Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) 98 KM from Uttarkashi in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100m.
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham yatra circle . The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries.
This shrine of goddess Ganga is one of the four pilgrim place ( Char Dham ) of Hindu religion. It is 228 KM from Yamunotri temple, another pilgrim place of Char Dham Yatra. Uttarakashi is the gateway to Gangtri and there is no other way to reach Gangotri by road. Here road ends and trekking rout to Gomukh starts. Goumukh is the glacier from which river Ganga starts. The temple of Gangotri remains open from May 1st week and closes at 3rd week of October. The exact date changes every year as they are based on the Hindu calendar. It opens on Akshaya tritya day which falls around Ist week of May or before that. The temple closes on Diwali festival day which falls during last week of October. After closing of the temple goddess Ganga is taken to a place located at a lower height than the Gongotri as these areas get heavy snow fall during winter.
There are some view points on the way to enjoy the journey. Snow peak mountains can be seen while approaching Gangotri.
There are some bridges joining two hills and rivers flowing at a very low level from the bridges. These breath taking views are not to be missed.
According to legend, King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yagna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King’s 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the ‘Yagya’ (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was then in deep meditation. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagara stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.