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Location : 25 km from Harsil Dedicated to : Goddess Ganga
Altitude : 3,415 metres above sea level Built in : Early 19th Century
Opened on : 7th May 2019 Closing on : Holy Day of Diwali
Gangotri Dham has to be one of the holiest places of worship where the presiding deity is that of goddess Ganga. The Bhagirathi River gushing by the temple and surrounded the lush greenery of the Himalayas, this temple is of immense importance to devotees. The current gleaming white building of the temple is said to have been constructed by Amar Singh Thapa the great general of Nepal and is visited by devotees of Ganga maa and pilgrims on their holy char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The natural beauty of the surroundings makes this temple even more beauty and glimmer with pride. The wide-open blue skies, accompanied with the jagged mountains and unparalleled greenery this temple is not only extremely spiritual but is also in one of the most scenic destinations in India.
The temple of Gangotri can be traced back to the early 18th century when as an ode to this river the Gorkha chief Amar Singh Thapa has gotten this holy place of worship constructed. The name of Ganga near the temple is Bhagirathi which then goes on to meet Alaknanda in Devprayag and finally form Ganga which then flows onwards. Lining up the temples you will be able to see a number of different ashrams and smaller shrines adorned on its either sides which adds to the overall spiritual vibe of this humble place.
There are numerous legends and myths involving the creation of Gangotri. One of the most popular one is how king Sagara had lost all of his sons as a result of intervening a sage’s penance and later on his grandson king Bhagirath performed serious penance to Ganga Maa to come down to the earthly realm from the heavens. He is said to have performed this meditation on the Bhagirathi Shila which can be seen on the back side of the temple. The river made her way from heaven to wash away the sins of his ancestors and provide them with eternal salvation. Ever since then Ganga has been the place where people immerse the ashes of their deceased ones with the hopes of sending them towards salvation.
By Air – The closest airport catering to some major and minor airlines is jolly grant in Dehradun. This is situated at a distance of around 250 kms from the temple. Taxi and cab services can be easily availed outside the airport who will transport you directly to Gangotri Dham, although this may prove to be expensive yet very comfortable.
By Helicopter – Chopper services for EK Dham, do Dham, teen Dham and char Dham yatra services are widely available. You can avail this service which will take you from Dehradun to Harsil and then Gangotri temple in a very short span of time and minus all the hassle through VIP darshan pass as well. Remember to book your helicopter package for Gangotri from a reliable and trusted source.
By Train – The closest railway station for Gangotri is situated in Rishikesh at a distance of 234 kms right on the NH 58 highway. The railway lines are very well connected to different networks belonging to all the major and minor nearby cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kerala etc. you can get on a bus and head for Gangotri or even hire a cab since travel agents are easily available in Haridwar and Rishikesh.
By Road – Gangotri is very well connected by well maintained motorable roads that run from various parts of all the major ad minor cities and towns in India like Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Nainital etc. if travelling from Delhi buses are available from ISBT Kashmiri gate. You can also take a bus for Rishikesh and then further hire a cab service or go on a shared jeep or even a state bus to Gangotri.
Winter (October to April) – Gangotri temple shuts down in the winter month of either October or November (depending on the date of Diwali). After this till the opening date the temple remains covered entirely in a thick layer of snow and the weather the entire season remains very cold, freezing, inhospitable and the temperatures drop below 0 which makes travelling very difficult.
Summer (May to June) – This has to be the peak tourism months for not only Gangotri but for other Char Dham sites as well. The weather remains very pleasant, cool and comfortable. The breeze during this time is also very cool and refreshing which makes travelling to the Dham very comfortable. The temperature experiences a steep rise but the night time remains cold and chilly.
Monsoon (July to Mid - September) - Travelling on the hills during this time of the year is not recommended since the region remains susceptible to unexpected rainfalls and landslides that may harm the travellers and pilgrim goers. Some of the services are also paused for the season but if you do get a window of sunshine for travelling the go for it since this is also the time when the pilgrim’s crowd is at its minimum.
Best Time to Visit - The summer months of May to June are considered to be the best time to visit Gangotri since the weather is the best during this time for not only Gangotri darshan but also for some nearby sightseeing. But do carry some good woollen and thermal clothing since it does get cold after sun down.