glacier Tourist Places | Gangotri Glacier Trecking

Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi District in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi (Ganga). It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100m.

This small town of Gangotri is centered around the temple of the goddess Ganga. It is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year. A number of ashrams are located on the other side, some of which provide accommodation facilities to the visitors. Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of priests. The Aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganges. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 18 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganges. For a large number of tourists, Gangotri town serves as the starting point of the Gangotri-Gaumukh - Tapvan and Gangotri- Kedartal trekking routes.
Places of Attractions
Gangotari Temple:
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is second of the four Char Dham Temples in the Chardham Yatra in Himalayas or Chardham Pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. Gangotari is located at at distance of 99 kms from Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, approximately 300 kms from Dehradun and 250 kms from Rishikesh. Couched in the magnificent Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. It is on the northernmost part of the state of Uttrakhand and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. The summers are relatively cool and winters are freezing cold, with rains in the months of May and June. For the devotees and tourists, the gates of the temple are open only in the months of May to November.
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and was constructed on the banks of Bhagirathi in the 18th century. The temple of Gangotri is located at a 20-feet high structure of white granite, and is around 300 years old. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. 

The legend is, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. But earth could not sustain the immense flow of Ganga and soon it was water everywhere. Lord Shiva then took the flowing Ganga in his hair locks to reduce the impact, henceforth, it flowed down in 12 streams of water. The stream at the source came to be known as Bhagirathi (named after Bhagirath), flowing like this since centuries, absolving the sins of mankind. The Bhagirathi, 'Shila' is located near the temple of Ganga where the holy Ganga first descended on earth from heaven. Hence the place is known as Gangotri. The temple of Bhagirathi was erected by the Gorkha General, Amar Singh Thapa in 18th Century at the source of Ganga.
Gangotri can be reached in one day's travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yanunotri, the first site in the Char Dham circuit. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus, meaning that it sees many more pilgrims than Yamunotri.
Submerged Shivling:
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 locks. It is visible in winter months when water level decreases. The other places of pilgrimage are Surya Kund, Vishnu Kund and Brahma Kund located in the vicinity of Gangotri.
Gomukh is also referred to as "Gaumukh" or "Gomukhi". The word "Gomukh" literally means "Mouth of a Cow". According to some sayings, earlier the snout exactly looked like "Mouth of a Cow". It is 18 km from Gangotri in the foot hills of Bhagirathi at a height of 4255m. Gomukh is the terminus or snout of the Gangotri Glacier, from where Bhagirathi River originates. The Bhagirathi River here is pretty speedy. Around the snout, nature presents a wild topography. There are bolders scattered here and there with some pieces of broken snow, along with the hard clayey snow of the glacier. The place is situated at a height of 13,200 ft. It is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers.
Bhavishya Badri Temple:
Bhavishya Badri, also spelt as Bhabisya Badri, is located in a village called Subhain at a distance of 17 kilometres from Joshimath, beyond Tapovan and approach is through dense forest, only by trekking. It is situated on an ancient pilgrim route to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar, along the Dhauli Ganges River. The idol of Narsingha (the god with the head of lion) is enshrined here. Traditionally, it is believed that a day will come when the present route to the Badrinath will be inaccessible and the Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here and this is why the place is called Bhavishya Badri.
Nandanvan is a 6-km tough trekking route along the glacier and gives a view of the Shivling. Across the snout of the Gangotri glacier is the sylvan Tapovan, which is known for its exquisite verdure encircling the base of the Shivling peak. From here, one can go to Vasuki Tal, Kalindikhal, at a height of 5590 meters and reach Badrinath.
Gangotri Glacier:
Gangotri glacier is straightforwardly accessible. It is well linked by motor able road up to Gangotri temple. From Gantotri Temple there are steps upto the main trail going to the ice cave of Gaumukh and one has to take these steps to reach Gomukh. The about 19 km long restrain path follows along the right bank of the Bhagirathi river to Gaumukh, the nose of the glacier. There are no temples at Gaumukh. The terrain is rough and the path is narrow and the fall is steep. The first step involves a walk up to Chirbasa (7 km) which is slow as the ascent is very steep. From here to Bhojbasa which is another 5 km is a relatively smooth walk. The mountain view changes dramatically but remains breathtaking nonetheless.
Gangotari, the origin of the sacred river Ganges, is a famous glacier in Garhwal division of the Uttarakhand, located in Uttarkashi district. Gangotri glacier originates at the northern angle of Chaukhamba range of peak. This Glacier is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers. The Glacier is about 30 kilometers long and 2 to 4 kms wide. Gangotri Glacier is not a solitary valley glacier, but it is a grouping of various other glaciers that are feed to it and form a huge accumulation of ice. Around the glacier are the peaks of the Gangotri Group, including several peaks notable for extremely challenging climbing routes, such as Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru, and Bhagirathi III. It flows roughly northwest, originating in a cirquie below Chaukhamba, the highest peak of the group.
It is one of the most significant glaciers in Garhwal district as it is dependable for feeding the head tributary of the holy river Ganga.
The terminus of the Gangotri Glacier is said to resemble a cow’s mouth, and the place is called Gomukh or Gaumukh. Gomukh, which is about 18 km (11.2 mi) from the town of Gangotri, is the precise source of the Bhagirathi River, an important tributary of the Ganges. Gomukh is situated near the base of Shivling; in between lies the Tapovan meadow.
The Gangotri glacier is a traditional Hindu Pilgrimage site. Devout Hindus consider bathing in the icy waters near Gangotri town to be a holy ritual, and many make the trek to Gomukh and Tapovan.
Gangotri glacier flows at a moderate gradient apart from for a few ice stockade and crevices developed in the higher regions of the glacier where, as in the lower part of the glacier is roofed by fragments, which imparts a grubby emergence to its surface.
Reaching to Gangotri Gaumukh Glacier
The distance between Uttarkashi to Gangotri is 105 km which can be covered by bus or taxi. Buses are available daily during season from Haridwar to Uttarkashi via Bhaldiana. The distance is 173 km and takes about 6 hrs by taxi.