Gangotri Dham in Char Dham
Gangotri is one of the main holy places among the four Himalayan Char Dham pilgrimage areas. Gangotri is closely related to Goddess Ganga and the holy river that we know as Ganges. The river Ganga originates from the Gaumukhi glacier and is known as Bhagirathi here.
The name Bhagirathi is associated with King Bhagirath. According to hindu mythology King Sagara after killing all the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yagya to proclaim his supremacy. The horse of the yagya was accompanied by the kings 60000 sons born to his first Queen. Indra the supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the yagya succeeded, so he took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of a very powerful Sage named Kapil. The sons of the King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied at the ashram so they stormed the ashram of Sage Kapil. Kapil Sage in turn cursed the 60000 sons of King Sagra and all of them perished into ashes.
In order to relieve their forefathers of the curse King Bhagirath the grandson of King Sagara performed intense tapasya to please Goddess Ganga to come to earth and cleanse the ashes of his ancestors and liberate their souls granting them Moksha. He succeeded to please Goddess Ganga to come to earth but the earth came in danger because the force of Ganga would have destroyed earth, so Lord Shiva gathered Ganga into his locks to reduce the impact and Ganga descended to earth at Gangotri in the form of a River which is called Bhagarathi here as associated with Bhagirath. From Himalaya Ganga followed Bhagirathi on his way back to the planes of Northern India washing the ashes of his ancestors in the path and granting them Moksha. The hindu tradition of putting ashes of the dead ones for moksha in Ganges started from here.
The Gangotri Temple was built by a Gorkha Commander in the early years of the 18th century and have a natural Shivlinga submerged under water according to mythology this is the place where lord shiva was sitting when he received Ganga in his locks.Daily aarti ceremony is performed by the Pujaris here.The temple remains open from the month of May and get closed on the day of Diwali festival. It remains closed during other time as the place comes under severe winter conditions during winter. From Gangotri Bhagirathi reaches Devpriyag and merges into the river Alaknanda and from here the river is called the Ganga.
Other places in Char Dham