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The Yamunotri, also known as Jamnotri, is said to be the birthplace of the river Yamuna and the seat of its patron goddess Yamuna. Geographically it is situated 150km north of the town of Uttarkashi and sits high up in the Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3300 meters above sea level. The actual origin of the river is a frozen lake of ice located on the Kalind mountain, which is another 1km up in altitude. The approach to this lake is quite treacherous and so the main shrine dedicated to the goddess Yamuna sits at the foot of the hill, where devotees come from all over to offer puja to the patron goddess. In this article, we explore the various places to visit in Yamunotri.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Yamunotri

The birthplace of one of the largest rivers in India certainly creates an air of serenity and spirituality around it. Here are some of the most beautiful and tranquil places situated in and around Yamunotri.

1. Kharsali

Kharsali, among the places to visit in Yamunotri.

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Kharsali is a small village near the foothills of the Yamunotri. It is home to the oldest Shani Dev temple in India, considered the winter seat of the Yamuna goddess. The temple is a three-storeyed stone, brick-and-mortar construction and has stood strong and firm for hundreds of years. During the winter months, when heavy snowfall hits the northern mountains, all access to the Yamunotri temple at the base of the hill is cut off, and so during the festival of Diwali, the priests of the Yamunotri temple, who also hail from the Kharsali village, bring the idol down from the hills, which is a 4-mile trek away. Their group is joined by multiple processions of people looking to pay their respects to the patron goddess. The idol is returned to its rightful place in the spring. Besides the multitude of temples with immaculate stone architecture, Kharsali is also a natural picnic spot with its luscious green hills and natural springs.

  • Location
    Kharsali is 2675 meters above sea level. It is a short 1km trek from Janki Chatti, which is 180 km by road from Dehradun.
  • Best Time to Visit
    The village of Kharsali is open to visitors and year-round. However, most prefer to visit during winter to witness the ideal house at the local temple.
  • Timings and Charges
    The temple timings are from 5 AM – 9 PM, and there are no entry charges, but a strict dress code is adhered to by all devotees.

Must Read: Adventure Sports In Himachal Pradesh

2. Divya Shila

An aerial view of the town, among the places to visit in Yamunotri.

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Divya Shila is a sacred rock located in the town of Yamunotri, in Uttarakhand. It is a highly religious and sacred site to Hindus who know the legend behind the famous rock. In the scriptures of Hindu mythology, it is said that this rock was the one used by the creator of the universe, Lord Vishnu to measure the universe. It is a powerful object of great spiritual importance that is said to grant wishes and long life to anyone who touches it. At the site, there is also a small temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is a known ritual to seek blessings at Divya Shila before visiting the Yamunotri.

  • Location
    Divya Shila is located around 6km from the Yamunotri Temple. It is a moderate trek that takes around 3 hours and offers panoramic views of the surrounding forests and mountains.
  • Best Time to Visit
    The best time to visit this holy site is from May to October before heavy snowfall makes the rock inaccessible.
  • Timings and Charges
    The temple hours are from 5 AM to 8:30 PM, and there are no entry charges. However, all devotees adhere to a strict dress code.

3. Saptarishi Kund

The Yamuna River right after it exits the mountains

Image Credit: Pinakpani for Wikimedia Commons

The Saptrishi Kund is a high-altitude lake situated at a height of 4421 meters above sea level and is the original source of the Yamuna River. This lake is fed by the melting snow from the Champasar glacier, set in the upper parts of the Himalayan mountain range. It is quite a treacherous route up to the lake, and only seasoned trekkers are advised to attempt it. This lake is considered sacred and gets its name from the 7 Saptarishis of Yore, who are believed to have performed penance here, giving the lake an air of spirituality that attracts devotees from all over the country.

  • Location
    The Saptrishi Kund Lake is 7km from Yamunotri. It can only be approached by trek from the neighbouring town of Janki Chatti, which is 122km by road from Uttarkashi.
  • strong>Best Time to Visit
    The best time to visit is between May and October before the heavy snowfall renders the lake inaccessible.
  • Timings and Charges
    Start the trek early in the morning to get more time to appreciate your surroundings. The per-head charge for the trek with food and accommodation is 8000Rs in the peak season.

Suggested Read: Places To Visit In Almora

4. Surya Kund

A freshwater hot spring near Kulu Manali

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Surya Kund is a hot water spring situated near Yamunotri. According to Hindu mythology, this marvel of nature gets its name from the sun god Surya. Being located near the Yamunotri shrine, this freshwater spring is also considered a holy site. The temperature of the hot spring stays at a stable 88*celsius. Devotees come here and conduct a puja by cooking rice and vegetables over the hot spring and packing the food into bundles as offerings to the patron goddess Yamuna. The paradox of a hot spring such as this in the middle of snowcapped mountain ranges truly gives the sight a sense of magic and spirituality, attracting people worldwide. So, if you are looking for off-the-beaten places to visit in Yamunotri, remember to add Surya Kund to your itinerary.

  • Location
    The holy kund is a short 2km trek from Yamunotri. The closest town is Janki Chatti which is 122km by road from Uttarkashi
  • Best Time to Visit
    The best time to visit is between May and October before the heavy snowfall renders the lake inaccessible.
  • Timings and Charges
    The temple surrounding the kund is open throughout the day. Entry is free, although devotees and visitors adhere to a strict dress code.

5. Janki Chatti

A view of the Himalayas from the town of Janki.

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Janki Chatti is a small town located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. This town gets its name from the goddess Janki, who is believed to be an incarnation of the goddess Sita. Janki Chatti boasts beautiful landscapes, with rolling green hills and spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains, making it a perfect getaway spot for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. However, the main attraction at Janki is the presence of many hot water springs in the region. The water emanating from these springs is said to have medicinal properties and is in search by multiple people worldwide. Janki Chatti is among the hidden places to visit in Yamunotri for an offbeat adventure.

  • Location
    The holy town Janki Chatti is 122km by road from Uttarkashi
  • Best Time to Visit
    The best time to visit would be between May and October before the heavy snowfall renders the roads inaccessible.
  • Timings and Charges
    There isn’t any particular charge or entry fee to the town.

Further Read: Places Near Kedarnath

The Yamunotri shrine and its surrounding locations are some must-visit hotspots for those looking to have a spiritual vacation amidst nature in all its glory. So keep these places and tips in mind while planning your trip to Yamunotri.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Yamunotri

Is there any entry charge to visit Yamunotri?

No, there isn't any entry fee to the Yamunotri temple, however, the trek towards the glacier will have extra charges.

Is swimming allowed in the Yamunotri Glacier?

No, the glacier is a sacred place and swimming and bathing there is strictly forbidden. Also, the temperature of the glacier varies between 0*C and 2*C.

Is the trek to the Yamunotri Glacier dangerous?

Yes, due to the trail's height and topography, the trek has a level of danger associated with it, but with an experienced guide, it is more than doable.

When does Yamunotri open and close?

The Yamunotri shrine stays open from May till October after which heavy snowfall cuts of contact to the shrine.

How much time does the Yamunotri Lake trek take?

The trek up to the Yamunotri Lake takes a total time of 5 hours one way and the overall trek takes about 8 hours.

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