Visiting Gomukh was one of my long cherished dreams. The last time that we visited Gangotri in 2011, we couldn’t visit Gomukh. I always wanted to go here. I heard that the place is terrific, dangerous, beautiful, holy and what not!.. So I wanted to visit this place. Primarily, this is the birthplace of mother Ganga. A visit to this place is considered highly meritorious. Gomukh is at a distance of 20KM from Gangotri. Gangotri is well connected by Road. From here we have to trek to reach Gomukh. Horses are available on request but are not a common sight.
After the two months course in Rishikesh, there were about 8 days before the gates are opened for Chardham, the four holy places in Uttarkhand. One of them is Gangotri. In those 8 days, 4 of us covered Sri Mata Vaishnodevi, Mathura and Vrindavan. Then one person went back home. We met two people from Andhrapradesh on our way to Yamunotri. They were with us till the end of the entire journey. One more guy joined us in Uttarkashi. He was specifically going to Gomukh. After visiting the Siva temple in Uttarkashi and having a great Janta Thali in a hotel there, we hired a cab and started for Gangotri. Shared Taxis ply between Uttarkashi and Gangotri. You can hire the entire Shared Taxi and travel at a lower cost instead of hiring a Tourist Taxi.
The road to Gangotri is just awesome. It’s nature at its best. It was remarkable to see the work done by the Uttarkhand government after that devastating floods of 2013. They have rebuilt the roads exceptionally well. Work is still going on at places. Lot of people walk from Uttarkashi to Gangotri. That will be wonderful. There are also many tourist homes which provide food and shelter for such yatris during the Chardham Yatra. One of our batch mates in the Sivananda Ashrama chose to travel to Gomukh by foot from Rishikesh itself. This route is very beautiful and should be enjoyed peacefully.
Gomukh is a restricted area and comes under the Gangotri National Park. Permission should be taken to visit this place. Permission is given at both Uttarkashi and Gangotri. We weren’t aware that permission is given in Gangotri. So we tried to take permission in Uttarkashi itself. To our utter disappointment the officer told us that the weather is not good in Gangotri and permission won’t be given to visit Gomukh for the next three days. However, he told us to visit Gangotri and provided the weather condition is good, permission can be taken from Gangotri itself.
I desperately wanted to visit Gomukh. As we reached Gangotri in the evening, we met two Swamis of Ramakrishna Math in Sri Krishna Ashrama. I knew Paramasukhanandaji previously. But here it was him who identified me. He spoke to Math authorities and got us accommodation there itself. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given to us. He helped us with information related to Gomukh and also arranged for the permit by talking to the Swamiji and Mataji in charge of Sri Krishna Ashrama. Now I was feeling more confident that I will certainly visit Gomukh this time. In the meantime our other teammates found a guide. So everything was being put in place. Actually Guide is not so much necessary for this travel. That we realized only after reaching Gomukh.
There was no power supply in Gangotri that evening. So we couldn’t buy the essentials in the evening. We should ideally start at 5:00AM to have a good trek to Gomukh. But by the time we got ready, bought the essentials, visited the Gangotri temple, it became 10:00AM. But we eventually started. Till about 14KMs nothing is available to eat. We took Biscuits, Dry fruits and Electrol powder.
The beginning of the journey was no indication of what is to come. One would feel that taking steps is more difficult than climbing. First part of the journey has lot of steps. But there are also lot of trees around. That really helps. After about 4KMs, there’s the checkpoint where the permit will be checked. There’s strict guideline about the use of plastic in Gomukh zone. Some security deposit is to be kept for the plastic that we carry. On returning back the money is given back if the plastics are brought back. The officer was very cordial.
We were all together in the initial part of the journey but later all became separate basically because it’s difficult to trek together in mountains. We asked the guide to accompany the eldest in our group and went on our way.
The route to Gomukh is certainly the most scenic that I’ve seen. It’s intimidating also. The stone formations on the side is taller than any building that I’ve seen. It’s just marvelous how nature creates. I was thinking that, ‘Whatever man can paint, nature just creates’.
How to describe the beauty of this route! Tall strong stone formations on the left trying to reach out to the sky, on the right is the mother Ganga flowing in her most serene form, to her left are the forests and ice caps and in front of you is the Gomukh anticipating your arrival. Instead of walking you can just sit there and admire the beauty of the place. The road is beautiful too. At times you walk over stones, at times over the leaves and at places over sand. Landslide is the only concern here and one has to very careful at places. On our way quite a few people came back saying that they can’t go further due to heart related issues. I was thanking God that I’ve gone there when my body is strong enough to withstand the challenges.
After about 4KMs we were all separated. Unfortunately the food packets were kept in a single bag and that remained with one person. I had half a packet of Electrol powder in my pocket and that was really nothing short of nectar :). There’s good access to pure water of the mountains on the way.
Our first destination was Bhojwasa. This is at a distance of 15KM from Gangotri. Gomukh is 5KM from here. There’s a reasonable chance of coming back to Bhojwasa from Gomukh if we start from Bhojwasa around 4:00PM at the most. I reached there first and was tired. Bhojwasa has a lodge run by a devotee, the Govt. has also made arrangements to stay here but is quite expensive. Additionally there’s one Babaji who stays here all alone in his own separate sheet house. He gives free food and accommodation for people who can’t afford the other two. Except for the eldest member in our group who came with the guide, all others reached reasonably fast. By the time the entire team arrived, it was close to 5PM and that could only mean that we had to stay at Bhojwasa that day and visit Gomukh on the next day and also go back to Gangotri. We stayed in the private Lodge.
The private lodge charges ?300 per person. They provide the evening tea, night dinner, next day breakfast and lunch.
Bhojwasa is a beautiful place. It was extremely cold but wonderful. After roaming around for sometime, we had dinner and retired to bed early.
Three members in our team had running temperatures that night. One person even declared that he’s not visiting Gomukh the next day, Vishudha, the eldest in our group who came with me from the course was very uncertain, another wouldn’t leave behind his friend, I was also feeling slightly feverish. I was praying to God to not disappoint me. We all woke up early. Two guys dropped out, Vishudha was willing to try. I just adviced him to take his time. We instructed our Guide to be with him all along. We had to skip our breakfast since we wanted to start early which we didn’t do the previous day. We started by 6:00AM.
This journey is slightly confusing because there’s no clear route and you’ve to make your own decision. It’s slightly difficult at places but with a calm mind, we can make it. Since we undertook this journey before the rainy reason, it wasn’t that difficult. Water level was well within the manageable limits whenever we had to cross. It takes about two to two and half hours to reach Gomukh from Bhojwasa. Our friend Bineesh made it first to Gomukh. I was behind him by about 20 minutes. Gomukh is full of bliss. Vishudha also reached fast with the guide. That was simply an amazing feeling. It was a 5 year dream come true.
Many foreigners come here. Most of them go further than Gomukh and stay in Tapovan. They carry all the essentials for their stay. It was very surprising to me that only about 50 people visit Gomukh everyday compared to Kedarnath which attracts thousands. Honesty, Gomukh didn’t seem that tough a trek for me.
We spent about an hour at Gomukh. Swami Paramasukhanandaji had adviced us not to take dip bath in Gomukh since it is extremely cold and can be dangerous to life. I had carried a small towel which I used to take a sponge bath. It was a very happy and satisfying 60 – 70 minutes for us. On the way back, we met the Babaji of Bhojwasa near Gomukh. There is a small temple for Lord Shiva which he looks after. I had carried the screenshots of Rudra Prashna and Narayana Suktam in my mobile. It came handy to chant it there. Babaji was happy about the remarkable power of technology.
While coming back to Bhojwasa, we met a lady whose hand was hurt by one of these landslides. She was badly hurt but she was very brave and endured the pain. We could make arrangements for her first aid treatment in Bhojwasa. She, along with her husband accompanied us for the rest of the journey. We took our Lunch in our Lodge and started immediately to Gangotri. On the way met a group of ladies, all of whom were housewives who had come to Gomukh. It was a pleasant surprise to see their courage and motivation. As we moved on, we had some grand sights of nature.