Nestled in the lap of the Garhwal Himalayas, Gangotri is a sacred town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, revered as the origin of the holy River Ganges. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and glistening glaciers, Gangotri offers a spiritual haven for pilgrims and a pristine playground for adventurers. From ancient temples to majestic waterfalls, the region is adorned with natural wonders and cultural treasures waiting to be discovered. Here are 16 enchanting places to explore in and around Gangotri, each offering a glimpse into the timeless beauty and spiritual significance of this sacred land.

1- Gangotri Temple

  • Location: Gangotri town, Uttarakhand.
  • Dedicated to Goddess Ganga, one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites.
  • Constructed by Amar Singh Thapa in the early 18th century.
  • Located at an altitude of 3,100 meters in the Garhwal Himalayas.

Gangotri Dham

The Gangotri Temple stands as a testament to devotion and architectural brilliance. Nestled amidst the Garhwal Himalayas, this ancient temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, the personification of the sacred river. Constructed in the 18th century by Amar Singh Thapa, the temple reflects the traditional Himalayan style of architecture with its stone walls, wooden ceilings, and intricately carved doorways. Pilgrims from far and wide flock to this holy site to seek blessings and witness the divine aura that surrounds the temple complex. The melodious chants and rituals performed by the priests add to the spiritual ambiance of the place.

2- Gaumukh Glacier

  • Location: 18 kilometers from Gangotri town.
  • Source of the Ganges River.
  • One of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas.
  • Retreat of the glacier has accelerated in recent times.

Gaumukh - The snout of the Gangotri Glacier

Gaumukh Glacier, often referred to as the ‘Cow’s Mouth,’ is the primary source of the Ganges River. Situated at the foot of the majestic Bhagirathi Peaks, the glacier’s icy expanse captivates visitors with its raw beauty. The journey to Gaumukh is not merely a trek; it’s a spiritual odyssey through rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes. Trekkers traverse rocky paths, glacial moraines, and pristine meadows while being surrounded by towering peaks. Along the way, one can witness the pristine beauty of nature, including alpine flowers, cascading waterfalls, and rare wildlife. Gaumukh holds immense significance for pilgrims and adventurers alike, offering a glimpse into the divine and the sublime.

3- Bhagirathi Shila

  • Location: Gangotri town.
  • Located 24 kilometers from Gangotri.
  • Starting point for the Nelong Valley excursion.
  • Offers stunning views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.

Bhagirathi Shila holds a special place in Hindu mythology as the spot where King Bhagirath performed rigorous penance to appease Lord Shiva. It is believed that his prayers led to the descent of the Ganges from heaven to earth. The sacred rock, adorned with traditional markings and offerings, serves as a reminder of devotion and faith. Pilgrims often visit Bhagirathi Shila to pay homage to King Bhagirath and seek blessings for spiritual fulfillment. The tranquil ambiance of the site, surrounded by lush greenery and towering peaks, creates a sense of serenity and reverence.

4- Pandava Gufa

  • Location: Near Gangotri town.
  • Cave located near Gangotri associated with the Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
  • Believed to be the place where the Pandavas meditated during their exile.
  • Visitors can explore the cave and experience its spiritual ambiance.

Pandava Gufa, Gangotri

Pandava Gufa, or the Cave of the Pandavas, holds a significant place in Hindu mythology as the refuge of the Pandava brothers during their exile. According to legend, the Pandavas sought shelter in this natural cave while on their journey through the Himalayas. The cave’s rugged walls and mystical aura evoke a sense of ancient mysticism and spirituality. Pilgrims and tourists visit Pandava Gufa to explore its dark chambers, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, and to immerse themselves in the epic tales of the Mahabharata. The site offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and spiritual seekers alike.

5- Submerged Shivling

  • Location: Gangotri Temple complex.
  • Unique natural formation in the Bhagirathi River near Gangotri.
  • A naturally formed Shiva Lingam that remains partially submerged throughout the year.
  • Considered highly auspicious and visited by pilgrims seeking blessings.

The Submerged Shivling is a natural rock formation located in the Bhagirathi River, adjacent to the Gangotri Temple complex. It bears a striking resemblance to Lord Shiva’s iconic lingam and is revered as a sacred symbol of divine energy. During the winter months, when the water level recedes, the Shivling becomes partially visible, drawing devotees and tourists from far and wide. The sight of the submerged Shivling, surrounded by the pristine waters of the Bhagirathi, instills a sense of awe and reverence in visitors, reaffirming the sanctity of the Gangotri region as a place of spiritual significance and natural splendor.

6- Tapovan

  • Location: 20 kilometers from Gangotri town.
  • High-altitude meadow near the Gangotri Glacier.
  • Sacred site for meditation and yoga.
  • Offers panoramic views of surrounding peaks.

Tapovan, Gangotri

Tapovan is a picturesque meadow nestled amidst the lofty peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The meadow is dotted with alpine flowers, grazing yaks, and gurgling streams, creating a serene and tranquil ambiance. Tapovan is also renowned as a meditation site, with numerous caves and ashrams where sages and ascetics have sought spiritual enlightenment for centuries. Visitors can embark on treks from Gangotri to Tapovan, immersing themselves in the pristine beauty of the Himalayan landscape and experiencing moments of tranquility amidst nature’s grandeur.

7- Harsil

  • Location: At a distance of 25 km from Gangotri and at an elevation of 2620 meters
  • Picturesque village along the Bhagirathi River.
  • Gateway to the high-altitude trekking routes.
  • Known for its apple orchards and natural beauty.


Nestled in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, Harsil is a serene village that captivates visitors with its natural beauty and tranquility. Situated along the banks of the Bhagirathi River, Harsil is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, apple orchards, and lush coniferous forests. The village serves as a perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts and spiritual seekers, offering stunning views of the majestic Himalayas. Harsil also acts as a base for various trekking expeditions and pilgrimage journeys, including the sacred Gangotri pilgrimage. Visitors can explore attractions like the historic Wilson Cottage, the quaint Mukhba Village, and the serene Bhagirathi River, immersing themselves in the peaceful ambiance of this Himalayan haven.

8- Gangnani

  • Location: 30 km from Harsil
  • Known for its thermal springs.
  • Offers hot water bathing facilities.
  • Believed to have medicinal properties.


Located en route to the revered pilgrimage site of Gangotri, Gangnani is a charming town known for its therapeutic hot water springs. Pilgrims and travelers often make a stop here to experience the healing properties of the natural thermal baths, believed to provide relief from various ailments. The town offers a serene setting amidst the Himalayan foothills, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can indulge in the tranquil ambiance, take a dip in the hot springs, and rejuvenate their body and mind. Gangnani’s hot water springs, surrounded by lush greenery, offer a perfect opportunity for relaxation and spiritual rejuvenation on the journey to Gangotri.

9- Surya Kund

  • Location: Gangotri town.
  • Natural hot water spring near the Gangotri Temple.
  • Considered sacred and used for ritual bathing before entering the temple.
  • Named after the Sun God (Surya) due to its association with warmth and purity.

Surya Kund, Gangotri

Surya Kund is a natural hot spring located near the Gangotri Temple complex, revered for its therapeutic properties and religious significance. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Surya, the Sun God, is believed to have taken a dip in the Kund to cleanse himself of impurities. Pilgrims visiting Gangotri often bathe in the sacred waters of Surya Kund, seeking spiritual purification and healing. The warm waters of the Kund provide relief from fatigue and rejuvenate the body and mind, making it a popular destination for devotees and tourists alike.

10- Kedar Tal

  • Location: 18 kilometers from Gangotri town.
  • High-altitude glacial lake at 4,912 meters.
  • Formed by melting Kedar Glacier, a tributary of Bhagirathi River.
  • Surrounded by Thalay Sagar and Brigupanth peaks.

Kedar Tal

Kedar Tal, also known as ‘Shiva’s Lake,’ is one of the highest lakes in Uttarakhand, nestled amidst the pristine beauty of the Garhwal Himalayas. Situated at an elevation of 4,912 meters above sea level, the immaculate glacial lake is formed by the melting of the Kedar glacier, giving birth to the Kedar Ganga River. The trek to Kedar Tal from Gangotri is arduous but rewarding, offering breathtaking views of snow-clad peaks, lush green valleys, and cascading river streams. The lake’s crystal clear waters reflect the towering peaks of Thalay Sagar and Brigupanth, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for trekkers and nature enthusiasts. Kedar Tal is renowned for its challenging trek route, moderate to difficult terrain, and diverse ecosystem, making it one of the most rewarding trekking destinations in Uttarakhand. Trekkers traverse along the banks of Kedar Ganga, through sliding zones and rugged terrains, immersing themselves in the pristine wilderness of the Himalayas. The region is also home to a variety of wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard, blue sheep, and numerous species of birds, adding to the allure of this remote and untouched wilderness.

11- Chirbasa

  • Location: En route to Gaumukh Glacier, 9 kilometers from Gangotri town.
  • En route to Gaumukh Glacier, known for pine trees.
  • Trekking destination with scenic beauty.
  • Danger of loose rocks falling on the trail.


Chirbasa, literally translating to the ‘abode of chir or pine trees,’ is a scenic stopover nestled amidst the rugged terrain of the Garhwal Himalayas. Situated at an altitude of 3,350 meters, Chirbasa offers respite to trekkers on their journey to the Gaumukh Glacier. The trail from Gangotri to Chirbasa meanders along the banks of the Bhagirathi River, passing through dense pine forests and alpine meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers. Trekkers can immerse themselves in the tranquility of the surroundings, surrounded by towering peaks such as Shivling, Thalay Sagar, and Meru. The pristine beauty of Chirbasa and its panoramic vistas make it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts seeking solace amidst the Himalayan wilderness.

12- Bhojbasa

  • Location: En route to Gaumukh Glacier, 14 kilometers from Gangotri town.
  • Last accommodation point before Gaumukh Glacier.
  • Offers views of Bhagirathi peaks.
  • Retreat of the glacier poses environmental challenges.


Bhojbasa, situated at an altitude of 3,775 meters, serves as a scenic stopover and the last point of accommodation on the way to the sacred Gaumukh Glacier. The trek from Gangotri to Bhojbasa spans 14 kilometers, traversing rugged terrains along the Bhagirathi River. The landscape of Bhojbasa is characterized by vast open expanses of barren land amidst the Gangotri glacier, offering enchanting views of the Bhagirathi peaks. Trekkers can witness the retreat of the glacier and the majestic Himalayan peaks, including Shivling, Thalay Sagar, and Bhagirathi III, creating a surreal backdrop for their journey. Accommodation facilities at Bhojbasa, such as the Lal Baba Ashram and GMVN Bhojbasa Tourist Rest House, provide comfort and respite to weary travelers, allowing them to recharge before continuing their pilgrimage or trekking adventure.

13- Dharali

  • Location: 6 kilometers from Harsil valley, near Mukhba village.
  • Picturesque village with apple orchards.
  • Near Mukhba village, winter home of Goddess Ganga.
  • Accessible from Harsil and Mukhba.


Dharali is a picturesque hamlet nestled on the tranquil banks of the River Ganges, perched at an altitude of 648 meters above sea level. Located near the Mukhba village, Dharali is renowned for its glittering apple orchards and Rajma cultivation, offering a glimpse into the agrarian lifestyle of the region. The village is enveloped by lofty pine and deodar trees, creating a surreal landscape that beckons travelers seeking solace amidst nature’s grandeur. Dharali serves as a gateway to the Nelong Valley and other nearby attractions, making it an ideal base for exploring the hidden gems of the Garhwal Himalayas. Visitors can immerse themselves in the serenity of the surroundings, explore the local culture and traditions, and embark on scenic walks along the riverbanks, soaking in the pristine beauty of this Himalayan paradise.

14- Mukhba

  • Location: Harsil town, on the banks of the River Bhagirathi.
  • Winter abode of Goddess Ganga.
  • Annual procession during Diwali.
  • Temples made of concrete, marble, and deodar wood.

Mukhba Village

Mukhba is a small village nestled in the town of Harsil, renowned for its cultural heritage and spiritual significance. Situated at an altitude of 2620 meters above sea level, Mukhba serves as the winter abode of Goddess Ganga, where the idol of the deity is brought down from the Gangotri shrine during the harsh winter months. The village holds two temples dedicated to Goddess Ganga, one made of concrete and marble, and the other crafted entirely from deodar wood and brass. Pilgrims visit Mukhba to pay homage to the goddess and witness the annual procession during Diwali, accompanied by the Garhwal Rifles band. Mukhba offers a tranquil retreat amidst the Himalayan wilderness, with opportunities for pilgrimage, trekking, and cultural immersion, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking spiritual rejuvenation and natural beauty.

15- Nelong Valley

  • Location: 45 kilometers before the Indo-Tibetan border, within the Gangotri National Park.
  • Former Indo-China trade route.
  • Resembles Tibetan landscape with high peaks.
  • Requires permit and fitness certificate for tourists.

Nelong Valley

Nelong Valley is a hidden gem nestled at an average elevation of 11,009 feet above sea level, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rugged terrain. The valley bears a striking resemblance to Tibet, with high peaks, cold deserts, and a climate reminiscent of the Himalayan region. Accessible via Bhairav Ghati, Nelong Valley offers panoramic views of the Tibetan Plateau and relics of the ancient Indo-Tibetan trade route, including the Gartang Galion wooden bridge and Lal Devta temple. Visitors can explore the valley’s pristine wilderness, spot endangered wildlife such as the snow leopard and Himalayan blue sheep, and immerse themselves in the region’s rich cultural heritage. While camping and overnight stays are prohibited, tourists can obtain permits to explore the valley during the open season from May to November, experiencing moments of awe and wonder amidst the untouched beauty of the Himalayas.

16- Gangotri National Park

  • Location: Surrounding the Gangotri town and adjoining areas.
  • Spans 2,390 square kilometers.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Home to rare wildlife like snow leopards and musk deer.

Gangotri National Park

Gangotri National Park is a haven for biodiversity and natural beauty, encompassing an area of 2,390 square kilometers in the Garhwal Himalayas. The park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including rare species such as the snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, and musk deer. Visitors can explore the park’s pristine wilderness through various trekking routes, offering glimpses of alpine meadows, dense forests, and glistening glaciers. Gangotri National Park is also renowned for its spiritual significance, with numerous pilgrimage sites and sacred lakes scattered throughout the region. The park’s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and spiritual seekers alike.


Gangotri and its surrounding region are replete with natural wonders, cultural treasures, and spiritual significance, offering a captivating journey through the heart of the Himalayas. From ancient temples and sacred rivers to majestic glaciers and pristine valleys, each destination holds a unique charm and allure, inviting travelers to explore, discover, and experience moments of awe and wonder amidst the Himalayan wilderness. Whether seeking spiritual solace, embarking on a pilgrimage, or simply reveling in the beauty of nature, Gangotri and its enchanting surroundings promise an unforgettable adventure filled with timeless moments and cherished memories.

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Written By

Param Dass