High in the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, the small town of Gangotri sits at the heart of the sacred region of Garhwal. One of the most physically beautiful and spiritually important areas in northern India, Garhwal is revered as the source of both the Ganges and Yamuna, India’s two mightiest rivers.

Stunning scenery at Garhwal, source of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers
Stunning scenery at Garhwal, source of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers

Gangotri is traditionally regarded as the spiritual source of the Ganges, and its small but vibrant temple attracts a steady stream of pilgrims and colorfully attired sadhus (holy men), who mingle with the few western tourists and trekkers who make it this far into the mountains.

Much of the town’s appeal is drawn from its magnificent setting. The surrounding countryside offers beautiful walks through deodar cedar forests, with dramatic views of snow- capped peaks.

Two of the most rewarding trails are those that lead to the spectacular (though steadily retreating) Gangotri Glacier and the high- altitude oasis of Chirbasa. There are also longer hiking routes leading deeper into the mountains, including an overnight trek to the ice-cave of Gaumukh (“Cow’s Mouth”), the official source of the Ganges, which is best visited at sunrise.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around Gangotri is beautifully remote and the journey requires several changes. Travel by air to Delhi, then by bus 140 miles (225 km) to Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand. You can take a further bus, or arrange a jeep, to travel the last 155 miles (250 km) to Gangotri.

Where to Stay and Eat Accommodations in Gangotri are very limited, but the GMVN Tourist Bungalow is a comfortable place both to stay and to eat.

When to Go Between May and October.

Budget per Day for Two US$35

Leave a Comment