Himalayan Edge


Gangotri Yatra

Locations: Gangotri


Gangotri Dham, located at the mighty Himalayan range in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, is one of the four pilgrimage sites, which together comprise the Chota Char Dham in Uttarakhand. The shrine holds a special place in the hearts of Hindus. It is located at an altitude of around 3,100 meters in the midst of stunning natural beauty. The origin of the river, Gaumukh, can be accessed by a 16 km trek from Gangotri. As per the legend, Gangotri is the site where river Ganga descended from heaven after being released by Lord Shiva from his locks.

The present shrine was built by a Gorkha Commander Amar Singh Thapa in the early 18th century. Since ages, the river Ganga has always been a holy source of purity and has been revered as Goddess by Hindus. A trip to Gangotri Dham is not just for those who are seeking spirituality but also for those seeking serenity amid fascinating natural beauty.

History & Religious Significance of Gangotri Temple

Gangotri Dham occupies a special position amongst the other pilgrimage sites of the Chota Char Dham because it is the origin of the Ganges, the holiest river for the Hindus. It is said that Bhagirath, the grandson of King Sagara, to free his ancestors from the curse of Sage Kapila, undertook penance for 1000 years to please Ganga to descend on earth.

At last, his endeavors proved to be fruitful, and River Ganga, satisfied by his commitment, arrived on earth. This is the reason; Ganga is also called Bhagirathi. Because of her pride, and the way that the earth would be crushed if Ganga descended in her full power, Lord Shiva kept her in his locks. The holy stone close to the temple is the place where Ganga first descended on earth. According to Hindus, taking a dip in the river Ganga frees people from their sins.

Apart from the main Gangotri shrine, there are numerous other sublime and sacrosanct temples in the complex, for example, Vishwanath Temple, Bhaironnath ji Temple, and more. There are several Kunds and Springs in Gangotri. Gauri Kund, Surya Kund, and Gangnani warm springs have a deep historic and religious significance. A large number of pilgrims bathe in these springs to rejuvenate their mind and body before offering Puja to Goddess Ganga.

Gangotri Yatra Opening Dates

Gangotri Yatra starts in April or May and stops in October/November. The temple opens on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya, which generally falls on either the last week of April or first week of May. The temple remains closed in the winter months due to heavy snow. During this time, the idol is shifted to the nearby village, Mukhba.

Temple & Pooja Timings in Gangotri

The temple timings in Gangotri Temple are 6:15 AM to 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM to 9:30 PM. The aarti timings are 6:00 AM and 7:45 PM. The morning aarti, which is held at 6:00 AM, is known as Mangala Aarti and is held behind closed doors. Pilgrims are allowed to do darshan for 4 hours in April to June. From July to October, the temple permits darshan only for an hour.

Best Time to Visit Gangotri Dham

The best time to visit the Gangotri Dham is from April to June, and then, from September to October. One can also visit it during the monsoons which begin from late July to September. Even though the heavy rains cause road blockages in some places, you can still visit it during this time after taking a few precautions. During winters, when there is heavy snowfall, it is inaccessible to the tourists.

How to Reach Gangotri?
  • By Air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport to Gangotri Dham. Tourists can hire a cab or catch a bus from the airport.
  • By Train: Dehradun and Haridwar are the nearest railway stations to the shrine. Frequent trains to Haridwar and Dehradun are available at all times of the year. Tourists can hire a cab or get a bus from any of these railway stations.
  • By Bus: Gangotri Dham is connected with well-maintained motorable roads. Taxis and buses from popular destinations like Rishikesh, Uttarkashi and Dehradun are easily available.
Best Places to Visit in and around Gangotri

Gangotri Temple: It is located about 250 meters from Gangotri Bus Station. Situated on the bank of Bhagirathi River, Gangotri Temple is nestled in the middle of magnificent surroundings of Pine and Deodar trees. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, and the small silver idol is in the premises of white temple building. Pilgrims can bathe in the crystal clear waters of the holy river before visiting the sacred temple.

Gaumukh and Tapovan: Gaumukh is the originating point of the river Ganga. Tourists can reach Gaumukh by trekking about 16km from Gangotri, and can further trek to Tapovan. Located around 4 kms from Gaumukh, Tapovan boasts lovely flowers, meadows, and streams.

Underwater Shivling: Tourists must see the Shivling, which is made from natural rock and submerged under water, located near Gangotri Temple. This Shivling is easily visible during winters when the water freezes. It is said to be the site where Lord Shiva sat while tying the river Ganga in his locks.

Bhairon Nath Temple: Located at a distance of around 10 kilometers from Gangotri, Bhairon Nath Temple is in Bhairon Ghati, close to the confluence of Bhagirathi and Jadh Ganga rivers. According to legends, Bhairon Nath was selected by Lord Shiva as the protector of the area. It is said that one must visit Bhairon Nath Temple after visiting the Gangotri Temple.

Gauri Kund and Surya Kund: Around 500 meters from the Gangotri Temple lie Gauri Kund and Surya Kund. Surya Kund is popular for Surya Kund waterfalls in which Bhagirathi River falls through the deep ravines into downstream. Gauri Kund is a hot water spring which also serves as the basecamp for Kedarnath Trek. The magnificent views of the mountainous topography make this place a sight to behold.

Pandava Gufa: Located about 1.5 kms from Gangotri, Pandava Gufa or Pandava Cave is an ancient natural cave. It is said that this is the site where the Pandavas meditated while they were in exile and were going to Kailash. Tourists can trek to this site from Gangotri.

Harsil: Harsil is located about 24 kms from Gangotri. It is a small immaculate village on the banks of Bhagirathi River. This quaint village is surrounded by imposing and snow-laden mountains, dense coniferous and deodar woods.