Shri Yamunotri Temple
The mythological source of river Yamuna is traditionally regarded as the starting point of the ‘Char Dham Yatra’. The sacred site is perched at an altitude of 3,293 metres on the western face of the Banderpoonch mountain (6,316 m.). Sapta Rishi Kund, the actual source of the river Yamuna is a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champaran glacier) at an altitude of 4421 metres, about 1 km. further up from Yamunotri. The trek to the actual originating point is quite difficult and very few people visit the site.
The spectacular Yamuna valley called as Rawal Ghati is endowed with awe-inspiring beauty.
Yamunotri Temple: The temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna was originally a wooden structure built by king Sudarshan Shah of Tehri and was later rebuilt by Maharaja Pratap Singh of Tehri. The present structure enshrining a black marble idol of the presiding deity was constructed during the late 19th century by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur on the left bank of river Yamuna. The temple was destroyed during an earthquake in 1923. It was rebuilt and was again damaged in 1982. Asit Muni, the legendary sage is said to have lived here in a hermitage. He used to follow the daily ritual of bathing in the waters of Yamuna and Ganga, but during his old age it was difficult for him to reach Gangotri, thus a stream of Ganga appeared opposite Yamunotri for him.
The temple opens on the auspicious day of akshya-tritya (Apr./May) and closes on the day of Diwali (Oct./Nov.). During winters even the priests (pandas) of the temple return back to their village Kharsali near Jankichatti and literally the valley is devoid of any human presence.
Divya Shila or the slab of divine light: The sacred rock pillar near the Surya Kund is worshipped before entering the Yamunotri Temple:
Surya Kund: There are a number of hot springs formed due to volcanic heat around Yamunotri temple. The most important among them is the Surya Kund, with the temperature of water rising up to 87.77°C (190°F).
The blistering water immediately cooks potatoes and rice tied loosely in a piece of cloth, which are mainly used as prasad (offerings) for the deity. These are taken as prasad by the pilgrims.
Sapta Rishi Kund: It is the actual source of the river Yamuna. To trek up to here is a true test of endurance
Legends of Ganga
According to Hindu mythology goddess Yamuna and Yama, the God of Death are the twins born to Lord Surya (Sun) and Sangya, the Goddess of consciousness. It is said that Sangya could not bear the heat of Sun and created her clone named Chhaya, who took her place. One day the child Yama tried to kick Chhaya and she cursed Yama angrily that his leg would rot and fall off. It is said that when Yamuna came down on the earth, she underwent severe penance to absolve her brother Yama from the curse of Chhaya. Yama was very happy with Yamuna and offered her a boon. Thus Yamuna asked her brother to safe guard her devotees from untimely death. It is believed that anyone bathing in the waters of the river is spared of a painful death and attains moksha.
The Surya Kund near the Yamuna shrine is regarded as the blessing of Sun God for her daughter. The mountain adjacent to the source of river Yamuna is named Kalinda Parvat, after Lord Surya, who is also known as Kalinda.
- Altitude: 3,293 metres (10,804 ft)
- Best Time: May-June & Sept-Nov
- Darshan Timing: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Places to visit: Divya Shila, Surya Kund, Saptrishi Kund.
- How to reach: Haridwar – Barkot – Jankichatti – Yamunotri Temple.
- Where to Stay : Barkot or Jankichatti
- Trek / Walking : 5- 6 kms Trek from Jankichatii to Yamunotri Temple.