Gangotri is one of the most sacred Hindu temples located in the Uttarakashi district of Uttarakhand. Gangotri is located at a height of 3,038 meters above sea level. Today in this article, we have shared all the Gangotri Temple History and legends about the formation of the sacred Gangotri Dham.
Yamunotri temple is surrounded by mountains on all sides and lies in close proximity to the Indo-China border. It is known for offering peace and tranquillity to its visitors.
Gangotri gets its name from the famous River Ganga dedicated to Goddess Ganga. The place is famous not only because of the temple but also because of its natural scenic beauty.
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganga and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand.
The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alakananda.
The origin of the holy river Ganga is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
History of Gangotri Temple
Ancient & Vedic History of Gangotri Temple
It is not possible to describe Ganga from a religious point of view.
In view of this immense importance of Ganga, it is described in “Narad Purana”. Ganga is a pilgrimage in itself.
The description of Ganga is done with reverence and respect in almost all the scriptures. The glory of the Ganga is described in Rigveda, Vedic literature, and Puranas.
The most description of the glory of Ganga is found in the Puranas.
इमं मे गंगे यमुने सरस्वती शतुद्रि स्तोमं सचता परूष्णया।
असिकन्या मरूद्धे वितस्तयार्जीकीये श्रृणुहृया सुषोमया।।
In all Puranas like Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Shiva Purana, Brahma Purana, Matsya Purana, Narada Purana, Markandeya Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana, Vamana Purana etc. you can find detailed description of Maa Ganga.
Who Built Gangotri Temple
After the Destructive earthquake of 1803, the Gangotri temple was rebuilt in 1807 by the Gorkha Raja Amar Singh Thapa.
Amar Singh Thapa appointed the Priests of Mukhwa to worship the Gangotri temple and donated the forest from Mukhwa to Gangotri to the temple.
The Khas Rajput of Taknor is the priest of Gangotri before Mukhwa Priests.
Modern Structure of Gangotri Temple
The credit for building the present temple of Gangotri is given to the Jaipur king Madho Singh in the early twentieth century. They also built the Jaipuria temple in Uttarkashi.
The present temple of Gangotri was carved out of white-spotted granite blocks installed on a high platform. which is 20 feet tall.
The entrance of the temple is in the east direction and a huge Sikhar was built on top of 10 small Angshikhars.
History of Ganga Water
2 thousand years ago, Charak had made a law in the Charak Samhita to take Ganga water as a wholesome.
In 1060, Chakra Panidutt first presented the authenticity of the Osdhiya properties of Ganga water by scientific teaching and comparative study.
Notable Legend about Gangotri Temple
According to this legend, King Sagara, after slaying, the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yagya as a proclamation of his supremacy.
The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King’s 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani.
Indra, the supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the “Yagya” (worship with fire) succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Sage Kapila, who was then in deep meditation.
The sons of King Sagara searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating sage. 60,000 angry sons of King Sagara stormed the Ashram of sage Kapila.
When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapila.
Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.
Who discovered Gangotri?
It was very difficult to reach here before the establishment of the British state in Uttarakhand in 1815.
In 1808, the task of exploring the source of the Ganges was entrusted to the team of Captain Reaper, Webb, and Hearsey by order of the Surveyor’s Journal of the East India Company.
The description of this investigative trip of Captain Ripper is published in 1818 in Part 11th of the Asiatic Researches. But His team could not go beyond Bhatwadi.
An Indian trained by him completed the 55-mile journey from Bhatwadi to Gangotri-Gomukh in 8 days with great difficulty, In which he put his life on the line.
J.B Fraser also reached Gangotri in 1816 via Himanchal, Jonsar, Yamunotri. He described it in “The Himala Mountain” after seeing this pilgrimage place.