Welcome to Yamunotri, a picturesque pilgrimage site nestled in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand! This holy place is a part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra, comprising the four most revered Hindu pilgrimages in the Himalayas – Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Yamunotri.
At a height of 3,293 metres above sea level, Yamunotri boasts of spectacular mountain peaks, glaciers and the gushing waters of River Yamuna, the second most sacred river in India. As per Hindu mythology, Yamuna Devi (goddess) is the daughter of Sun and twin sister of Yama (the god of death), and a dip in the sanctified waters of Yamuna is believed to cleanse all sins and protect one from untimely or painful death.
To reach the Yamunotri temple, devotees either walk or ride a palanquin or pony on a steep trek of about 3 km that takes around 3 hours. The temple is lodged in a narrow gorge, close to the source of Yamuna and is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna.
Legend has it that Lord Hanuman doused the fire of his tail after burning Ravana’s Lanka in the chilly waters of Yamuna at Banderpooch, which is why the peak is called Bander (monkey) Pooch (tail). Another legend sees Yamunotri as the hermitage of ancient sage Asit Muni, who used to bathe in both Yamuna and Ganga. When he couldn’t travel to Gangotri in his old age, a stream of Ganga started to flow beside that of Yamuna.
The temple of Yamuna was constructed by the king of Tehri, Naresh Sudarshan Shah, in 1839 and houses the black marble idol of Goddess Yamuna, with Ganga Devi in white stone by her side. The temple opens for pilgrims on May 14, 2021, on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritya and closes its portals as winter approaches on Yama Dwitiya. The goddess’ winter abode is in Kharsali village, where she reaches in a palanquin and will remain for the entire period of winters.
So pack your bags, don your walking shoes or grab a palanquin or pony and get ready to experience the spiritual and scenic beauty of Yamunotri!