Yamunotri is a sacred place encircled with mountains, greenery and purity. It is renowned for its famous thermal springs and glaciers. It is the first among the destinations of the Chota char Dham Yatra circuit. It is the source of the Yamuna river and the abode of goddess Yamuna. Yamunotri is cradled at a fluttering height of 3,293 metres in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. According to a past narrative, Asit muni, a revered sage resided here. The real source of the holy river Yamuna is a frozen lake of ice and glacier which is known as Champasar glacier on the Kalind Mountains. Since the authentic site of origin is distant and unapproachable, the temple is located at the foothill for devotees to offer prayers.
Historical And Mythological Significance
As per the mythological legend, goddess Yamuna was the daughter of Surya Dev and goddess Saranyu and was the sister of Yama Dev. Therefore, it is strongly believed that any devotee taking a holy dip in the Yamuna river not only gets the blessings of goddess Yamuna, goddess Saranyu and Surya Dev but also liberates itself from the fear of death by Yama’s grace.
Another local narrative suggests that Asit Muni residing at Yamunotri was in the habit of taking bath in both Yamuna and Ganga River on a daily basis. Over a period of time, he could not travel to the river Ganga due to the age factor. By the consent and favour of the divine force, a stream of river Ganga emerged close to Yamuna.
Places To Visit
Yamunotri temple has a shrine devoted to the goddess Yamuna on the left bank of the river constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. In due course of time, natural calamity like earthquake caused severe damage to a significant part of the ancient temple. Afterwards, the temple was repaired and renovated by Maharani Guleria Devi of Jaipur in the 19th century AD.
The architecture of the temple reveals purely Nagar style. The temple is made from granite stones and the top has a cone- shaped minaret which is pale yellow coloured with bright vermillion border. The divine mother is represented in the form of a deity made of black marble. Interior temple chambers consist of the Garbha Griha or Sanctum Sanctorium where mother idol resides and the Mandap or the assembly hall where pilgrims generally collect for worshipping.
Mangala Aarti is performed during the morning hours and Shayan Aarti in the evening. A puja kit is also available for the devotees to buy from the nearby shops and offer it to the deity. The list of auspicious things offered by the pilgrims are coconut, sugar, incense stick and things related to ‘Saubhagya’ or good fortune particularly for Hindu married women such as sindoor, bindi, red saree, comb, mirror, nailpolish etc.
The temple opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. From Akshay Tritiya to Bhai Duj, all devotees are welcomed here.
There are many hot water springs in the vicinity of the temple, the most famed being Suryakund. People tie rice and potatoes in a cloth and cook them in the hot water to offer it to the goddess and to take back home as prasada. There is a sacred shila near Suryakund known as Divya Shila which is worshipped before going to the temple.
How to Reach
The Yamunotri temple is located 13 kms from Hanuman Chatti and 6 kms walk from Janaki Chatti. Horses, ponies or palanquins are available for rent to reach Yamunotri temple.
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun. By train, the connectivity is only upto Rishikesh. The best road route to visit Yamunotri is via Dehradun and Barkot.