Yamunotri is one of the holiest centers in the Hindu pantheon, this sacred dwelling of the Asti muni boasts of stunning natural vistas. Regarded and revered as the source of the regal Yamuna river, Yamunotri is well-known for its glaciers and thermal springs.
From the snow-clad summits to the turquoise lakes, Yamunotri has unbelievably romantic allures on store for those who are young at heart. Its imposing walking trails beside the gushing streams presents some of the spectacular moments that one could never forget.
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A delightful and exciting location in the footsteps of Garhwal mountain ranges, Yamunotri offers scenic backdrops with lush meadows and gushing waterfalls. A mythical place, demanding lots of courage and stamina to reach, Yamunotri would be a perfect place for those who love adventures. The trek to Yamunotri is magnificent, dominated by unforgettable views of peaks and thick forests.
History & Mythology
According to Hindu tradition, Yamuna is the twin sister of Yama, the God of Death, the daughter of Surya, Sun God and one of the eight consorts of Krishna. Yamuna is said to be the Goddess of Perseverance and Hindus believe that a holy dip in this river secures a painless death to the devotee. It is of peak importance in the Santana Dharma to embark upon the Chota Char Dham journey at least once in their lives!
Yamuna’s birthplace is Sangya in the Champasar Glacier (4,421 m) located just below the Banderpoonch Mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalind Parvat, (as Kalind is another name Surya). In mythological stories, Yamuna is represented to have frivolousness, a trait that she developed due to Yamuna’s mother never making eye contact with her dazzling husband.
Synonymous to the Himalayan weather, the summers are mild and the winters are exceptionally cold. As there are no motorable roads to the destination – it is difficult to reach the spot. To circumvent this, and ensure proper prayers are conducted, the deity is shifted to her winter abode. In terms of temperatures, Summers range from 6 to 20°C and Winters from -7 to 5°C.
Best time to visit
The pilgrimage happens from April to October every year. Although it is wise to check the exact dates, which are announced each year. Yamunotri is the first stop on the Choti Char Dham pilgrimage. The temple opens every year on Akshaya Tritiya (usually in the last week of April, but it changes yearly based on the Hindu calendar). The temple closes for the year on Diwali following a brief ceremony.
Located within the Garhwal Himalayas, Yamunotri lies in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand and is naturally bequeathed with plentiful exquisiteness and magic. At an altitude of 3293 meters, Yamunotri lies adjacent to the Indo-Chinese border and is surrounded by the supercilious mountains on all sides.
There are no motorable roads directly to Yamunotri and you’ll have to halt at Jankichatti – the last accessible location prior to Yamunotri. From here, you’ll be embarking on a 6 KM uphill trek.
However, for the adventurous souls there’s another from Hanuman Chatti about 13 KMs from the Yamunotri. This route takes you along the banks of the river via Markandeya Tirtha. Since Jankichatti is a shorter route – most people prefer to take that journey.
How to get to Yamunotri
Yamunotri is well connected with most of important towns and cities of Uttarakhand.
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to Yamunotri situated at a distance of 210kms. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights. Taxis are available from Jolly Grant Airport to Hanuman Chatti. Helicopter services are available as well (till Yamunotri).
The nearest railhead to Yamunotri are Rishikesh and Dehradun. Dehradun railway station is situated 175kms from Yamunotri and Rishikesh railway station is situated 200kms before Yamunotri on NH58. Rishikesh and Dehradun are well connected by railway networks with major destinations of India. Trains to Rishikesh are frequent. Taxis and buses are available from all towns in Uttarakhand.
Yamunotri is directly not connected with motorable roads and the trek commences from Hanuman Chatti. Hanuman Chatti is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand state. Buses to Rishikesh are available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Buses and Taxis to Hanuman Chatti are easily available from major destinations of Uttarakhand state like Rishikesh, Dehradun, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Barkot etc.
Things to do in Yamunotri
The prime reason for anyone to visit Yamunotri is of course its religious significance and eminence in the Hindu belief.
Marking the source of the Yamuna river the temple is esteemed. It should be noted that the actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible; hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself. The temple, situated on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna, like the Ganges, has been elevated to the status of a divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
Close to the temple are the hot-water springs gushing out from mountain cavities. Surya Kund is considered to be the most important and integral kund.
Close to the Surya Kund there is a Shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes, tied in muslin cloth, to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs. Divya Shilla is a rock pillar which is worshipped before entering the divine Yamunotri temple.
Nearby destinations to Yamunotri
Harsil is perched at an elevation of 2623 meters and is known for its proximity to Yamunotri and Gangotri. The village has apple orchards for as long as 70 Kms! That kind of views are not only uncommon, but damn near rare! Surrounded by very famous hill towns, Harsil has been overshadowed by the grandiose of nearby places. There are many unexplored trails in the region which you can explore on your own leisure time. Most of these trails will lead you to spectacular views of gushing waterfalls, beautiful lakes and everything in between. It is a great way to learn the value of natural living.
Gangotri & Char Dham Yatra
The Chota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand are the four abodes of holy shrines – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. All four of these temples are situated within the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The prominence of the Charm Dham Yatra is immense amongst Hindus. Moreover, it is believed that every Hindu should do Char Dham Yatra at least once in their lifetime.
The Great Reformer and Philosopher, Adi Shankaracharya, gathered together these Holy Pilgrimage places into a spiritual circuit around the 8th century. Generation followed generations and hundreds of thousands of devotees have kept up the tradition of covering these pilgrimage spots every year. Thus, it is very common to complete the circuit in one religious pilgrimage!
The first destination on the Char Dham circuit – the Yamuna Mata temple at Yamunotri is a revered Hindu site.
Day 0 – Reaching Dehradun
Dependent on your choice of travel from the above mentioned route – reach Dehradun.
Day 1 – Dehradun – Jankichatti (180 KMs, 7-hour journey)
The day of journeys, you can travel from Dehradun by many routes. Barkot lies at a distance of 136 KM from Dehradun and from here you may hire a Jeep to Jankichatti. Jankichatti lies at around 45 KMs distance and will take you an hour to reach. Also, in order to save on money, you may even hire shared taxis.
Accommodation is available at Jankichatti where you’ll have your dinner and rest for the day.
Day 2 – Jankichatti – Yamunotri (12 KMs, 6-hour journey)
Trek day to Yamunotri commences! After an early breakfast, you’ll start off your journey towards the temple. Overall the 6 KM trek has many amenities including resting points, benches, water break points as well as tea and snack stalls along the way. This trek should ideally take you around 3 hours with breaks in between. The views once you reach will provide you with a sense of calm and serenity, not quite matched by anything else! Remember to explore the area before heading back. Prayers at the temple are a lifetime experience that will definitely stay with you.
Day 3 – Jankichatti – Dehradun
You’ll return to Dehradun on the last day. However, you MUST explore Jankichatti today leisurely before returning!
Where to stay when visiting Yamunotri
The GMVN Tourist Rest House, Yamunotri has the most stunning views and are very calming to the soul. Other options are available as well. Krishna Palace and Hotel Devlok are decent budget accommodations with basic amenities – although it is advisable to book your accommodation on time. This is primarily because during the season time a lot of devotees visit the region to pay their respects and prayers!
What to eat
Food is amply available enroute the Dham. There are numerous restaurants and dhabas along the route, serving breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner! Small shops serving Chai, Coffee etc. are also present in plentiful!
- Do remember to be respectful of the environment, place and people when here. It is usually a once-in-a-lifetime journey for most Hindus and the significance of the moment is quite high. Ensure you’re not hurting anyone’s sentiments
- Wear appropriate clothing. Even if you’re visiting for travel and exploration purposes, remember that this is a primarily religious site
- Wear layers – the weather can change without much warning and you should be prepared for extreme heat or sudden wind when trekking. Be comfortable
- Drink water – hydration is very important and will keep you in good spirits on your journey
- Book your accommodation in advance. In peak season, a lot of pilgrims visit the place and the places might be completely booked if you’re travelling impromptu.
Yamunotri is a beautiful abode of Goddess Yamuna with unmatched beauty and purely positive vibes. If you’ve ever wondered what pure bliss and absolute dedication to faith looks like – Yamunotri becomes a must-visit. The joy, the love, the reverence towards God and our higher purpose is to palpable in places of high significance such as Yamunotri! Hope the guide helps you in enjoying the place to the core! Happy travelling and connecting.