En-route the pilgrimage destination of Gangotri, sits a pretty little village, Harsil in Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand. Situated on the Bhagirathi and Jalandhari rivers confluence, this scenic village is becoming a mandatory stop while visiting Gangotri. Harshil is strategically located at the head of the renowned Baspa Valley and is connected to it via various high mountain passes including the Lamkhaga Pass. Surrounded by lofty mountains, this beautiful hill destination in Uttarakhand is also known for its verdant apple orchards that flourish in the late August and early September months. It makes for a perfect destination for nature lovers seeking to soak in the pristine beauty.
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The history of Harsil establishes the fact that it was once part of the ancient trade route between India and Tibet. The place also has mythology attached to it that throws light on how Harsil got its name. According to the local legend, River Bhagirathi and Jalandhari once had an argument over their supremacy and Lord Vishnu who is also called Hari was asked to intervene. In order to absorb the anger of the two rivers, Lord Vishnu turned himself into a great stone or shila. It is the possibility this is how Harshil got its name Hari or Har + Shila or Shil.
How to Reach Harsil?
Harshil is well-connected by road to major cities and towns of Uttarakhand. The best way to reach Harshil will be to first reach Haridwar (by train or bus) or Dehradun (by flight, train or bus) and then either take an Uttarkashi bound state bus or hire a cab. NH108 that goes to Gangotri also connects Harshil with all the major destinations.
Best Time to Visit Harsil
Harshil being a hill station is best visited in the summer season when the weather is quite pleasant. Since the destination is en route Gangotri Dham, it can also be visited during the monsoon season when pilgrimage is being performed at the temple.
- Harsil in Summer Season: Months from March to mid-June are perfect to visit Harshil. During this time the weather is at its best and till April mid-week, the destination isn’t even crowded. From April end, when the Chardham Yatra begins, a large crowd can be seen here.
- Harsil in Monsoon Season: From mid-June to September due to the Gangotri Dham Yatra, Harshil is usually bustling. In late August and early September, the apple trees in Harshil also start to bear fruit, and thus, make for a good time to plan a trip.
- Harsil in Winter Season: Between October and mid-December, Harshil can be visited to sight snowfall. However, from late December, heavy snowfall blocks the roads making the place somewhat inaccessible.
Popular Attractions in and around Harsil
Harshil is blessed to have been surrounded by several equally beautiful places, religious sites, and quaint villages that are must see.
Situated at a short distance of 3 km from Harshil, Dharali is a tiny little village adorned with apple orchards. It is also known as an important hub of Rajma cultivation. It is believed, Bhagirath meditated here to bring the celestial river Ganga from heaven to earth.
Known primarily as the winter home for the deity of Gangotri Temple, Mukhwas Village is situated at a distance of about 1 km from Harshil. The idol is worshipped in a temple in Mukhwas since Gangotri closes during the winter season.
As the name suggests, Sattal has a cluster of seven high altitude lakes which only be reached by trekking. The beautiful lakes are situated at some distance from each other which make it a slightly difficult yet interesting trek to do around Harshil.
En route Gangotri, Gangnani is a religious site which is known for its hot spring called Rishikund. Devotees can take a holy dip here before heading to Gangotri. A temple dedicated to Sage Parashar is another major attraction in Gangnani.
One of the Chardham temples, Gangotri is situated at a short distance from Harshil. The white marble temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga is the major attraction in Gangotri. Another major attraction here is the origin point of the holiest river in India, Ganga at Gaumukh.
Where to Stay in Harsil?
There are only handful of hotels available in Harshil which are of standard category. For more option of stay near Harshil, one should consider visiting either Uttarkashi or Gangotri. In these two destinations near Harshil, hotels are not only in plenty but are of varied category to suit the need of different types of travellers.
Things to Know Before Travelling to Harsil
- Harshil becomes almost inaccessible in the winter season, therefore avoid those months
- There are limited hotels in Harshil and that too in the standard/budget category, thus expect basic facilities.
- In order to find Harshil all by yourself, visit between March and mid-week April.
- To see the apples growing in Harshil, end of August and September are the best months to visit.
- During the Chardham time (April end to October), getting hotels can be a problem, thus advance booking is advised.
Get upto 30℅ of early discount on all our Uttarakhand trekking tour packages. Reach us for more details / bookings – +91-7668130655.
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