Uttarkashi is situated at an altitude of 1160 mts. It is 150 kms. from Rishikesh on the bank of holy Ganga – Bhagirathi, drawing pilgrims and tourists alike to its numerous temples and natural picturesque vistas. It is an old town came into formal existence on 24th Feb. 1960, bordering Tibet and China. It is an ideal destination for eco and cultural tourism. It is famous for its melas and festivals. And also it is a spiritual centre accommodating over 300 ‘sadhus’ and ‘sanyasins’.
Vishwanath temple is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Northern India. Re-constructed in 1857 by Maharani Khaneti Devi of Tehri State in the ancient architectural style. It is situated at the heart of the town. A massive iron trident, symbolic of divine mother’s, is erected and worshiped from time immemorial at the temple complex. Ganeshji, Sakshi Gopal, Markandeya Rishi’s small shrines are also part of the temple complex. Akhand Jyoti as well as Akhand Abhishek, special aarti at morning and evening are offered. As per Skunda Puran, Uttarkashi is known as ‘Saumya Varanasi’, the abode of Lord Shiva in Kaliyug and counted as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
Right in front of the Vishwanath temple is Shakti temple. It has a big ‘Trishul’ of about 6 meters in height and a circumference of 90 cms. at bottom. Though there are different views about the making of this, the upper part of it seems to be made up of iron and the lower one is of copper. As per the epics this Shakti was thrown on the devils by the Goddess Durga(Shakti), hence it gets its name. Since then this Shakti is erected over here
Nehru Institute of Mountaineering
The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering was established at Uttarkashi on 14 Nov, 1965 to honour the desire of a great mountain lover late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The new campus is situated 5 kms. away from this rapidly developing town atop a hill on the south bank spur of HOLY BHAGARATHI at an attitude of 1300M./4300ft amongst whispering pine trees and overlooking the sacred river and the valley of Gods. The sylvan environment of the Institute is the “sanctum sanctorum” of the mountaineers and nature lovers. Late Shri Y.B. Chavan, the then Defence Minister of India , was the first President of the Institute and late Smt. Sucheta Kriplani , the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , was the first Vice President of the Institute.The Institute is an autonomous body and is registered societies Registration Act No.XXI of 1860. Functioning of the Institute is governed by the Executive Council Chaired by the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. General Body meeting of the Institute is chaired by the Defence Minister. Excutive Council and General body meeting are held once in a year. There are 31 life members and 64 ordinary members of the Institute. The aim of the Institute is to impart theoretical and practical training to young men, women and children in mountaineering and Adventure courses. Specical emphasis is laid on instilling the concept of adventure sports without causing environmental degradation.
The other temples in Uttarkashi are :
Hanuman Temple, Sakhsi Gopal Temple, Markandey Rishi Temple, Dundiraj temple, Ganesh temple, Gopeshwar Mahadev temple, Gopal temple, Koteshwar Mahadev temple, Ma Kali temple, Sitaram Temple, Kedareshwar Mahadev temple, Jaipur Temple, Ganga Temple, Varneshwar Mahadev Temple, Gyanwapishwar Mahadev temple, Kali Mandir, Kaleshwar Mahadev ,Gangoti temple, Pundeer Nag Temple, Kandar Devta, Bhairav temple, Annapurna temple, Dattatreya temple, Parasuram temple, Ma Mahishasur Mardini temple, Onkareshwar temple, Durga Devi Temple, Lakheshwar temple.
A drive through the terraced fields takes one to Chaurangi Khal, a place 29 Kms. from Uttarkashi. From there a 3 Kms. track through lush green forests takes one to Nachiketa Tal, a tranquil spot.
There is greenery all around and a small temple at the bank of the lake gives a serene look to an otherwise beautiful surroundings. Nachiketa, the devout son of saint Uddalak, is said to have created this lake hence the name.There is no accommodation facility and visitors have either to come back to Uttarkashi or stay at the PWD Inspection House at Chaurangi Khal
The shrine of Gangotri situated at an elevation of 3200 meters above sea level amidst captivating surroundings is 100 kms from Uttarkashi. The temple, constructed by Gorkha GeneralAmar Singh Thapa in the 18th century, is situated in the bank of Bhagirathi. It is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year. A number of Ashrams are located on the other sites, some of which provides accommodation facilities to the visitors. Tourist Bungalows, PWD Inspection House, Forest Rest House and Dharamshalas provide lodgings. The places to be visited nearby are Gaurikund, Kedarkund and Patangna.
The Gaumukh glacier is the source of Bhagirathi (Ganga) and is held in high esteem by the devouts who do not miss the opportunity to have the holy dip in the bone chilling icy water. It is 18 kms. from Gangotri. The trek is easy and at times people come back to Gangotri the same day.There is a Tourist Bungalow at Bhojbasa, 14 kms. from Gangotri where lodging and other facilities are available.
These two spots are situated opposite the Gangotri glacier further up from Gaumukh, at a distance of 6 kms. from where visitors can have a superb view of the majestic Shivling peak. There are ideal spots for camping and also provides base camps for Bhagirathi, Shivling, Meru, Kedardom, Kharchakund, Satopant, Kalindi Khal and many other snow peaks.
The shrine of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna is situated in the direction opposite to Gangotri and the road bifurcates and goes to Yamunotri from Dharasu, a place between Rishikesh – Uttarkashi. Yamunotri can also be visited via Mussoorie and Barkot. Situated at an elevation of 3235 meters above sea-level, the shrine of Yamunotri is one of the “Four Dhams” (four pilgrimages) of Uttarakhand. The source of Yamuna lies above 1 km. ahead at an altitude of about 4421 meters. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer Puja at the temple itself. There are hot springs close to the temple, a bath in them is very refreshing after a tedious 13 kms. trek from Hanuman Chatti or 5 kms. from Janaki Chatti. Pilgrims can find accommodation in the houses belonging to the “Pandas” or the sole Dharamshala.Hanuman Chatti is the bus terminus from where one has to trek 13 kms. to reach Yamunotri. On the way one can stay at Janaki Chatti 8 kms. from Hanuman Chatti.
On way to Gangotri at a distance of about 13 kms. from Uttarkashi, Maneri has lately emerged as a place of tourist interest as a result of the construction of a dam across the Bhagirathi river, from where the water is fed to the turbines through an 8 kms. long tunnel at Tiloth in Uttarkashi. The resultant lake at Maneri has added to the charm of the place.
Further up on way to Gangotri about 37 kms. from Maneri, is the hot water spring at Gangnani where one can have a refreshing bath.
The road from Uttarkashi to Gangotri, bifurcates at 4 kms. from Uttarkashi and vehicles can go upto Kalyani, 7 kms. further up, from where, Agoda is 5 kms. away at an altitude of 2288 meters. The trek from there ascends gradually through thick forest and beautiful mountainous scenery. Dodital is 16 kms. further situated at an elevation of 3307 meters. The lake is sparkling and crystal clear, surrounded by forests. The famous Himalayan trouts are found in abundance in the lake. Permit for fishing can be had from the Divisional Forest Officer, Uttarkashi. There is a forest rest house and a Log Cabin by the site of the lake. From there one can trek down to Hanuman Chatti (27 kms.) and then to Yamunotri.
Bugyal in the local language means “high altitude meadow”. The road to Dayara Bugyal branches off near Bhatwari a place on Uttarkashi – Gangotri road about 32 kms. from Uttarkashi. Vehicles can go up to the village of Barsu from where one has to trek a distance of about 8 kms. to reach Dayara. Situated at an elevation of about 10,000 feet above sea-level this vast meadow is second to none in natural beauty. During winter it provides excellent ski slopes over an area of 28 sq.kms. The panoramic view of the Himalayas from here is breathe taking. There is a small lake also in the area, and to camp by its side would be a memorable event.
From this spot one can trek down to Dodi-Tal which is about 30 kms. away, through dense forests
The Bhagirathi valley is most enchanting and preserves many colourful spots in its lap. Situated at a distance of 72 kms. from Uttarkashi on the main highway to Gangotri at an elevation of 2623 meters, this sylvan hamlet is famous
for its natural beauty and delicious apples. Tourist Bungalow, PWD and Forest Rest Houses exist here for the travelers.
This spectacular and enchanting lake is situated at a distance of about 18 kms. from Gangotri, negotiable through rough and tough mountain trail. The trek is very tiring and there are testing moments even for a hardy trekker. There is no facility of any kind on the way and one has to make all arrangements in advance. A local guide is a must. The lake is crystal clear with the mighty Thalayasagar (spahatikling) peak forming a splendid backdrop. The place is about 15000 feet of sea level and is the base camp for trekking to the Thalayasagar, Jogin, Bhrigupanth and other peaks.
Harkidoon is famous for its natural beauty and is a popular destination for trekkers. A convenient route is from Mussoorie via Yamuna bridge – Naugaon- Purola- Saur- Sankri, Taluka and Osla. Accommodation facilities are available at the above in the form of Forest Rest Houses and Tourist Bangalows. At Harkidoon too there is a small rest house at an altitude of 3506 meters. A trek is satisfying experience, moving through dense forests and mountainous landscape. The Ruinsara lake which is about 8 kms. from Osla, is yet another attractive place for trekkers.