Most beautiful "dham" of all the four Hindu "dhams"

Gangotri Travel Blog

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Surya Kund.. near the temple.
Didn't really want to wake up. Was having a slight headache and a bit of trouble breathing as well, dont know if it was the high altitude or the cold or both. This was my acclimatization day at Gangotri, I would be staying the night. Also good opportunity to soak in the mountain air and sights before moving up further.

Water was cold enough to deter one from brushing teeth, no way did I wanna take a bath in that cold water - unless it was from the river. Which is what I planned to do. Bathing/washing in the Ganges river is a religious experience for us Hindus - done with prayer and a clean mind it is supposed to wash away one's sins. Waters of the Ganges (Ganga) is holy and the purest water according to Hindu mythology/tradition.
Gangotri temple
And Gangotri is at such a high altitude, that there is really no pollutant/effluent in the river. Ideal water to dip in, except the temperature perhaps. But luckily the weather was pleasant, sun was shining bright - overall good conditions to take a dip.

The lodge is right next to "Surya kund" which is where the river drops about 20-30 feet as two waterfalls. I walked along the river from the lodge and crossed it to reach the temple complex and ghat. After paying my respects at the Maa Ganga (Ganges Mother) temple and a few others I went down to the ghat. It was a peaceful late morning and there were hardly any priests around to pester anyone. I washed myself in the chilling water and soaked in the sun. It was refreshing, and I hope I did wash away some of my sins! I went up to the temple and got some "bhog prasad" that was offered at the temple that morning.
View of mountains surrounding temple.


Judging the cold conditions, I knew I would need some more woolens, so I shopped around and stocked up a bit before going back for lunch. After a sumptuous lunch of Aloo Parantha (indian fried bread stuffed with potato), the idea was to do some sight seeing and generally chill out in the woods somewhere. I walked downstream along the river for a few kilometers from the lodge. This path is quite pretty and goes along the river, while the river flows audibly in a ravine some 50 feet below. The gorge itself is stone and becomes quite narrow at a few points leading to a splendid view of the rapid white river flowing through. There, along the path, is a big boulder which forms a sort of a small cave under it - known as the Pandu cave. A slight bit further is where the path ends abruptly at a cliff.
The Ganges flowing through a narrow gorge
That is the merging point "Sangam" of another small river (supposedly the Rudra-ganga) that flows down from the mountain to the east and merges with the Ganga there.

I returned to the market on the street that leads upto the temple, to buy a few more small items for the trek. I needed a porter and guide to take me to Tapovan and wanted to find out the conditions up there. After a few enquiries, my to-be-guide Pt. Vasudeva Kudiyal approached me. After some negotiation and discussion we made the deal for him guiding me 3-4 days. The plan was to leave the next morning for Bhojwasa and later go to Tapovan. If the conditions were good we could go to Nandanvan or Kedar-tal or Neer-tal.

Relaxed for the rest of the evening, and sometime in front of the fire at night.
Temple and Ghats from distance
After a nice dinner of Paranthas and Dal, I read for a while. Before bed, did some packing and reshuffling of stuff, since I would be storing half of my stuff at Gangotri, taking only the warm cloths and some spares for the trek.

I had never been to Uttaranchal before this trip. As the discussion was going the previous night at the bon-fire, I could feel it though, Gangotri must surely be the most beautiful of all the four "dhams" (certain Hindu pilgrim places) - Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath. Although quite inaccessible from the major cities, thats perhaps part of the charm. Besides, most of the most beatiful places are the ones that are the hardest to get to.

-- Ashish Bhambhani
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Surya Kund.. near the temple.
Surya Kund.. near the temple.
Gangotri temple
Gangotri temple
View of mountains surrounding temp…
View of mountains surrounding tem…
The Ganges flowing through a narro…
The Ganges flowing through a narr…
Temple and Ghats from distance
Temple and Ghats from distance
Part of Surya Kund
Part of Surya Kund
Temple and Ghats from distance
Temple and Ghats from distance
View up the river from temple
View up the river from temple
Gangotri
photo by: surendrasingh