Topography of Yamunotri Temple
A frozen lake of ice on the top of Kalind Parvat, at a height of 4,421 metres and almost a kilometre further up is the source of the Yamuna but since the approach to it, is extremely unsafe, the temple has been built at the foothill. Yamunotri stands on the western border of the great peak of Banderpoonch 6,315 metres high and is always snow-clad. There is also a pleasantly warm water tank the Yamuna Bai Kund, built about 110 years ago and is used for holy bath. It forms the dividing line of the Hanumanganga and the Tons River, which is a tributary of the Yamuna. The valley of the Tons is to the west of the Yamuna. It collects the waters of Har-ki-Doon, a high level field surrounded by glaciers, and the Banderpoonch glacier.
Legend of Yamunotri
According to the legend, ancient sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. All his life, he bathed daily both in the Ganges and the Yamuna. Unable to go to Gangotri during his old age, a stream of the Ganges appeared opposite Yamunotri for him. As per legends, the daughter of the Sun god Surya and Goddess of consciousness, Sangya is Yamuna. The birthplace of the Yamuna is the Champasar Glacier (4,421 m) just below the Banderpoonch Mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalind Parvat, Kalind being another name of Surya. Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a trait that she developed because, according to a common story, Yamunas mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband.
Architeture of Yamunotri Temple
Yamunotri Temple was constructed by king of Tehri, Naresh Sudarshan Shah in 1839. It was reconstructed by Maharani of Jaipur Gularia Devi in the 19th century AD after a massive portion of the temple was damaged due to an earthquake. Yamunotri Temple is made using granite stones. A yellow conical shaped tower with beautiful red borders lies at the top of the temple. There is a small patio in the front which is joined with the main entrance. The temple interiors consist of Garbha Griha or sanctum sanatorium, the core chamber which houses the silver idol of Goddess Yamuna adorned with many garlands. There's also a Mandap or assembly hall where pilgrims gather for Darshan and prayer.
Religious Signifiance of Yamunotri Temple
One of the twin sisters of Yama (God of death), daughter of Surya (Sun god), and one of the Ashtabharya (eight consorts) of Krishna, Goddess Yamuna is said to be the Goddess of perseverance and is a divine goddess in Hindu mythology. A bath in the revered Yamuna River is said to purify all sins and protect against untimely and unpleasant death.
As one of the pilgrimage sites of the Chota Char Dham, a visit to Yamunotri Temple once in a lifetime is considered to be auspicious and significant in one's life. Various Pujas performed in Yamunotri temple include Mangal Aarti in the morning and Shayan Aarti in the evening. Devotees who wish to offer Puja to the deity can purchase a Puja kit from near the temple and offer it to the priests of the temple who then perform the puja on behalf of the devotee. Usually this kit consists of items such as red sari, sindoor, bindi, comb, mirror, nail polish, necklace, bracelet, coconut, incense and sugar. The priests at Yamunotri temple administer as well as preside over the temple rituals.
Pandas of Yamunotri Temple
The friendly and helpful 'Pandas' of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsali, which is on the other bank of the Yamuna adjoining bed, or Jankichatti, with the entire administration of the temple in their hands. The 'pandas' in addition to performing their usual religious duties, are also the Pujaris of the Temple. In the other holy places of Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath, the pandas and the pujaris are from different groups with varying responsibilities.
Opening and Closing dates of the Yamunotri Temple
The Temple opens on the religious day of 'Akshaya-Tritya', which falls, generally, during the last week of April or the first week of May. The closing day is always on the sacred day of Diwali after a brief ceremony. After visiting the structure of the Yamuna, it is only natural for the pilgrim to be filled with a desire to visit Gangotri where the Ganga unwillingly came down from the Heavens to bestow life on 60,000 distressed souls.
Connectivity to Yamunotri Temple
The Yamunotri temple is a full day's journey from Uttarakhand's main towns - Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun. The actual temple is only accessible by a 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) trek from the town of Hanuman Chatti and 6 kilometres walk from Janki Chatti. Horses or palanquins are available for rent. The hike from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri takes in views of a number of waterfalls.
There are two trekking routes from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri, the one along the right bank proceeds via the Markandeya Tirth, where the sage Markandeya wrote the Markandeya Purana. The other route lies on the left bank of the river that goes via Kharsali, from where Yamunotri is a five or six hours climb away. There are no motorable roads directly to Yamunotri and tourists and pilgrims have to halt at Janki Chatti which is the last place accessible by vehicles. Dehradun has the nearest railway station, 171 kms away while Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport at a distance of 197 kms.
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