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Home –» Garhwal Travel Guide –» Garhwal

About Garhwal

Garhwal Himalayas

Garhwal valley possess stunning perfection in terms of natural beauty. Surrounded by snowy, cloud bedecked mountains, the valley stands sharply against the blue sky, the waterfalls flashing white against the mountainsides. As far as the eye can see, down the length of the valley, up the lower mountain slopes, there are flowers and flowers, and still more flowers. More than a thousand Himalayan varieties of flowers, ferns and herbs are massed in the valley in all their frail beauty and scented sweetness.

The Garhwal Himalayas area is remote and mountainous, filled with oak forests and alpine meadows. The forests are home to a number of endangered animal species and have historically been managed by local community institutions. In recent years, however, overgrazing and overharvesting in government-controlled forestlands has begun to threaten the area's biodiversity. The districts of Garhwal are Dehradun, Haridwar, Tehri, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Pauri.

History of Garhwal

The history of Garhwal is older than that of the Ramayan and Maha- bharata. It is a land of popular myths, like that of Lord Shiva appearing as Kirat, of Urvashi, Shakuntala and the Kauravas and Pandavas. Worship of Lord Shiva is pre-dominant in this region. The Khasas were the dominant race in the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas till the coming of the Rajputs and Brahmins from the plains.

Places of Interest in Garhwal

Chamoli :
A blessed spot, the place seems to have been particularly dear to Lord Shiva. There are hundreds of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, the most important of all being the shrine of Badrinath. During monsoons, a thousand brilliant blooms bursts forth in the fascinating "Valley of flowers".

Rudraprayag :
Named after Lord Shiva, Rudraprayag is situated at the holy confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, at a distance of 34 kms. from Srinagar (Garhwal). The presence of two separate routes for Badrinath and Kedarnath Dham from Rudraprayag render great importance to the place. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty, places of religious importance, lakes & glaciers.

Dehradun :
Dehra Dun lies in a wooded valley with the Himalayan ranges to the north, the Shivalike hills to the south and the rivers Ganga and Yamuna to its eastern and Western Flanks. From Dehradun places of religious importance in the Garhwal Hills can be accessed - Kedarnath, Badrinath Gangotri, Yamunotir, Hemkund Sahib etc.

Haridwar :
It is said that when the Gods left their footprints on the land of Haridwar. Haridwar stands as the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Garhwal. Mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, Mokshadwar in the ancient scriptures and epics, Haridwar has always remained as a major Shaktipeeth for the devotees

Rishikesh :
Rishikesh is just 24 Kms from Haridwar. Located in the laps of lower Himalayas, this place is considered to be the access point of three other pilgrim places of Badrinath - Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri the four great places which combine to make Chardham . Rishikesh is surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills on three sides with Holy Ganga flowing through it.
The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. There are many temples-some ancient, some new along the river Ganges. The River side is dotted by the ashrams of Sadhus and sages. Rishikesh is also famous for ashrams teaching Yoga.

In the 60's even the Beatles could not miss the charm of Rishikesh and they came here to meet their Guru. The Ganga, which is known for its strong currents and fierce behaviour up stream, suddenly becomes slow and gracious here. At Rishikesh, Ganga leaves the mountains and joins the plains for her long journey.

Rishikesh is not only an attraction for pilgrims but it also attracts foreigners who want to know about Hinduism, who want to spend some time close to the Lord, people who love rafting come here to conquer the rapids of Ganga. Rishikesh is also an ideal base camp for trekking in the nearby Himalayas.

Prime Attractions of Rishikesh is Lakshman Jhula,Gita Bhavan,Swarga Ashram,Neelkanth Mahadev Mela,Nilkanth Mahadeo and Triveni Ghat.

Deoprayag :
Deoprayag is 95 kms from Haridwar and is the most sacred Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers in the vast network of tributaries that form the Ganges. It is from Deoprayag that the river starts taking the name Ganga. At a height of 1700 feet above sea level, 70 km from Rishikesh, Deoprayag is a pilgrimage centre of great significance and is the second most important confluence in India, next to Prayag (Allahabad). In Treta-yuga, Lord Rama and Laksmana performed a yajna (sacrifice) here to atone for killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin. The ancient Raghunath Temple here with a 15-foot tall deity of Sri Rama (Sri Raghunath) is one of the 108 most important temples in India. In front of the temple is Garuda. Behind the temple and slightly up a hill is Vamana's cave and nearby is Lord Rama's stone throne.

Karanprayag :
Karna Prayag is one of five sites where the confluence of sacred rivers occurs. The five prayags are Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karanprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. Allahabad where the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati join is known as Prayag and is one of the holy places of Hindu pilgrimage. The confluence of the Pindari River, which arises from the icy Pindari glacier, and the Alaknanda occurs at Karanprayag.

There is a temple dedicated to Karna, a mythical hero from the Mahabharata, at Karanprayag. Karna was the child of Surya the Sun god and Kunti. Karna worshipped his father here and received boons from him of impenetrable armour and protective earrings, which made him unvanquishable.

Karanprayag is on the main highway between Rishikesh and Badrinath. It is also the starting point for treks to the Pindari Glacier and Roopkund.

Joshimath :
The word ‘Jyotirmath’ the place of Jyotirlinga of Shiva. Shankracharya founded one of the four piths “Centres’ for sanyashis here. It is a halting place for the pilgrims bound for Badrinath. It is considered to be one of the most sacred places by Hindus who believes that Badrinath (The God Vishnu) resides here in winter.

Joshimath has a temple dedicated to Narshimsha, an incarnation of Vishnu, an arm of the idol of this deity (which is install in the temple) is said to be thinning daily and it is believed that when it breaks off the road to Badrinath will be close by a land slip. To the south of the big square in front of the temple there is a roofed building housing a stone cistern with two brass spouts known as Danddhara and Narshimha Dhara between which there are brass idols of Rama and Sita.

There are several temples here, each dedicated to Haniman, Ganesha, Surya, Gaurishankar and Naudevi respectively. These temples surround that of Vashudeva the black stone idol install in it, which is two meters high and stand on a lotus pedestal, being of fine craftsmanship and being flanked by standing figures of Sridevi and Bhudevi. In the temple are also the idols of the ten avtars of Vishnu. At a short distance in front of the temple there is a brass idol of Garud,Vishu’s vehicle.

Dhanaulti :
Dhanaulti, located amidst thick, virgin forests of deodar, rhododendron and oak has an atmosphere of perfect peace & tranquility. The long wooded slopes, lazy outings, cool caressing breeze, warm and hospitable inhabitants, lovely weather and fabulous view of snow covered mountains makes it an ideal retreat for a relaxed holiday. Situated on the Mussoorie - Chamba route, Dhanaulti is 25 kms. from Mussoorie.

Surkanda Devi:

(10 kms.) The temple of Surkanda Devi is situated on the top of the mountain. Thickly covered by dense forests, at an altitude of about 2,903m above sea level, it is place of great religious significance. A fair is held every year on “Ganga Dussehra” (May-June) in which thousands of people participate. For reaching the temple, one has to trek about 2 kms, along the motor road at Kaddu Khal.
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