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. Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga from Devprayag onwards where it meets Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, which is further 18 km trek along the Gangotri glacier. Gangotri can be reached in one day's travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yamunotri, 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.
This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga, which was built by the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the early 18th century. The temple is closed on the Diwali day every year and is reopened in May. During this time, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, near Harsil. Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of pujaris. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganga. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 17 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganga.
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. Bhaironghati (2743 m) is a halting place if one wants to reach up to the height of Gangotri. Gangotri glaciers (4238.6 m) starts trom Chaukhamba cluster of snowpeak and extends up to Gaumukh which is connected by a track from Gangotri. Whether one believes in these legends or not, the properties of Ganga water are well known all over the world. The water of Ganga contains no impurities and remains uncontaminated even after being kept over several years. Scientists attribute this to secretion of herbs, geologists to its mineral content and the Hindus to its holiness.
Distance of Gangotri
Gangotri- Yamunotri 232 KM
Gangotri- Rishikesh 249 KM
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