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  GANGOTRI

The Ganges is India's most sacred river. Hindus believe its waters to have flowed eternally. It's source is said to be the summit of Mt. Meru; the mythical mountain at the centre of the universe. From there the river descends to earth via Lord Shiva's matted hair, which cushions it's falls. It is worshipped by Hindu's as the goddess Ganga and the great cities of Varanasi, Allahabad and Haridwar on it's banks are amongst the most important pilgrim places in India. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges to cleanse themselves of the Marma of previous and current lives, and so ensure an auspicious rebirth. The closest temple to the sources of Ganges lies 10,300 feet up in the small mountain village of Gangotri, half days climb on foot from the town Rishikesh. "Gaumukh" the actual source of the Ganges is at 13,858 feet; a further days walk ahead to where the Gangotri glacier meets the Bhagirathi river. Prayer plags and small shrines mark the source. A good place to meditate in solitude. Beyond the gorge where the Jadh Ganga meets the Bhagirathi, heralding the approach of the Gangotri temple, the narrow, Bhagirathi Ravine, dramatic and beautifully wooded, opens out into a valley flanked by jagged snowy peaks.  On the slopes clothed with birch trees (Bhoj-patra) their trunks wrapped in a paper like tissue used in ancient days for writing scriptures, are groups of giant pillars of boulder clay topped by boulders.  Over 20 to 30 metres (65 to 100 feet) tall they, as it were stand guard as giant sentinels of the Valley of the Gods-Demurely at the end of this portion of the valley stands a simple edifice to the Goddess Ganga built in the eighteenth century, by Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa, on the same spot near Shrikanth Parvat where Bhagirath eat and prayed for 5,500 years and where came the Pandvas to atone for the death of their kinsmen.  Standing on pillars on the right bank of the river at a height of 3,200 metres (10,500 ft) the slopes surrounding the temple indicate the level of the bed of the past giant glacier, while the tiny village is full of giant deodars and conifers.  Here the river flows north, giving the village its name Gangotri - Ganga turned North.

General Information:
Altitude                : 3,200 mt.

Climate
Summer               : Cool during the day and cold at night.
Winter                  : Snow-bound.  Touching sub-zero.

Clothing
Summer                : Light woolens.
Winter                   : Very heavy woolens.
Languages            : Hindi, Garhwali and English.

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