According to the Ramayana, the king of Ikshvakus, Sagar had 100 wicked sons who turned into ashes under the weight of their sin. It was only when Bhagirathi, a descendant of king Sagar brought down the Ganges that their sins were washed out and the 100 sons were revived. The Ganges has been considered the mother of Indian civilization for a long time. It is elevated to the status of a Goddess, a deity, a giver of life.
Whether you are pious or not, the Ganges trail is a must do for all travel lovers! Here’s a list of places and activities that you absolutely must not miss.
Located in the heart of the Himalyas, in the state of Uttarkhand, 3100 m above the sea level lies the Gangotri. The actual source of the river is Gaumukh glacier which is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Some even continue further till Tapovan. The Trek to Gaumukh goes through Devgadh, Chirbhasa and Bhojwasa. This trek is equally appealing to pilgrims and adventure seekers alike.
Amongst the holiest pilgrim centers in Northern India, Kedarnath is situated at an altitude of 3854 meters above sea level. It’s situated near the Chorabari glacier in the Garwhal Himalaya range.
Kedarnath is most well renowned for its ancient Shiva temple. Legend has it that Lord Shiva, in an attempt to evade the Pandavas, hid in Kedarnath taking the form of a bull. And, when noticed by the Pandavas, Lord Shiva drudged himself in to the earth leaving the hump on the surface. The Shiva statue here is considered to be decapitated where as the head is believed to be in Doleshwor Mahadeva Temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
The town of Kedarnath lies in the lap of the Himalayas. Surrounded by ice covered peaks and being the mouth of the river Mandakini, Kedarnath is a must visit on this trail!
Rishikesh – the abode of the gods! Rishikesh came into international fame when the Beatles visited Rishikesh to see the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram. Scenically located where the River Ganges comes down from the Himalayas, it is still known as the World Capital of Yoga. The Char Dham Yatra ideally begins from Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also known as the ‘Place of Sagas’. It is surrounded by the scenic beauty of hills on three sides. It is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. Rishikesh is also believed to be the site where Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu. Rishikesh is also an attractive destination for adventure seekers with opportunities to raft, bungee jump, kayak, trek and rappel.
Another interesting thing about Rishikesh is that it’s a vegetarian city by law, as well as an alcohol-free city. Rishikesh has also banned use of plastics bags by shopkeepers and vendors.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack up and go on a soul cleansing trip through the Ganges.