Yamunotri – The Origin of the Sacred River Yamuna

Yamunotri, one among the Four Pilgrimage Sites (Char Dham) of Hindus, is situated in the west of the Garhwal hills of the Uttarkashi district in the Uttarakhand state of India. Lying on the Lower Himalayan Range at 3235 m and close to Indo-Chinese border, it is the source of the holy river Yamuna and the seat of Goddess Yamuna (The Celestial Sister of the God of Death). The actual source of the river is at the Yamunotri Glacier on 6387 m near the Bandar punch peaks.

Yamunotri is revered by Hindus from all over the world for the temple of the goddess Yamunotri built in 19th century. The Shrine of Yamunotri is situated in the opposite direction to Gangotri.

Legend
According to legend, holy Yamuna is the daughter of the Sun God, Surya and the Goddess of Consciousness, Sangya. Along with this, Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of death. This makes this place holy for any Hindu with a purpose that anyone who bathes in the waters of the river will never undergo a painful death.

Another legend says that the worshipped sage, Asit Muni, dwelled here in the ancient days.

History
The Yamunotri Temple is said to be built by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century. But, later it was damaged by a devastating earthquake in 1923 A.D. and was then again remodeled. Even after this, the temple witnessed another setback in 1982 and was demolished. Currently, the temple is located about 6 km below the glacier. However, the formal website of the district claims that the temple was initially built by Maharaj Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.

Yamunotri Tourist Attraction

Yamunotri Temple:
Yamunotri Temple
Yamunotri Temple
This is the major tourist attraction. Dedicated to the river Yamuna, the temple symbolizes her as a silver idol adorned with garlands. Accessible via a 13 km hike from the Hanuman Chatti town or a 6 km walk from Janki Chatti, this temple is also reached via a rented horse or palanquin. I recommend to opt for hike from Hanuman Chatti, as it is quite scenic with attractive glimpses of a myriad of waterfalls. From Hanuman Chatti, there are two trekking routes. One of them is along the right bank through the holy Markendeya Tirtha marking the location of the sage Markandeya having been written the Markandeya Purana, while the other is along the left bank of the river via Kharsali taking your five or six hours. Near the temple, the hot water pool (thermal springs) is the place where a hold dip is performed and the Prasad (sanctified offerings) is prepared for the deity, mostly rice and potatoes. These are cooked by tying them into a muslin cloth and sinking into the water as hot as 190 degrees Fahrenheit of the pool named Surya Kund. Another hot water spring is the Gauri Kund whose lukewarm waters are appropriate for bathing. Before entering the temple, pilgrims first worship the Divya Shilla, a rock pillar.

Janki Chatti:
Janki Chatti
Janki Chatti
This is located at a distance of 7 km from Yamunotri and is famous for its two kunds of thermal springs. It is here that accommodation facilities are available for tourists.

Kharsali:
Kharsali Village
Kharsali Village
Located at a distance of 1 km away from Janki Chatti, this is the last town in the area. Here, the attraction is a temple of three storeys possessing carved stones on its walls and dedicated to a form of Lord Shiva – Someshwar, the God of the intoxicant Soma. Do take a glimpse of the elaborate woodwork here.

Saptarishi Kund:
Saptarishi Kund
Saptarishi Kund
This is located at a distance of 10 km from Yamunotri and is believed to be the real origin of the river. Mostly remaining sprinkled with ice, the place is even more famous for the production of the unusual Brahma lotus flower. Many people come here for picnic due to its beautiful location.

Barkot:
Barkot
Barkot
Located 49 km from Yamunotri, this is a tiny settlement whose highlights are an ancient temple and enough facilities for traveling.

Sayanachatti:
Sayanachatti
Sayanachatti
Located at 29 km from Barkot, this is another worth visiting place for its picturesque spot on the banks of river Yamuna.

Hanuman Chatti:
Hanuman Chatti
Hanuman Chatti
Located at a distance of 13 km from Yamunotri, this is the town standing at the meeting place of the Hanuman Ganga and Yamuna rivers where the trekking trail to the Dodi Tal begins. You can seek for good accommodation here also.

The Dodital Trek:
The Dodital Trek
The Dodital Trek
This is the famous trail that connects Gangotri and Yamunotri and is taken up by many pilgrims and travelers. Beginning from Kalyani while traveling to Gangotri from Uttar Kashi, it subsequently passes Agoda, Dodi Tal (3024 m), Darwa Top (4130 m), Shima, and lastly ends at Hanuman Chatti. About 60 km long, the trekking on this route is completed in some four days.

Other Trekking Routes:
These include from Hanuman Chatti to Phul Chatti and from Janki Chatti to Kharsali.

Best Visiting Time
May to October, as during the rest of the months; the temple remains closed due to heavy snowfall. Do carry woolen clothes.

Yamunotri Accommodation
Ashrams, Dharamshalas, and some guesthouses are the only form of stays here. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) Tourist houses at Janki Chatti and Yamunotri are good options to reserve a stay; all of them are almost dormitories. The Ramananda Dharamshala and Jankichatti Tourist Rest House are a better accommodation to check out. Kindly bear in mind that alcohol and non-vegetarian food is prohibited, so please adhere to these rules.

For food, there are Dhabas (open-air restaurants of a rural style) offering simple vegetarian items.

Reaching Yamunotri

By Air:
The Jolly Grant airport of Dehradun located at 196 km is the nearest one.
By Rail:
The nearby stations are Dehradun at 172 km and Rishikesh at 213 km. From these two and the temple town of Haridwar, it is a full day journey.
By Road:
There is no direct road to Yamunotri. You can come to Hanuman Chatti by catching a bus from Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Badkot, Haridwar, and Dehradun. I recommend to take up the road from Dehradun to Hanuman Chatti, as it is very scenic and you can view the magnificent Kempti Falls and Mussoorie on the way.
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