The Gangotri Dham, devoted to Goddess Ganga, is one of the Chota Char Dhams in Uttarakhand in India, the other three being Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The presiding deity, Goddess Ganga, is revered in the form of a small silver idol. It is the second Dham to be visited in the sequence that is followed for the Char Dham, which is Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The Gangotri Temple is located in the town of Gangotri in the district of Uttarkashi on the banks of the River Bhagirathi. The Great Himalayan Range embraces it on all sides, as it enjoys an elevation of almost 10,200 feet approx.
The temple is also held in such high reverence because it is the source of the River Ganges, called the Gomukh, in the Gangotri Glacier. It is also interesting to note that in Gangotri, you can find the Brahma Kamal, which is the official flower of Uttarakhand. It is also believed to be the favourite flower of the Gods and has been accorded a lot of importance in the Hindu Puranic texts, as well as the major Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
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History of Gangotri Temple
Although not a lot of historical records exist regarding the Gangotri Temple, it is believed that the original temple was built by the Gorkha general Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century. However, there are a lot of interesting legends associated with the temple which underline its importance among the devotees as well as in Hinduism as a whole.
According to one of the legends, King Sagar, a famous king of the Suryavanshi dynasty, decided to arrange a Ashwamedh Yajna (a horse sacrificial ritual to porcelain one’s sovereignty), to declare his supremacy. The horse, which was to be taken around the earth, was to be accompanied by the 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati, and one other son named Asamanja, born to the second queen Kesani.
Indra, the supreme ruler of the gods, was insecure regarding the ritual, since he feared that his celestial throne would be in danger if the yajna succeeded. He took the horse with him and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapila, who was then immersed in deep meditation. The sons of King Sagar searched for the house and finally succeeded in finding it.
The sons, upon finding the horse, attacked the ashram of Sage Kapila at once. The sage, furious at having been disturbed in his meditation, turned them all to ashes with his furious glance. He also cursed all the sons that they would attain moksha only if their ashes were washed by the holy waters of the River Ganga.
Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, decided to meditate and performed rigorous penance for 1,000 years to please Goddess Ganga to clean the ashes of his ancestors and liberate their souls, whereby he could attain moksha, or the ultimate salvation. Finally, Goddess Ganga was pleased with his efforts and decided to descend on earth.
Gangotri Temple Opening and Closing Dates
The opening dates of the Gangotri Temple are declared on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya every year, while the closing dates of the Gangotri Temple are declared on Diwali every year. The opening date of the Gangotri Temple in 2024 is 10 May.
During the winter season every year, Goddess Ganga departs for the Mukhyamath Temple in the village of Mukba, about 20 kilometers downstream. The transfer takes place on Diwali and is marked by vedic chants and elaborate rituals. The Goddess is brought back to Gangotri Temple on Akshaya Tritiya between April to May.
Best Time to Visit for Gangotri Yatra
The best time to take the Gangotri Yatra is from April to May and September to October and early November. You can also visit it during the monsoons, which start from July and extend till September. Although this season is marked by landslides and floods, it can still be safely visited. After that, the temple is closed for the winter season because of extreme snowfall that blocks all access to it.
How to Reach Gangotri Temple?
Gangotri Temple can be reached by air, rail and road. Helicopter services are also available.
- By Air: The nearest airport to Gangotri Dham is Jolly Grant Airport, located almost 250 kilometers away. The airport operates regular flights to Delhi. Gangotri is connected by motorable roads to and from the airport.
- By Rail: Rishikesh railway station is the nearest railway station to Gangotri Dham, located almost 234 kilometers away on NH 58. The railway station runs trains to all the major destinations of India. A motorable road connects Gangotri to Rishikesh. Taxis and buses can be hired from Tehri Garhwal, Uttarkashi and Rishikesh, besides other destinations.
- By Road: All the major destinations of Uttarakhand are connected to Gangotri with motorable roads. Gangotri Dham is located at the end of NH 108. Buses to Rishikesh are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate in Delhi, from where taxis and buses can be hired to Gangotri.
Helicopter services to Gangotri Dham are available and are operated by both Uttarakhand government as well as private Heli tour companies.
Weather in Gangotri Dham
Since Gangotri Dham is situated at an elevation of almost 10,200 feet approx, it remains cold throughout the year. During the summer season too, which starts from April and ends in May, the temperature never exceeds 25°C, but the nights may be quite cold. The monsoons, which start from late July and end in September, are marked by landslides and floods. But the Gangotri Temple can be visited even during this season. The winter season begins in November and lasts till March, when heavy snowfall occurs and roads to the holy shrine are completely blocked.
Best Places to Visit in and around Gangotri Dham
Apart from the main attraction, which is the Gangotri Temple, there are other tourist attractions located nearby which offer both sightseeing and have a spiritual importance.
- Gangotri Temple: The prime attraction is the Gangotri Temple, which is one of the four Char Dhams in Uttarakhand. It is devoted to Goddess Ganga. The Himalayan ranges in the background and the River Bhagirathi flowing alongside enhance its beauty manifold.
- Gaumukh and Tapovan: Tapovan is located almost 4 kilometers from Gaumukh, which is the starting point of the River Ganga. Tapovan is dotted with flowers, streams and offers amazing views of the Himalayan peaks.
- Bhairon Ghati: The Bhairon Ghati is located close to the confluence of Jat Ganga and River Bhagirathi, almost 10 kilometers from Gangotri Dham. The temple itself is surrounded by dense forests.
- Submerged Shivling: The submerged Shivling is a popular tourist spot, as it is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva received Goddess Ganga in his matted locks. It is visible during the early winters when the water level recedes.
Gangotri Yatra Tour Packages 2024
Plan your trip to Gangotri Dham with our Gangotri Yatra packages which have been created by our expert travel executives who understand your travel requirements and strive to make your journey a smooth and hassle free one. You can count on us for the best accommodation, transport, meals and an overall excellent experience.
Explore Popular Chardham Yatra Tour Packages 2024
|Package Name||Duration||Starting Price|
|Kedarnath Yatra Package||5 Nights 6 Days||INR 12000|
|Kedarnath-Badrinath Tour||7 Nights 8 Days||INR 16000|
|Char Dham Yatra Package||11 Nights 12 Days||INR 23000|
|Badrinath Yatra Package||5 Nights 6 Days||INR 12000|
|Gangotri Yamunotri Tour||4 Nights 5 Days||INR 10000|
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