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According to an old legend, King Bhagirathi did penances to convince the gods to send the goddess Ganga from heaven to earth. Satisfied with Bhagirathi's penances, Shiva released the river Ganga and she came to the earth in her full force but Shiva caught her in his mighty locks of hair to save the Earth from destruction. It is said that a dip in the Ganges at Gangotri will wash away one's sins. The temple is open only on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya in the first week of May and closes on the day of Diwali. A special puja is conducted both inside the temple as well as on the river Ganges's bank before the temple's openings And the temple closes in the midst of an array of oil lamps . The 20 feet structure temple's statue is taken to Mukhimath village, near Harsil for six months during the winter season.
Near to Gangotri temple is the sacred Bhagirath Shila, where Raja Bhagirath used to worship Lord Shiva. Here is the place where Holy Ganga is believed to first came down to earth. This is why Ganga is also called the name of Bhagirathi.
Jalamagma Shivling another famous site in Gangotri is a submerged natural rock Shiv ling. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva sat here when he received Ganga. It is visible only winter months when water level decreases.
Dandi Ashram a famous and one of the largest Ashram in
Gangotri is a 10 minute walk from Gangotri Temple. The ashram is headed
by a sage. The ashram also runs staying options for tourists. Gauri Kund
is another famour spot in Gangotri. It is believed that Lord Shiva and
his consort Parvathi first bathed here and a bath here is ritually a must
for the pilgrims.
Gangotri also offers many trekking opportunities. Other
spots to watch nearby are Surya Kund, Patangna, Bhairav Jhap etc. Gangotri
is surrounded by high peaks so it offer exciting mountaineering. For this
help can be obtained from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi
Another 16 km downstream lies Dharali a picturesque village which also famous for apple orchards and rajama (red coloured large beans). The village offers a breathtaking view of the snow capped himalayas. An ancient Lord Shiva temple, similar to the Kedarnath Temple is situated here. It is said that King Bhagiratha had undergone penance here to bring down the Ganges from heaven to earth. From here a 7 km trek leads to Sattal, a group of seven lakes which set amidst beautiful surroundings and an excellent camping area.
Kedar Ganga Sangam is another tourist attraction near Gangotri. It is the confluence of Kedar Ganga river and Bhagirathi river. It is around 90m from the Gangotri Temple.
The most famous site nearby is the Gaumukh (cow's mouth) glacier, which is at an altitude of 12,769ft above sea level. It is from here where the Ganga begins its journey as the Bhagirathi river. Situated 21 km from Gangotri, this is a three hour trek up to the point of origin of the Bhagirathi. Most of the tourists and devotees emerges into a small clearing where steps connect to the main trail to Gaumukh. Gaumukh has many temples and the most ancient one is the Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Near to Gaumukh is the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. One have to either on foot or by pony/ horse to reach Gaumukh.
A hard trek ahead of Gaumukh leads to Nandanvan Tapovan. It is 28 km from Gangotri and serves as the base camp for people who visits the Bhagirathi peaks. It is a beautiful high - altitude meadow above Gaumukh. It is a place meant for meditating sages.
Situated on the way to Gaumukh, Bhojbasa, at a distance
of 14 km from Gangotri is another beautiful place. One have to either
trek or do it on pony back to reach Bhojbasa. The places also serves as
an alternative destination to Gomukh for trekkers to relax. One can find
basic accommodation including tent there. The route from Gangotri to Bhojbasa
Dayara Bugyal, the high altitude meadow is another beautiful place near Gangotri. Situated at an elevation ranging from 10,000-12,000 ft, it offers one of the most captivating views of the majestic Himalayas. The famous Sheshnag Temple en-route is an attraction of the trek. One can also trek down to Dodi Tal (30 km) from Dayara.
Harsil a beautiful mountainous area with beautiful rivers, waterfalls, forests, streams, green meadows is yet another tourist attraction near Gangotri. Famous for apples, this is around 26 km from Gangotri.