The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands
of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga , the stream of life,
touched earth for the first time.
According to mythology, Goddess Ganga - the
daughter of heaven, manifested herself in the form of a river to absolve the
sins of King Bhagirath’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several
centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimise the immense
impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.
Along the right bank of Bhagirathi stands the
shrine of Gangotri dedicated to the Goddess. Perched at a height of 3042 mts.,
it was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander,
Amar Singh Thapa. Every year, lakhs of pilgrims throng the sacred temple between
May and October.By November, Gangotri is covered by snow. It is believed that
the Goddess retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode ( 12 kms downstream ).
The physical source of the holy river is at
Gaumukh, 18 kms. further uphill, along the Gangotri Glacier. Several pilgrims
trek upto the source to offer prayers either on foot or on ponies.The verdant
valleys, dense forests and towering peaks offer excellent trekking and
mountaineering opportunities for adventure enthusiasts.
The 18th century’s temple
dedicated to Goddess Ganga is located near a sacred stone where Kind Bhagirath
worshipped Lord Shiva. Ganga is believed to have touched earth at this spot.
According to another legend, Pandavas performed the great ‘Deva Yagna’ here
to atone the deaths of their kinsmen in the epic battle of Mahabharata.The
temple is an exquisite 20 ft. high structure made of white granite.
The natural rock Shiva linga, submerged in the
river, is an amazing sight reinforcing the power of the divine. According to
mythology, Lord Shiva sat at this spot to receive the Ganga in his matted locks.
The linga is visible in the early winters when the water level goes down.