Gangotri Dham

According to mythology King Sagar after slaying the demons on earth staged an Aswamedh Yagna to proclaim his supremacy. The King’s 60,000 sons born of Queen Sumati and one son Asamanjas of Queen Kesani were to accompany the horse. Lord Indra fearing loss of his supremacy stole the horse and tied it to the ashram of ancient sage Kapil who was then deep into meditation. On their search for horse,the 60,000 sons stormed the ashram of Kapil and just before the attack on him the sage opened his eyes and reduced all the 60,000 sons of King Sagar except Asamanjas to ashes. King Sagar’s grandson Anshuman was successful in recovering the horse from Kapil and was told that those 60,000 burnt will attain heavenly abode if Ganga is brought down from heaven & their ashes were cleaned by its water. Then the great task of bringing ganga to earth started. Anshuman failed and so did his son Dilip but his grandson Bhagirath succeeded.

The intense meditation made ganga to descend from heaven and in order that the earth is not flooded, it remained suspended in the Coils of Lord Shiva’s hair. Shiva pleased with King Bhagirath, released Ganga in seven streams –the most sacred  stream on earth came to be known as Bhagirathi. King Sagar’s 60,000 sons ashes were touched with Ganga water and thus they were bestowed with eternal rest in heaven.

The water of dozens of rivers, rivulets & lakes enhance the rich heritage of this Himalayan state. Among the numerous rivers & streams, the Ganga, Yamuna, Alaknanda & Kali are of great religious significance. In India, the rivers are veritable gifts from Mother India itself. Like her they, too, are all women, and again like her they too bear a touch of divinity. Rivers have always been an inseparable part of Hinduism.

Ganga to a Hindu is not only the ‘River of Life’ but also at the same time,’The river of Death’ for he longs to die beside it,  or at the very least to have his ashes after cremation cast in its water. It is believed that the holy waters of this river washes away the sins &cleanses the soul of lesser mortals. Some  of the facts  about the quality of Ganga’s water cannot be lightly discussed. Scientists have, or say they have established how the water will keep for  a year in bottles and that cholera germs die in it within a few hours, or even that a tank reputed to be fed from the Ganga has the power of dissolving human bones within three days. Geologists firmly believe that the mineral contents of the water also makes the difference. A Sanskrit verse that a Hindu recites at the time of taking the dip.