Uttarkashi District, Uttrakhand - Trekking
Yamunotri - Char Dham Yaatra Trek
Yamunotri is 40 km away from Barkot in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Yamunotri tour is going to be a very riveting experience for the pilgrim as the temple is located very close to the Indo-Chinese border and is surrounded by the mountains which are offshoots of the Himalayas from all the sides. The gates of the shrine open on the auspicious occasion of AkshayTritiya, in early May and closed after two days of Diwali or on Bhaiya Dooj, which falls between October end and November mid. The idol of Goddess Yamuna carried back to the temple from Kharsali village, she is worshipped during winters when temple is closed for public. Temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna who is the prime deity of this temple and it is made out of matte black marble. Yamunotri Temple Located on the left banks of the river Yamuna in the western region of the Garhwal Himalayas, the temple was built in 1939 by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal But, in 19th century the temple was destroyed by natural disaster and hence Maharani Gularia of Jaipur decided to reconstruct the temple on its actual place, which is situated today. Ideally the first destination for beginning the Chota Chardham Yatra in Yamunotri Dham showers its blessings to the pilgrims to have a safe and unforgettable spiritual journey ahead. There many holy shrines, ashrams and temple which are located in and around the Yamunotri Dham.
The frozen glacier lake also known as Yamunotri Glacier of Saptrishi Kund on the Kalindi Parbat is located Banderpoonch is the real source of the river Yamuna, at 4421 Metres also known as Kalindi. Yamunotri Temple is beautifully surrounded by loft peaks, forest, tree-capped mountains and widespread valley. The whole region remains snow-laden during winter and its always advisable to carry woolen clothes since the temperature falls below 0 Celsius; even during the summers, the weather is pretty cold. Yamunotri Dham is the place where pilgrims seek the blessings of Yamuna to have a moksha. As per beliefs if pray to Devi Yamuna, the Lord Yama (God of death) become happy because Yamuna is his sister. Yamuna is the second largest and one one holiest river in India after Ganga. Only Faith, Purity and Spiritual Significance of the river motivate the tourist towards itself. Unique aspects of ritual practice at the site include hot springs where raw rice is cooked and made into prasad. The journey to Yamunotri isn’t complete without preparing potato and rice in the hot spring of Surya Kund near the holy shrine. Some of the other attractions to explore visit to Yamunotri include Saptarishi Kund Lake, Hanuman Chatti, JankiChatti, DivyaShila, Surya Kund etc.
“A lone peak of high point is a natural focal point in the landscape, something by which both travelers and local orient themselves. In the continuum of landscape, mountains are discontinuity – culminating in high points, natural barriers, unearthly earth.” –-- Rebecca Solnit
The original Yamunotri Temple is said to have been built by Maharani Guleria of Jaipur in the 19th century. This legendary tale adds to the spiritual worth of the Dham.The Yamunotri temple is dedicated to goddess Yamuna, the main Deity of the temple is made up of Black marble. However, there are stories of the Yamunotri Shrine was originally constructed in 1839 by Maharaj Naresh Sudarshan Shah of Tehri Garhwal on left seashore of Yamuna River. The gates of the shrine open on the auspicious occasion of AkshayTritiya, in early May and closed after two days of Diwali or on Bhaiya Dooj, which falls between October end and November mid. Both closing and opening ceremonies of the Yamunotri shrine are brought about with celebrations, elaborate rituals and vedic chants. Due to destruction by weather and the elements, the temple has been renovated a couple of times. As per the mythological tales and beliefs, the Yamunotri Dham was a hermitage of a sage Asti Muni. Throughout his life, the sage daily bathed in both Ganges and Yamuna. However, in his old age he didn’t have the vigor to reach Gangotri, but his good deeds paid off and a stream of Ganges appeared opposite to Yamunotri for him. According to Hindu mythology, It is believed that Yamuna is the daughter of Surya the Sungod & the sister of Yama, the god of death. The main attraction to this Dham is the Yamunotri Temple.
Yamunotri Temple can be center stage of your vacation plans, Its located in Yamunotri. The holy abode of Goddess Yamuna is situated near the foot of Kalind Parbat (peak) and on a side of Banderpoonch Parbat. Temple has been restored many times due to the calamities occurred here. A legends says that anyone bathing in this river is spared a painful death. The temple contains a silver idol of Yamuna, decked with garlands along with an image of her brother, Yama. Those who have good physical condition, you can continue from the temple towards the galcier, until the source of the sacred river Yamuna. The gates open on AkshayTritiya, in early May and closed after two days of Diwali or on Bhaiya, Dooj, inbetween October/November. The temple is small, with many people and priests performing rituals The way to arrive is beautiful, with a majestic view of the Himalayas. Devi's winter address is Kharsali village where she reaches in a palanquin and will remain for the entire period of winters. A little before the temple there are good places to eat. The main attraction at Yamunotri is the temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal Sulphur springs, almost 7 km away at Janki Chatti. One of the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites, the stunning setting of the temple is enough to fill the hearts of the devotees with wonder. Mountains high and vegetated. Its 6 Km walking distance, you can climb by foot or by mule, the road is paved. Yamuna River jets down from one side of the temple, which houses Goddess Yamuna in the form of a black marble idol. The trudge from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri is very pleasing with striking visions of number of cascades.
MYTHOLOGIES BEHIND YAMUNOTRI
Yamunotri Dham’s mythological significance is narrated in a popular legend that is related to sage Asit Muni who lived here and used to bathe in the Ganges and the Yamuna River daily. However, in his old age he didn’t have the vigor to reach Gangotri, but his good deeds paid off and a stream of Ganges appeared opposite to Yamunotri for him. Also, Goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Surya Dev (the Sun God) and sister of Yama (the God of Death). It is believed that worshipping the Yamuna would also please Sun God and Yama. This legendary tale adds to the spiritual worth of the Dham.
Another legend says, As per Hindu mythology place Goddess Yamuna is the daughter of Sun God or Surya and the sister of Yamraj, the god of death. in high ranks of divinity. Yamunotri stands proudly with its enormous mountain peaks, glaciers and gushing waters of Yamuna. The venerated goddess Yamuna is said to be the daughter of Sun and twin sister of Yama (the god of death); in Vedas, Yamuna is called Yami (lady of life). A bath in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is said to cleanse all sins and protect from untimely or painful death.
Another legend says, Lord Hanuman doused the fire of his tail after burning Ravan's Lanka in the chilly waters of Yamuna at Banderpooch. That is why the peak is called Bander (monkey) Pooch (tail) - monkey's tail.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AROUND YAMUNOTRI
BADKOT : Barkot or Badkot, lies about 49 km away from Yamunotri and 61 km from Uttarkashi, Barkot have one of the ancient temple and known for its peaceful atmosphere that promotes meditation. Situated at an altitude of 1220 meters on the banks of the Yamuna River in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand., Barkot is a wonderful trekking destination, which is further complemented by the spouting water of the holy Yamuna River.. Visit the temples and shrines here and take a walk around on the mountain paths and admire the Bandarpoonch peaks of the Himalayas in the distance.
SURYA KUND : Very near to the Yamuna Devi temple there are many hot water springs; the most significant among them is the Surya Kund. This hot water spring gets its name from Yamuna River which is considered to be the offspring of Surya, believed to be the father of Yamuna. There are a number of thermal springs in the vicinity of the temple which flows into numerous pools. Devotees often fasten rice and potatoes in a cotton cloth and dip it in the water to be cooked, perfectly boiled in just minutes and consider them a Prasad (religious offering) from Goddess Yamuna. The temperature of Surya Kund is around 88°C.
KHARSALI : At 1 km from JankiChatti, 9 km from Hanuman Chatti and 6 km from Yamunotri, Kharsali is a little village at 2675 meter. Also known as the home of Goddess Yamuna during winters when Yamunotri inaccessible due to heavy snowfall. Kharsali with its wild exciting surroundings and rugged ambiance beauty will go straight to your heart. Lord Shiva in the Someshwar form inhabits an ancient 3-storied temple with beautiful wood work and stone carvings. Another interesting attraction here is an ancient Lord Shiva temple. Here Lord Shiva is depicted in his Someshwar form. The thermal springs, dazzling cascades and a lovely rolling meadow with oak and conifer trees, are the major attractions, presents natures beauty at its zenith. It is believed that the temple was built by the Pandavas. The Bronze idol of Lord Shani Dev is kept here along with the Chaaya, the Sangya and Nag Devta. There is a belief that these Urns change their position themselves on Purnima and Amawasya.
HANUMAN CHATTI : Hanuman Chatti is used to be a halting place for pilgrims where Yamuna and Ganga Rivers confluence. 13 km from Yamunotri, 8 km from JankiChatti and 36 km from Barkot, is a small hamlet on the way to Yamunotri at 2400 meters altitude. A Samadhi on the left of temple of Himalaya Giri, a saint who lived and meditated in Hanuman Chatti. On top of the shrine there is a Shiva Linga. A six hours climb through the lustrous meadows and the aromatic fragrance of the Himalayan shrubs provides one with sheer amusement. The best trekking excursion is towards Darwa Top and Dodi Tal. Trek to Dodi Tal from where the view is simply enchanting.
DIVYA SHILLA : The Yamunotri temple is surrounded by thermal springs and the DivyaShila, which literally means heavenly divine rock. All the devotees make poojas here at DivyaShila before they enter Yamunotri. It is a strong rock pillar situated near the Surya Kund. According to Skanda Purana, with a mere touch of the sacred rock one can attain spiritual liberation. Located at 3000 metres high, this rock pillar next to Surya Kund is another pilgrim attraction.
JANKI CHATTI : A small town has transport facility located on the way to Yamunotri is famous for its natural bed of thermal springs, merely 7 kilometers away from Yamunotri at 2700 meter altitude and acts as an alternative base for treks. Most pilgrims take here a night halt. You can also proceed to Kharsali, a picnic spot. Janki Chatti is also known for cosseting the virgin splendor of nature. You can relax in the hot springs and admire the beauty of the gigantic mountains all day long.
SAPTARISHI KUND : Sapt Rishi Kund is another superlative spot in the Yamunotri itinerary. Hindus believe the Yamuna originates at SaptarshiKund and as such it is held in high reverence. This natural stunning lake with shades of grayish murky bluish waters flowing water and pebbly bank, will require you to walk a long track to reach SaptRishi Kund. A popular natural lake a top 4421 metres, it is considered to be where Yamuna originates. At a distance of 10 km from Yamunotri Temple, SaptarishiKund is the original source of Yamuna River fed by Champasar Glacier situated in the upper parts of the massif created by Bandarpunch Mountain. The rare Braham Kamal found near to this dazzling lake works like an icing on the cake. You will also meet many exotic birds and glaciers on your way. Around 5 km up the hill a little camp site between two rivulets to pitch tent for a night. It is believed that seven great Rishis Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadwaj, Viswamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Vasistha performed penance at Saptrishi Lake in ancient times.
BANDARPUNCH : It is located at an altitude of 6316 Meter, a joint product of three cirque glaciers. The glacier is highly significant as it acts as one of the prime sources of fresh water for the Yamuna basin. The glacier offers excellent trekking opportunities. Enthusiasts can start trekking in the summer months of May and June. Trek route to Bandarpunch glacier in Uttarakhand goes through Sankri-Saur, Taluka, Osia and finally Ruinsara Tal.
BALI PASS TREK : At a distance of 9 km from Yamunotri, Bali Pass is one of the least explored treks in the Indian Himalayan region that connects Har Ki Dun Valley with Yamunotri. Bali Pass is situated at an elevation of about 4,800 meter. It attract trekkers during the season when the snow melts and the pass is approachable. It start from Sankri, which is 153 km from Mussoorie and 130 km from Yamunotri by road. The trekking trail stretches for 7-8 days with elevation 1,900 meter to 4,800 meter, The Bali Pass Trek after crossing the Har Ki Dun valley moves through the Ruinsara Tal.
DODI TAL : The Dodital considered is a mysterious lake, which as per the mythological beliefs is the birthplace of Lord Ganesha. This wonderful marvel of the nature is situated at a height of around 3307 meters above the sea level and is beautifully enveloped by the dense woods of deodar, oak and rhododendrons.
DAYARA BUGYAL : In the local language Bugyal means a high altitude meadow, and this is Dayara Bugyal. Located at a height of 3048 meters, a wonderful 28 km stretched land of lush green carpet. If you desire to get the taste of real beauty. The highlight is a small natural lake, Barnala Tal. The lush green high altitude meadow comes as a delightful surprise. There are craggy peaks and dense forests for an all round experience at this scenic and rustically charming location.
GANGNANI : Return to Uttarkashi and then head off in another direction to Gangnani, a spiritual retreat known for its hot water springs. From here you can proceed to Gangotri, if you like or head for the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary with its typical alpine flora and fauna and the prized snow leopard. Stay at the rest house in Hari-ki-Dun, a lush green valley.
BEST TIME TO VISIT YAMUNOTRI
Yamunotri has an all year cold climate. Yamunotri remains cold almost throughout the year while in summers it becomes a little pleasant. Due to its high altitude location, Yamunotri Dham remains open to the devotees for only a brief period of six months. Winters here are too cold, making it difficult for the travelers to explore this place. Winters during October to March are chilly freeze have temperatures at sub-zero level and are characterized by heavy snowfalls. In the monsoon season, Yamunotri features heavy rainfall again causing a little bit of disruption while journeying to this place. The April is opening of the portals of this sacred Hindu shrine as the snow melts. If you wish to discover its rare culture, visit this place during festivals like Basant Panchami and Phool Devi. The temple closes right after the festival of Diwali and its deity is moved to Kharsali Village to be worshipped for next six months of winter season. Best periods to visit Yamunotri are during May to June and September to November.
HOW TO REACH
ROUTE 1 : Delhi - Rishikesh - Narendernagar - Tehri - Dharasu - Badkot - Hanuman Chatti - Janki Chatti - Yamunotri
ROUTE 2 : Delhi - Dehradun - Mussoorie - Chamba - Tehri - Dharasu - Badkot - Hanuman Chatti - Janki Chatti - Yamunotri
BY AIR : Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to Yamunotri, which is situated at Uttarakhand. Taxis are available from Jolly Grant Airport to Yamunotri. There is a daily flight from Delhi to Dehradun
BY TRAIN : The nearest railway station to Yamunotri is at Haridwar and Dehradun, Take the overnight train, which is situated Yamunotri. Yamunotri is well connected with major destinations of Garhwal.
BY ROAD : Yamunotri is well connected with motorable roads, Buses carry pilgrims from New Delhi to Yamunotri via Haridwar and Rishikesh in summer months. Rishikesh is the major starting point for road journey to Yamunotri.
WHAT ARE THE RISK INVOLVED ?
Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS): Shortness breath, Mild headache & Tiredness are some common in high altitude trek. Risk of being hit by AMS is considerably low but you are advised to be on a course of Diamox. In case of any medical emergencies, there are easy exit points on this trek, means evacuation will generally not take more than 24 hours.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR TREK
Prepration: Fight again sub-zero temperatures, carry multi layers throughout winter trek and practice carrying packed backpack to comfortable with it. Carrying dry fruits fruits and also carry energy bar, energy drinks like Gatorade/Electral (ORS) to avoid dehydration will help on trek since they provide instant energy. The ascent-descent during the trek demands level of fitness. Begin your fitness preparation, jogging 5 Km in 30 minute before One month or two before start the trek, stretching exercises for flexibility are important so you don’t get cramps in trek. You must carry few essentials things like a day pack, a pair of comfortable walking shoes, trekking pants, woollen clothing, windproof jacket, sunglasses, sun cap, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, walking stick, water bottle, personal toiletries and torch with extra batteries.