Gangotri is a scenic little town, settled on the hills of Garhwal in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. It boasts of a lush green cover, the holy river of Bhagirathi, and the iconic Char Dham temple of Gangotri. Due to its religious and spiritual relevance, Gangotri has garnered a reputation for being one of the top destinations for goddess worship. Being a part of the Char Dham temples along with Kedarnath, Badrinath, and Yamunotri, Gangotri remains swarming with devotees each time the temple opens its doors for Darshan every 6 months.
The culture of Gangotri is very unique to its region. It draws its beliefs from the age-old, highly religious bygone era. Located in Uttarkashi, Gangotri offers relief for people looking to spend some time in nature with a hint of adventure.
History of Gangotri
Gangotri is located within the district of Uttarkashi. It literally translates into the Kashi of the north due to its highly revered and sacred temple site. The history of Gangotri can be traced back to the early Satyug. The story involves king Bhagirath. After King Sagar’s 60,000 sons were massacred for interrupting the meditating sage Kapila, his kingdom went on a spiraling downfall. At the advice of his priest, king Bhagirath decided to perform intense meditation on goddess Ganga and requested her to make her way to the earthly realm from the heavenly realm. This was the only way that the sins of his ancestors could have been absolved and his kingdom would have been re-established. After meditating hard near the temple of Gangotri, goddess Ganga agreed to make her way to the earthly realm. She stepped on earth and washed away the sins and ashes of the bygone ancestors. Ever since then the river came to be known as Bhagirathi Nadi and the temple marks the original starting point of the Ganga River. People from all over India reach the temple to perform Pind Puja rituals to please their ancestors or pour the ashes and mortal remains of someone who is no longer alive. This legendary fact goes on to show the importance of Gangotri and the Bhagirathi River.
People of Gangotri
The locals of Gangotri reside in the nearby regions of the temple. During the peak Char Dham season, the entire village area of Gangotri springs to life with devotees and tourists. The locals rely on Char Dham Tourism for their livelihood. When the temple shuts down for function during the heavy snow and winter season, the locals have nothing to do and they also head downwards towards the lower reaches of the Himalayas where the temperature is bearable and there are services available as well. Other than tourism and agriculture the people of Gangotri are involved in several different forms of art and craft. They adhere to their old age rituals and traditions while being humble and respectful as well.
Fairs and Festivals of Gangotri
Being a holy Hindu religious spot all the Hindu fairs and festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal. The majority of people here are Hindus and speak their local languages with Hindi and Garhwali being the main speaking tongue. The temple celebrates the closing the temple during Diwali. The idol of the goddess is transferred to her winter home in Mukhba village which is very close to the main temple. The idol is taken back to the main temple on Akshaya Tritiya amidst the same enthusiasm and celebration. The entire Gangotri valley keenly celebrates Hindu festivals. This includes Holi, Diwali, and Dussehra. There are many festivals and fairs that the people of Gangotri celebrate on a local level dedicated to their local gods and goddesses. These religious practices are locally elaborated to suit and match their faith.
Food of Gangotri
Being a highly religious Hindu town, Gangotri offers only pure vegetarian cuisines. They utilize the locally available produce. One can expect vegetarian dishes like lentils, Dals, Rice, Roti, seasonal veggies, and fresh fruits to eat. Non-vegetarian cuisines and consumption of alcohol are strictly prohibited. The food is organic in every way as the people here grow their own food without the usage of any pesticides and insecticides. Some indo-Chinese food can also be found here like Momos, Maggi, Chowmein, soups, etc.
Activities in Gangotri
Gangotri has caught the attention of not just spiritually inclined people but also adventure lovers. It has rightly been called ‘the doorway to popular treks’. Uttarkashi is the last village that falls on the way to some of the most popular trekking trails in Uttarakhand. Furthering its intention of being the top adventure sports hub is the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, which is also located in Uttarkashi. Here are some interesting adventure activities to do in Gangotri:
Trekking – This is one of the most popular activities people do in Gangotri. Trekking up to the Gaumukh Glacier, trekking and camping up to Dodital, treks to Dayara Bugyal, Kedartal, etc.
Mountaineering – The interesting geography of Gangotri consists of jagged terrain, deep valleys, gushing rivers, and ancient mountain rocks. This makes Gangotri the perfect place for challenging your mountaineering and other such outdoor skills.
Meditation And Yoga – Ever since the ancient ages, sages, philosophers, and priests would make their way up to the many different forests of Gangotri for yoga and meditation. The backdrop of lush surroundings and quietness makes it a wonderful place for people to feel closer to themselves and nature.