Udayavni Special

Legs and Wheels – The Journey Begins from Barkot

Team Udayavani, Oct 15, 2018, 12:50 PM IST

Our journey towards Dham Gangotri begins from Barkot as we have camped here. After trekking Yamunotri from Janaki Chatti, either by yourself or with the help of a horse or ‘doli’( palanquin) your body is strained and it needs rest as climbing down with assistance is not easy. There is one more important thing which a traveler must do before he sets on ‘Chardham’ is – biometric. Uttarakhand tourism has made it compulsory for the travelers to register. Travel agent/or service provider will assist the travelers in the procedure. It is better to keep a few copies of the permission ready, as we need to submit the details before we enter the ‘dham’ or while seeking loading or helicopter facilities it is mandatory.

We left Barkot early morning. Traveling 178 km in the Gangotri ranges early morning is heavenly. As we travel we cross many interesting points, among them – Prakateshwar, Uttarakashi, Hersil and Ganganeni are places you cannot miss. The travel time taken to reach Gangotri from Barkot is approximately 5 to 6hrs if there is no landslides or traffic congestion. The temple at Gangotri is open for darshan from morning 6.15 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 9.30 pm. 

Prakateshwar – The First stop

The journey from Barkot is a pleasant experience. The curvey road passing through pine forests, houses are seen either on top of the hills or down deep valleys are picturesque. The Prakateshwar cave lies between Barkot and Uttarkashi. It is an old cave which was recently excavated and has a lot of interesting stories to make a religious person believe how God appeared to save the land.

The cave has attained religious significance due to limestone formation of Lord Shiva. He is called as Panchamukhi- Lord with five faces. The carving resembling Brahma Kamal- the Mythical flower of gods is attractive. A small water spring ‘natural form of ma ( The mother) ’adds sanctity to the temple.  In the limestone formations, we see Lord Ganesh, Paravati, Nandi, and other Lord Shiva related formations.

To reach the temple which rests on a hillock on the highway, climb around 100 steps. Railings are there to support people who are in need. But the toughest job is to climb down 4-5 steps which are placed approximately 2 feet high.

Many travelers stop at Gupteshwar not only for temple visit but also for delightful parantas. Enjoy fresh and hot parantas ( wheat cakes) and move on.

Gangnani –   Stop here to take a holy dip!

As we move on the highway towards Gangotri we cross Uttarkashi, people stay at Uttarkashi to take a look around before proceeding to  Gangotri or alternative visit Gangotri first. We chose the later.  On our way we reach Gangnani.

Gangnani is noted for its thermal springs called Rishikund. A majority of the devotees take a holy dip in this natural hot water spring before heading towards Gangotri. There are separate kunds (bathing spots)  for both men and women, with comfortable changing rooms. However, it is important to remember here that carrying wet clothes is always a challenge.

The temple dedicated to Sage Parasara, father of Veda Vyas, attracts you. When we entered the temple it was a girl who was taking care of the temple and she elaborated the story behind Gangnani.

Please note there are no alternative methods we need to use our legs to climb 40 steps which are a combination of easy and tough. But, once you reach the temple it gives you a soothing effect. Situated on a small hillock the temple provides a magnificent view of the Himalaya, makes it a perfect spot for meditation.  That both hot and equally cold spring flows next to each other makes the traveler surrender to the wonders of mother nature.  Many give ‘tarpan’ in memory of their ancestors.

Essentials for the worship are available in and around temple premises.

Harsil –  In the lap of  River Bhagirathi

The next stop should be at Harsil. After heavy ‘Parantas’ in the morning actually, you do not feel hungry. And traveling on the terrain does not make stomach crave for food.  However, there is no dearth for an eating place on the highway. All these small ‘Dabhas’ – roadside eating joints, flash permanent board “ Breakfast, Lunch and Supper Ready” any time and front of all food joints you see these permanent banners.  There is so much to see, cannot afford to lose time on eating.

Harsil is an unspoiled and hidden jewel of Uttarakhand State offering ample scope for people seeking peace.  Situated on the Banks of river Bhagirathi, secured with the serenity of beautiful Himalayas establishes an indescribable feeling in the traveler and he starts becoming quite probably as quiet as his serene surroundings. 

Hars il, situated at an elevation of 2620mts above sea level is a place for nature lovers. The deodar forests, gushing Bhagirathi in summer goes frozen in winter. The salubrious environment of Harsil filled with apple orchids during the season is a favorite trekking adventures place for many.

Let ‘s go silent with nature for a while! Before we start our journey towards Gangotri. Har Har Gange!


 – Nandini Lakshmikantha

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