Char Dham Yatra 2024
Char Dham 2024

Gaumukh Trek

The Garhwal Himalaya offers one of the best treks in the state of Uttarakhand, the Gaumukh – Tapovan – Nandanvan circuit that involves crossing the second-largest glacier of India with 30 kms in length and 4 kms in width, the Gangotri Glacier which is also the origin of Ganga River. The Himalayan peaks that are visible while on this trek are Shivling, Sudarshan, Meru, Bhagirathi sisters, Kharchkund and more. In recent times, the retreat of the glacier has quickened extensively. Now only 100 persons can trek to Gaumukh each day, which is one of the major steps taken by the government of Uttarakhand towards this severe problem.

For environmental reasons, camping and staying overnight is not allowed at Gaumukh. Instead, one can find accommodation including GMVN guest house at Bhojbasa which is just 4.5 kms from Gaumukh. Trekkers usually indulge in a day trek to Gaumukh and return to Bhojbasa by evening. Literally meaning ‘mouth of a cow’, Gaumukh is the glacier from where Bhagirathi River originates. It is also called the terminus of the Gangotri Glacier. It is about 19 kms from Gangotri situated at a height of 13200 ft in the Uttarkashi district

Religious Significance – Relation to Gangotri Dham

Trekkers and pilgrims are open to trek from May to October as the Gangotri National Park remains closed during winters being prone to heavy snowfall. The Gangotri Temple, which is one of the sacred Char Dham of Uttarakhand, is a key attraction of this trek. Gangotri is the place from where Bhagirathi River descends. Situated at an altitude of 3,048mts above sea level, Gangotri acts as the base camp of the trek to Gaumukh Glacier.

Ganga is a sacred river which nurtures the entire North India. Bhagirathi River is the most important tributary of Ganga. Gaumukh Glacier is the source of Bhagirathi River which is also referred to as Ganga before its confluence with Alaknanda River at Devprayag.

Mythological Importance of Gaumukh

Gaumukh is the source of the holy river Ganga which is revered by the Hindus. According to a local legend, once a shepherd boy came across the glacier in Gangotri, while searching for his lost sheep and named the glacier as ‘Gomukh’ due to its striking resemblance to the mouth of a cow. From then onwards, many sage, hermits, religious people, and travellers went there to worship the place. Gaumukh has also been mentioned in the Puranas.

About the Gaumukh Trek

Gaumukh Trek is a 19 km long trek that stretches over 6 days, starting and ending at the pilgrimage town of Gangotri. Important destinations of this trek are Gangotri, Chirbasa, Bhojbasa, Gaumukh and Tapovan. To trek to Gaumukh and beyond, you will need a permit as you will be passing through the Gangotri National Park. Permits are easily available in Rishikesh and Gangotri.

The trek starts from Chirabasa as the base camp and takes you to Bhojbasa (situated at an altitude of 3800 m) in about 4 hours. Here you will stay for the night. You can also set up camp in Bhojbasa.

Camping is prohibited from Bhojbasa to Gaumukh. The Bhagirathi river flows along the way. Within minutes of crossing Bhojbasa, the Shivling peak appears on your right and the Bhagirathi group of peaks rises right in front of you. It should take you about 3 hours to reach Gomukh from Bhojbasa. Once you reach, you can visit a small Shiva temple here and enjoy the amazing view. From Gaumukh one can start a 5 km trek to Tapovan (at an altitude of 4,460 m), one of the most beautiful high alpine meadows in the region. Tapovan is a place where you can camp for the night. Start early to retrace your route back to Bhojbasa which is 9 km away and the trek will take around 5 hours. From Bhojbasa on the way back to Gangotri, a 14 km trek, it will take you about 8 hours.

Gaumukh Trek Route : Dehradun – Uttarkashi – Gangotri – Chirbasa – Bhojbasa – Tapovan – Nandanvan – Gaumukh – Bhojbasa – Chirbasa – Gangotri – Uttarkashi – Dehradun

Best Time to Visit/Trek

The sacred site of Gaumukh, from where the glacier finally starts melting giving birth to the great river, is best visited from April to June and again from September to November. Gomukh has an average temperature of 15°C – 16°C during the summers, the Gangotri temple opens in the month of May and snow starts to melt in the area. It is ideal for Char dham pilgrimage and sightseeing near Gangotri. June is one the best months to visit Gangotri and Gomukh. and around 5°C- 6°C during the winter months. Weather is Very Cold with chilly nights. October is one of the best times to visit. In November, December, January, February, March, April the area is under freezing cold with heavy snowfall.

The weather is extremely cold thus the Gangotri temple is closed during this period. Heavy snowfall during winters and landslides during the rainy season can disrupt your visit to these shrines so the summer season from May to June and September – October – November is the best time to visit Gomukh. The weather in July is very good and clear for most parts of the day, but unexpected rains may cause landslides. During August, the weather is warm but occasional rainfall can cause disruption on your trip. Landslides are common in the area and the tours are suggested to be avoided. The temperature starts to dip during September and the days are pleasant and nights are moderately cold. Ideal for pilgrimage as well as sightseeing.

Festivals celebrated in Gangotri are something that you do not want to miss out on if you plan a Gangotri Yatra and while on a Gaumukh-tapovan trek. The festivals are celebrated on a large scale and while having a sacred significance they are a very popular tourist attraction. Festivals celebrated are:

Akshaya Tritiya : This holy festival is celebrated in the month of April/May every year. On this holy day the kapat of the temple of Gangotri is opened for pilgrims after six months.

Diwali : Diwali is the most famous festival in India. It is the last festival which is celebrated in the Temple of Gangotri because after this festival the kapat of Gangotri Dham are closed for six months due to climate conditions. On this day after a special pooja the main idol of Goddess Ganga is shifted from Gangotri Mandir to Mukhyamath temple in Mukhba Village.

Ganga Dussehra : Celebrated in the month of May-June, The grand celebration of this festival of Devi Ganga who nourishes millions of lives on this earth with her pure refreshing water. This holy festival is celebrated over the span of 10 days. People believe that if they pray to the Goddess Ganga on these days then they will be free from 10 major sins. So the pilgrims never miss this golden opportunity. Also, massive fairs are organised on this special day.

Best Places to Visit During The Gaumukh Trek

Uttarkashi : Uttarkashi is a very important pilgrimage centre, and is located at an altitude of 1,150 metres above sea level. It is situated on the bank of river Bhagirathi. A few of the very important temples located here are, the Vishwanath temple, Ekadash Rudra temple, Gyaneshwar temple and Kuteti Devi temple. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering is also located close-by. Every year people visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in the Bhagirathi River.

Gangotri : Gangotri is the place where holy river Ganga descended on the earth. Gangotri Dham is located in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand at the height of 3,100 m above sea level, India. One of India’s holiest pilgrimages, it is set amidst Garhwal Himalayan peaks, glaciers, deep forests. Gangotri Dham is the home place of many ashrams, small shrines and temples. The Gangotri Temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and located on the banks of River Bhagirathi. The name Ganga picks up when Bhagirathi merges with river Alaknanda at Devprayag. The temple lies close to the “Bhagirath Shila” where King Bhagiri had worshipped Lord Shiva.

Chirbasa : Chirbasa, a dense thicket of lofty blue pine or chir trees is located about 9 km ahead of Gangotri. This magnificent place is perched at an altitude of 3,580 metres above sea level. Girdled by the Elysian natural beauty, Chirbasa makes a perfect campsite for the trekkers heading to Gaumukh-Tapovan trek. The trek to Chirbasa starts from Gangotri and takes about 3-4 hours to complete. This exhilarating 9 km trek is an easy gradient and can be completed in a day or two, depending upon your stay. Before setting your foot on the Chirabasa trail from Gangotri at 3,415 metres. It is one of the best camping sites where you can see lush vegetation.

Tapovan : Tapovan is perched at an elevation of 4463 metres about 14,640 feet above sea level and is situated near the famous Gangotri shrine. At the foot of Shivling peak, Tapovan is a seasonal home to several sadhus living in caves, huts etc. The meaning of Tapovan is a tranquil holy place, where sages meditate to attain spirituality. It is a high altitude meadow at a height of 4,500 m. It lies on the bank of massive Gangotri glacier and at the base of lofty Shivling peak. However, Tapovan trek starts from Gangotri and goes through some adventurous regions of the Himalayas, taking one to the base of Mt. Shivling.

Nandanvan : It lies at a height of 15,780 feet at the base of Bhagirathi massif. Therefore, the journey connects many Hindu holy sites and takes one to the source of River Ganga “Gomukh which is the snout of Gangotri glacier. During the Nandanvan Trek, get the thrilling experience of crossing Gangotri glacier. Nandanvan is a beautiful lavish meadow located on the base of Bhagirathi Group 1, 2, 3 with the magnificent views of Mt. Shivling, Mt. Kedar Dome and Mt. Meru. The campsite is windy and offers great sight of snow covered peaks. Set up your camps here and settle for the day.

Bhojbasa : Bhojbasa is situated at an altitude of 3,775 mts above sea level. Translated to the ‘abode of birch’, Bojbasa gets its name because of housing birch trees in abundance. Bhojbasa can be reached by14 kms trek that starts from Gangotri that serves as the base camp of this trek. This beautiful place offers enchanting views of the Bhagirathi peaks (6,856 mts). Many Himalayan peaks visible during this trek are Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru, Bhagirathi III etc. While at Bhojbasa, you can get some mesmerising views of the Bhagirathi peaks at 6856 metres where the Gangotri Glacier is also placed.

Kedar Tal : A crystal clear and transparent lake giving a feel of the chill waters, Kedar Tal is a spectacular creation of God. There is an entire 18 kms trek from Gangotri to Kedar Tal. This High Altitude Lake of Shiva, Kedartal also known as ‘Shiva’s Lake’ is one of the highest lakes in Uttarakhand. This immaculate glacial lake is seated at an elevation of 4,912 metres above sea level in the Uttarkashi district. Kedar Tal lake is formed by the melting of Kedar glacier, thereby giving birth to Kedar Ganga River which is an important tributary of Bhagirathi River.

How to Reach Gangotri (Base Camp)

For Gaumukh trek, you have to come to Dehradun before arriving home by flight or train.

Dehradun is the capital of the state of Uttarakhand, which is a beautiful city. Uttarkashi is a Beautiful market where you will stop for lunch of the day. You will reach Gangotri Camp which is the base for this trek. This is the only trek in the Ganga valley from where one can see Bhagirathi peak – I, II, III, Shivling Peak and Matri Peak, Raktvan. , all together. One can also see the Tapovan and Nill Tal (4400 mt) peaks from here.

One Can Reach Gangotri :

By Road : Book a taxi or drive yourself to reach Gangotri, which is around 300 km from Dehradun. It takes about 8 hours to cover the distance. It is well connected to Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Kotdwar, Roorkee, Chamba, Tehri, Barkot, Hanuman Chatti and Janki Chatti. There are bus services of Samyukt Rotation Yatayat Vyawastha Samiti available as well which connects Gangotri with many major centres in the region like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Tehri, Uttarkashi etc.

By Rail : The nearest railway station to Gangotri is Rishikesh 234 km before Gangotri, and is well connected by railway network with major destinations of India. From Rishikesh you will have to take a taxi to Gangotri

By Air : Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to Gangotri situated at a distance of 250 km. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights and Gangotri is well connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport. You can also hire helicopters to fly to Gangotri from Dehradun

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