Located at a height of 3290 meters above sea level in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, the Yamunotri Dham is the first holy destination of the Chardham Yatra. This Dham is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, who is deemed to be the daughter of the Sun God, Surya Dev. The main shrine lies in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, but the actual source of river Yamuna, Sapt Rishi Kund (a frozen lake of ice and glacier) is located on the Kalindi Mountain at a height of 4,421 meters above sea level. From the Kalindi Parvat the river flows down to the Bandar Poonch range, which is embellished by wild blooms.
History of the Yamunotri Dham
As per the mythological tales and beliefs, the Yamunotri Dham was a hermitage of a sage Asti Muni. Throughout his life, the sage daily bathed in both Ganges and Yamuna. However, in his old age he didn’t have the vigor to reach Gangotri, but his good deeds paid off and a stream of Ganges appeared opposite to Yamunotri for him. This legendary tale adds to the spiritual worth of the Dham. Furthermore, the main attraction to this Dham is the Yamunotri Temple. This temple also has various legends associated with it. To know about them, keep reading.
The Main Shrine – Yamunotri Temple
Addressed to the Goddess Yamuna, one of the most pious rivers in India, the Yamunotri Temple is among the highly visited pilgrimage destinations. The original shrine was constructed in the year 1839 by Tehri Naresh Sudarshan Shah. However, a catastrophic earthquake damaged the temple severely. Later in the 19th century, the temple was rebuilt by the Maharani Gularia of Jaipur. However, thereafter also, the shrine has witnessed various phases of reconstruction because of the impact of different natural disasters. .
Spelling out the work of architects par excellence, the black idol of Goddess Yamuna and white idol of Goddess Ganga is a spectacular treat to watch.
Blaming it either on the legends, on mythological tales or on the spiritual worth, the Yamunotri Temple witnesses a great rush of devotees and tourists every year.
What is the best time to visit the Yamunotri Temple?
The gates of the shrine open on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya, which falls somewhere in early May and are closed after two days of Diwali, which falls between October end and November mid.
Popular tourist attractions in Yamunotri
There are various religious places amid the pious surroundings of the Yamunotri Dham. A few to name are stated as follows:
Located near the holy shrine of Yamunotri, Surya Kund is a natural hot water spring. The temperature of this spring is around 1900 °F. This temperature is quite sufficient to cook food within minutes. The water of this thermal spring is used to make prasad of the main temple.
As per the beliefs, it is important to pay homage at Divya Shila before entering the main shrine. Divya Shila is a strong rock pillar situated near the Surya Kund. It is deemed that this rock pillar is the idol of the deity and devotees need to bow their head down here first.
Sapt Rishi Kund
Another natural marvel counted among the best places for sightseeing in Yamunotri is the Sapt Rishi Kund. This natural lake with grayish blue water and pebbly bank is the source of River Yamuna. Adventure lovers are fond of visiting this lake as the trail to the Kund is not everyone’s cup of tea. This beautiful lake is also acknowledged for the presence of the exotic Braham Kamal (a rare flora species). So, basically, the Saptrishi Lake is a splendid spot that provides picturesque vistas of the nature.
Popular Tourist Attractions near Yamunotri
Though the Yamunotri Shrine is the main attraction of the place, but en-route, there are various other tourist charms that allure both pilgrims and random travelers. Some of the major tourist attractions that fall in the way are stated as follows:
Situated just 13 kilometers from Yamunotri, the Hanuman Chatti is the starting point of both Yamunotri and Dodital Trek. It is basically the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna River. Further, this region is more famous as a beautiful trekking spot. Right from the splendid hills to the aromatic meadows, everything that defines trekking as a beautiful expedition, is found here.
Merely 7 kilometers away from Yamunotri, Janki Chatti is worth a visit. This place is famous for its natural thermal springs. Moreover, surrounded by mountains from all sides, Janki Chatti is also known for cosseting the virgin splendor of nature.
Located very close to Janki Chatti, Kharsali is among the best places for sightseeing around Yamunotri. The thermal springs, dazzling cascades and a lovely meadow with oak and conifer trees, are the major attractions in Kharsali. In addition to this, there is also an ancient temple addressed to Lord Shiva that fetches tourism for the place. It is a three-storied temple that presents interesting and creative wood and stone work.
Situated at an altitude of 1220 meters, Barkot is a wonderful trekking destination. It is just 49 kilometers away from Yamunotri and is known for providing a perfect sight of the Banderpoonch peak along with various other Himalayan ranges. The place is also famous for its serene landscape, which is further complemented by the spouting water of the holy Yamuna River. Moreover, amidst all these picture-perfect beauties is an ancient temple that is much visited by the tourists.
The Dodital is a mysterious lake, which as per the mythological beliefs is the birthplace of Lord Ganesha. The reason why it is considered a mysterious lake is, its depth is still unknown to people. Furthermore, this wonderful marvel of the nature is situated at a height of around 3307 meters above the sea level and is beautifully enveloped by the dense woods of deodar, oak and rhododendrons.
In the local language of Uttarkashi, Bugyal means a high altitude meadow. One adjective needs to be added to this definition – a ‘beautiful’ high altitude meadow and this is what Dayara Bugyal is. Located at a height of 3048 meters, the Dayara Bugyal is a wonderful 28 kilometer stretched land of lush green carpet. The major highlight of the place is a small natural lake, Barnala Tal.
This was just a glimpse of the places in and around the Yamunotri Dham. If you desire to get the taste of real beauty and legends of all these places, you need to visit them in person.
How to Reach Yamunotri
By Air: The nearest airport to Yamunotri is the Jolly Grant Airport. It is located just 210 kilometers from the Dham. The airport is well connected to Delhi & Mumbai and thus, the visitors can easily avail flights from the capital and metro city. After reaching the Jolly Grant Airport, one can avail a taxi to reach Hanuman Chatti.
By Rail: There are two railway stations close to Yamunotri – Rishikesh and Dehradun. The Rishikesh railway station is 200 kilometers before Yamunotri on NH58 and the Dehradun station is 175 kilometers from the Dham. Both the stations are properly connected through the railway networks of India. Hence, boarding a train to Rishikesh or Dehradun is convenient for a traveler. . Once reached the Rishikesh station, visitors can take a bus or taxi to reachfurther destinations.
By Road: Yamunotri is not directly connected with the motorable roads, even the trek begins from Hanuman Chatti. However, Hanuman Chatti is well connected with the major destinations of Uttarakhand by roads. Buses from Rishikesh are easily available to reach Hanuman Chatti.
Where to stay during Yamunotri Yatra
Devotees during their pilgrimage to Yamunotri find their hosts in various deluxe accommodation options. There are also a lot of comfortable and budget hotels in Yamunotri that offer second-to-none hospitality services. To name a few:
These hotels in Yamunotri ensure that the pilgrims are facilitated with top class amenities and matchless comfort.