Legend of Gangotri Temple
It has been constructed near a sacred stone called the "Bhagirathi Shila", which lies at a distance of about 50 feet to the left of the temple. The King Bhagiratha is said to have sat here to worship Lord Shiva so that he would take the Ganges on his head. Bhagiratha had performed penance so that the lord would forgive his son’s sins. There is found here a natural rock submerged in the river which is said to be the ‘Shivalingam’. This rock is said to be the exact place where the Lord Shiva was seated when Ganga came down from the heavens and landed in his matted hair. Legend also has it that the Pandavas of Mahabharata had performed a ‘Deva Yajna’ here to atone the death of their kinsmen.
The temple is almost 20 feet high and is constructed in white marble. The various ritual duties are observed and performed by the Pujaris of the Semwal family. The ‘Aarti’ ceremony is especially impressive. Soon after performing Aarti to the deities in the temples, an Aarti is performed to the Holy Ganges which is popularly known as the "Ganga Aarti".
The temple remains open from May to early November. It remains closed in the winters as the region is prone to very heavy rainfall. The temple is closed on Diwali every year. When the temple is closed, the idol of the Goddess is kept at Mukhba village near Harsil, 12 km below Gangotri. Special Pooja are done on Janmashtami, Vijaydashmi and Diwali.
How to Reach Gangotri Temple
The nearest airport to Gangotri is Dehradun, which is known as "Jolly Grant Airport" situated at 226 km away. The closest railhead is at Rishikesh, 250 km away from Gangotri. From these places, one could either take a bus or a taxi to reach the shrine.