In this article, we will walk along the Himalayan paths to the source of India's most sacred river, the Ganges. We share with you an expert itinerary from travel expert Alexander.
Do you think the Milky Way – is just a collection of stars and space dust? Not at all! Every Hindu will tell you with confidence that the Milky Way is nothing but a great celestial river, which, descending to earth, turns into Mother Ganga.
This beautiful myth may seem like a ridiculous fiction if it were not for geographical facts. It turns out that the origins of the Ganges really originate almost in heaven: their path begins with a tiny stream flowing out of the snow at an altitude of 4495 km above sea level. It is here that the ice cave Gomukh is located – the source of the Ganges. According to legend, the ruler of these places, Bhagirathi, earnestly prayed to God Shiva to cleanse his brothers from a terrible curse. In answer to prayers, Shiva let the river-goddess Ganga down to earth.
So, let's start our journey from the high-altitude village of Gangotri (3100m) – this is the last village on the way to the glacier, then only picturesque passes, caves and ashrams where hermit yogis live.
Gangotri must obtain a permit (permit for trekking to the glacier). To apply for a permit, you need photocopies of your passport and visa.
In the vicinity of Gangotri you are greeted by majestic cedars and pines, the smell of this forest makes you dizzy, not to mention the height. Walking through the virgin forest and meeting the mystical inhabitants of the caves will not leave you indifferent to this place.
The weather in the high mountains of the Himalayas is very changeable. In one day, four seasons can change. For example, at night the temperature drops below zero and snow falls, and when the morning sun comes out, everything quickly melts and during the day the temperature rises to +25 degrees. Therefore, at night you will need a good sleeping bag, and during the day you can walk in a T-shirt.
Further, the path leads to a deserted gorge through which the Ganges flows. The snow-capped peaks of the highlands rise above the sky, bewitching with their power. We climb to a height of 3500m. Here occasionally you can meet pilgrims and rare pines. Silence and silence are the hallmarks of this place. Feeling the infinity and grandeur of nature.
From the village of Gangotri to the Source of the Ganges (Gomukh ice cave) about 20 km along the trail. There are no steep ascents and descents. The trail is quite trodden and it is convenient to follow the route along it without being distracted by the map and landmarks. And this is a huge plus, you can relax and enjoy the picturesque landscapes with might and main.
Every turn opens up new peaks of the high mountains of the Himalayas. Sometimes it is so breathtaking that the body freezes and after a few minutes you remember – it's time to move on.
We are getting closer to the Source. The last point where there is a piece of civilization is Bhojbaza 3800m. Before or after a hike to the glacier, you can spend the night in the ashram or camping. There is also a meteorological station here.
A little more and we have a view of the huge Gangotri glacier. This is one of the largest Himalayan glaciers, its length is 28 km. Shivaling Peak 6543 m rises above the glacier. Melt water, similar in structure to jelly, flows out of the Gomukh ice cave.
The mere realization that you are walking on a glacier makes your heart skip a beat…
Further on the way is the high-altitude Tapovan valley (literally, the forest of asceticism, tapas – asceticism, van – forest). It is located at an altitude of 4600m, above the Gangotri glacier at the foot of Shivling. You can climb Tapovan by crossing the glacier and another half a kilometer up the path. Rivers flow through the valley, descending from the peaks of the regal Shivaling and Meru, advanced yogi hermits have lived in the caves of Tapovan since ancient times, performing their austerities in order to touch the formless and the infinite.
Inside there is a clear feeling that you have already arrived. Traveling to such places always changes from the inside. Reloading of all programs in happens instantly. You begin to understand that nothing is impossible, you just have to open your heart to something new and go on a Himalayan journey.