Harsil is a cantonment area and a village on the banks of Bhagirathi River
, on the way to pious Hindu pilgrimage, Gangotri
, in Uttarkashi District
located in the state of Uttarakhand
. The place is located at a height of 7,860 feet above sea level and lies 73 km away from Uttarkashi and 30 km from Gangotri National Park, that is spread over an area of 1553 square km. Over the years small groups of ethnic class named Jadhs (a group of Bhotiyas) have settled around this place and speak a language that closely resembles Tibetan.
The idol of Hindu River Goddess Ganga is brought down from the shrine at Gangotri in the upper Himalayas after the Diwali and stay put at "Mukhba" village near Harsil. It stays there all throughout winters when Gangotri is inaccessible due to snow bound.
Harsil is famous for the legend of Raja Wilson or "Pahari" Wilson. Frederick E. Wilson a British army man, who left army just after the Sepoy Mutiny, 1857
. He escaped to Garhwal and met up with Raja of Tehri looking for shelter. But as the Raja was loyal to British so he denied shelter to Wilson. So Wilson moved to the mountains to steer clear of detection. Fate landed him to Harsil, a remote village on the banks of Bhagirathi River, with thick cover of deodar trees. He married a hilly girl named Gulabi. Then Wilson entered into a contract with a London-based company and built a fortune out of the export of skins, fur and musk.
With time we developed his log business and became so rich that he over threw Raja of Tehri-Garhwal. He was also a good architect which is evident from his cottage that he built for himself known as Wilson`s Cottage, a huge mansion, now in ruins. He also built the Charlieville Hotel in the hill station of Mussoorie
, which now houses the Government of India training institute for the Indian Administrative Service recruits
The dense forest cover of Deodar, the gushing water of Bhagirathi River, sounds of bird chirping, serene and salubrious environment are some of the highlighting part of this little quaint destination. There are many trekking destination in the vicinity of Harsil. A holiday in this place can certainly be a riveting experience.