Gaumukh is a place that is located in the state of Uttarakhand in the Uttarkashi district and the place is the location where the Gangotri Glacier ends. The place is situated at a height of 13,200 ft. It is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers.
Around the Gaumukh glacier are the peaks of the Gangotri Group, including several peaks notable for extremely challenging climbing routes, such as Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru, and Bhagirathi. It flows roughly northwest, originating in a cirque below Chaukhamba, the highest peak of the group.
There are a few places where one can trek in the area. There are many rock-filled hill sides that are ideal for mountain climbing as well. One can see many prayer flags near the river bed.
Char Dham Yatra and Gaumukh
Many pilgrimages and foreign travellers do the trek of Gaumukh (Glacier) from Gangotri during their Char Dham Yatra. It is the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. Around the snout, nature presents a wild topography. There are bolders scattered here and there with some pieces of broken snow, along with the hard clayey snow of the glacier. You can see many snow clad peaks from this point and this breathtaking view is also a reason why many people take the difficult trek to the place.
The terminus of the Gangotri Glacier is said to resemble a cow’s mouth, and the place is called Gomukh or Gaumukh (gou, cow + mukh, face). Gomukh, which is about 18 km from the town of Gomukh is mentioned in the Puranas. It is said there that searching a lost sheep a shepherd boy reached near a glacier in Gangotri, the snout of which exactly looked like the mouth of a cow, and thus it got its name ‘Gomukh’. From then many saints, holy travellers, as well as religious people went there to worship the place.
Gangotri, is the precise source of the Bhagirathi river, an important tributary of the Ganges. The river is one of the main tributaries of the River Ganga and the entire place is extreme scenic and breathtaking. Gaumukh lies near the Tapovan meadow.
The Gangotri glacier is a traditional Hindu pilgrimage site. Devout Hindus consider bathing in the icy waters near Gangotri town to be a holy ritual, and many make the trek to Gomukh and Tapovan.
Important Information about Trekking
Limited number of people are allowed to visit Gaumukh per day. The Bharals are found above the altitude of 10,000 ft. Only 4 km from here is Bhujbasa, the only night halting place on the way. One can stay at the GMVN Bunglow, or at the Lalbaba’s Ashram or at Ram Baba’s ashram; both ashram charge Rs 300/- for a day that includes lodging and food. After trekking 41/2km from Bhujbasa, one reaches Gomukh, the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. A little before Gomukh, the majestic view of Mt. Shivling welcomes the trekkers to the place. The trek beyond Goumukh is quite difficult. Crossing the glacier & going towards Tapovan is become quite dangerous nowadays (because of the landslides).
No plastic bags, bottles etc. are allowed to be taken beyond this point. On the trail no horses are allowed, so one must take preparations to walk on foot. The trek to Tapovanan and Nandanvan starts from here.
Note: One can carry these items after making a security deposit, deposited in this gate office.
• Carry some Chocolates (or other calorie-rich food items) along with other food, water and juices.
• It will be helpful if one walks 4-5 kms everyday for 3-4 weeks prior to this trip.
• Do not return to the base (Gangotri) on the same day. Stay at Bhojwasa (the only place one can stay in the whole route). Otherwise it will be very hectic.
• Take your usual medicines with you, apart from those that may be required in high altitudes.
• Carry Photo Identity Cards and photocopies of the same as that will be required for permission from the forest department.