The mythological story that goes behind River Ganga is perhaps the most interesting and powerful legend. It says that King Bhagirath carried out severe penance for several centuries to please Goddess Ganga to absolve the sins of his predecessors. Finally Goddess Ganga, daughter of heaven, agreed to his wish and decided to take form of river and flow on earth. But earth could not sustain the immense flow of Ganga and soon it was water everywhere. Lord Shiva then took the flowing Ganga in his hair locks to reduce the impact, henceforth, it flowed down in 12 streams of water. The stream at the source came to be known as Bhagirathi (named after Bhagirath), flowing like this since centuries, absolving the sins of mankind. The Submerged Shivling A submerged Shivling in water here stands reinforcing the legend that goes with River Bhagirathi here. It is said that the place where Shivling is submerged in water, Lord Shiva stood to receive Ganga in his locks. The Shivling submerged in water presents a mystical sight, though it is more visible in early winters when the water level goes down. The Temple The Templa at Gangotri, a shrine dedicated to Goddess Ganga stands on the banks of River Bhagirathi.
The three century old temple was made by Gorkhas here, their Commander Amar Singh Thapa, got it constructed here in the 18th century. The temple is open for pilgrims from October to May. In the months of winter when the area goes under a cover of snow, it is believed that the goddess retreats to Mukhba, 12 kilometres down. The main temple complex was renovated in early twentieth century. Made of white granite, the twenty feet tall temple stands beautifully reflecting in the sunshine and snow peaks in the backdrop. Close to the temple is a stone, or it is said that the temple was built close to this stone purposely. This is known as Bhaigirath shila, shila meaning rock. This is believed to be the place where Bhagiratha meditated for penance and Ganga first touched earth here.
Gangotri is one of the Char Dhams of Uttarakhand. It is situated in the magnificent Garhwal Himalayas at an elevation of 3048 meters and is 105 km from Uttarkashi. The Gangotri shrine is seen as the spiritual source of Hinduism's most sacred river, the Ganga.
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